Potts, Norman B.
M.A. (Master of Arts)
Department of Theatre Arts
Stoker, Bram, 1847-1912. Dracula||Vampires
The superstition of the vampire has long interested students of the occult. One such student, Bram Stoker, compiled a series of notes and articles on the Undead and created from them the most noteworthy account of the vampire legend in his Gothic novel, Dracula. The novel, published in 1897, followed the lead of Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmllla and John Polidori's The Vampyre in bringing to life the foul child of the night, the vampire. In Dracula, Stoker combined certain historical and geographic facts with a workable dramatic plot to create an account of the activities of the King Vampire, Count Dracula. Stoker's work was to serve as the basis for several subsequent adaptations in the areas of dramatic and motion picture production. The initial adaptation, a play of marathon length entitled Dracula, was written and staged by the author in 1897. In 1922, F. W. Murnau, a fast rising German film director, did little changing of plot in filming Nosferatu. A Symphony of Terror, the first motion picture adaptation of the Stoker novel. Unfortunately for Murnau, the film was made illegally under copyright laws and most copies were destroyed. This first film, however, gained merit by exposing the Stoker ideas. Four years later Dracula returned to the London stage in a dramatization prepared by Hamilton Deane, the son of one of Stoker's childhood friends. After a great deal of success in England, Deane combined talents with John L. Balderston for the Americanized version of Dracula which was first presented in New York on October 5, 1927. The biggest contribution of the American version was the introduction to the role of Count Dracula of Bela Lugosi. Perhaps the finest adaptation of Stoker's Dracula can be credited to a combination of Tod Browning's artistic directing, Karl Freund's masterful camerawork, and Bela Lugosi's flowing acting, and the coming of sound to the motion picture. This 1931 Universal Pictures masterpiece used suggestion, subtlety, and a classical sound track to recreate the intentions of Stoker. It was by far superior to any other previous attempts at adaptation. Though Stoker's Dracula had been presented as a play or movie, no adaptations of the novel had been done in the form of reader's theatre. As a class project in the Advanced Speech A class at Putnam County High School in Granville, Illinois, such an adaptation was undertaken. Careful studies of the legend of the vampire, the literary history of the vampire, and the novel itself were conducted prior to beginning actual adaptation processes. A system of shared authority and total co-operation was employed by the students and instructor in creating the new adaptation. The end product of this combined creative effort is a fully performable reader's theatre script which runs approximately forty-five minutes in production. The reader's theatre adaptation was presented in a contest situation, as well as a standard audience situation and met with considerable success, in terms of audience involvement and acceptance. The total project of adaptation was equally successful in providing high school students and their instructor with a valid learning experience.
Gerace, Joseph B., "Dracula, the child of the night : a reader's theatre adaptation for secondary students" (1973). Graduate Research Theses & Dissertations. 2662.
Northern Illinois University
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