The setting began with a raked stage arranged
in a cruciform shape. Various areas of transition were carved into the
basic stage shape, especially at the intersections of the cross. Down
stage, platforms and stairs descended into the pit, and this became a
At the rear of the stage, there were a series
of translucent, textured, light-reactive drops. The treatment of the
texture elements resembled long-dead vines. Another drop motif used
the same treatment to create a hint of the exterior/interior of the
castle, depending on how it was lit.
The scenic elements proper were all skeletal
and minimal. There were a series of 6 columns, built in perspective,
as well as a door unit which could very quickly slide on stage while a
window unit with cornice and sheer curtains could fly in to match.
While the set had a hint of Gothic flair, as
in the clustered style of the column shafts, there was also a hint of
Art Nouveau, in some of the vine forms and the column capitals.
The set was rendered in blacks and greys with
hints of white as in the sheer curtains, along with hints of silver
veining. These silver and white elements were designed to react with
the strong colors of the lighting.
The environment made liberal use of pyro
effects including fog and smoke, but also quiet fans were used at key
moments to blow the sheer curtains.
Dracula is a tale full of passions and
emotion. In the design I set out to create an environment that would
allow for full expression of these elements of the mind and spirit,
unencumbered by traditional scenery elements. In this design, all
scenery we conceived to react with light and shadow. Textures and
surfaces were enhanced. Even the drops were rendered in three
dimensional texures onto a translucent base. They could be made to
glow with light transmitted through them, but the drops could also be
side-lit so as to emphasize a rock-like texture.
The action in Dracula needs to flow
effortlessly. So many of our memories of the work come from the many
film portrayals were scenery changes happen at an instant. In our
stage version as well, changes of scenery happen at an instant.
Motifs of movement and space become important
to the lore of Dracula. In the literary, stage, and cinema, Dracula
can move with stealth and grace and call into play a supernatural
repertoire of movement choices. In the design I worked to support a
wide variety of these movement possibilities.
First I created a space as multi-dimensional
as possible. The stage itself was raked so that every part of the area
was presented at a different level. The columns and walls were all
designed in perspective to enhance the third dimension of depth. The
set was also designed in layers, allowing one layer of space to part
to reveal even deeper layers. Behind the walls and drops, an upper
level could be provided. Coupled with a creative use of fog,
performers could be made to float above the stage action proper. The
third page of stage photos in this portfolio, depicts one of these
While the dimension of height was used in
scenery and in the movement repertoire supported, so too was the
access extending below the stage. Entrances could be accomplished from
beneath the acting area down stage. The feeling was as though
characters could materialize from right out of the audience’s
domain. Of course these conventions also had a wonderful tie-in with
traditional religious drama forms of the renaissance, with entrances
from hell and heaven.
While the cluster columns provided a hint of
the Gothic as did the overall stone-gray coloration of the setting,
there were also hints of the Art Nouveau. This allowed me a palette of
visual irony. Art Nouveau forms are all about life, growth, and the
nurturing of organic energy. In this instance, these sensibilities
were twisted. Instead of vines of life, the forms used in the set
suggested forms from which life has ebbed, forms choked of their life
till only a bleak structure remains. In this I attempted to indicate
the dark side of Art Nouveau. I wanted to show a corruption of nature
through a corruption of this most nature oriented of art motifs.
Light, shadow, and color is important to the
world of Dracula. Light in this world provides the currency of emotion.
By providing a myriad of three-dimensional surfaces, forms, and
textures, the space came alive with light, or displayed the
characteristics of the world of death. The translucent drops allowed for
the integration of sheets of glowing light. Transformations of the stage
picture through light were very striking.