It’s the darkest of tales–a tale that captures an evil and ageless entity’s quest to travel from his native Transylvania to nineteenth-century London: Dracula. He’s got his eyes set on spreading fear and darkness until he finds a companion that will be with him through the endless ages.
But Professor of Theatre and Dance, Dan Patterson is taking this story out from the dark ages and setting it in modern times.
Patterson said, “I’d never seen a stage production of ‘Dracula’ that really did it justice, so I started thinking, ‘I bet I could do one.’”
After reading about eight different stage adaptations of the story, Patterson decided on one he liked by Steven Deitz, which was written in 1997.
Patterson said he liked how the script really moved the story forward. While the original Bram Stoker novel, and to an extent the Francis Ford Coppola film, is told mostly through journal entries and letters, this version keeps the story very much in the moment.
“In the theatre, you exist in the now, and you move on from there,” Patterson said.
“Dracula” is a story that is a product of its age, written shortly after the Industrial Revolution in 1897.
The original novel spotlighted technology such as typewriters and the concept of blood transfusions.
These things are commonplace now, but in 1897, they were modern marvels of technology–and these modern marvels of technology is what inspired Patterson’s version of the story and its characters that will make their debut on Nov. 14.
Mina Harker, the leading female of the story, is depicted as a woman ahead of her time.
“I didn’t want the characters to become stereotypes,” Patterson said, “We’re really trying to humanize all of them, even Dracula. We’ve been talking to the costumer about making him look like more of a soldier as opposed to the evening wear tux that you normally see.”
Mina Harker, played by Taylor Ewing, is a woman who wants to be an equal to her husband, something that was unheard of in those days for a privileged woman such as herself.
“I’ve loved Dracula ever since I was a child,” Ewing said, “When I heard we were doing it here I was like, ‘I have to audition.’”
When asked about her audition Ewing commented, “I thought I’d be lucky enough to be cast as a vixen, I never thought I’d be cast as Mina, and when I saw that I was cast as Mina I was ecstatic.”
Lucy, Mina’s best friend, played in this production by Arienne Stearns, represents an opposite character. All she wishes out of life is to be married to a rich and attractive husband for the rest of her life.
This is her very first time being cast in a play at Keene State College.
“I have not seen any other adaptations,” Stearns said, “I learned that if I watch others do a character I’m about to portray, there’s always a sense of mimic, and I wanted to start fresh and see what I could create from this character.” She explained that Lucy is the sort of girl who knows how to get what she wants.
Jonathan Harker, Mina’s husband, is sort of the everyman of the age. Dan Bullard, who plays the character, was attracted to the production by the script notes that read “buckets of blood.”
“He’s got that kind of noble sense to him, where he thinks a lot of what’s going on is his fault, whether directly or indirectly,” Bullard said, “While he feels responsible for [releasing] Dracula on England, he also slightly enjoys the hunt for the count.”
This melodramatic tone of the play is what Bullard enjoys most, he said.
Dracula himself, played by Dan Kuhn, is an ancient soul.
Patterson referred to him as one of the most complicated characters in literature.
Dracula is a multi-faceted character-on one hand he has to be tragic, but on the other, he must be a frightening and ethereal presence who could strike at any time.
“One thing I’m really trying to do is break the kind of myth that is this cold hearted, merciless bloodthirsty killer,” Kuhn said.
“In the play a lot of what he’s trying to do is he’s trying to fall in love. He’s trying to figure out, just like any of us, is what to do with his life, which happens to be forever,” Kuhn said.
And for Dracula, instead of spreading fear and darkness, he is hoping to find a companion that lasts throughout the endless ages–a companion that will last forever.
Wes Serafine can be contacted at