In 1819 a story called The Vampyre was published, in which the creature who traditionally looked like a hobbit and lived down a mole hole was refashioned as a melancholy aristocrat in riding boots and frock coat. The authorship was attributed to Lord Byron but The Vampyre was in fact the product of Byron’s physician, a troubled and troublesome scamp called John Polidori.
In his production of Dracula for Northern Ballet, choreographer-director David Nixon gives us the vampire as hard-bodied sex symbol. Indeed, our first sight of Dracula (Javier Torres) is when he climbs, stark naked, from his coffin. Elsewhere, wringing every last nuance of erotic metaphor from Bram Stoker’s text, Nixon gives us lashings of gothic coupling to a sinister Schnittke score. This is not a ballet which gives you time for reflection; it cracks through the story at breakneck pace, cutting from scene to scene with cinematic fluency.
A rare manuscript for a stage production of Dracula written by Bram Stoker himself is to go on display at the British Library.
BUCHAREST, Romania—About eight hours’ drive from the capital, and another four hours’ trek from the nearest road, Izvorul Calimanului Mountain looks like many of the Carpathians’ uninhabited peaks: snow-capped in the winter, fir trees thinning near its rocky 6,670-foot peak.
Few hikers visit, but Dacre Stoker thinks tourist dollars could erupt from the extinct Transylvanian volcano. Although he hasn’t visited yet, he’s currently co-writing a guidebook that he hopes will set his ambitious plan in motion. He envisages guided tours by local mountaineers, informative signage, and a nearby cultural center explaining the mountain’s unusual significance.
The twelve essays in this collection go a long way toward correcting the mistaken impression that Bram Stoker wrote only a single Gothic work, Dracula 1897, or, more damaging, that he was a second-rate writer whose neurosis erupted into a modern myth. Indeed the Preface announces that "Stoker’s work blends the Gothic with the discourses of politics, sexuality, medicine and national identity to produce texts that may be read by a variety of critical methodologies" ix, and the accompanying essays demonstrate how Stoker blends the Gothic with fields that seem antithetical to its preoccupation with mystery — politics, medicine, and science, to mention a few.
Raw sexual energy, and society’s need to curb its wilder excrescences, are themes which bubble constantly just below the surface in the myth of the vampire. But in Liz Lochhead’s feminist Dracula the sexual politics implicit in the original become explicit and are held up for scrutiny.
The medieval town of Sighisoara in the heart of Transylvania is breathtakingly beautiful. Its narrow, cobbled streets, its brightly coloured houses, the atmospheric square dominated by an imposing clock tower seem to have emerged straight from the pages of a fairy tale.