Tag Archives: Dracula

Bob Kuhn’s renderings for AST’s 2010 performance of Dracula can be found below. The originals will be up for auction at Bard Ball 2011: Arkansas Artists Pay Tribute to the Bard Friday, February 18th at the Governor’s Mansion in Little Rock, Arkansas. Proceeds from the event benefit Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre. (more…)

Arkansas Times

by David Koon


The Arkansas Shakespeare Festival has made a habit out of throwing curveballs in its annual salute to The Bard. One of this year’s examples was especially exciting to Yours Truly, given that I was a vampire lit freak long before anybody heard of “Twilight” or Sookie Stackhouse. Then again, it’s hard to think of a better pairing than Shakespeare and Bram Stoker. Both wrote well about bloodsuckers, though ol’ Bram’s were of the literal variety while Shakespeare’s were much more apt to be feeding on more figurative heartsmilk.

In short: All those hours drilling actors on Shakespeare leading up to the festival have paid off in spades for “Dracula,” which turns out to be a genuinely thrilling time at the theater.

Though the sets by veteran designer Doug Gilpin are spare, rich lighting and sound — along with a tiered stage and sometimes-transparent-sometimes-opaque curtains — make the production lush and more mysterious. That deep stage and gauzy curtain are used to great effect in scenes dealing with flashbacks to Jonathan Harker’s torturous sojourn in Transylvania as a guest of the Count.

The acting, as with all the Shakespeare Festival productions I’ve seen, is first rate. One clear standout is Greyson Lewis as Renfield, who plays Dracula’s John the Baptist with a flailing, Puck-like glee. Also fine are Tracie Thomason as Mina and Paul Saylor as Harker, both of them navigating the slippery slope from carefree and in love to terrified and hunted believably enough to create suspense. Nathan Hosner is also good as Count Dracula, though we don’t see much of him. As in the book, Dracula is often the imagined threat lurking just out of the edge of the light, and that works here to good effect.

The production could have been more adventurous with the character of Dracula. Hosner is decked out in a version of the classic Dracula garb, with red waistcoat and black cape, and is clearly channeling Bela Lugosi’s famous performance. The effect, in this post-”Twilight” world, is to leave the Granddaddy of All Vamps looking dated and campy. A bit more of a dark and subdued look and mannerism could have added a new facet to the character without adding a word.

Even at that, “Dracula” is a good time at the theater, full of fine performances and satisfying stagecraft. Unlike its namesake, it definitely does not suck.

“Dracula” concludes at Reynolds Hall 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 1, and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 3.

Thank you for your steady support for AST over the past several years. I enjoyed seeing you at the shows this past season — and what a great festival it was. Comedy of Errors provided plenty of laughs, Dracula delivered the chills, and Henry V created the illusion of battle with little more than expert ac ting and a fog machine! All in all, the season was a great success, and as the temperatures rose early in Arkansas this summer, Reynolds provided a nice respite from the heat and humidity.

Clearly there are some big chances as we move forward with AST’s 2011 season. Matt Chiorini departed as producing artistic director but will stay on this season as creative director, returning for events that lead up to the season, then returning to run the festival next June. Therefore, know that the quality you have come to expect from AST is assured.

I have taken on the role as Executive Director of AST. Having been involved with AST from the beginning, I know the organization well and have a clear vision of the multitude of possibilities that await us. We feel that this new direction for AST is exactly what this festival needs — a clear focus on the creative elements coupled with a pointed concern for the managerial components. Together, Matt and I will work to increase the visibility of AST throughout the state and region.

Conway as a community is poised to become the center for arts and culture in Arkansas, and the success of AST is pivotal in making that a reality. Professional theater not only provides cultural enlightenment but economic stimulation, as well. Just as the American Shakespeare Center has made Staunton, Virginia synonymous with artistic excellence, AST can and will do the same for Conway. The excellence is already here — we just have to get the word out.

Thank you so much for all that you have done to make AST a success.

Mary Ruth Marotte

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    223 Beatrice Powell St
    Conway, AR 72035

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