Theatrefolk - The Drama Teacher Resource Company

Theatrefolk Featured Play – Dracula by Laramie Dean

Welcome to our Featured Play Spotlight.  You may think you know the classic Bram Stoker story, but the theatrical adaptation, Dracula, by Laramie Dean is a version like no other.

Based on Bram Stoker’s timeless novel, Dracula is a highly theatrical exploration of the evil that lurks inside all of us… and how it can become all-consuming, draining away our humanity and turning us into monsters.

Count Dracula travels from his castle in Transylvania to England with the intent of creating more vampires like himself. But little does he know that one woman may possess enough strength to destroy him forever.

Why did we publish this play?
Dracula is a classic character that everyone knows in some form. There have been novels written of the 500 year old vampire, movies made, and plays created. When drama teacher and playwright Laramie Dean put together his adaptation he wanted to find a way that hadn’t been done a trillion times before.

We think he totally succeeded! What we especially love about Laramie’s adaptation is the strong women characters. It’s easy to say that Dracula renders everyone powerless, but Laramie offers a different take to Mina. She is no one’s damsel in distress.

Let’s hear from the author!

1. Why did you write this play?
I have been obsessed with Dracula since I was seven and I discovered the Pendulum Press classic comic version (with art by Nestor Redondo; check it out). I immediately wrote my own play adaptation and forced my family and friends to participate in its staging (there might have been a rubber bat someone, probably me, hurled into the crowd). Since then I have written several play and comic book adaptations, and even a four hour audio book version which my very patient uncle and aunt listened to as they drove across Wales (I was 8 at the time). In 2004 I staged a version that queered the relationship between Harker and Dracula. Finally, I returned to the novel for the new adaptation I wrote for my students to perform, and which Theatrefolk is graciously publishing.

2. Describe the theme in one or two sentences.
There exists in everyone the potential for good or for evil. How much would it take to bring out the darkness inside of you?

3. What’s the most important visual for you in this play?
There are two that I love. For the moment when Renfield rhapsodizes about “rats, rats, rats!” and their blazing eyes, my husband, who is our technical director, used a gobo in front of a red gel so that we had this amazing visual that looked alternately like hundreds of drops of blood or the feral eyes of a thousand rats.

The second visual I love because it’s so simple. When Dracula turns into a giant bat, we plunged the audience into a blackout, handed the actor playing Dracula two big flashlights, also equipped with red gels, and had him hold them up as high as he could while a sound effect of several roaring animals at once played. Dracula swooped his arms down while simultaneously shutting off the flashlights, making it look like the Dracula-bat had flown away.

4. If you could give one piece of advice for those producing the play, what would it be?
Tell your actors to take it seriously. It’s easy not to, because the story has been parodied so much in popular culture, from The Munsters to Mel Brooks’ Dracula: Dead and Loving It. Work with your actors on the passion, the fear, the horror, and the battle all the characters are waging between the forces of light and darkness inside them. And their accents. They have to have good, strong British and Transylvanian accents.

5. Why is this play great for student performers?
High school students are beginning to develop their own empathetic centers while learning about the world. They are watching everyone around them make choices, for good or not-so-good. The themes in this play focus on that struggle, and teenagers really connect with that. Plus vampires are fun.

Products referenced in this post: Frankenstein Among the Dead, The Gorgon Sisters, and Dracula

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