By Paulina Herran
On Saturday, Nov. 1, a shortened dramatic reading of “Dracula” was performed as part of the After Hours series here at the University of Dallas. The After Hours series is an additional opportunity for UD dramatists to spend time on stage, making collaborative decisions without help from faculty. It also provides free, quality entertainment for UD students who prefer taking on the role of spectator rather than performer.
According to freshman Mary Fox, who played a vampire vixen in the show, “Dracula” came about because senior drama major Jerick Johnson decided to direct it.
“[He] had what he wanted in mind and recruited people he thought would be good for the parts he needed,” Fox said.
In addition to directing the play, Johnson played Renfield, a vampire and an insane servant of Dracula’s. Johnson has participated in various performances of the After Hours series.
The After Hours series is ooooooooll0like a shot of theater – small, quick, but just as effective as a tall glass of beer. As such, rehearsals for these plays have to take place in a short period of time. Junior Brandon Ashton, who played Dr. John Seward, pointed out that the actors had been preparing since early October.
“The hardest part was probably – with this group especially, because we all are doing so many other things – finding times everyone is available for rehearsals,” Fox said.
It was because of time constraints that the play was performed as a dramatic reading. Much of the performance was done with binders in hand, the actors reading straight from the script; however, despite this crutch, the actors clearly knew their parts and read them with the correct emotions and emphasis.
“The greatest obstacle in ‘Dracula’ was probably holding our scripts, but we’re really familiar with the text even though we weren’t completely off book,” said sophomore Elizabeth LaFrance, who played Lucy Westenra. “We talked a lot about our characters and worked a lot of really specific scenes really, really in depth so we understood our characters even though we weren’t memorizing our whole script.”
Performed in the Drama Building, “Dracula” was packed, creating a sharp contrast between the bitter chill outside and the toasty intimacy of having the performance just a few feet from the audience. For those unfamiliar with theater, there may be something a bit awkward about watching such intense acting in a small space. However, this seems to me to be a testament to the honesty of the performance. There was a lot of shrill screaming in “Dracula” and the fact that not a single actor seemed to squirm at that, or emit less than a sheer scream of terror, was impressive. Overall, it was a successful theatrical exercise that spoke volumes of the UD drama department.