Schoolcraft College Theatre opens the 2022-23 season with a new interpretation of a familiar tale with “The Gravedigger: A Frankenstein Play.” Written by Joseph Zettelmaier, the piece includes many of the elements of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” while exploring more deeply some of the themes presented in her book.
Michael Alan Herman, in his second year teaching theatre arts at Schoolcraft, is the director. The veteran actor and playwright said the audience won’t see Boris Karloff’s “Frankenstein” stomping around the James R. Hartman Theatre.
“A lot of people know theUniversal Studios version of Frankenstein – this big hulking green monster that has bolts on the side of his neck,” Herman said. “But that is not the monster that Mary Shelley wrote in her genius book. Her monster is poetic and yearns for love, sees the world with wide-eye fascination, and takes criticism very personally.
“This is the same monster that Joe wrote in ‘Gravedigger.’ The story is a deep dive into the human condition and asks these powerful questions like ‘What does it mean to be human?’ and ‘What does it mean to be a good human?’ The actors really go to 11 when it comes to the drama and the excitement, and I can’t wait for Schoolcraft audiences to see what we are making for them.”
Zettelmaier is a familiar name to patrons of Schoolcraft College Theatre. His play “It Came From Mars” was to be the spring 2020 production, but had to be canceled due to COVID-19. A year later, Zettelmaier and Herman collaborated on “Alone/Together,” which was presented in March 2021.
“Joe is just the best,” Herman said. “He’s a genius writer, a visionary director, and on top of that, he is just the nicest person you would have the chance to meet. I love working with Joe. He, my wife, and I work together all the time and we just love it.
“Joe is so good at writing plays that are heartwarming, meaningful and funny at the same time. ‘Gravedigger’ is no different. It’s set in a world of monsters and villains, but it has so much heart and I couldn’t love it more.”
Herman has had a busy past few months acting as he landed the role of Dylan in the movie “Chasing Hope.” His parts were filmed in nearby Brighton.
“’Chasing Hope’ is a Christian feature film about a man named David Jakes who is trying to save himself from a degenerative disease,” Herman said. “In the process, he recruits my character to find him a donor. I’m a hacker/part-time criminal that has some experience poking around places that I’m not supposed to. We find a woman named Hope, who is a good match for Jake, and I spend a lot of the film pursuing her – or … ‘chasing’ Hope.”
Herman said “Chasing Hope” premiered a few weeks ago and should be distributed soon on a streaming service. View the trailer.
“Gravedigger: A Frankenstein Play” will open at 8 p.m. on Friday, October 28 – just in time for Halloween – in the James R. Hartman Theatre on the campus of Schoolcraft College.
Other performance times are:
- Saturday, October 29 – 8 p.m.
- Sunday, October 30 – 2 p.m. (matinee)
- Friday, November 4 – 8 p.m.
- Saturday, November 5 – 8 p.m.