With Frank Enstein opening tomorrow on the Gold Coast, and headlining Bleach* Festival, we chat with Gold Coast-based Co-Directors of The Farm, Gavin Webber and Grayson Millwood. Read on to learn more about their choreographic style, why they decided to create Frank Enstein, and what it’s like to collaborate with the Co3 dancers.
What prompted you to create this work?
Frank Enstein started, as so many of these things do, with a long conversation about shared fascinations. In this case it stemmed from under-utilised ideas from previous works in Europe, but didn’t become “this” work until Daniel Monks joined us. With Daniel’s unique take on the role of Frank, the work moved from ‘shared fascinations’ to an urgently unfolding work that needed to be made.
How does the production bring something new to the storyline?
In the original story, the monster feels shunned by society, unworthy of love or even companionship. In our version we ask, what if this is how the doctor feels, animating his monsters in an attempt to create love and find acceptance?
Having the role of a brilliant but lonely Dr. Enstein played by a performer with a disability does give a unique take on the work but our interest lies in the universal experience of feeling unworthy.
The themes in Frankenstein are so rich that they easily encompass our totally different take on the story, but as far as the plot line goes, we kind of left that behind in week one.
How would you describe your choreographic style?
We’d like to think that it is always specific to the show we are working on, but of course there are interests that span all of our work, such as humour, danger and humanity. Choreography is always created in response to the themes of a work rather than aesthetics and we have a strong sense of dramaturgy at all times. We also equally value art that is both high and low.
What’s it like working with Co3 dancers?
Co3 dancers rock! We have worked with them before, and we keep coming back for more. Specifically for Frank Enstein, Talitha, Zachary and Andrew make the perfect monsters because they are inhumanly good at what they do. It was an early decision that the monsters would be hyper-able bodied so it’s lucky we’re working with Co3 because it’s hard to match their level of physicality.
What kinds of themes are explored in this work?
Self acceptance is the biggie. It is central to every motivation for the characters. When we started we thought about what we would like to say to our children when they get a bit older and we wanted to let them know they were okay being themselves, they didn’t need to match everybody else to be loveable. There are other things we are dealing with such as isolation and what is real and authentic versus artificial, but in the end we will always veer back to the need for self acceptance.
See the Co3 dancers in Frank Enstein, at the Arts Centre Gold Coast 31 March – 1 April, and at the State Theatre Centre WA in the Studio Underground from 5 April – 8 April, 7.30pm.
Images by Michael Maclean.