Comparing and Analysing The Gift and Frankenstein

Comparing and Analysing The Gift and Frankenstein

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Comparing and Analysing The Gift and Frankenstein

We watched a video called “The Gift”. This was a story of a girl
called Annie, aged 16. She was a keen sportswoman and played football
regularly. However, she began to develop balance difficulties. These
difficulties began to escalate, Annie and her mother, Barbara, decide
to go to the Doctors. They find out that Annie has a sever condition
named Friedricks Attaxia in which your muscles waste away. Annie is
told that her condition will deteriorate and she will eventually die.

On hearing this news, Annie’s brother, Ryan, who is fourteen, wants to
be tested for the disease. Ryan finds that he is a carrier of the
disease.

The film now goes forward in time to the year 2012. Annie, Ryan’s
sister, s now dead. Ryan is married and wants to have a child but is
concerned as to whether his wife is a carrier of Friedericks Attaxia,
she is tested and found as a carrier. This means that there is a
chance of their child being born with this disease. Ryan wants to make
sure that their child does not have the disease. Ryan persuades his
wife to let him select a child, using advanced technology, which does
not carry the Friedericks Attaxia gene, on condition that that is the
only thing that he selects. However, as a geneticist, Ryan can read
and understand the gene odes which are presented to him, Ryan decides
to pick a child without the Friedericks Attaxia gene, but also selects
a boy who is good at sport (in memory of Annie).

The story again goes forward in time. Now in the year 2029, Ryan is
now divorced and their son, Mark, is now 16. He is a tennis champion.
However, he discovers he cannot qualify for an award because he was a
‘Designer baby’. Mark now confronts his father, Ryan, who reveals the
truth.

The film ends with a talk show, debating whether designer babies
should be allowed, in which Ryan, his ex – wife, Mark, and a scientist
are interviewed. Ryan and the scientist are clearly for the proposal;
Ryan’s ex wife is against. They debate the pros and cons of Genetic
Engineering. These included increased quality of life for the pros,
but it was argues that designer babies took away the foetus’ right to
live.

We talked about the issues, characters and their viewpoints. Ryan
(when he was young) was very jealous of Annie, and all of the
attention she was receiving. However, he was devastated by Annie’s
condition. Ryan turns out to be a very clever, determined man, who,
although he took it too far, tried to use genetic engineering for

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good.

Ryan’s mother played a small part in this play. She is a very loving,
caring mother who, when she found out about Annie’s condition, reacted
as any mother would – furious, but also devastated – I think that if
she had been given the option of Genetic Engineering for Annie, she
would have taken it.

Ryan’s wife, does not believe in Genetic Engineering for anything but
genetic disorders, and has to be persuaded to let Ryan select their
child. She is furious when she discovers that Ryan ‘handpicked’ their
child to be a boy and good at sport.

Annie is a keen sportswoman (this is pointed out many times during her
short role) and, naturally, becomes frustrated when she becomes unable
to play sport as well as she can. On hearing the news she is, as would
be expected, devastated. She now suffers different moods, raging from
anger, to denial, to apathy. I believe that she would support Genetic
Engineering.

Mark is the product of the whole of the story’s debate. He is a very
frustrated, confused, and upset character. He is also confused on the
factor of the debate, he appreciates that his father meant well and
possibly saved him from Friedericks Attaxia, but he disagrees with the
fact that he was selected to be a boy and given ‘The Gift’ of sport.

As groups of 3,4, or 5, we then created 5 still pictures to show key
moments of the story. Ryan was the link between 1998, 2012 and 2029 as
he played a main part in each of these years. Each photograph shows
the change in attitude towards characters from other characters (Ryan
hugging Annie – showing their ever growing relationship). The
photographs are a way of “Marking the moment” (highlighting
significant parts of the play).

We later used the photographs for thought tracking – a method used to
show characters thoughts (as they may be different to what and how
they speak) during a play. We then used the photographs to evaluate
our success. My main success was my use of gestures, (such as
photograph 5, when I (playing Ryan) hold my arms out, as if I am
begging Ryan to accept my ideas and forgive me). The group’s success
was how we clearly presented each scene/photograph. Maybe we could
have improved by being more dramatic (increasing facial expressions
and actions) or making better use of props.

Next we had a debate, set in Mark’s present, our future of 2029. We
created realistic role plays using our knowledge of genetics and
characters from the video. I was the presenter of the “talk show” and
had to be biased towards the opposition of Genetic Engineering. I
needed to ask questions, agreeing with the opposers, and disagreeing
with the proposers. I presented points such as the fact that, with
Genetic Engineering, Annie would not have been born. I made sure that
I performed confidently and used loud hand gestures, to echo my
confidence. I also projected my voice well, as a real presenter would
need to do. I feel that I presented each of my questions and points
well. I think that our group debate worked extremely well.

As a result of the debate and my viewing of the video, my views on
Genetic Engineering are that it should be used for good, not
convenience. Extreme Genetic Disorders should be removed, however,
people should not be given talents. I believe this because we will end
up with a very ‘perfect’ and alike nation. Also, if these abilities to
give immunity against disease fall into the wrong hands, it can be
used as a weapon.

We that looked at stimulus materials. Please see copies for my notes.
Although the texts are from different cultures and eras , they have
things in common – they all show humans ambition to better themselves
and to investigate into the unknown. Although Frankenstein is fiction,
it deals with issues of real life in both the “Graveyard Ghouls
Article” and “Modern Frankensteins” – what was illegal then is now
rapidly becoming legal today.

We brainstormed current medical and scientific issues such as
cosmetic surgery and organ transplants. Our group of 4 people decided
to work on organ transplants. Our play was based on an argument of who
deserved the lung transplant more – a prolific smoker, who’s lung was
in an extremely bad state, or a lung cancer sufferer, who had never
smoked before, but was in a more stable state that the smoker. Morally
the non smoker should be given the transplant first, however
medically, the smoker needs it. We decided to first discuss, as a
group, the plot, a script to follow and characters. I was given the
role of the non smoker. We then rehearsed several times, improving our
performance each time. I felt that our group performed quite well and
voiced our opinions through the play. I felt I also acted well, using
a range of emotions such as anger. We performed our pieces, which we
set in a doctor’s surgery, in which the two patients meet and have a
disagreement about the issue of transplants and waiting lists, we did
this as it showed a realistic situation in which two people meet, and
discuss. This helped us put across our arguments, both for and
against, each person. After the performance we were then hot seated to
show how closely we had identified with our characters. We were each
asked why we should be given the first transplants. I described that I
should be treated first as I had don nothing wrong to aggravate my
condition. Overall, I think that I had performed quite well in my part
but could have done better by using more body language and gestures,
to illustrate my feelings more.

We discussed all the performances which covered subjects such as
cosmetic surgery and transplants. We agreed that most scientific
developments create controversy of some sort. We also agreed that,
like Frankenstein’s monster, people do not like to be outsiders or
feel “different”.

We have now completed the response phase. We have looked at a
selection of scientific/medical issues and have looked at a range of
texts, the earliest dating from 1818 and one which looks into the
projected future of 2029. We are now ready to develop our ideas
further during the development phase.

We have already used the following explorative strategies: still
image; hot seating; role play; thought tracking and marking the
moment.

Development Phase

Using our ideas from the response phase, it was not time to develop
some of our views into a short performance to share with the rest of
the class. We looked again at scientific experiments associated with
the period of the Frankenstein story and through to the present day;
we all agreed that experiments on animals were a common link between
the past, the present and probably the future. We decided to develop
our main piece of work around the subject of animal testing (or
vivisection).

We discussed our own personal views about testing. I believe that
testing on animals is necessary – to some extent. Animal medical
testing has saved billions of human lives , however, I believe that
testing cosmetics and experiments such as forcing animals to inhale
cigarette smoke to see how long it takes to kill it is barbaric and
unjust. Enough animals are killed for medical reasons, more should not
be killed for our “beauty”.

We all had different views, some people believed that animal testing
should be banned completely, I disagree as if animal testing was not
allowed, drugs for a variety of conditions would not be discovered.
Another belief is that all animal testing should be allowed, I again
disagree with this as I think testing cosmetics on animals is
unnecessary. This suggests that there are at least two sides to every
argument.

We decided to develop a piece of improvisation which was different to
our previous work because it will not be realistic. We have decided to
do this to grab the audience’s attention and to represent an
alternative point of view for this subject.

We made the following decisions during our planning:

· We decided that animals would talk, not the humans/scientists. This
will create a role reversal, in which the audience are shown the
animal’s thoughts and feelings. The main aim for this was to turn the
audience’s sympathy towards the animals, to understand that animals
have feelings and emotions as well as humans.

· Animals voices, words and movements – we decided to vent each
animal’s emotions through these, e.g. a scared animal would be on
edge, very alert and would speak very quietly, voice breaking
occasionally. To demonstrate the lack of space that the animals are
given, we decided to bunch up the characters, with one pacing
backwards and forwards in a small space to demonstrate boredom.

· Scientists’ movement, body language, speech – we decided to limit
the scientist’s movement. It was freer than that of the animals but
each scientist followed a set path. This was to create an inhuman
atmosphere (role reversal – humans – almost as animals). To add to
this atmosphere we decided to limit the speech of humans to
animal-like grunts. This would create the same mystery for the
audience as to what each scientist was saying as it does when we hear
animals communicate. To add an extra threat to the animals we
choreographed the scientists to follow a set track of movement, in
which part way through this movement, one would stop and band loudly
on a table (used as props for a cage, animals hide underneath this.).
This is threatening to the animals as they cannot see what is
happening.

· Each scientist wore a white mask (see cover sheet) and a white apron
(later changed to a blood-soaked apron) to create a plain, inhuman,
clean, laboratory like effect. The white mask was used to strip each
human of any emotion that they possessed (making humans seem robot
like and the animal’s human like).

· Use of space and levels – to separate the animals from the humans we
made a cage from two tables joined together. A row of chairs were set
up behind these in which the scientists would walk along. The animals
were not allowed to move above the height of the tables. This means
that although the animals were positioned forward of the scientists,
the scientists were always in control. They were behind and on a much
higher level to the animals meaning that the animals could only hear,
not see, the scientists.

· Use of lighting – throughout most of the play a dim, blue light was
used, to create a feeling of mystery and fear. After the brief
blackout, a dark, red light was used, symbolising terror and
bloodshed.

· Climax, anti climax – Throughout most of the play we used a dim blue
light, however, as the play approached its climax and scientists came
to take an animal away we used a blackout. Silence also accompanied
this blackout for five seconds, a scream was then heard. A dark, red
light was then used to show the remaining animals left, cowering on
the floor, terrified. Each scientist, during the blackout has changed
from their white, clean apron, into their bloodstained apron. They are
shown standing in a crowd, laughing evilly. The lights were then
switched off again to end the show.

· Characters – each animal was given its own human like character,
again to make the audience feel closer and more understanding towards
the animal.

We finally created our pieces of work. The following is evidence of
our final ideas.

Task 3 – Evaluative Phase

We began the evaluation phase by looking back again at the drama
texts: “The Gift” (1998,2012,and 2029); “Frankenstein”(book 1818; film
1931); modern newspaper article about grave robbers/body snatchers of
1824. “Modern Frankensteins” information sheet; modern newspaper
articles about IVF, cloning, scientific progress.

All tests involve ideas relating to scientific experiments for
improving or changing humans/life in some way:

* The Gift – Genetic Engineering, alters which cells are used for
fertilisation, therefore selects a child for you.

* Frankenstein – One man’s dream of making the perfect human being –
tall, strong, dominant.

* Grave robbers/Body Snatchers – real life ‘Frankensteins’ – people
attempting to create a perfect being.

* IVF – If a woman cannot become pregnant, she is given this
treatment in which the woman is stimulated to produce many eggs.
They are then taken out of her body and mixed with a man’s sperm,
this fertilises the egg. The fertilised egg is now put back into
the female’s body in which they become pregnant and give birth.
IVF treatment can result in multiple births.

* Cloning – It is believed that many diseases can be cured if cells
are cloned, so far no human has been cloned.

I think that the book of Frankenstein was created as a horror and was
written to shock adult audiences of its time. After all, body
snatching and these kinds of experiments were completely unheard of.

I believe that each of the modern texts (Modern Frankensteins, IVF,
and Cloning) are all designed to inform and defend modern science to
sceptics all over the world.

“The Gift” was a play targeted at school children to educate them
about genetics. The texts dealing with body snatching/grave robbing
are “Frankenstein” and the article about Burk and Hare. In those days,
experimenting using body parts, was illegal as it was considered
unnatural and against the will of God. The more modern texts show that
we have come a long way since the 1800s, this is demonstrated in plays
such as “The Gift”. People can have the option as to whether or not
they want to design their baby to suit the needs of a genetic
disorder/ disease etc. that their other child may have.

Today’s society is also very image conscious and demands perfection.
Cosmetic surgery such as breast enhancement/facelifts is now more
affordable and so is available to the general public. Medical
developments have increased today’s life expectancy dramatically,
therefore creating a healthier nation.

I have already commented upon my work and that of others but a summary
follows:

Still Pictures

· My contributions and successes – I felt I contributed a vast amount
to the main setup of each picture. During planning and rehearsals I
felt I took charge of the group but also listened to other people’s
ideas and comments. I felt that I performed well, using a good sense
of body language, facial expressions and gestures.

· Contributions and successes of other pupils – I thought that our
group worked extremely well during each phase of this task. Each group
member put ideas forward for planning and rehearsals and performed
each photograph as planned.

Debate

* My contributions and successes – I felt I contributed well to this
task, as I forwarded many ideas towards our planning and rehearsal
time. I also felt I performed well, as I was also arguing against
my beliefs (that genetic engineering should be banned). I did this
so I could argue in representation of my character, not of me.

* Contribution, success of others – Again I believe that our group
performed well for this task. For planning we discussed our views
and arguments for and against the proposal, however we did not
rehearse a lot as we could not be sure what issues would be
brought up (as we had decided to involve the audience). We instead
created a guideline for each of us to follow. We performed well.

Improvisation, Hot seating

* Me – I was quite disappointed with my improvisation piece as I was
very unsure of my role (absent group member meant role changes)
however I felt I worked hard to learn my role and was convincing
during my hot seating.

* Group – I felt that our group worked poorly during our preparation
time – also hindered by absentees – however we did well during hot
seating.

Task 2

We have already identified vivisection as a common link between all
the texts and the historical periods involved. This was why we chose
to use vivisection as a focus for our main piece of work. I felt that
I contributed well to the main piece of work we were given. I put a
lot of effort into putting ideas forward for both the plot and the
setup of the performance. My group also worked incredibly well
together and produced a great end result.

As a final way of evaluating our work, we decided to use one short
piece of improvisation to project our ideas into the future. We
decided to look much further forward than “The Gift” and imagine where
the use of Science may lead. We brainstormed our ideas. We came up
with a lot of ideas including :

* Medicine being so advanced that no death occurs, therefore humans
are born with a fatal gene which has been genetically engineered
to activate whenever the Earth becomes overcrowded.

* Due to cosmetic surgery, everyone looks the same.

* People have same knowledge due to memory chips.

* People live underwater as the land has been overcrowded.

We decided to use a light hearted approach to show what might happen
in the future if science is allowed to take over from nature.

We built up our rehearsals in sections. First we planned the opening
scene – two people transported through time via travel agent – and
then began the first part of the rehearsal. After this we discussed
how to improve it, we then rehearsed again. We then planned the middle
– a conversation between the travellers and future people – and used
the same method of rehearsing. We again did this for the ending – one
future characters fatal gene being activated.

We decided to raise issues such as the fatal gene because we feel that
it is a very realistic option of future society. We ended the play
with a death – the activation of the fatal gene is just a part of
everyday life for the future people, however the travellers are
shocked.

Our play aimed to show the audience that although science can be used
to our advantage, we can take it too far and end up ruining life as we
know it. We were successful because it made people think more clearly
about modern science. I felt I learned a lot during the workshop. My
views about Science vs. Nature are that science is good and can be
used to our advantage, to a certain extent. However, if we are not
careful we are going to destroy our individuality and the world around
us.

As a result of the drama texts, I have learned that sometimes the use
of medical science and animal testing is essential in order to save
human lives.

I feel that the experiences I gained were valuable.

I learned how the use of light and sound can affect the mood, tension
and overall view that the audience has of a play.

I also learned that exaggeration of body language and expression is
the key to dramatic performance, as it instantly lets the audience see
your mood and character.

Overall, I feel that I have learned a great deal from this workshop.
Not only about modern science, but also how to co-operate in a group
situation and how to compromise with ideas. I have learned that you
need to be prepared to listen to and accept the views of others. I
have also broadened my range of acting skills.
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