Dracula (2008)

Production Crew

 

Cast

 
DirectorJamie Latshaw RenfieldNathan Campbell
Stage ManagerMatt Howell-ClarkeLucyChynna Walker
DramaturgDr. Kevin Pry MinaKaren Oulahan
Make-Up DesignEmily Gertenbach Jonathan HarkerBrian Stefaniak
Costume DesignAlly Ortiz Count DraculaDan Thomas
Hair DesignMelissa Rosenfeld Dr. Jonathan SewardGreg Newman
Set CoordinatorElwood Brandt Dr. Abraham Van HelsingNick Murphy
Lighting DesignRobyn Stine MaidBrianna Long
Sound DesignSteven Wisner Attendants: 
Props MasterNathan Campbell Sean Deffley, Matt Smith
Front-of-HouseErin Brubaker Vixens: 
Public RelationsKaren Oulahan Alyssa Bender, Sarah Kaltreider

 

Technical Crew:
Elwood Brandt, Casandra Edwards, Kathryn Lewis, Jackie Massey, Robyn Stine, Matt Smith, Allison Reed, Melissa Rosenfeld, and Steven Wisner

From time immemorial, in many cultures, in far-flung parts of our globe, they have existed on the edge of our nightmares, these creatures of the imagination; they embody our fear of death and our yearning to live forever, and by whatever names we know Them—Vampyr, Nosferatu, Lamia, The Undead—they fascinate us. They are, of course, the Vampires, the blood-drinking unholy monsters who are the hellish heroes of that literary and dramatic genre known as Gothic Horror, and the most demonic among them is that perilous prince of darkness, the tremendous Transylvanian terror, Count Dracula. Yes, there was a medieval Balkan ruler, Vlad the Impaler, whose cruelties are often taken as the real-life inspiration for the Dracula legend, just as there was a real-life Hungarian Countess Bathory who tried to stay forever young and beautiful by bathing in the blood of freshly-killed young women, but credit for our modern conception of the Vampire archetype should rightly go to three 19th century fiction writers. The first, Dr. James Polidori, devised the first modern vampire tale in 1819, allegedly as his contribution to a scary contest to see who in a circle of artistic houseguests could come up with the most unsettling horror story (an 18-year-old girl named Mary Shelley won with what later became Frankenstein.) In 1872 the second, novelist Sheridan LeFanu, created a far more subtle horror by incorporating European folklore in his erotically charge tale Carmilla, in which he said “the vampire is prone to be fascinated with an engrossing vehemence, resembling the passion of love...it will never desist until it has satiated its passion and drained the very life of its coveted victim.” Little wonder, then, that when in 1897 the third parent of modern vampirism, Bram Stoker, Irish literary agent and theatrical business manager, concocted Dracula ( an adventure story which, as critic Leonard Wolf has observed, has as its chief image “an undead creature who drinks the blood of attractive young women”) the tale penetrated to the center of the repressed souls of Stoker’s fellow late Victorians with such force. Dracula has continued to exert such a grip on the public’s imagination that it has been reprinted continuously since its first publication, and innumerable adaptations for stage and screen have appeared.

On screen, the bloodsucking began with the silent Nosferatu , and continued when Bela Lugosi triumphed as the first count Dracula of the “talkies” in 1931. A seemingly endless series of Hammer films in the 1950s and ‘60s, often starring the formidable Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, kept up the public’s appetite for blood, and no less a master craftsman of the cinema than Francis Ford Coppola refilmed the tale in 1992. Other filmmakers have laid less reverential hands on this tradition, often reducing the tale to a “camp” or farcical status, and have continued to drink from this rich vein of material for fun and profit to this very day.

On stage, Dracula has also had what seems like an eternal afterlife of his own; Bela Lugosi—an ethnic Hungarian allegedly from Transylvania itself—started his career in America on the Broadway boards as the serum-sipping seducer of virtue, while at least eight other stage versions have appeared in the U.S.A. alone since the 1920’s, including Hall and Richmond’s 1977 Broadway hit The Passion of Dracula, which relied heavily on the romantic aspects of the tradition. Other productions of Dracula plays have used the tale to explore a wide range of late 20th and early 21st century social concerns, with vampirism’s secretly-spreading malevolence standing in for Communism, the AIDSepidemic, and even global terrorism. This co-opting of the Count for ideological purposes has a long history—after all, Stoker himself, writing in the original novel at the peak of Britain’s imperial glory, has his characters haunted by the possibility that Dracula’s evil—foreign, Eastern, unchristian, animalistic, decadent, and even somewhat feminine—will drain the power out of the Anglo-Saxon, Western, muscularly Christian, humanist, evolved, and manly “good” of European civilization.

The version we bring you tonight, an adaptation by playwright Steven Dietz written for the Arizona Stage Company in 1995, is a superior product of the American regional theatre movement; it hearkens back to Stoker’s original structure of Dracula as a kind of supernatural detective story, in which each of the characters has a piece of the solution to the growing evil around them but who, for reasons as varied as personal loyalty, social squeamishness, and scientific skepticism, withhold their knowledge from one another until it is nearly too late to stop the destruction of everything they hold dear.

Given this performance history and our collective fascination, which promise to keep Bram Stoker’s Count undead and biting for ages to come, we invite you into this world of terror. Unsheath your stakes, polish your crucifixes, festoon yourselves with garlic, check those mirrors, and watch out for low-flying bats—the children of the night are howling, there are rats in the walls, and remember, He never drinks—wine.

Dr. Kevin Pry,
Associate Professor of English, LVC '76, Dramaturg,
Executive Director/Advisor, the Wig and Buckle Theater Company