Dan Duling

A Dream of Frankenstein

[workshops/staged readings, L.A., New York, Portland, OR]

[full length play, 2 acts]

“A comedy of maternal darkness” in which Mary Shelley’s dream that inspired “Frankenstein” reveals far more than the young author can admit about the horrors that haunt her own life. In Mary’s dream, the darker sides of three modes of human creativity: artistic, scientific and the miracle of birth are exposed and interrogated as the key elements of the novel are reimagined from a perspective that seeks to offer an answer to the question: why would a 19-year-old woman write one of the great mythic horror stories of all time. The answer is potentially far more disturbing than the prospect of creating a living person from dead tissue.

[cast 3 w, 6 m, 1 boy]

ELIZABETH: My mother was an amazing creature. Far ahead of her time. My father was quick to inform me of her...magnificence. He gave me her collected works. Many times he told me of her death. Of my birth. Of her death. Mama insisted on natural childbirth at home with only a midwife to assist. She fully expected to be back down for dinner later in the evening...after my arrival. It was not so easy. The midwife did not completely remove the placenta during my delivery. Fragments of it began to poison the womb. She began to bleed inside and felt great pain. By the time it was discovered, it was too late for surgery. She was too weak. Every muscle of her body trembled, her teeth chattered. The bed shook under her. To dull her senses, she was given copious draughts of wine. On the sixth day, puppies...puppies were brought in to suck the overflowing milk that had given her breasts such acute pain. Father described her agony in minute detail. It took her four more days to die. According to the doctors, septicemia fever was the cause of death. But I know better....it was me. Forever on my hands, my mother’s blood...

Looking ahead in 2012.

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A little extra...

Duling’s plays have been produced throughout the United States. Most recently, “Monstrosity” received staged readings at the Skylight Theatre in Los Angeles as part of the Inkubator reading series by the Katselas Theatre Company. Before that, “Monstrosity” also received a staged reading at Innovation Theatre Works in Bend, Oregon. The search for theatres interested in producing “Monstrosity” continues in earnest in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York.