Mary Shelley


Mary Shelley by Helen Edmundson

Please read carefully all the details, in particular rehearsal dates. Please do not audition if you have significant clashes with the rehearsal or performance period. If you are unsure whether unavailability will be an issue please check first by emailing the Director, Ginny Porteous at

Director: Ginny Porteous    Production Dates:  19th - 27th October (matinees on 20th & 27th)

Rehearsal Dates:  Read-through is likely to be either the 19th or 20th August with an evening soon after to discuss characters and the concept so we can start to shape the production. Rehearsals will probably commence 3rd September. Mostly weekday evenings, though could possibly include some Sunday mornings if required. Once cast, we will establish the best schedule for all of us.

Audition Dates: 

Tuesday 29th May - 6.30pm to 9.30pm

Wednesday 30th May - 6.30pm to 9.30pm

If you are prepared to attend more than one slot / a different one to assist with the balance of another group could you please indicate this when complete the Auditions Submission Form.

If you are absolutely not able to make an audition date but want to be seen please email the Director, Ginny Porteous at who may be able to arrange an alternative audition date.

How to audition: 

Please download and complete the standard ‘Auditions Submission Form’ here

The completed form should be returned as an attachment to Director of Productions at The Maddermarket Theatre, Jez Pike at Your information will then be processed, stored and distributed in accordance with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The director of the production – Ginny Porteous – will then contact you via email to arrange an audition slot.

Please note that all auditionees must complete an ‘Auditions Submission Form’ prior to auditioning, even if they have had existing contact with or made informal arrangements with the director of that production.

Format of auditions:

Working in small groups. A few scenes from the script will be used (which you will handed at the audition) but the emphasis will be on character portrayal and working as a team.

About the Play - first performed in 2012

2018 celebrates the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein.

Helen Edmundson started with the question: how did Mary Shelley, aged only eighteen, come to write a novel of such weight and power as Frankenstein?

Where did the thoughts come from? The themes?

"Mary was writing Frankenstein at a time when her relationship with her father was under great strain – when he had refused all contact with her for almost two years. The novel is more than a homage to his philosophies; it is a criticism of his nature and his choices, a warning, a reprimand and a huge cry for understanding" ......."For there is something courageous, surely, in striving to break new ground in the perilous business of living. In deciding to deal with the pain, the guilt, the disapproval this entails, in the belief and hope that, ultimately, humanity will be the richer for your efforts".

‘Mary Shelley’ focuses on two years (1814-1816) and the turbulent lives of six people. Mary Wollstonecraft-Godwin (who became Mary Shelley in 1816 and published Frankenstein in 1818) her father, the radical philosopher and novelist William Godwin, her step-mother Mary Jane Clairmont, her two step-sisters Fanny Imlay & Jane Clairmont and the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. A family of contrasts and tensions, enlightenment and romanticism, reason and imagination, principle and feeling, conformity and rebellion. Tensions played out with often tragic consequences.

The play opens with a young Mary coming home from a stay in Scotland. She has just read her father's biography of her late mother Mary Wollstonecraft (the advocate of women’s rights and defender of the French Revolution) and is profoundly moved by the frank and revealing book and is inspired to live as her mother did. Her belief that to strive for a better life in spite of its related difficulties, not just for the individual but for society as a whole, is worth it........we watch as the events unfold to reveal the effect politics, religion and family emotion has on them all.

About the production

Each character could have a play written about them in their own right – and the aim will be to draw as much potential out of them all (they have equal importance). I want to explore characters, emotional journeys, subtle threads and what the cast can bring individually and as a whole.

This is not a typical period drama – it is raw - emotive - with a strong political thread.   

The settings will not be naturalistic but will have a visual hint of where we are. There will be a fluidity between scenes, with the cast moving props / set, and changing costume as they go, sometimes being visible when another scene is taking place. The lights, projection and sound - all adding to the effect.

Cast Breakdown (2 male & 4 / 5 female)

The production was originally performed with a cast of 6, but I would like to explore adding a 7th member who would play a couple of smaller roles but would still have an integral presence in the play as a whole.


Please note that ages stipulated are very vague as it will ultimately depend on the balance of the cast as a whole - and I am conscious that someone in the 1800's would appear older than they would now....

It could end up with a fairly young cast or a slightly older one........and don't forget age is only a number, it is how you can come across to an audience that counts!


Mary - William Godwin’s daughter - Late teens / 20's.Vivid imagination. Deeply affected by her past and later her father's rejection. A woman ahead of her time.

Fanny - Mary's half-sister - Mid 20's early 30's. Tries to be all things to everyone, but no desire to stand out. She is selfless, kind, hardworking, loyal and loving.....but has desires and dreams of her own and her own sense of what is right & wrong.                                                                                                                                     

Mrs Godwin - William Godwin’s second wife - 50 / 60's. Finds it hard to accept the situation they find themselves in. Robust personality, sharp/witty tongue.                                                                                                       

Jane - Mrs Godwin’s daughter - Late teens / 20's. Dreamer. Wants to embrace the liberal lifestyle offered by Shelley. Emotionally intense at times. Ideally the person cast will be able to carry a tune - but that is not a prerequisite!                                                                                                                                                  

The possible 7th member of the cast would play...

Harriet - Shelley's first wife  - 20's. Confronts Mary about their possible connection / relationship.

Maid - played by the same actress as above

Although both small parts they are not 'bit' parts  - they will both have an impact. And the person will be an integral part of the team and kept as busy as possible!

If a 7th member is not cast Harriet would be doubled with Fanny & the Maid with Jane.


William Godwin - Marys father - Mid 50’s to 70’s. Radical liberal / philosopher now living with constant personal conflict. He has accepted that society changes gradually and that he has to fit into it as it is. He has to apply reason over passion.

Percy Shelly - 20's / 30's. An impulsive, idealistic, charismatic young poet, driven by his ideals. He is in awe of Godwin's ideology. He has a natural charm that normally gets him exactly what he wants.... lives his life with spontaneity, optimism and passion.

Shelley is driven to live by his ideals, whereas Godwin writes about philosophical ideals...........