Quirky Books: Dracula: Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston

Monday, September 15, 2008

Dracula: Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston

This book features the script and technical stage direction for a professional play. The story of "Dracula" is dramatized from Bram Stoker's original novel. Published by Samuel French, incorporated in 1927; it was reissued in 1933, 1954 and 1960 and is always a best seller.

Deane diverges from the novel several times. Changing the plot so it appeals to a large audience, the new plot lines remain consistent; however, Bram Stoker's "Dracula" Harker goes to England to sell Count Dracula property in England. The play depicts another man selling the property to Dracula. Harker evades Dracula by having a picture of Lucy, in the novel. Lucy was the reincarnation of Dracula's one true love. However, in the play they skip to when Lucy is suffering from the vampire's bite.

Since the story starts later in the novel a major plot-line is completely rewritten. During a discussion, it is revealed Mina already fell ill three days before the Count arrived and passed away from the illness. A rumor of a woman luring children down an alley arouses suspicion Mina joined the living dead. In the third act, the Count states he will make Lucy his Queen, as a retort to them killing Mina. Mina then because the reason for why the Count is attacking Lucy in her sleep.

Since the plot is established in a different way, many similar plots are altered in the script. It is more exciting and suspenseful; while maintaining the majority of the second book, becoming its own unique work.

The other points-of-interest are related to the stage direction. At the beginning of the second scene, it states, "Coffin contains a dummy body of Dracula." This is amusing, yet it is the safest course of action is to tell everyone to use a dummy. They can use a live actor if familiar stage effects. Balderston is protected from liability.

The technical parts of the book, such as: setting up the electrical, lighting, stage and wardrobe are specific. It is cumbersome. Someone interested in stage design would benefit from the insight. It clarifies the use of lighting to fulfill the director's vision. Directors, producers and amateurs may want to glimpse at it, since extensive portrayals makes the limits of stage performances more realistic. Only a theater would want to recreate the stage exactly as specified in the final chapters.

In today's time, the story of "Dracula" is done and re-done. Average by today's standards, it has historical value. Often people overlook an overall picture. Seeing the original body of work, helps clarify small details. The play is also amusing.