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Frankenstein Meets Big Brother

26 September 2012

"It was to do with the whole modern interpretation of creating a monster and I think Big Brother has created a few monsters over the years." - Adam Hemming

London Calling’s Becky White took time out to catch up with Adam Hemming Artistic Director of performing arts venue The Space on the Isle of Dogs and writer of Frankenstein on from 11 – 13 October.

London Calling: How does your role of Artistic Director of The Space fit with your writing?

Adam Hemming: I used to write a lot and I’ve sort of stopped over the last five years as I’ve been busy running The Space, also I’ve recently had a bit of time off to have my first child. Having time off for paternity leave meant that I had to cut down on the amount of directing that I was doing so I thought it was a good opportunity to pick up on the writing. I wrote Frankenstein in the gaps when my new born child was sleeping.

In the past I’ve been actor, writer, director and Artistic Director – which can be a hard job trying to balance all these different roles. So I’ve focused on directing but I’m now looking forward to doing more writing.

LC: What was the inspiration for the reimagining of Frankenstein in the Big Brother house?

AH: It was actually the idea of the director (Donna Bamford), but it was to do with the whole modern interpretation of creating a monster and I think Big Brother has created a few monsters over the years. The way the media shapes people’s views of others is a nice parallel with the way that people view the monster or the creation. I think it fits quite well as a theme for the play.

LC: Frankenstein has been adapted in many mediums – stage, screen, poetry etc. What do you think is the ongoing draw to this classic text?

AH: First and foremost it is a fantastic story and lends itself to a number of different interpretations. It is a multi-layered story and you can impose your own viewpoint on it. And the fact that there are 3 stories within it – you have Robert Walton’s story on the outside and Victor Frankenstein’s and then the Creation’s story. They all open up the range of perspectives that can be used.

LC: What is new about this adaptation that hasn’t been done previously?

AH: I think I’ve gone back to Shelley’s text and tried to extract from that the dialogue that was dramatic and strong. I sort of knew in advance that the director (Donna) wanted to tell the story in an abstract way so I really wanted the language and the descriptions from the novel to come through that telling, so when you read it on the page it is quite melodramatic but with the abstract storytelling style that Donna gives it I think you will get in equal measure the story of Frankenstein and the interpretation in the Big Brother house.

LC: A bit more about The Space, how do you see the program of the venue as telling its own story?

AH: We aim to program new work and new adaptations of classic stories. We find that our audiences sometimes need a hook to draw them in, so we look at retelling stories they have heard of. Earlier in our history we were more of an experimental new work venue but now we have more of a balance as we have introduced the classic stories. We developed the programming a lot recently, this current season has a lot of new writing with a few revivals such as Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens and Frankenstein, but most of the program is new work.

LC: Has all the activity over the summer made much of a difference to attendance to the venue?

AH: We were a thoroughfare for people attending activities in Greenwich, Canary Wharf and at the ExCel Centre such as the equestrian events. We were in the middle of all of this without anything directly happening. The atmosphere on the isle of dogs was great, it was like everyone was going off on holiday or to party, a very positive mood but I don’t think it really effected footfall to us and transport was fine.

LC: Do you think that the development of the east of London as a destination will help you to reach a wider London audience?

AH: The Isle of Dogs has dealt with major development over a number of years now with Canary Wharf being next to it so we are ahead of the game in terms of adjusting to this. The work in Canary Wharf hasn’t been completed yet so there is still more to come there as well as further east!



Don’t miss the all night event Masquerade Ball which follows the final performance of Frankenstein on 13 October 11pm – 6am. The event includes performances, canapes, a glass of fizz and a breakfast treat for those who last the distance! To book, please visit the website.

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