We are neck deep (yep, I did that) in rehearsals for our world premiere version of Dracula: Prince of Blood and chomping at the bit to get into previews ahead of opening night on Sept. 8. The adaptation is from the hand of Commonweal professional resident ensemble member and playwright Scott Dixon and is based on the classic horror story Dracula by Bram Stoker. Here’s a little taste of what’s in store for you when you join us for a performance.
Dracula: Prince of Blood
I am thrilled and humbled to say that I have the pleasure of portraying The Lord of Vampires in Scott’s version of the classic horror story. And when I say “pleasure,” that is exactly what I mean. I have played another pure villain in my time and, honestly, playing the bad guy can be much more satisfying than portraying the hero and that is truly the case in this instance. Scott has written a delightfully scary and suspenseful horror story that I’m certain Bram Stoker would be proud of. I do hope that you will make plans to join us at some point. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you at the theatre—Jeremy.
Seeing the scary, seductive and suspenseful Dracula: Prince of Blood at the Commonweal is just one of the great things to do in Lanesboro. In case you’re in need of another idea…don’t miss the award-winning collection of one of a kind jewelry at Crown Trout Jewelry in downtown Lanesboro. Liz Bucheit and Michael Seiler are celebrating 24 years in business doing what they love.
Get tickets for Dracula: Prince of Blood or any of the other great performances this season —> Performance Calendar.
Ruthanna Emrys is an author based in Washington, DC. Ms. Emrys recently had an opinion piece circulate through National Public Radio about how reading horror stories can actually help us to survive and make sense of our own horrifying world. We are all about the power and value of a good horror story right now at the Commonweal as Scott Dixon’s new adaptation of Dracula: Prince of Blood makes its way to the stage later this month. The timing of this article could not be better because, honestly, who doesn’t appreciate a good tale of things that go bump in the night?!
Reading Horror Can Arm Us
Against A Horrifying World
by Ruthanna Emrys
Jeremy van Meter as the Vampire Lord in Dracula: Prince of Blood
Tom Lehrer famously said that satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize. And yet here we are, still struggling to exaggerate the follies of power until power can’t get around us. Horror has much the same resilience. As terrifying as the world becomes, we still turn to imagined terrors to try and make sense of it. To quote another favorite entertainer, Neil Gaiman, “Fairy tales are more than true: Not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” Horror, descended from those tales, tells us about more monsters — and more strategies for beating them.
The banal evils of the world — children shot, neighbors exiled, selves reframed in an instant as inhuman threats — these are horrible, but they aren’t horror. Horror promises that the plot arc will fall after it rises. Horror spins everyday evil to show its fantastical face, literalizing its corroded heart into something more dramatic, something easier to imagine facing down. Horror helps us name the original sins out of which horrible things are born.
Retelling a Classic Horror Story
through a New Play
by Scott Dixon
As a playwright, one is often in search of that perfect word for a particular moment. It can take a while to find—experimenting with different words and variations of words. In times like these, my bookshelf copy of Roget’s International Thesaurus is my best friend. Right now, I’m searching for the best word to sum up my feelings about rehearsals starting for Commonweal’s world premiere production of my play, Dracula: Prince of Blood.
Ah yes, I think I have it…WAHOO! (I don’t think that’s over the top at all. I bet Paula Vogel and Tom Stoppard say the same thing at the start of a new rehearsal—even if it’s just to themselves.)
Opening night will, of course, be exciting and, like a kid before Christmas, I doubt I’ll sleep much the night before. But where Dracula: Prince of Blood is now, this phase of a new play’s lifecycle is my favorite. It all started with Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula. Then, a few years ago now, I came along to deconstruct and reconstruct this 19th-century classic horror story into a 21st-century play. During that time, the only creative voice in the room was my own—supplemented here and there with input from others with whom I shared my work-in-progress. But basically, I was the soloist.
Lizzy Andretta and Jeremy van Meter in Dracula: Prince of Blood
Then Dracula: Prince of Blood gets selected for Commonweal’s 2018 season, and steadily more voices get added. A director is hired, and a team of design artists is assembled, to do their own deconstructing and reconstructing of my work through the lens of their creativity and imagination. And now the cast is gathered to add their contributions. I have gone from being a soloist to one member of a larger chorus.
And this is how it’s supposed to be. It’s true that I have a certain anxiety about giving up my total control, but that’s ultimately just a flash of ego. It’s natural and I let it pass through because what’s about to happen is simply amazing. It’s the lesson I learned watching a play of mine brought from page to stage for the very first time with Commonweal’s 2005 production of The Nutcracker & The Mouse King. I had the special experience of watching talented artists take the story I’d written and bring it to life in ways which were beyond anything I could have imagined for myself.
That’s exactly the kind of energy that’s in the air right now. I get to be on the inside and the outside at the same time—intimately knowledgeable of what this particular telling of the Dracula tale will be like, and yet being surprised by new discoveries in every rehearsal I watch. I’m already incredibly proud of this production. I hope to see you at the Commonweal where we can both enjoy the hard work and talents of so many.
Until then…all the best to you!
Dracula: Prince of Blood begins previews August 31 and officially opens September 8 —> PURCHASE TICKETS.
Thanks for reading and I’ll see you at the theatre—Jeremy.