With Halloween just around the corner, Found Stages has a new show that will help audiences get their spook on. “Frankenstein’s Funeral” is a new look at Mary Shelly’s classic novel – with a twist.
It’s an immersive experience where St. John’s Lutheran Church becomes a Gothic campus. The show will feature holograms, magic, live music, ballet, special effects, period costumes and items to touch, taste and smell. It’s taken a year to put together, involving more than two dozen Atlanta artists, and only forty patrons will be allowed per performance.
The event is a follow-up to the company’s “Frankenstein’s Ball,” an immersive New Year’s Eve experience from last year. They tell different stories in contrasting ways but are envisioned as companion pieces, feels Nichole Palmietto, the company’s artistic director and co-founder. “In ‘Funeral,’ audiences will go on a journey through the novel and Mary Shelley will also be a character, as a guide,” she says. “The audience has been invited to the funeral of Frankenstein. Shelley is giving his eulogy and she wants the audience to realize all the lives he has cost. We go back in time and we see a Frankenstein who is intelligent and articulate with humanity. We travel the campus and watch the Monster come to life.”
Palmietto feels LGBTQ audience will be able to identify with the misunderstood lead character. “The Monster’s story is about fighting for acceptance and being part of society,” she says. “It’s easy for some to look at others who speak or look differently than we do and think of them as monsters. That is the story I hope people leave with – no matter how different someone seems from us they are still part of our community.”
The company was founded in 2014 by Palmietto and Neeley Gossett, who became friends after seeing each other while regularly attending local shows. When they decided to work together, their first show was “Beulah Creek,” which took place during the summer of 1936 during a Baptist camp meeting in the middle of South Georgia. In it, a pastor’s wife meets a photographer who is there to take photos of a revival – and the two women enter into a forbidden romance. It was staged at Dunwoody Nature Center and having it be successful made the two realize they were on to something. “We felt like we were addressing a need that no one else was addressing,” Palmietto says. “That was for immersive, site-specific theater that became more than just a play and involved the audience in the story and allowed them to become part of the narrative and further the plot. Even in immersive theater, I have not seen audiences given this level of responsibility.”
Following that was “Joy Luck Club,” inspired by the Amy Tan novel, in which guests got to learn and play Mahjong with a character and share a memory of their own mother. The company has also produced digital plays as well and last year even staged a text message play.
Neither women identity as LGBTQ although Palmietto is an ally who is active in the Atlanta Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.