Just in time for Halloween, Mount Carmel School’s Theatre Club is gearing up for its next production, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. An original stage adaptation of Shelley’s Gothic masterpiece, the play was written and directed by school president and dramatist, Galvin Deleon Guerrero.
“I have waited almost 20 years to do this show, and the time is finally right,” said Deleon Guerrero. When asked why it took so long to bring the show to the stage, he said, “Actually, Shelley’s novel has a long tradition of being adapted for the stage, a tradition that predates its prominence in horror films. I spent a lot of time looking for the right play, but I never found the right one. So, I just decided to write one myself.”
Deleon Guerrero has been a fan of Shelley’s novel since he first read it in high school. “It was the first book I finished in one day. I couldn’t put it down and have read it probably over 30 times since then.” His love of the novel has even led him to name his youngest daughter after its author.
As a senior at the University of Puget Sound, Deleon Guerrero was nominated for the Rhodes and Marshall Fellowships to study Shelley’s Frankenstein at Oxford University. Since 1998, as a teacher of English Literature, including Advanced Placement English, at both the high school and college level, he has always devoted an entire quarter or unit to the study of Shelley’s novel. Recently, he completed an online certified course with Duke University, “Achieving Expertise,” in which he focused his writing and research on Shelley’s novel.
“It is very fitting to take this depth of academic research and translate it into something entertaining because that is exactly how Shelley and her parents operated.” Shelley’s mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, was arguably the first published feminist and her father, William Godwin, is credited with articulating the first philosophical justification of political anarchy. “Although they were very intelligent writers with brilliant ideas, they understood that the best way to educate was to also entertain.” Godwin incorporated ideas from his seminal essay, Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, into the first crime novel ever written, Caleb Williams, while Wollstonecraft articulated her feminist views from A Vindication of the Rights of Women into The Wrongs of Woman. Shelley herself had read all of her parents work before publishing Frankenstein when she was only 18 years old. In doing so, she also wrote what many scholars argue is the first science fiction story, thus inventing a whole new literary genre.
Deleon Guerrero’s play continues a long tradition of the play being adapted for the stage and for film. Ever since it was published in 1818, Shelley’s story has been written into hundreds of plays and dozens of films, including the 1931 film by James Whale that solidified Frankenstein in pop culture with the iconic image of Boris Karloff as Frankenstein’s creature.
However, despite that long tradition of adaptations, Deleon Guerrero emphasized, “Make no mistake, while this classic story has been told many, many times, we have still managed to make this production fresh, contemporary, and, of course, very scary.”
Frankenstein will be performed on Wednesday, Oct. 29, and Thursday, Oct. 30, in an air-conditioned inside theater on campus. Admission is $5 and doors will open at 6:30pm. Due to graphic content, parental dissection is strongly advised. Also, due to limited seating, advance purchase of tickets is highly recommended. For more information, call 234-6184 or visit the school’s website at www.mountcarmelsaipan.com. (MCS)