No Bloodless Metaphors for Steven Dietz' New Dracula

News   No Bloodless Metaphors for Steven Dietz' New Dracula
 
Dracula, Bram Stoker's novel about that evil Rumanian blood sucker, turns 100 this year, an occasion that isn't going by unnoticed in Seattle and San Diego. Seattle's Empty Space Theatre will resurrect Nosferatu by presenting the West Coast premiere of Dracula, a recent adaptation by Steven Dietz, which opened Feb. 19. The Old Globe staging goes up March 15-April 20, with an opening set for March 20.
Carlo Scandiuzzi (Dracula), David Pichette
Carlo Scandiuzzi (Dracula), David Pichette Photo by Photo by Chris Bennion

Dracula, Bram Stoker's novel about that evil Rumanian blood sucker, turns 100 this year, an occasion that isn't going by unnoticed in Seattle and San Diego. Seattle's Empty Space Theatre will resurrect Nosferatu by presenting the West Coast premiere of Dracula, a recent adaptation by Steven Dietz, which opened Feb. 19. The Old Globe staging goes up March 15-April 20, with an opening set for March 20.

Dietz had misgivings about tackling this popular piece because, "I thought the book had been captured quite well in a number of other adaptations, but after re-reading the novel, I became very surprised at the extent to which so many theatre adaptations veered a great distance from the book. . . My friends kept asking what my `take' on the story was. . . what did Dracula `represent?' I was tempted to join in their esoteric aerobics, [but] I realized that to make Dracula a metaphor was cheating. It was akin to putting a muzzle on the most terrifying aspect of the story. You can hide from a metaphor. A metaphor doesn't wait outside your window under a full moon. A metaphor doesn't turn into a bat and land on your bed. Instead, I took Mr. Stoker at his word: the actual being is the most haunting. The question, then, is not what Dracula represents, but what he is: a brilliant, seductive, fanged beast waiting to suck the blood from your throat. Hide from that."

"I want your fear," says Dietz's Dracula. "For your fear, like a current, rushes through your body. Your fear makes your heart pound, it renders your veins rich and full. Your fear hemorrhages deliciously within you."

The Empty Space hopes audiences won't hide from this thriller, which will feature Carlo Scandiuzzi as the world's most famous undead dude. David Pichette, who played Renfield in the adaptation's 1995 world premiere at Arizona Theatre Company, reprises that role here. Todd Licea plays Harker, Sheryle Wells is Mina, Teresa Castro is Lucy, William Saylers is Seward, and John Paul Shepard is Van Helsing. Other cast members are Rob Bright, Julia Leichman and Nadine Williams.

Eddie Levi Lee directs the show, with costumes by Karen Ledger, lighting by Rick Paulsen and sound by Eric Chappelle. Previous memorable Dracs include Max Von Schreck in Murnau's silent film Nosferatu, Frank Langella as a smooth & sexy vampire on Broadway, and Klaus Kinski as an existentially depressed vamp in Werner Herzog's film version -- not to mention the denizens of Charles Busch's campy Vampire Lesbians Of Sodom or the zonked high schoolers of Zombie Prom.

Other works by Dietz include Lonely Planet, God's Country, Halcyon Days, Down The Names, Trust and Boomtown. His next work, tentatively titled Rocket Man, has been commissioned by Arizona Theatre Company and will be presented there in Spring 1998.

Dracula runs at the Empty Space Theatre through Mar. 30.

For its part, The Old Globe is a special "Dis-Count Dracula" donation drive of -- what else? -- blood. Anyone giving blood at the March 23 drive will receive a $5 discount off the price of a regular ticket to Dracula, through April 4. $5 discounts are also being made available to members of (I'm not making this up) the "Gallon Club" -- folks who donate at least 8 pints of blood a year to the San Diego Blood Bank.

--By David LefkowitzDracula, Bram Stoker's novel about that evil Rumanian blood sucker, turns 100 this year, an occasion that isn't going by unnoticed in Seattle. The Empty Space Theatre will resurrect this Nosferatu when they present the West Coast premiere of Dracula, a recent adaptation by ubiquitous American playwright, Steven Dietz, which opened Feb. 19.

Dietz had misgivings about tackling this popular piece because, "I thought the book had been captured quite well in a number of other adaptations, but after re-reading the novel, I became very surprised at the extent to which so many theatre adaptations veered a great distance from the book. . . My friends kept asking what my `take' on the story was. . . what did Dracula `represent?' I was tempted to join in their esoteric aerobics, [but] I realized that to make Dracula a metaphor was cheating. It was akin to putting a muzzle on the most terrifying aspect of the story. You can hide from a metaphor. A metaphor doesn't wait outside your window under a full moon. A metaphor doesn't turn into a bat and land on your bed. Instead, I took Mr. Stoker at his word: the actual being is the most haunting. The question, then, is not what Dracula represents, but what he is: a brilliant, seductive, fanged beast waiting to suck the blood from your throat. Hide from that."

"I want your fear," says Dietz's Dracula. "For your fear, like a current, rushes through your body. Your fear makes your heart pound, it renders your veins rich and full. Your fear hemorrhages deliciously within you."

The Empty Space hopes audiences won't hide from this thriller, which will feature Carlo Scandiuzzi as the world's most famous undead dude. David Pichette, who played Renfield in the adaptation's 1995 world premiere at Arizona Theatre Company, reprises that role here. Todd Licea plays Harker, Sheryle Wells is Mina, Teresa Castro is Lucy, William Saylers is Seward, and John Paul Shepard is Van Helsing. Other cast members are Rob Bright, Julia Leichman and Nadine Williams.

Eddie Levi Lee directs the show, with sets by Carey Wong, costumes by Karen Ledger, lighting by Rick Paulsen and sound by Eric Chappelle.

Previous memorable Dracs include Max Von Schreck in Murnau's silent film Nosferatu, Frank Langella as a smooth & sexy vampire on Broadway, and Klaus Kinski as an existentially depressed vamp in Werner Herzog's film version -- not to mention the denizens of Charles Busch's campy Vampire Lesbians Of Sodom or the zonked high schoolers of Zombie Prom.

Other works by Dietz include Lonely Planet, God's Country, Halcyon Days, Down The Names, Trust and Boomtown. His next work, tentatively titled Rocket Man, has been commissioned by Arizona Theatre Company and will be presented there in Spring 1998.

Dracula runs at the Empty Space Theatre through Mar. 30. --By David Lefkowitz

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