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While working on the first volume in the project, The Universal Vampire: Origins and Evolution of a Legend (Rowman & Littlefield, 2013) I decided to try my hand at adapting the novel Dracula to a more literal Irish context. Set in London and Co. Sligo in 1888, it constitutes a prequel to the novel. The play, entitled The Irish Dracula: A Melodrama in Five Acts, received two initial readings: the first with the Irish Theatre of Florida in August 2012 and the second at the American Conference for Irish Studies (ACIS) West meeting in Park City, Utah, in October 2012. Both Barbara Brodman and I were involved in the readings, along with actors, theatre professors and graduate students. I later received a mini-grant to do workshops and a staged dramatic reading of the play with Nova Southeastern University students in March and April 2013. The play fills a niche in the overall discourse on Bram Stoker's 1897 novel. Though many scholars have noted the Irish origins of themes and authorship of the novel, no one has yet successfully adapted the novel to an Irish (or Anglo-Irish) context. I also decided that melodrama (literally “music + drama”) was the appropriate genre to use for an adaptation of Dracula to a theatrical form, insofar as it involves an exaggerated plot and characters to appeal to the audience's emotions. I hit upon the idea of a prequel which would introduce the real-life author of the novel, Bram Stoker and the legendary English actor/director, Henry Irving, for whom Stoker worked as a business manager for 27 years, and whom many consider a prototype for the title character in the novel. I then added characters based on those found in the novel, though translated into their respective Irish, English and Anglo-Irish counterparts, highlighting the hybrid nature of the political and cultural reality of late 19th-century Britain and Ireland. One of the main purposes for the workshops and for a fuller-scale production of the play in 2014, to be accompanied by Arthur Sullivan's instrumental music for the 1888 production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth at the Lyceum Theatre in London, which starred Henry Irving and which figures in The Irish Dracula, is to test the validity of this “translation,” to see how successful it is with a contemporary audience.
Celtic Studies | Creative Writing | Playwriting
Doan, James. The Irish Dracula: A Melodrama in Five Acts..