Monday, April 9, 2018

Adapting Dracula (Part Three)

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

Three: Steampunk?

"Steampunk" as a genre has an interesting history.  Although the term had not been coined yet, the old t.v. show The Wild Wild West really does make a perfect example in some ways.  Later of course Alan Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen helped define it and these days it exists in video games and conventions as well as animes perhaps most of all.

The idea involves a "future than never happened."  An alternate history (usually of the Victorian Era) in which technology accelerated in a way imagined by Jules Verne or H.G.Wells, etc. Submarines a la the Nautilus, vast steam engines powering an even more hyper-industrialized London, an embrace of the mechanical even more than in our own history.

Although I didn't realize it at the time, a little notion of setting Dracula in such an England appealed to me precisely because it could show up an inherent conflict between the past and present, between the medieval and industrial, the mystical versus the materialistic.

It also offered some opportunities.  One was the notion of a fairly recent "modern" war, a small scale version of WWI of which three characters--Quincy, Seward and Arthur--might be veterans. Imagine a conflict, a surrogate of the Franco-Prussian War perhaps, in which poison gas and primitive airships, truly automatic rifles and long range artillery as well as very basic versions of what we call a tank were used!  Now think on how three friends might have reacted to such a visit to hell. PTS or "shell shock" might be the least of it. Another reaction could be a weird deadening of sympathies, or single-minded focus on a cause eclipsing who knows what else.

Likewise consider the air of those industrialized cities such as London!  In our own history flecks of coal were pretty much everywhere, soiling almost everything.  Maximize that, and all of a sudden these places become in many ways absolute places of walking death.  Lung ailments might well become rampant. In our own history, the 1950s saw horrible months of really severe smog which killed thousands.

Which means of course perhaps one of Dracula's victims might be dying already--which in turn impacts how they might view a seeming Angel of Death visiting them each night to deliver a kiss.

To be continued

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