Monday, April 23, 2018

Adapting Dracula (Part Five)

This is a series of posts sharing my ideas/considerations while getting ready to adapt Bram Stoker's novel Dracula for the live stage.

Five: Sharp Relief

You can pause when reading a book.  You can reread a passage as many times as desired. More you can take as much time as you like reading any specific page.

Not so a play.  Any piece of theatre in a real sense happens to the audience, outside of any audience member's control.  For this reason when adapting works from a literary to a dramatic medium lots of things must be thrown into sharp relief--a sculpture term for when something is designed to stand out, boldly and distinctly as feasible.  I would argue Dracula, with its rather bland description of most characters, fairly cries out for such.

Which is why I have a (perhaps) startling vision for Quincey.  Frankly, when he's included (rarely enough) in adaptations of the novel, he almost forever comes across as some kind of vaguely comic stereotype of an American, usually with an accent that screams "hick."  What we know of him from the novel, of course, is that he hales from Texas and carries a large knife, while working for the American consulate.  More, he counts Arthur and Seward as his best friends, while he proposed to Lucy on the same day as the other two.

My own instinct is to make Quincey dangerous.  Not so much a fun-loving cowboy a la John Wayne but far closer to one of Clint Eastwood's characters in the Italian westerns which propelled him to movie stardom.  Lean, silent and deadly.  Not a yokel, tolerated in polite society out of good manners, but an almost invisible presence, who when noticed causes real discomfort.  Not any kind of a clown, but more like a panther or lion.

More, I imagine Dracula seeing in Quincey just a little bit of a kindred spirit.  After all, in life this man was also a killer, may even have seen himself as Death.  

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