Dracula: Romanticizing the Beast

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By Michael Edan
Director of Dracula, at Elmwood, September 8 – October 7

We’re not just afraid of predators, we’re transfixed by them. What is it about Dracula that fascinates us? He has existed for centuries and refuses to die – no matter how many stakes are put into his heart.
While Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel stirred up a lot of interest in this dark tale of terror, the character of Dracula, originally called Nosferatu (undead) and associated historically with the 15th century Romanian prince Vlad the Impaler, has its roots from early Iranian origins to Slavic folklore, to Eastern European, to contemporary Western culture.
Dracula keeps coming out of his coffin to startle our collective consciousness.
Hollywood has produced over 200 films depicting the caped creature with a varied list of actors including Klaus Kinski, Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee, Gary Oldman, Frank Langella, and yes, even Morgan Freeman.
No matter the various ways Dracula has been portrayed, the archetype of the vampire is embedded in our collective consciousness. This man-creature resists easy definition; he is not bound by normal physical limitations. On a deeper level he evokes our inner disequilibrium of that shadowy land somewhere in our own natures as well– our fear of death and desire for immortality. Even as his magnetic charm captivates us when he is dressed in elegant finery, he raises apprehension over the reminder of our own inner beast. Is it he—or we—that are the wolf in sheep’s clothing?
Dracula, by Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston, opens September 8 at Elmwood Playhouse. Information and tickets are available at via elmwoodplayhouse.com or by calling the box office 845 353-1313.

Frank Langella as Dracula in the 1979 movie Dracula

Javier Botet as Dracula in the 2023 movie The Last Voyage of the Demeter

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