July 14, 2024

Theater Online

Iran Theater News

His ‘Dracula’ Project: Creating a Funny Vampire

The great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker goes to a comic version of “Dracula” that is appearing Off Broadway.

Theater Online: In the past, Dacre Stoker has written or co-written serious fiction about his great-granduncle Bram, the man who gave the world that famous bloodthirsty Transylvanian at the end of the 19th century. the younger Stoker will venture into comedy in an Off Broadway theater where “Dracula, a Comedy of Terrors” is playing.

He told me last week that he had put together some funny material to deliver when joining the cast onstage after the performance. He said he would take along a prop and tell the actors: “Loved the performance. You might need a transfusion.”

The prop won’t really be a transfusion: It will be red wine from a winery in Romania in which he has an interest. The winery is in Walachia, “the state below Transylvania,” he said. “We have given vampires to the country — why not get involved in commerce?”

Stoker said his mission was to raise the profile of his ancestor “so the creator himself becomes at least half as famous as his creation.”

He added: “This is how I started getting into writing the books and leading tours — asking, ‘Who is Bram Stoker?’ Bringing him into an Off Broadway comedy is another way to increase awareness of this guy.”

He also enjoys making Dracula funny. “It’s nice to see that people can poke fun at a scary, horrifying novel that’s been around for 127 years,” he said. (Our reviewer Elisabeth Vincentelli called “Dracula, a Comedy of Terrors,” at New World Stages, “a gender-bending play” that “pays no mind to the ‘terrors’ part of its title.”)

Dacre Stoker said his illustrious relative had connections to the world of theater: Bram Stoker’s “claim to fame before Dracula was running the famous Lyceum Theater in London for 27 years,” he said. He was the accommodating business assistant in the long shadow of the notoriously mercurial star Sir Henry Irving, the first actor ever knighted.

“Irving had extravagant tastes,” he said, and Bram, who had a master’s in math, “had to hold him back while he crunched the numbers” at the theater, the great-grandnephew said.

He also talked about the time his great-granduncle spent in New York: Bram Stoker joined the Players, the private club on Gramercy Park South, in 1893, when he and Irving were on one of eight American tours.

“I saw the book where he was nominated by Samuel L. Clemens, his good friend and neighbor from Chelsea,” Dacre Stoker said, “so Mark Twain nominated him. He had more names seconding him than any other page I saw in the book.” Others have written about Bram Stoker’s fascination with the American poet Walt Whitman.

Dacre Stoker, 65, a former member of the Canadian men’s pentathlon team who coached the team at the 1988 Olympics, said he had been “like this Indiana Jones version of a literary guy, trying to find the story behind the story, to bring this writer to life, to find out who Bram Stoker was.” He used material he found for “Dracul,” a prequel written with J.D. Barker and published in 2018 that envisioned what might have prompted Bram Stoker to create Dracula.

That book followed a 2009 novel, “Dracula: The Un-Dead,” which Dacre Stoker wrote with the screenwriter Ian Holt, himself a Dracula historian. It was the first Dracula project authorized by the Stoker estate since the 1931 film that starred Bela Lugosi.