From science fiction to reality DSU modernizes Frankenstein
Set in The Beacom Institute of Technology, the Dakota State University Theatre will be performing a modern day take on the classic “Frankenstein” February 21, 22, and 23.
The production will frame “Frankenstein” through the context of a technological creation versus the biological creation in the original novel by Mary Shelly. The play is being performed in The Beacom Institute of Technology to feature the large screen with the constant cyber threats around the globe as part of the set.
“It really gives this feeling of urgency, that this isn’t science fiction,” said Emily Firman Pieper, director of theater productions, “but it’s potentially science reality.”
The DSU production of “Frankenstein” honors the 200-year anniversary of the novel and brings the question of ethics into modern-day fields like cyber and artificial intelligence, and “the choices that we’re faced with when given a lot of technology at our fingertips,” Pieper said.
DSU Theatre is collaborating with students across campus to create a technology-infused “Frankenstein” featuring sound design, technology-infused costume design, lighting effects and more.
“It’s a really cool way to showcase the diversity of talents across campus,” Pieper said.
The duo is creating the sound effects for the production, describing it as “spooky electronic,” and “futuristic horror-ish.”
“A lot of it is messing around with synthesizers and seeing what noises we can come up with,” Morrison said.
Another student, John Townsend is working on coding a project he calls “frankenvision,” which will create a visual response through lighting effects when an actor becomes loud or excited on stage. Townsend is a senior computer science and mathematics major from Sioux Falls, S.D.
Aric Cordell, a freshman cyber operations major from Castlewood, S.D., describes his role as Dr. Frankenstein as a bit more manic in everything.
“He has really high points where he thinks everything is going to be ok and he think he’s going to succeed,” Cordell said. “Then, a few minutes later something goes wrong and he immediately thinks he’s a failure and everything is going to blow up in his face.”
Thomas Punt, a senior biology major from Stickney, S.D. is playing the creature, created through artificial intelligence functioning similar to a cyborg.
Punt described the inspiration for the modernized view as Dakota State’s emphasis on cyber operations, computer majors, and technology and how that technology impacts today’s world. “Sometimes technology can seem dehumanizing and social media can negatively affect our lives in certain ways.”
Firman Pieper described ethics and potential consequences of new creations as something that everyone should take into consideration.
“No matter what discipline students are studying, it is important to look at the theme of unintended consequences and knowing that we have to ask ourselves hard questions,” she said. “We can’t just work in a vacuum and not consider what happens as a result of our innovations.”
At the end of the show the cast and crew will lead a discussion with the audience about the questions that arise throughout the play.
The play has a mature theme for audiences 13 and older. The performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 21, Friday, Feb. 22, and Saturday, Feb. 23. General admission is $8, free for DSU students with an ID card. The performances will be limited seating and must be reserved in advance at eventbrite.com.