Thursday, 7 July 2016

Let Them Call It Dramaturgy: Dracula @ Edfringe 2016

Dracula meets 39 Steps meets Black Adder in Let Them Call It Mischief’s variation of the classic story. 

Referencing suffragette movement and super food in one breath, this hilarious take on Dracula wonderfully represents the company’s playful and imaginative approach to all-time favourites.
Let Them Call It Mischief presents 
World premiere 
by Danny Wainwright and Daniel Hallissey
based on Bram Stoker’s original story
We all know the Dracula story...or do we? 

1897. Join Count Dracula, the first Romanian immigrant, on his visit to England where he inadvertently strikes fear into the male establishment whilst seeking love in order to break his curse. Every minute is filled with dry humour, surprising twists, and downright silliness. Present is the undercurrent of the suffragette movement, as its powerful message begins to influence young female hearts. I have a cunning plan…

Cleverly fusing 19th century English gentry together with the modern world, Let Them Call It Mischief’s production is a funny and fast-paced retelling of a well-known Gothic tale, superbly portrayed by five actors taking on various characters. 

What was the inspiration for this performance?

The inspiration for this show was two-fold. Firstly, I was trying to find a good classic story to adapt into a comedy - as I'd done before with A Christmas Carol. Secondly, at the time I was reading Dracula (just one of the mountain of novels on my desk to read), Donald Trump had just begun his propaganda offensive and the parallels between him and the supposed heroes of the piece really became apparent. There's fear of the foreign, the unknown, anything that upsets the perceived wisdom - not the usual themes of a farcical comedy, but the ones we've gone for!

How did you go about gathering the team for it?
 Some of the team have worked together on a few shows and I knew that I wanted to have a couple of actors that I['d worked with before - and happily they wanted to work with me again. The rest is really scouring all of your contacts for people who have worked with other people and might like to work the same way as you do. We've got 2 actors who are new to the company as well as a new co-writer, designer and sound designer and they've all fitted in like they've always been here!

How did you become interested in making performance?
I think it's all about telling a story and entertaining people, at whatever level that is. For me, the best way I can tell a story is to get it out in front of an audience with some very talented people to help me, and to entertain those people. Being an actor and being in shows that didn't necessarily do either of those things really drove me on to be interested in making my own stuff.

Was your process typical of the way that you make a performance?
The writing part of the process has definitely changed for this one - mainly because of my co-writer Danny Hallissey. If anyone wants to learn about the structure of writing, he's the man to talk to! Once we have a draft - it's all about getting actors in to try it out. Actors are amazing at finding out what works and what doesn't work in the script. I can't stress enough how helpful actors are in bringing out the best in a piece of theatre and much of what is left has come from them. So apart from the initial writing stage, yes it has been fairly typical of our normal process: Get good people to help you make it better!

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
To be entertained for an hour. When you boil it all down, that's the essence of what we're trying to do. I'd love them to laugh a lot, have a think about some of the themes and issues of the piece, but if they come out of the theatre having had a good time for an hour, that'll do me.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

I think there are a few strategies to put the audience at ease. We don't hide the fact that we're in a theatre, putting on a play in front of an audience. Once everyone's got that established, there's normally a good atmosphere for everyone to relax and have a good time.

Do you see your work within any particular tradition?
 I think there's a few traditions interwoven into what we do. Definite elements of farce, some clowning, some vaudeville, some satire and pastiche, and lots of others that we call upon on occasion. That said, I don't think we work within one tradition - just a mishmash of quite a few.

Known for their playful and imaginative approach to best-loved classics, Let Them Call It Mischief was founded in 2012 by Danny Wainwright, Stephanie Martin, Hilary Puxley, Flo Buckeridge and Tessa Gillett and has since produced four highly successful shows: The Alchemist at The White Bear in 2012, London Cuckolds in 2013, The Final Revelation of Sherlock Holmes, and A Christmas Carol in 2014, the latter three at the Pleasance Islington in London. 

Dracula will be the company’s fifth show and their Edinburgh Fringe debut. 

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