“Mary’s Little Monster” gets to the heart of creation at Mudlark Public Theatre

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INFO:
spit&vigor presents “Mary’s Little Monster
WHAT: Local premiere of Thomas Kee’s play about the birth of the “Frankenstein” story. Kaitlan Emery and Sara Fellini direct Adam Belvo, Tyler Downey, Linnea Larsdotter, Ian Petersen and Fellini.
WHEN: Thurs.-Fri. (Nov. 17-18), 8 p.m.; Sat. (Nov. 19), 7 p.m. & 9:30 p.m.
WHERE: Mudlark Public Theatre, 1200 Port St.
TICKETS: Visit the ticket page or email spitnvigor@gmail.com

The company spit&vigor is back with the New Orleans premiere of Thomas Kee’s play about the inspiration behind Mary Shelley’s legendary work “Frankenstein. Co-director and co-star Sara Fellini of spit&vigor took a moment to answer some questions about the work.

What inspired “Mary’s Little Monster” and how did the three of you get together for the project?
“Mary’s Little Monster” is loosely based on the “Year Without Summer,” where Mary Shelley wrote “Frankenstein” whilst cooped up with Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, John Polidori, and Claire Claremont at Byron’s estate on Lake Geneva. It chronicles the artist’s process, the genesis of an idea and the labor it takes to give birth to a work of genius. My partner and I saw a production of “Mary’s” performed in New York, and we loved the story so much we wanted to produce a version with our own company’s take on the material, one that is emotionally raw and volatile, but also explores the subtle and nuanced elements of human interaction that these great writers would have been keenly aware of and which produced such immortal work.

This is, after all, a story about artistic inspiration and creation. What is it about the claustrophobic nature of being sequestered that’s so appealing when you think of “birthing” a story so legendary as “Frankenstein”?
I think that limited surroundings and people can become grating, and that kind of irritant is not unlike a grit of sand in an oyster — given time to agitate and mull, one can produce pearls as you add layer after layer and coat after coat of enamel to a core idea at the heart of a story. As an added experiment, we drove the entire cast down in a van, and that closeness and the lack of time alone has informed and infused our production and performances with an urgency to create that is unique.

How does someone “perform” as a crystal ball?
I myself read Tarot cards, and as any good soothsayer will tell you, a great deal of the reading of a crystal ball (or what’s “in the cards”) is reading the person across from you. I think that being open to what’s in front of you, creating nothing and denying nothing, but being present and allowing the thoughts and prognostications to come as you see them, I think that is a vital element of being a performer — you can perform things that people didn’t even know was in them, just by suggesting the thought.

Why do you think “Frankenstein” in particular and the creation motif in general continues to resonate with audiences? Of all the monster stories we’ve heard over the past century or so, “Dracula” and “Frankenstein” stand so resiliently.
Mary has a wonderful line in this play about how the true “horror is within.” I think this play resonates so strongly because we are all afraid, in some part, of what lies within us — our ability to create, to destroy, and what we might wreak on this planet. I think Mary Shelley wrote an incredible story precisely because she took elements of the world around her and then with a small leap showed the true horror of human creation — that we are afraid of what we are inside, and that if we ourselves are able to create that spark that only the old gods had had up until that point, what terrors might we bring into existence.

Why did you choose Mudlark, and why is it is vital to have this theater space and back up and running in the community?
My partner, Adam, has performed at the Mudlark many times in the past. As part of the New Orleans Fringe, he brought “My Aim Is True” and “Butcher Holler Here We Come” to the space, and when we were thinking of places to bring the show, it was number one on his list for ambience, for the space itself, and for the generosity and warmness of heart and soul that Pandora (Gastelum) and her community has. The Mudlark is a vital space because it brings people together from all walks, and produces top-notch puppetry and theater in the Bywater.

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