Posted | October 04 2014

“Frankenstein: The Puppet Opera” - Now Playing at Translations Art Gallery

Craig Joseph opening night

It was in 1816, on a dreary day in Switzerland, that Victor Frankenstein was born.  As Mary Shelley, only 18, and some literary friends sat around a fire passing the time, conversation and ghost tales turned to a friendly contest…who could come up with the best horror story?  Out of young Shelly’s macabre imagination, a corpse was given new life, and one obsessive doctor would spend the next 200 years chasing his creation…his “vile insect”…through movies, television shows, comics and every kind of media.

The themes are easily identifiable—a desire to cheat death, an existential yearning to be loved—that artists of every ilk have drawn inspiration.  Among those adding to that tradition are locals, Erin Mulligan and Craig Joseph, who set out to turn the story into a multimedia, multi-collaboration opera…with puppets.

Puppets are on display at Translations Art Gallery between shows

The idea took root almost 3 years ago, and in the time since, the two artists enlisted a number of musicians and craftsmen to contribute to their vision and add their own bit of stitching to the awakening monster.  They whittled the story down to its key plot points and themes.  While composers Steve Parsons and John Popa composed the music, builders and artists constructed puppets and sets, pouring over old interpretations and gothic art.  After the music was composed, 4 singers and 9 musicians (playing 12 instruments) worked at Canton’s Realgrey Records to record the soundtrack.

Steve Parsons working through vocal parts at Realgrey Records

“Frankenstein: The Puppet Opera” had its first showing during October’s First Friday.  Curious patrons braved the Ohio rain and watched the tragic tale retold in unexpected ways, shadow puppets and marionettes dancing to sorrowful, operatic voices.  It will continue to run for the rest of the month at Translations Gallery, its final show taking place on November 1st.  For now, Mulligan, Joseph and their team are focused on the present, as they release their monster upon Canton’s Halloween season.  After that, who knows where he’ll strike.

—Written by Josh Compton

Visit Translations Art Gallery online for ticket information.  The soundtrack is available for purchase online and at each show.  $15 for the CD.  $10 for a ticket.


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