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A Family Portrait

For the upcoming week, Mary Shelley dramaturge Malvika Jolly will be guest posting here with all manner of dramaturgical research and documentation that goes into bringing our play to life! Here you will find short essays, photos & video from the rehearsal process, and other tasty tidbits that help us flesh out the social, political, and performative landscapes of “Mary Shelley Sees the Future”. This is part one in the series. You can find parts two, three, and four here. 




Time-traveling Mary Shelley (Lindsey Tindall) and her father William Godwin (Rebecca Fletcher) pose for a family portrait in front of a storefront in Wicker Park, Chicago. Photo by Matthew Gregory Hollis


Mary Shelley (Tindall) gazes up at her younger half-sister Claire Jane Clairmont (Alexia Jasmene Meneely), who, at the tender  age of sixteen, followed along with her sister and the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley as they eloped to France. What followed was eight years of poetry, scandal, song, travel, free love, and lore. Photo by Matthew Gregory Hollis



In the Runaways’ newest production, we delve into the interior worlds of one of the 19th century’s most radical— and scandalous— families. Visionaries and early drafters of many of the political and literary ideas we hold so dear— Feminism! Anarchism! Raising daughters as humans! The modern thriller! The gothic! The dystopian science fiction novel!

At the same time, the Godwin/Wollstonecraft family was subject to all the notoriety, accusations, and bad-reputation that, it would seem, comes folded into the alternative lifestyle.

By consequence, the characters that populate playwright Olivia Lilley’s play arrive already deeply interconnected by the threads of scandal: teenaged sisters conspiring their escape, suicide, poverty, elopements, serial marriages, dalliances, and numerous love affairs (past, present, and to come) all within the same incestuous circle, illegitimate children, abandoned lovers, group sex, and the ghosts of children lost and miscarried.

In her time-traveling epic, playwright Olivia Lilley chooses to hone in on the two sisters Mary Shelley and Claire Clairmont and their (delightfully cross-cast) parental figure William Godwin. Together, the two Wollstonecraft sisters navigate a world of harsh propriety and rigid social conduct as women who have returned to mainstream society and find themselves painted scarlet.

But wait! We can’t forget Mary Wollstonecraft, mother to Mary Shelley. Nor should we forget the eldest Wollstonecraft sister, Fanny Imlay (whose story is diffused into Claire’s in our play). Both are characters who— though technically absent from the world of our play— still hold a palpable presence.

Here is an introduction— a family portrait— of the Wollstonecraft sisters and their progenitors.


                                                                                                                          (John Keenan, 1787)

~  M A R Y       W O L L S T O N E C R A F T  ~

“A brilliant star in her firmament”, describes Moyra Davey in her film/essay on Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughters The Wet and the Dry.  Continue reading

Mary Shelley Tickets On Sale Now!

The Runaways Theatre Lab is proud to announce the first offering of their 2016-2017 season, Mary Shelley Sees the Future.

A World premiere by Runaways founder Olivia Lilley, ‘Mary Shelley’ is a body-swapping, time-traveling odyssey with comedic and gothic textures.

On a stormy night in Italy circa 1822, Mary Shelley – author of Frankenstein, outcast, daughter of a feminist vanguard – makes a wish and finds herself in the body of a queer, female-identifying Chicago novelist in 2016. Mary’s progressive ideas about women in the world appear to have found their home, but she struggles with her new friends’ views of Mary Shelley, the historical figure and the legacy of her work. Meanwhile, Mya is hurtled back in time and into the body of Mary Shelley. What she finds is hardly the polite, old world of her daydreams. In this blasphemous bio-play, Lilley challenges the ideas of aesthetic and political “progress” and asks us to consider the true monstrosities among us.

Mary Shelley Sees the Future runs:
Oct 21 – Nov 13, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 8pm* at Outerspace Studios 1474 N Milwaukee Ave, 3rd Floor.

**Oct 22 will be at 3pm

Written/Directed by Olivia Lilley
Choreography/Movement by Cheryl Nowlin
Assistant Directed by Anna Hendrix
Dramaturgy by Malvika Jolly

Acted By:
Nico Fernandez
Daniel Mozurkewich
Natalie Joyce Smith
Peter Wilde
Alexia Jasmene
Magdalen Vaughn
Kenya Hall
Rebecca Joy Fletcher
Starring Sarah Patin and Lindsey Tindall as Mary Shelley / Mya, respectively.

Mary Shelley Sees the Future Casting Announcement

The cast of Mary Shelley Sees the Future, a play written and directed by esteemed theatre artist Olivia Lilley, has been announced this Labor Day. The accomplished cast includes artists that have worked in several different playgrounds, including Collaboraction, The Chicago Fringe Festival, Folksbiene National Theater, Redtwist Theatre, The New Colony and more.

As the first play of The Runaways stacked, diverse 5th season, Mary Shelley brings to light a myriad of hot topics in Chicago arts and social justice. These themes include, identity politics, female rights and Millenial characterizations.

We hope you will join these actors at OuterSpace Chicago. Ticket Sales to be announced within the next month.

October 21st – November 13th @ Outerspace Studios
Fridays – Sundays @ 8pm
October 22nd @ 3pm

*In order of appearance

Mary Shelley / Mya – Lindsey Tindall
Trelawny / Juan – Nico Fernandez
Mya / Mary Shelley – Sarah Patin
Percy Shelley / Eric – Daniel Mozurkewich
Angelica – Natalie Joyce
Pete / Lord Byron – Peter Wilde
Josie / Claire Claremont – Alexia Meneely
Jane / Isabella Baxter Booth – Magdalen Kay
Simone / Jane Williams – Kenya Ann Hall
William Godwin – Rebecca Fletcher