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The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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‘Dracula: A Feminist Revenge Fantasy, Really’ gives feminist rendition of cold-blooded classic

Maya Schwartz/The Daily Northwestern
Actors rehearse an intense fight scene on the curtained Ethel M. Barber Theater stage.

“Dracula: A Feminist Revenge Fantasy, Really,” puts a feminist, blood-chilling twist on Bram Stoker’s 19th-century bestselling novel, “Dracula.” The show premieres this Friday at the Ethel M. Barber Theater. 

Directed by Communication graduate student Jasmine B. Gunter and written by Kate Hamill, the production turns the well-known classic on its head, reclaiming the novel’s misogynistic cliches of damsels in distress and transforming them into empowering feminist messages. 

Gunter worked alongside Hamill to understand the intentions and origins of the play and the story behind its script. 

“I know that (Hamill) took inspiration from the novel and classic films like the 1931 Dracula film, but a lot of her work delves into feminism and patriarchy, as well,” Gunter said. “The way I’m reimagining the play will also stay true to that.” 

The cast will feature Communication senior Carter Popkin as Dracula and Communication senior Sophia Talwalkar as Mina. 

Communication junior Natalie Tangeman plays one of Dracula’s deranged disciples, Renfield. Though Renfield was male in Stoker’s novel, the character is female in this adaptation. Tangeman said the gender-bending of her role is “incredibly interesting” and, although it required a lot of work, was “incredibly rewarding” as well.

“The cast is really strong across the board,” said Communication freshman and Assistant Director Lane Ruble. 

Ruble, who works with the understudy cast and supports the director, emphasized the amount of work put in by the cast and crew to bring the script to life. 

From professional intimacy coordinators to choreographed fight scenes, every detail is highly curated.

“This show has so many special effects, the costumes, everything about it is pretty big,” Ruble said.

All of the moving parts came together during a Tuesday night rehearsal. As actors worked through intense fight scenes, production crew members set up props and conducted microphone checks while lights and sound were tested in the midst of it all.

However, the work on “Dracula: A Feminist Revenge Fantasy, Really” began months before actors even stepped on stage, according to Noah Marcus, an interdisciplinary Ph.D. student in Theatre and Drama at NU. 

As the play’s dramaturg, Marcus contributed research on the history and context of the play. He noted the timeliness of this specific adaptation.  

“Our production… is not to be set in the Victorian era, nor to be set in our contemporaneous modern day. (This play) gets you to think about the way the patriarchal system has such a dominating effect even now.”

Gunter said that the audience should expect, “to see a lot of badass women taking ownership of the story and of their lives.”

Gunter said she also hopes that this production resonates with the NU audience. She said college is a “fundamental time” of discovery outside of the comfortable parameters and her production strives to reflect that. 

“To me (this production) is all about what it means to grow into oneself in the face of societal expectations,” she said. “Younger students will really understand this journey of what it means to find oneself.” 

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