By Ashleigh Nix ’10
Amid a setting of graphic stage violence, blood, sensuality and goth-tinged rock songs, the legend of Dracula will be resurrected by Theatre Converse in a Halloween production of "The Anointing of Dracula."
Converse theatre professor Brent Glenn wrote "The Anointing of Dracula" with the sole purpose of creating an atmosphere awash with nervous energy. " create an atmosphere that is conducive for people to be creeped-out. Jumping out from behind to scare someone is startling; we want to frighten,” said Glenn, who is also directing the production. "This is a very adult oriented graphic piece of theatre with lots of sexuality, gore and great story-telling."
The production, which is recommended for mature audiences only, will run on Converse College’s Hazel B. Abbott Theatre stage October 24-26, and October 29-November 1. Curtain times are 8 pm for all performances. In addition to the 8 pm performance on Halloween (October 31), the cast will present a special midnight performance. Tickets are $8 for adults, $4 for students and can be ordered through the Twichell Auditorium Box Office in person or by phone at (864) 596-9725.
Featured in the production are a cast of 35 members of the undead and a four-piece band performing gothic-morphed popular rock songs by acts such as Garbage, the Toadies and Evanescence.
Glenn said that while the audience members will be seated, they will not be insulated from the creatures of the night. "There will be no line between the audience and the performers. The audience will definitely be acknowledged throughout the performance, and will be integral to our success," he said.
Although "The Anointing of Dracula" is loosely based upon Bram Stoker’s classic "Dracula," Glenn says that he "wanted to write something original. I thought that vampires had permeated the public consciousness in the past few years, and I knew that the ideas of vampires would be fun. I liken ‘The Anointing of Dracula’ to a Catholic mass run by vampires, and it does a good job of updating Bram Stoker’s version and makes it more accessible to today’s audiences. I think that the sexuality of vampires stems from the aspect that vampires are slaves to an uncontrollable hunger that is their passion while humans exert control over their hunger."
When he was casting the roles, Glenn knew the type of personality that would bring life to an undead character. "I specifically wanted people who possess the confidence of a rock star…that David Bowie-esque sense of confidence," he said.
To convey scenes of intense drama, cast members learned to crawl, bite and talk like a vampire. In addition, the cast put in a minimum of 50 to several hundred hours, in addition to off-stage hours. “It’s not like a bunch of scheduled rehearsals, but there’s a lot of time in thinking about it during the day, and not necessarily rehearsing,” said cast member Lauren Hunter, a sophomore from Murrells Inlet, South Carolina.
According to Hunter, the mature theme greatly enabled cast members to melt into their roles. "Since we do not have to worry about keeping everything G-rated, we were all free to express ourselves in our own unique way.”