‘Frankenstein’ was memorably brought back to life on the stage last week thanks to the united efforts of Talbot Heath School and the Arts University Bournemouth (AUB). The school and university were delighted to have been given the opportunity to perform ‘Frankenstein: The Year Without a Summer’, at the private Dorset theatre, which was built by the son of Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and his wife Mary, author of ‘Frankenstein’. The collaborative production involved the combined female talents of three Talbot Heath pupils, all under the age of 16: Ellie Burrage as Mary Shelley, Darcey Lees as Percy Bysshe Shelley and Melina Bryant as Lord Byron, alongside AUB costume design and scenography students: Emma Robertson, Melissa Hamill, Carly Warwick, Marnie Fitzpatrick and Frankie Saundry [Costume], Celia Grenville [Make-up], and Set Designer Josie Duncan. Directed by Nicola Baylis from Talbot Heath, the play offered a unique and challenging opportunity for all involved.
The peeling plaster and paint of the current theatre, combined with the knowledge that the Shelleys resided there, created an amazing atmosphere, perfectly fitting with the gothic inspired piece. Shelley Manor is an important part of Bournemouth’s literary history and the theatre, which is in the process of renovation, provided the perfect backdrop to Helen Davis’ new take on Mary Shelley’s classic gothic horror story. The performances raised funds to support the ongoing renovation work and the aim of the piece was to enrich the educational experience of those who were passionate about the project. For the AUB students the project allowed them to design for a public performance and work alongside young people to bring ideas to life. Their professionalism shone through the whole process: they experienced at first hand the challenges and thrills of working in a unique environment with a unique cast.
Mrs Holloway, the Head, stated how proud she was of all of the girls involved emphasising how ‘enthusiastic, dedicated and hard-working they had been, giving many hours of their time to create the performance.’ She added how the students had risen to the significant challenge of performing the multiple roles within a relatively short time scale with, ‘impressive energy and commitment.’ A special thank you goes to the staff and students who worked hard to deliver a production full of passion and spirit, performed with the aim of breathing a little more life into the beating heart of Shelley Manor.