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Frankenfic: Belgrade Theatre and Big ComfyBookshop launch horror story competition

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Fancy yourself as the next Mary Shelley?

With a chilling new staging of Frankenstein heading to Coventry this October, the Belgrade Theatre is teaming up with Fargo Village’s Big Comfy Bookshop for a spooktacular celebration of the author’s 222nd birthday. 

More than two centuries after Shelley’s groundbreaking novel was first published, the two Coventry venues are reissuing the writing challenge that led to its creation during the summer of 1816, and you’re invited to take part.

Described as “The Year Without A Summer”, 1816 was unusually cold, dark and stormy during the summer, due to the fallout from a volcanic eruption in Indonesia. That same year, Mary Shelley (then Godwin), her step-sister Claire, and her husband-to-be Percy were holidaying in Switzerland with the poet Lord Byron and his friend John Polidori. 

Stuck inside together, with violent storms raging outside, the group found themselves in the perfect frame of mind for reading horror stories. Looking for something more to keep them entertained, Byron eventually challenged his friends to write their own, to find out which of them was able to scare the others most! 

While Percy and Byron scribbled down some fragments, only Mary and Polidori would eventually finish and publish complete stories – Polidori’s The Vampyrehelping to popularise vampire mythology long before Bram Stoker’s Dracula, while Frankenstein would turn out to be one of the most unique and radical novels in English literature. 

Now 203 years later, the Belgrade Theatre and Big Comfy Bookshop are throwing Byron’s challenge back to you, with a horror writing competition that will culminate in a storytelling session at 6pm on Wednesday 2 October – perfect for getting in the mood for Halloween. 

Reckon you can make your own monster in just a month? Can your creation strike fear into your fellow Coventrians? If Mary Shelley’s Gothic masterpiece has got your imagination firing, you can enter for a chance have your story featured on the Belgrade Theatre website, and read out at the event at The Big Comfy Bookshop. One winner will also receive a pair of tickets to the show, along with some exclusive Frankenstein-themed goodies!

Once you’ve stitched your story together, send it to hkincaid@belgrade.co.uk by 5pm on Friday 27 September. Entries should be no longer than 2000 words, but short excerpts of longer stories will be considered. A maximum of two entries per person can be accepted. All ages are welcome to enter, but please let us know if you are under 18 and make sure you have permission to take part. 

If you’d prefer to send a hard copy, pop it in an envelope marked “Frankenstein Stories” and hand it in at box office, making sure to include a note with your preferred method of contact so we can get in touch to tell you if you’ve won. 

Handier with a camera than a pen? The Belgrade is also looking for filmmakers to submit one-minute horror shorts to be featured on its Instagram page. To enter, simply share your film on Instagram, tagging @BelgradeTheatre and @FrankPlayUK, and using the hashtag #FrankenFilms. The deadline for submissions is Tuesday 1st October. 

Newly adapted for the stage by Rona Munro, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein runs at the Belgrade Theatre 2-12 October as part of its B2 Season of Love and Belonging. Tickets are available to book now by calling the box office on 024 7655 3055, or visiting www.belgrade.co.uk where prices are cheaper. Book for two or more participating shows together to claim 20% off tickets. 

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