3x3 Three Minutes, Three Questions Doug Robinson, 'Frankenstein' director

Posted: October 27, 2017 at 1 a.m.

Courtesy Photo Peter Gaskin is Victor Frankenstein and Jo Hunt is Baroness Frankenstein in the Northwest Arkansas Audio Theater production of "Frankenstein" this weekend at ACO.

"Most people don't know what 'audio theater' is yet, even though the art is rooted in the familiar format of old-time radio drama," says Doug Robinson, director of this weekend's Northwest Arkansas Audio Theater production of "Frankenstein." "Our 'studio' audience will experience how talented voice acting, musicians and sound effects -- 'Foley' -- artists come together with great precision to create this immersive and imaginative experience. We've designed a format that brings this nostalgic art form to a modern audience, and we're acknowledging the live theatrical experience rather than one solely meant for the airwaves."

Robinson says the production has been a year in the making.

FAQ

‘Frankenstein’

WHEN — 7:30 p.m. today & Saturday

WHERE — Arts Center of the Ozarks in Springdale

COST — $10-$13

INFO — 751-5441

FYI

More Fun

On Tuesday

Homegrown Music Festival continues its Auditorium 51 Concert Series from 6 p.m. to midnight Tuesday at Mount Sequoyah. The family-friendly Halloween party includes a pumpkin carving competition, a costume contest, live music from Fayetteville folk/newgrass band Arkansauce at 8 p.m. and hard-drivin’ Carolina bluegrass band Town Mountain (pictured) at 9:30. Doors open at 6 and dogs, blankets and folding chairs are welcome. Beer and wine available for purchase, and Nomads Natural Plate food truck will be on site for dinner. Homegrown will also be collecting gently used and new winter coats to be donated to 7Hills Homeless Shelter. Kids 15 and younger are admitted free. Adult tickets $20. Limited tickets will be sold. homegrownontheriver.com.

"Last year we were performing our first show as an audio theater troupe, 'The Canterville Ghost.' We were really just learning the ropes at that point, but my vision for something more immersive for the audience grew as I watched how they responded to watching the live sound effects," Robinson remembers. "People were looking over their seats wondering how on earth we were making those sounds! I realized the one unique thing about audio theater compared to other formats is the live performance of sound effects. Our Foley artists create some unbelievably imaginative scenes and situations. We have a ship and her crew voyaging to the North Pole under dire circumstances, raging storms and wild experiments. These scenes build and grow differently in every single performance, and the energy in the room gives me goosebumps every night."

Here, Robinson pauses to answer a few questions for What's Up! before opening night.

Q. Is this your first time directing?

A. I have been involved in community theater since I was very young. I have acted and worked in countless shows in my home of Northern California and then in Northwest Arkansas as an adult. I co-founded and helped direct an improv comedy troupe in Northern California called the Redding Improv Players (R.I.P) that still performs today. My job with Tyson keeps me pretty busy, and I am lucky to be able to act in a play once a year, let alone direct, but the Northwest Arkansas Audio Theater has given me the opportunity to do a lot more with theater by being flexible with my busy schedule.

Q. What has been the coolest moment for you during the rehearsal process? And what do you expect the coolest moment to be for audiences?

A. Watching the development of the cast. We have cast members where this is their first time performing, and they are being truly inspired by the process. We also have veteran community actors who are growing into new roles and adapting to this new theatrical medium that is audio theater.

We have a very powerful and imaginative presentation of our Monster that will get people talking, and we also have a few puppet characters, voiced offstage, that really add a new twist in the capabilities of audio theater. Our radio hostess is the Bride of Frankenstein and she is bringing a group of her classic Halloween friends with her to perform our live radio jingles in between the "Frankenstein" script. The audiences will be surprised how much fun they will have hearing this Gothic story.

Q. How closely does the story stick to the novel?

A. We are working with professor Lissette Lopez Szwydky, Ph.D., with the University of Arkansas, who teaches and publishes in the areas of 19th century British Literature and Culture, Adaptation Studies and Gender Studies. She teaches an upper-division course titled "Frankenstein: A Multimedia Cultural History," which covers Frankenstein's historical and literary contexts as well as its cultural legacy via adaptations. She has shared that the story of Frankenstein has survived for nearly 200 years through a legacy of adaptations. Most people's memory of Frankenstein is NOT the original story, but rather one of the numerous adaptations of the original story. This is a big reason why I wanted to pick a script that was as close to Mary Shelley's 1818 classic as possible.

-- Becca Martin-Brown

bmartin@nwadg.com

NAN What's Up on 10/27/2017