Subscribe      List an Event or Business      Invite a Writer      Write for WN      Writers      Other Locations      HubGarden      Recipes

Open Book Theatre: Dracula

Home > London > Fun Things To Do | Libraries | Literary | Theatre | Tours
by Bryony Harrison (subscribe)
Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
Event: -
Theatre in the Library
This week my Young Creatives workshop at Mitcham Library consisted of blood, cake, and a talking fork. Fortunately none of these were connected to one another.

It is not every day a young girl turns thirteen, so our work table was strewn with party food. Celebrations included a heated debate about chicken nuggets, mutual scorn towards Scotch eggs, and the mandatory decapitation of a chocolate caterpillar cake.

This moment of teen knife crime set the president for a gory evening, starting with a talking fork. It held the same purpose as the conch shell in Lord of the Flies, only wielded much less power. The fact there were about ten plastic forks around the table didn't help. They proved far more effective as a projectile weapon than an object of order.

We were then all treated to a blood-stained slideshow. One member of the group had badly cut her leg, and insisted on sharing before and after pictures. Apparently stiches are cool because it makes you think of zombies.

dracula, open book theatre company, theatre6, kate mcgregor
Production photos by Eleanor Cope for Open Book Theatre Productions ltd


A lot of our workshops end up featuring zombies, but this week's session, another creature of the night was the topic of discussion. Natalie, our team leader, told us about an exciting play to be performed at Mitcham Library on the 1st November at 7pm. Bonus points if you guess which one.

dracula, open book theatre company, theatre6, kate mcgregor
Production photos by Eleanor Cope for Open Book Theatre Productions ltd


Co-produced by Theatre6 and the Open Book Theatre Company, the adaptation of Bram Stoker's 1897 novel, Dracula, will be a unique performance. The Open Book Theatre Company was founded in 2013, in response to growing concern over the exclusive nature of modern theatre and funding cuts to libraries. To stop the decline and open theatre to a wider audience, Nicky Diss, Vicky Gaskin, and Eleanor Cope came up with a brilliant concept: to stage theatrical interpretations of classic novels in library spaces. To make this vision a reality, they teamed up with the touring company, Theatre6, who focus on new writing, commissioned adaptations, and re-imagined versions of modern classics.

dracula, open book theatre company, theatre6, kate mcgregor
Production photos by Eleanor Cope for Open Book Theatre Productions ltd


Together they created Dracula, which was performed in libraries in Westminster, Victoria, Battersea, and Tooting in autumn 2013. One year one, Dracula is returning to North-East London Libraries between 20th October 8th November, starting with Pollard's Hill Library.

dracula, open book theatre company, theatre6, kate mcgregor
Production photos by Eleanor Cope for Open Book Theatre Productions ltd


When children and animals from the local area disappear, a meeting is called for. The townspeople look through the tomes and letters of Bram Stoker's iconic story to help solve the mystery. Tickets are 10 with concessions available, and it recommended for twelve years plus.

Dracula, open book theatre company, theatre6, kate mcgregor
Production photos by Eleanor Cope for Open Book Theatre Productions ltd


Dracula was directed by Kate McGregor, who was only too happy to talk to me about the processes involved behind the play.

dracula, open book theatre company, theatre6, kate mcgregor
Production photos by Eleanor Cope for Open Book Theatre Productions ltd


There are many wonderful classic novels; what was it that drew you to Dracula as the first play for Open Book Theatre?

The company directors - Nicky Newman, Vicky Gaskin and Ellie Cope, first proposed the idea to me about 18 months ago. I've done several adaptations of classic novels for the stage so it immediately appealed to me. I loved the gothic vibe, the vampires, the adventure and importantly, the opportunity to be in a library space where parts of the show can pop up anywhere and take you by surprise!

Why did you decide to set Dracula in the contemporary world?

Our Dracula is set half in modern day and half in the 1800's - the time of the original novel. I wanted to make the connection between both these worlds, to make the story somehow relevant to now. Without giving too much away - the contemporary setting allows the audience to feel the threat of Dracula as if it were a set of real events happening now.

You make full use of the library space available; each library is different, so is there a certain amount of improvisation involved, or is everything rehearsed in each library in advance?

We very rarely get the chance to rehearse in our libraries. This means that every performance in every space is genuinely different. The actors have to adapt to a new library on the night - which isn't an easy feat! We do use a few tricks in rehearsal to help us prepare but on the whole, there is a strong current of impulse and improvisation.

What challenges does performing in a library present?

Several! Late get in times, negotiating with library staff to help us run our shows, spaces bigger or smaller than we anticipated, restrictions on what we can and can't do in the performance and limits on show length and content. It's completely different to being in a theatre, where you can prepare for your show in fine detail and do pretty much whatever you want. However, we're passionate about bringing our shows exclusively to libraries so we've adapted our process to suit the places we go to and the people we visit. It's always a challenge but always hugely exciting and that's why we love doing it.

What kind of related activities and workshops do you run?

The majority of our actors work regularly with young people and adults delivering workshops and events. We offer Q & A's and tailor made workshops to suits the needs and interests of the groups we work with. Most of our sessions revolve around how to create inventive, original performance based on a well known story or text.

What's the next book in the line-up?

Oh, well that'd be telling!
Help us improve  Click here if you liked this article  23
Share: email  facebook  twitter
Why? See theatre performed in a different way
When: 20th Oct - 8th Nov
Where: North East London Libraries, Including Pollard's Hill Library & Mitcham Library
Cost: 10
Your Comment
Articles from other cities
Popular Articles
Categories
Lists
Questions