We had the opportunity to sit down with writer and composer
Shirley Barasch and ask her a couple of questions about her upcoming
play, "Mary Shelley and Her Frankenstein." (Our
questions are in bold with Shirley's direct answers in plain
unique about Mary Shelley's life and why is her story so significant
to us in this ever changing global economy?
life is unique in that she was raised by a father who believed
in free love; influenced by her mother's book which espoused
the rights of women; but then was criticized for actually practicing
those dictates. She ran away with Percy Shelley at age 16 even
though he was still married; survived hardship and the loss of
children; wrote an imaginative and thought provoking ghost story
and was indeed a single mother who raised her only living son,
Percy, to manhood on her own efforts.
and ethical parallels would you say are overwhelmingly true between
Mary Shelley and her Frankenstein?
I am not
sure you mean Frankenstein but the Creature? The creature was
her moral and ethical voice. Frankenstein represented the opposites
of what she felt was necessary-mostly the men who surrounded
her as well as her own internal doubts about what caused the
death of her loved ones. She felt we needed to keep a strong
ethical and moral perspective and to be accountable for the results
of our experimentation and scientific explorations.
Modern Prometheus is the first science fiction novel about man
creating man and the creation of artificial intelligence. Today
it is no longer fiction with cloning and stem cell research at
the forefront of modern science and research. What lessons from
this fictional documentary do you believe our generation should
employ with our ever growing technological advancements and our
urge to create artificial intelligence?
We need to
be aware of what could happen when we simply take for granted
that all discoveries are for good and progress is enough
reason for allowing disaster to kill many in order to serve others.
Is the end worth the means? Some care nothing for the secondary
spill over. We have already been guilty of trying out drugs on
unknowing people who become guinea pigs and die or are permanently
damaged. We used mentally ill people to test removing the frontal
lobe with great damage to many; we had no idea what the atom
bomb would do even though scientists warned us; the Germans used
female subjects for sterilization projects; etc., etc. Even the
cloning of Dolly the sheep has had consequences for nature. It
is not that creating artificial intelligence or miracle drugs
are negative, but that we must be ready and able to understand
and accept moral responsibility for good as well as bad results.
We should not try to dump our errors the way we dump toxic waste
which in itself is a negative responsibility.
was a woman before her time, a young teenager, a feminist, sexual
creature, struggling against religious beliefs, social restrictions
and a male dominated society. Now in the 21st century still many
young women around the world face these same difficulties as
sexuality and violence have become the corner stone of entertainment.
By highlighting these struggles, what implications for the future
do you foresee?
always been violent presentations and attacks on those weaker
than others. We just see them in the forefront of our lives thanks
or no thanks to the Progress of communication-a good example
of not being morally or ethically aware of how inventions can
wreak unknown havoc. Human nature takes advantage of the
weak; the concept of mob mentality and Svengali personalities
are nothing new to our society world wide! Society needs to provide
ongoing education in the treatment and respect of all creatures
human and animal as well as an understanding of the preservation
of our environment. We have allowed governments and corporations
unbridled laissez faire with imagery and senseless use of our
resources in the name of progress. I am not against freedom of
speech or press but we need to know how to protect the very young
and those unable to protect themselves from undue
influences that are violent. Violence is a learned thing. We
need to balance what children are exposed to when they cannot
perceive the result of such actions on others. Although the protection
of women and children has made progress, many people are still
apathetic about human rights of minorities and those who are
voiceless in our world. Guns and bombs and explosives strapped
to young people's bodies never solves any problem. Praising heroic
actions is one thing; promoting violence is another turn of the
coin. We legislate against love often in its most innocent forms;
and congratulate those who shoot down many! Something is wrong
with this perspective!!
rumored that Mary Shelly at the time of her husband's death had
his heart removed from his chest and that she carried it in her
purse until her death. What is the significance of this as it
relates to your musical and her search for love and romance?
NOT A RUMOR. IT WAS A FACT. This was a custom of the day! Often, some
part of the beloved dead was preserved and kept for many years
or buried in some special location. "Trelawney", a
character in the play, was an actual participant in the late
life of the Shelley family. It was he who plunged his hand
into the incinerating body of Percy Shelley and removed the heart.
It is a true event. I, however, in the lyrics gave it a heightened
symbolic importance for her undying love for her husband. She
was a true romantic and it underlined this aspect of her devotion
have any writing tips for your fans and all the aspiring singers
a frustrating and lonely business. You need to suffer rejection
many times over and then pick up the pen again and continue writing.
It is also an expensive undertaking with postage, submission
costs, duplicating expenses, etc. But if you feel you have something
worth saying to others, then do not give up. Out there, some
one person will be interested. Look how long it has taken me.
As for singing! There is no substitute for a good voice teacher
who is interested in you as an individual and providing you with
technique that will undergird your own personal sound.
Make sure that you have a teacher of technique first and foremost
and then a style coach after you know how to do the job. Do not
hire an expensive accompanist in lieu of a real teacher. But
above all, go out and sing and perform anywhere for anyone who
will listen as much as you can. Experience is the next greatest
factor in success. Whether you write songs, stories or poems,
you need to believe in yourself and take the steps to help improve
your deficits. . Inspiration is 95% perspiration. Take criticism
intelligently and don't collapse at the first negative statement.
Remember.being in the right place at the right time sometimes
has a lot to do with your final success. BE READY! There are
many people who sincerely want to help you along the way. Listen
and Evaluate before you jump into anything unknown. On the other
hand risk is attendant to all success. PREPARE! WORK! REHEARSE!
WORK! RE-WORK! DO IT AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN! RE-WRITE AND
START ALL OVER FROM THE GET GO IF NECESSARY. BUT STUDY AND FIND
A PERSON WHO WILL BE HONEST WITH YOU. HOPE FOR A BREAK AND DON'T
WHINE IF SOMEONE ELSE GETS IT. YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN YOUR TURN
WILL COME. And remember-work if you can in your field of choice
even if the job is not the lead part or what you want to do.
Sometimes, the back door can become the front door. In the mean
time, do not give up your day job! The long suffering, starving
artist is a romantic myth!
thoughts for our readers?
appreciate that you are interested in my work and in my thoughts.
That means a lot to me. Thank you.