New Adaptation of ‘Frankenstein’ Examines Gender Norms Through Non-Traditional Casting

Michigan State University’s Department of Theatre is presenting a new adaptation of Mary Shelley’s classic gothic horror novel, Frankenstein. Through the use of some creative casting, the production examines the themes of gender norms and the plight of humanity at the hands of a thoughtless creator. 

The new adaptation, developed in 2018 by Southwest Shakespeare Company co-Producing Artistic Director Quinn Mattfeld, more closely follows the original text than some of the popular movie adaptations. In an intriguing departure from the original story, Director and Department of Theatre Assistant Professor of Media Acting Ryan Welsh has cast graduate student Abbie Cathcart, a female actor, in the role of Frankenstein’s Monster.

“My hope in the non-traditional gender casting of this show is that we reveal new truths buried within the source material,” Welsh said, “and perhaps more importantly, that we are able to reflect on our own assumptions around gender by viewing a familiar narrative of Frankenstein and his Creature through a new lens.”

I am so proud of the Department of Theatre faculty, staff, and students who continue to explore non-traditional casting to re-imagine what theater is and can be.

Kirk Domer, Chair of the Department of Theatre


The artistic team also had the opportunity to train with experts from Vertigo, an Illinois-based theatrical flying effects and rigging company, to add an aerial element to the production.

“I am so proud of the Department of Theatre faculty, staff, and students who continue to explore non-traditional casting to re-imagine what theater is and can be,” said Kirk Domer, Chair of the Department of Theatre. “Additionally, we are excited to welcome Vertigo back to Michigan State to engage our students in design and technology to experience modern stagecraft and innovation from leading industry professionals. This is experiential learning at its best!”

Frankenstein runs for 10 performances October 11-13 and 15-20 at the Pasant Theatre. The performance will have graphic simulated violence, disturbing imagery, and sexual content. It is recommended for ages 14+. Tickets are $17 for general admission, $15 for seniors and MSU faculty, and $12 for MSU students and are available online at whartoncenter.com, at the Wharton Center box office, or by calling 1-800-WHARTON.