The National Theatre's Frankenstein is not the first time Shelley's novel has been adapted for the stage, but it is the first time a stage adaptation has returned the popular story to its source material's feminist themes. Departing from the iterations that portrayed Victor Frankenstein as a Byronic hero, Nick Dear's adaptation has re-designed Frankenstein to be misogynistic and calloused. His new nature is best observed in the scene wherein Frankenstein presents the Woman-Creature he's built for his first Creature. She is naked, silent, submissive, and viciously dismembered at the end of the scene. While such submissiveness might justifiably be criticized by a society that has become incredibly concerned for the representation of women in media, this scene has striking similarities to several performance art pieces of the 1960's and 1970's. Building on an understanding of how these pieces function, the Woman-Creature stops being problematic, and becomes poignant. This thesis compares the Woman-Creature's scene to three particular pieces: Marina Abramovic's "Rhythm 0,"Carolee Schneeman's "Meat Joy,"and Suzanne Lacey's "Three Weeks in May."While not a performance art piece itself, this particular scene in Frankenstein has similar purposes, mainly to show the consequences of a social structure that places men as the dominant leader. By not shying away from the visceral nature of these consequences, this production of Frankenstein shocks the audience and reminds them of the harsh realities of the patriarchal structure still seen today.
College and Department
Theatre and Media Arts
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Gunson, Hannah Mahrii, "The Performing Female Body: The National Theatre Frankenstein as Performance Art" (2019). Theses and Dissertations. 9096.
Frankenstein, performance art, patriarchy, National Theatre, feminism, Ellen Moers, Knoepflmacher, Anne K. Mellor, Jeanie Fort, Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, Marina Abramovic