Monday, July 30, 2018

Adapting Dracula (Part Eighteen)

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

Eighteen: "Icons"
I view writing as equal parts intuition and planning.  Both Apollonian and Dionysian as it were.  Which means to adapt Dracula what I need is a lot more than some cool notions, not matter how cool, no matter how logical.

Searching for inspiration I've found much of what's needed in an idea dubbed "Death and the Maiden."  It supposes a relationship between a young woman and Death (sometimes the Angel of Death) which seems romantic and/or erotic.  The unknown as desirable.  A final end as the climax as it were of life, with all the living one has done until then as foreplay.  I don't know if this had anything to do with why the French call an orgasm le petite mort i.e. the little death.  But it would hardly surprise me.

But notice where this idea naturally takes me.

To welcome death as a lover implies something wrong with life, or at least this person's life.  So many different ways that might play out.  One I've already mentioned, i.e. Lucy Westrenra might be dying.  Here's another--the growing madness of Renfield might welcome release.  Or someone masking a fundamental terror with a frightening persona and skill set--power chosen instead of vulnerability, tenderness, even love.  Or a profound, bone-deep dissatisfaction with the specifics of a life.  Maybe simply meeting the personification of the Grim Reaper might inspire fascination rather than fear.

For that matter, consider actual portrayals of Death as a character from Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey to Death Takes a Holiday and the second season of American Horror Story.  This touches on Dracula himself.  What sort of person is he, after centuries of being a vampire rather than a mortal warlord?  Think how different you or I have become after a mere two decades!  Multiply that by two hundred!




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