Post-Theater Reflections on Frankenstein

In the summer of 2011, the National Theater in London put together a once in a lifetime theater experience. The NT put on a production of Nick Dear’s stage adaptation of Mary Shelley’s famed novel, Frankenstein, with Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) directing.

The basic premise was brilliant on its own, but then Boyle upped the ante. He made the decision to cast two actors to alternate between playing Victor Frankenstein and the Creature. The cast featured Jonny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch alternating those two roles.

I’ve long wanted to see this production, but how could I? It was a stage production in the summer of 2011. It’s 2014 now. I was S.O.L.

Until a few days ago, when my roommate informed me that our local movie theater was showing the NTLive film of the production this week. Monday night, they would show a version with Benedict Cumberbatch as the Creature and Jonny Lee Miller as Victor Frankenstein. She’s going on Wednesday, but I could only go tonight, so…I went tonight!

As I mentioned above, Danny Boyle is probably best known as the director of Slumdog Millionaire. However, he was also the director of the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremonies. That production prepared me far better for what I saw in Frankenstein than Slumdog Millionaire did. The music and the lighting were both similar to the Opening Ceremonies. They were otherworldly and very natural, very primitive.

Overall, the production was delightful. The story is told from the Creature’s perspective rather than Victor’s. And while the Creature isn’t excused/forgiven all of his faults, he is easier to understand when one realizes/acknowledges that he was abandoned by his Creator at his “birth.”

There is, for example, an utterly brilliant scene in which the Creature and Victor meet and discuss both Victor’s motives in creating the Creature and the Creature’s current behavior/lifestyle. In their conversation, it becomes apparent that Victor views himself as a type of god or an equal to god. The Creature’s response comes from Milton’s Paradise Lost.

“Is this the region, this the soil, the clime,
Said then the lost Archangel, this the seat
That we must change for heav’n, this mournful gloom
For that celestial light?

In this scene, I think that Dear and Boyle demonstrate a full understanding of the struggle central both to the character of Victor Frankenstein and to that of the Creature. Frankenstein’s desire to be a god in his act of corruption forces the initially innocent Creature to feel a kinship with Satan rather than Adam. While the God of Genesis responds to the creation of Adam by saying “It is very good,” Victor responds to the creation of the Creature by panicking and running away. The contrast is thought-provoking. I think I’m not done processing this yet, but the production definitely left me with some meat to chew on.

Over all, I enjoyed the play. It was different from what I expected, but I liked being forced to think. If you can get a chance to see the film, I’d definitely recommend it.

If you’ve seen the production, I’d love to hear your thoughts. And once my roommate sees the version with Jonny Lee Miller as the Creature and Benedict Cumberbatch as Victor, I’ll try to link-up her reflections.

Pattern Release: Elise McKenna

Last summer, I was privileged to visit one of Michigan’s little bits of heaven, Mackinac Island. While there, I asked my lovely friend, Kathleen, to model a cowl I had just designed that I was going to name Elise McKenna after the main character in the classic film, Somewhere in Time (Collector’s Edition). Kathleen was, naturally, a wonderful model, and the cowl flowed beautifully with the beautiful waters of Lake Huron. IMG_0862 The cowl is worked flat and then seamed at the end. It uses US Size 6 needles and about 300 yards of fingering weight yarn. It is a relatively simple pattern, and I hope that you’ll give it a try. IMG_0863I have decided to publish this pattern as a free pattern until the end of 2013. The pattern can be found here and you can see my project page hereIMG_0864

Two Hundred Years of Pride and Prejudice

In case you haven’t heard yet, my favorite book turned 200 today. Yes, the thoroughly delightful Miss Jane Austen first published her most famous work on January 28, 1813.

And two hundred years later, the book (and its various film adaptations) are still beloved by women (and men) the world round. After all, who can ever forget the chemistry sizzling between the awkward Colin Firth and the defiant Jennifer Ehle in the 1995 BBC adaptation or the awkward brooding of Matthew MacFayden in the the 2005 edition?

The story has encountered zombies. It’s been modernized and sent to India. It’s even found its way into a vlog format on YouTube.

So why is this story so popular? What makes this brooding, shy man so attractive to women of the 21st century?

(photo credit: Pinterest)

Is it that we just all love the thought of Colin Firth in a waistcoat and cravat? Is it because all women see themselves as Elizabeth Bennet and their best friend as Jane Benent? Or is it something in his air, his manner of speaking, his manner of treating his beloved Elizabeth that strikes us? Is it his strong morals and his devotion to those he loves that resonates with us?

Well, I can’t speak for all the Janeites, but I can speak for myself.

Fitzwilliam Darcy is a strong, proud, reserved man. He is well-educated, both at an academic level and a personal level. (Have you heard about his library?) He holds firmly to his beliefs-although he does accept correction when it is needed. He defends what he believes in. He isn’t perfect as he himself will admit, and this admission is not false modesty but a sincere fact. He will do anything for those people he loves-his sister, Georgiana, Charles Bingley, Elizabeth Bennet etc. And this is endearing to me.

And then there is Elizabeth. She is a strong woman who knows her mind. She is intelligent. Like Darcy, she is protective of those she loves. She is stubborn but willing to be corrected when necessary. She is impetuous and not always the most discerning. But she is a very intelligent young lady.

The supporting cast is also realistic. While they are not as strongly and intricately drawn as the main characters, they are still realistic and relatable. We’ve all known some variation on Caroline Bingley and Colonel Fitzwilliam. Like it or not, we’ve all met a Wickham.

So why is Pride and Prejudice so popular after two hundred years? Because it’s realistic and relatable-at least that’s my take on it. (And because while these two are stinking adorable,

(Picture via fanpop)

These two are just as adorable…

(Picture courtesy of Pinterest)

What do you think? Why do you think that a book about relationships (not just romantic relationships but friendships and family relationships) has endured for 200 years? Please let me know in the comments.

Thursday Thoughts

I’ve managed to make it to another Thursday. I still have to make it through Friday, but I’m subbing in a second grade classroom, which probably won’t kill me and even if it does, I have to drive by a Starbucks to get home, so I can probably revive myself…in an manner that is appropriate to a Friday in Lent.

  1. But anyway, it’s Thursday, and I’m still here. And it’s March! I have survived another Leap Day…without proposing marriage to anyone.
  2. Also, in making it through Leap Day, I have made it to the first (hopefully annual) March Ado About Nothing. Yes, that’s right. We are now dedicating an entire month to my favorite Shakespeare play. Next, we’re going to start throwing Henry V parties on the Feast of St. Crispin and then we’ll have Twelfth Night parties every January 5. (Side note: Google informs us that the next Twelfth Night will be Sunday, January 5, 2013. Clear your calendars.)
  3. Just wait until I figure out how to have Hamlet parties…
  4. After I’m done writing this blog post, I’m going to watch the 1992 adaptation of Much Ado. You know, the one with Ken and Emma and Ken tries to convince us that somehow Denzel Washington and Keanu Reeves could be brothers. Something tells me that the charming Mr. Branagh never did very well in biology as a child.
  5. Today, I misspelled my own last name on the whiteboard. And it took me over an hour to realize it. I need to drink more coffee.
  6. Oooooh! We could have Macbeth parties and dance around boiling cauldrons!
  7. I’d like to report now that I’m a little over 5/7 of the way through Middlemarch. It’s like eating brussel sprouts while getting your teeth pulled. No, actually, it’s like eating brussel sprouts while pulling your own teeth.
  8. To be fair, I actually really enjoyed the brussel sprouts I had back in December. But no one was pulling anyone’s teeth during that meal.
  9. I’m about 1/10 of the way into Jesus of Nazareth. It goes down much better with coffee than it does without…and that’s because I’m more alert with coffee than without. But it is far more enjoyable than brussel sprouts. Or dentistry.
  10. I’m currently knitting a gorgeous shawl, a sweater, and a sweater-dress. In case you care.
  11. How would you throw a King Lear party? Please comment and tell me.
  12. And don’t forget to remember to get me birthday presents on December 16 for Jane Austen’s birthday.
  13. Or I won’t invite you to my totally awesome Henry VI (Part Two) Party where we will begin by killing all the lawyers.

Sense in Georgia

A few weeks ago, I declared today the first International Sense and Sensibility Appreciation Day. So, Becky and I headed up to spend the afternoon with Katie and to appreciate Jane Austen’s first novel by watching the 20087/8 BBC/WGBH movie.

If you’ve never heard this before, I love this movie. In my opinion, Dan Stevens is the perfect Edward…and Hattie Morahan is superb as Elinor. And the supporting cast is pretty great as well.

We had a fabulous afternoon. We started by making chicken and sweet potatoes for lunch. We also used various moments throughout the afternoon to document the fact that I finally finished my Georgia sweater earlier this week.











I really love this sweater. It’s comfortable. The yarn (Malabrigo Sock) is delicious. And it held up to my adventures in attempting to cut sweet potatoes.  

After the potatoes and chicken were done, we at lunch. And after that, we watched the movie…while eating chocolate.









And after that, we got another picture of my sweater…because Katie and Becky are most helpful like that.











And now, I’m home. S&S Day was a success. We appreciated it. And I think we’re going to keep this holiday around for a while.

And my Georgia is fabulous.

Friday Confessions

  1. I’m taking a personal day today. I subbed four days last week. Then I spent the weekend focusing on a bridal shower I threw in Grand Rapids on Sunday. And then I whipped around and spent the past four days subbing again. At the end of it all, I’m exhausted. So today, I ran errands, got some sewing ideas in my head, and bought Momsy’s birthday present.
  2. My Georgia sweater is 75% done. The photo below is my progress as of 8pm (ish) last night. (Please ignore my awkward right arm.) The sweater is lovely. The right sleeve is coming along beautifully. I bought some lovely red buttons for it today. I can’t wait until I have a finished object to wear and show off.
  3. While I adore the Georgia and am ridiculously excited to have it finished, I took a few breaks from it to do some instant gratification knitting. Both projects were test knits, so I don’t have pattern links for you-yet. But I’m still going to show the lovely things (a hat and a headband) off.   
  4. Back in December I promised that I would read Middlemarch this year. Well, I’m going to start reading it ASAP. And hopefully, I’ll be done with it (and back with a report on it) by mid-March. (Get it? mid-March, Middlemarch? Yeah, I know. I’m horrible.)
  5. Byzantine Lent starts on Monday. I still don’t know what I’m doing for Lent. I think I’m going to read Jesus of Nazareth this Lent, which would fulfill another of my 12 goals for 2012. But I just came up with that idea while typing this blog post, so I need to think about that before I commit to it.
  6. I bought this pattern today. I bought it to make the dress, but now I also really want to make the top and the pants. I almost bought fabric to make the top today but the line was really long and I just wanted to finish my errands and get home.

Crazy Old Maurice…err…Cecilia

I’m knitting a hat right now. And as I often do while knitting hats, I decided to try it on.

And then, I realized that I looked like someone quite familiar to a woman whose favorite Disney movie is Beauty and the Beast.

Yeah, it’s a bit disturbing, but that’s what happens when you’re working with two circular needles at the same time.

You find yourself turning into the crazy inventor who left his daughter in the Beast’s castle.