July 8, 2015

Reanimation of Interdisciplinary Performances – Frankenstein 2029

Frankenstein 2029 poster, with cubes connected on a black backgroundHey Lafayette Voices followers, Keaton here. Long time reader, first time writer. So, gather round, my readers, and I shall tell you the tale of how I got roped into one of the weirdest, most uncomfortable, and truly one of the best experiences of my life. That’s right folks, I’m talking about ACTING! Crazy, right?

If you’re not familiar with Frankenstein 2029, you should check out some of the “official” college posts about it over at *BAM* http://sites.lafayette.edu/frankenstein2029/ or *KAPOW* https://news.lafayette.edu/2015/04/28/frankenstein-2029-the-future-meets-the-past/  which are written by like, actual writers who know grammar n’ stuff. I’ll leave the describing of the general idea to those fancy people, but what I’d like to share with my lovely readers (Hi, mom!) is my own personal experience working on the performing arts piece that made such an impact on this campus.

So literally the LAST thing I expected to do in college was any sort of acting. I’m talking theater, performing arts pieces… anything. What I AM really interested in is visual (studio) art, specifically sculpture, instillation, and dynamic sculpture. Since I am a double major in mechanical engineering and art (and certainly most of my time has been spent in the engineering department), I was looking for a way to get more involved in the art department. As the fates would have it, my art adviser was also the producer of the performance that would rattle the campus the next spring. The first day I met up with him he dropped the possibility on me and said (and I’ll never forget this) “You’d make a great Percy Shelly.”

Now as the aspiring young lad attending a liberal arts college that I am, I had absolutely zero idea as to who this “Percy Shelly” was. Nope. No clue. Zero idea. Never heard of the guy. So naturally I told Ed “I’ll think about it.” Well, fast forward about six months to mid November when I get an email from a friend of mine (friend? I kind of knew her… let’s go with friend) asking if I was still game to play Percy. Now, it was the middle of the semester and I was starting to look ahead to the next spring. Let me also mention that this was my junior year. Just like in high school junior year is that year that is, sometimes quite literally, a giant pain in the bum. But screw that, I said yes anyways.

I met with a couple of groups over the next couple of months. I got to meet a couple of professors in different departments that I was going to be acting with, neither of whom I had ever taken a class with or met before. I attended meetings with both students and professors working on different parts of the set (I also got roped into helping build the ship venue, which was awesome). Most importantly at the start of the spring semester I met the group of students who I would be acting with, including the THREE ladies who would be playing Mary Shelly. That’s right folks, in this play I had three “different” wives. And also a bromance with Byron… that was pretty cool. We totally stole the show.

Keaton Holappa and Joseph Rothschild portray Percy and Byron

Percy and Byron by Keaton Holappa and Joseph Rothschild

Really the most interesting aspect of this performing arts piece was the process, which is weird because you would think the most important part was the actual performance part. But getting so many different people together, professors and students from VERY different departments across the campus, is definitely a challenge for any project. Approaching these people and saying, “Oh hey, want to put in dozens of hours a week on top of your already busy schedule to help build a venue or perform in this piece?” Well that’s nearly impossible, but somehow we did it.

Part of the Lab venue for the Frankenstein 2029 production

Part of the Lab Venue

All of these people from different backgrounds and with different interests, that was the really exciting part – watching them all work together on the same problems. One of the venues, “The Lab,” combined the technical know how from the computer science and biology departments and the ascetic knowledge of art students. There were flashing lights, bubbling beakers, and even a very convincing hologram.

To kind of wrap everything up with this (and maybe I’ll make another post going more into detail about my experience), I want to briefly talk about my fellow actors. Thankfully I was not the only one who had no idea what I was doing. It was really great to be able to work alongside students who have had years of experience in the theater department as well as students like me who had never been involved in a production before. The director, stage managers, costume designer, everyone was patient and helpful with us n00bs.

Now I apologize for this because it is going to sound SUPER corny, but here it goes. I truly believe that stuff like this, this production, this process, only happens at places like Lafayette. Institutions that thrive on interdisciplinary study, programs, projects, all of that stuff. And there are not a lot of places like Lafayette that have such strong arts, humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering. And certainly not a lot of places that know how to combine them as well as we do, and Frankenstein proves that.

If you haven’t gotten enough info about Frankenstein, someone who gets paid more than I do (I’m looking at you, communications division) made an AWESOME documentary style video about the whole production.

Check it out here *BRAKKA* https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ha-M65__-1c

(I star in about 2 seconds of that starting at 2:26, HOLLYWOOD HERE I COME!)

If you feel like reading more of my stream-of-consciousness posts, I’ll be posting every week or so, so I guess you have that to look forward to. PEACE LEOPARDS!

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1 Comment

  1. […] time I spoke (well typed, but you get the idea) about my time in the Frankenstein 2029 performance, so if you’re interested in that check it […]


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