It’s incredible that Simon’s family friendly, three-handed, open air promenade adaptation of Bram Stoker’s classic tale of ‘Dracula’ has now been running at Whitby Abbey for eleven years! Initially created for EH in partnership with Griffin Historical, it is now overseen by TWT. The premise for the piece was that it had to appeal to the widest possible audience, remain faithful to the original story, be capable of being performed in all but the worst weather, and be as entertaining as possible!
Being asked to perform the play within the ruins of Whitby Abbey, the place that inspired Bram Stoker, is just as inspiring to us as performers. The broken walls and towers provide the perfect backdrop for a gothic horror story. The size and scale of the abbey lends itself to outdoor theatre. It has open spaces for cinematic scale and enclosed areas for intimacy. It does mean the actors have to cover a lot of ground during the course of the show, which runs at about one hour and fifteen minutes and is performed three times a day!
With three actors there’s also a lot of doubling up of roles, quick costume changes and instant scene setting. Our usual approach of simplicity and clarity in storytelling really helps with this. The audience accepts it completely and it adds to the comedy. The actors have the freedom to work around the script to respond to the audience’s involvement as it happens which keeps the piece constantly alive to possibility.
Our version of the story makes the audience a fourth member of the cast, greeted initially as students on holiday in Whitby who have come to attend a lecture. The first scene presents three of the central characters; Dr. Seward, Jonathan Harker and Professor Abraham van Helsing. We learn in the lecture about the professor’s theory of vampires, and that Jonathon Harker is going to Transylvania. The scene is set! Van Helsing enlists the audiences help to act as his eyes, to follow Jonathon on his travels and witness what happens!
We move the audience to the train station, where Jonathon says farewell to his fiancee Mina Harker. His journey is punctuated by a series of encounters with a succession of bizarre characters. He then arrives at Castle Dracula and meets the Count!
Our story follows the plot of Dracula with a few additions. The classic scenes are included; the entrapment of Jonathon, Dracula’s journey to Whitby, the seduction of Lucy, Jonathan’s escape and the tracking down of Dracula. Spoiler alert! We won’t tell you how it ends!
We have no idea how many visitors have enjoyed ‘Dracula” over the years. It numbers in the many thousands. We have also performed Dracula as part of the “Illuminated Abbey” event at Whitby Abbey which runs in the evenings over Halloween.
2022 is a very special year. The 125th anniversary of the publication of ‘Dracula’, so we will be working closely with EH to bring new ideas to realisation to celebrate this incredible author and his wonderful story! We are always interested in taking the play to new locations as it is a ‘stand alone’ piece that could be performed anywhere.
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