Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Frankenfest and Mary Shelly, of course!

The rain falls with the first cold dampness of the season. I shut off the lights, light a lantern and pick up a pencil. With my eyes shut night, so tight that red blood vessels seem to pop inside my eyelids, I see her. 

I see her young, smooth hands quickly race over the tattered notebook with her pencil. I see her pick up the pencil and put it behind her red hair or between her teeth as she searches for the next line, the next thought, the next image. She does not smile as she writes. There really is nothing to make her smile. Her mother died during her own birth. Her father disowned her after leaving home with a married man to have her own relationship. The baby she carried in the womb, as she traveled by foot and by donkey from Paris to Switzerland, is buried somewhere in Europe. The man she loves disappears from time to time. Her mind is too advanced for her time, especially for young women. She cares not for frocks nor frivolous trinkets; instead, she carries books of chemistry and German poetry.

Her name is Mary Shelley, as you might have guessed. She has lived with me for over a year and a day, and every day I am amazed by her.

When Carolyn and I headed down to Indianapolis for the Indiana Humanities “Frankenfest” event, we had absolutely no idea we would come back with a year of study, activities, and adventure ahead of us. I guess one could say that often life simply chooses for oneself, and that is the case here.

One week from today is our own version of Frankenfest, and if you have not heard about it by now, well, then, you are hearing about it now! Starting at 9:00 at Cahoots Coffee Shop, we (not specifically me and Carolyn, but community members) will be reading the entire text of “Frankenstein” from beginning to end, which should be around 5:30 or so. Stop by, have tea, follow along, let your children color while they listen. At 10:00, you and your family can participate in the Franken-Walk beginning at Selman Timber Frame. Wouldn’t it be fun to dress up for that one? The Cline Museum will host a meet the characters at noon with lots of interesting talks and pop-ups spread through the museum. (And, yes, you can access the museum by way of Gilmore Street, just follow the signs.) Back in town, almost every shop is having a special event from making your own green fingernail polish to cookies to filling out passports for buttons and other surprises.
Trine University is also participating with a showing of the film, “Mary Shelley,” on Thursday evening at 7:00 in Fabiani Theatre! My own show of “Mary and Her Monsters” will have a two evening run on October 12 and 19 in Wells Theatre. Jacob McNeal will be joining me in this one-hour fringe performance beginning at 7:00. Please come early, as seating is limited. 

So, you have not read “Frankenstein” yet? There is still time, and if not, you know of the book and the enjoyment of the day will not be diminished.

I want to tell all of you this year has been a year of great learning. Someone asked me the other day, “Why did you do this?” I had to laugh…I had no choice. I had no choice. 

A young girl full of her own grief and monsters wrote “Frankenstein”. Her story is as riveting as anything anyone could write. I felt I had to tell her story. As for Frankenfest and why did we do that? Carolyn and I both would attest to the knowledge that we live with our own monsters among us. What have we built, made, colluded on in our time that has turned into a monster without us knowing or planning it. This book is as important to our current culture just as much as it was during the life of Mary Shelley.

We encourage you to participate. Come say hello. Paint your nails green. Listen to a chapter of two. See a pop up on the role barbers played during this time. Stop in at the library for games and to look at all the creative artists in our area.
Sadly, Frankenfest will happen only once! 

As for me? I am sure Mary Shelley, and all her stories, will live parallel with me as long as we both shall live.

Lou Ann as Mary Shelly