Frankenstein: The Scary Part

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Today we begin the closing weekend of Frankenstein with five final performances. It’s been a ton of fun to watch this show get to its feet and learn to run.

I’m at Lipscomb University this morning, about to walk in and talk to a group of students about theater, and as I do so, I’m overwhelmed by how lucky I am that I get to do this kind of work. The experience of writing a story and then seeing it incarnated in three dimensions on a stage is surreal.

It’s scary, but it’s also exhilarating.

There’s a community of dozens of people who have all brought their various crafts to bear on the story and the result is something we all own collectively. I’m thankful for that because it means the lights and the set and the costumes and the makeup and the performances all carry my work when the words alone aren’t enough. That’s the exhilarating part. We carry one another.

We work on something so long and so hard that we can no longer be the best judge of it. At that point we have to trust those around us to tell us the truth.

Pete Peterson

Last week, Jennifer and I were on the way to one of the final dress rehearsals and I was wringing my hands because I was concerned the show wasn’t ready and would be a disaster. She didn’t believe me and I told her in complete seriousness: “Do you have any idea what it’s like to create something and expect to love it, and then feel absolute terror when you realize it’s turned into something horrible and you can’t stop it?”

She immediately started laughing and asked me to think about what I’d just said. Then I was laughing too (and the ghost of Victor Frankenstein shook his head bemusedly).

But all irony aside, that is the scary part, isn’t it? We work on something so long and so hard that we can no longer be the best judge of it. At that point we have to trust those around us to tell us the truth. So I’m grateful for all the folks who have connected with the story and understood it and been moved by it. Thank you. Thank you for telling me, and thank you for passing the word on to others. I’m humbled by every single person who has given it their time and attention.

I don’t know if Frankenstein will have a life beyond this short run. But I’m deeply thankful for Matt Logan and Studio Tenn for trusting me with the story and incarnating it so beautifully. If you haven’t seen it yet, you’ve still got time, but tickets are going fast. Get thee to the theater.

Get your tickets here.

Pete Peterson is the author of the Revolutionary War adventure The Fiddler’s Gun and its sequel Fiddler’s Green. Among the many strange things he’s been in life are the following: U.S Marine air traffic controller, television editor, art teacher and boatwright at the Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch, and progenitor of the mysterious Budge-Nuzzard. He lives in Nashville with his wife, Jennifer, where he's the Executive Director of the Rabbit Room and Managing Editor of Rabbit Room Press.


6 Comments

  1. Jonny

    Pete, I don’t know if this has been asked before… but is there any hope this might be produced at some point as an audiodrama?
    I’m not necessarily asking if there are plans to do so, just looking for a shred of hope for those of us who can’t be in town during its run. =)

  2. Chris Slaten

    It all comes back to the Chalk Dragon! We’re so sad that we can’t make these performances. Here’s hoping that this somehow makes a longer run than you’re expecting. I would love to at least read it!

  3. David Getz

    @davegetz

    Pete, you just hit the nail on the head. I think anyone who has worked on a single project for a year or longer can relate to your feelings. I know I have. The words “will it all be for naught?” have too often served as the epitaph for a majority of my rough drafts. This short post provides me with great courage. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Pete Peterson

    @pete

    Jonny, I keep getting comments from folks asking about audio or video recordings, but the simple fact is that theater only really works in person. As soon as you try to deliver it in some other medium, it becomes something else. A good play is created with the three dimensions of the stage as a necessary part of its experience.

  5. Natalie Pace

    I have walked something similar to this so many times!! From asking my family what they thought about every video I ever edited, to participating in and then helping to run theatre and dance dress rehearsals (and sitting in the literal rubble after one of them), to writing, directing, and editing a short film… I have been there SO many times. And you’re right… after a certain point, you’ve put in uncountable hours of work and you can’t turn back now, but you have no idea if it’s any good. You’re too close. But it’s scary to ask for feedback… I used to get so hurt by negative feedback, but I’ve gone through the process so often that I’ve learned how to make myself dissociate myself from my work. I’ve learned how to see constructive criticism as suggestions of how my work could be better, instead of lists of ways it’s all wrong. Now I depend on feedback. I’m terrified to do anything or call anything “finished’ without having a bunch of people tell me what they think first. And then everything becomes a collaboration. I have a tendency to be such a control freak… but collaboration is so freeingly beautiful. I love watching other people be awesome at what they do! And I SO wish I could see your play… I know that live theatre only works live. I hope it gets staged again sometime in the future.

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