Brides of Dracula
A World Premiere by Daniel C. Nyiri
The classic vampire story of Count Dracula has been a staple of the horror genre for well over a hundred years: its combination of exotic characters and locations with fantastic tales of living-dead creatures sustained by human blood creates a nightmarish narrative that fascinates readers to this day. Beneath its sensational veneer the story also touches on important late 19th century themes, including the role of women in society, new theories of medicine and psychology, and the treatment of the mentally ill.
The vampire in literature dates back to the early 1800s, but it was the 1897 novel Dracula, by Irish writer Bram Stoker, that created the ultimate vampire character in the form of an aristocratic Count living with his vampire brides in a crumbling castle in the remote Carpathian mountains of Transylvania. Historically, Dracula was the family name of the descendants of Vlad II of Wallachia, who took the name after being invested in the secret fraternal Order of the Dragon in 1431. In the Romanian language, dracula means "son of the dragon".
It was the unexplored dramatic possibilities in the novel that has been in the mind of playwright Daniel C. Nyiri for over a decade. Nyiri, a native of Southern California, has been a professional scenic designer working nationally for almost twenty-five years. With credits that include film and television, including Production Designer of Australia's first 3-D feature film, Nyiri also spent time as a Theatre critic (writing under a pseudonym) and was the author of five ballets. In 1996, Nyiri was commissioned by Virginia Ballet Theatre to write the scenario for a new production of Dracula. But it was in his dual capacity as the ballet's Production Designer that Nyiri began to first seriously consider the underdeveloped characters of Dracula's original brides. Seeking an unique treatment for their costumes, Nyiri began to ask himself: Who were these women and what was their history? How would they have changed in hundreds of years with this undead Count and how did they feel about being abandoned by Dracula when he finally moved to England without them?
This play allowed Nyiri to examine these questions in detail. Where the brides have always been portrayed as a trio of near identical non-entities, Nyiri's brides are fully developed creations whose personalities, emotions and actions impact the title character in surprising and haunting ways. Nyiri also offers a new perspective on Dracula himself while exploring the emotional and psychological implications of immortality, especially in regards to Romance. The Count is not merely an evil creature hungrily thirsting for blood, but a tortured soul struggling in his need to make his immortality tolerable. Each bride represents an attempt to find his perfect soul mate. "But it is one thing," Nyiri explains, "to talk about Eternal Love, and it is another thing to try and maintain it." Crushed by the weight of time stretching into eternity, Dracula's escape to England is a desperate attempt to seek fulfillment in a life of unbearable loneliness.
Though richer in its exploration of the psychological motivations of the central characters, Nyiri's script still remains faithful to the 1897 novel. Through a series of letters and journal entries, the much-loved story unfolds: Solicitor Jonathan Harker (Jeremy Webb) must leaves his fiance, Mina Murray (Rachel Cardoza), and travel to Transylvania to assist Count Dracula (Charlie Heinberg) with some business transactions. Harker soon realizes that he is a virtual prisoner in the remote castle, which is also home to three Un-dead women, the Brides (Kyra Gardner, Elena Tessler and Heather Wood). After becoming enamored of Mina, Dracula abandons his brides and travels to England. He finds Mina a guest of Dr John Seward (Craig Waldvogel), Director of the Prestwich Lunatic Asylum, where he enlists the aid of Thomas Renfield (Steven Carter), one of the more interesting and tragic patients in the Asylum. When locals fall victim of the Vampire, celebrated Professor Abraham Van Helsing (Thomas Tucker) is summoned to untangle the mystery before Mina becomes the next Bride of Dracula.
Completing the cast are the asylum's Maid (Alaina Ross) and Attendant (Devin Galdierie) and a disturbing original character referred to only as The Corpse Bride (Danielle Cichon).
Bringing this new production to the Ferndale stage has been an ambitious undertaking. In addition to writing the script, Nyiri serves as Director and Production Designer, responsible for creating a unified vision through Scenery, Lighting and Costume. As Assistant Director and Dramaturg Benoit Dens has worked with Nyiri from the beginning, seeing the script through its development and working with the cast to make further adjustments during the rehearsal process. According to Dens, "I couldn't pass up the chance to be a part of the process from the beginning, to be allowed to watch Daniel find the play. To be able to help him realize his vision has been an extremely rewarding experience." The playwright adds, "Considering his detailed work and attention to the script and all of its numerous drafts, in many ways Benoit is more familiar with the play than I am." Assisting Nyiri in carrying out his vision are Greta Stockwell (Lighting), Colleen Lacy (Stage Management), Derek Howard (Booth Operations) and Carolyn Jones (Costumes).
Brides of Dracula opens Friday October 15 and plays through Sunday October 31. Curtain times are Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2 pm. Tickets are $15 general admission, $13 students & seniors (65+). For reservations call 1.800.838.3006 or go online at www.ferndale-rep.org.
Ferndale Repertory Theatre
447 Main St
Ferndale, CA 95536
|Kid Friendly: No|
|Dog Friendly: No|
|Wheelchair Accessible: No|