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Dracula: thirsty for blood and fear

This June the English Language Theatre Group Semi-Circle Basel presents „Dracula“, promising blood-curdling entertainment with special effects and strong emotions. This adaption is an action-packed, blood-soaked retelling of Bram Stoker’s classic tale of horror.

By Janine Jakob

The Basel English language theatre Group, Semi-Circle Basel, starts their new season in June with a production of “Dracula” at the small Rampe theatre, Basel. The world famous novel Dracula was written by the Irish author Bram Stoker and first published in 1897. It was dramatised by John Balderston and Hamilton Deane and premiered on stage in Derby in 1924 before moving to London.  This version of the play was adapted by William McNulty in 2009 and is directed by Luca Manganelli. A lot of attention is being paid to the costumes and special effects to create a gothic interpretation of vampires, their victims and their hunters.

Performing with passion
Though much explored in literature and on film, horror is a less common genre for the stage as it is so complex. Each actor has to identify with her or his role. This is a challenge because of the strong characters and emotions in the Dracula story. To act hysterically or to convey utter sadness and fear requires evoking these emotions and letting them out without inhibition. Authenticity in horror scenes requires great teamwork by the actors.

A scene from rehearsals: Thomas Seward (played by John Hyland) is finally persuaded to follow the instructions given by Abram Van Helsing (Richard Brown) to destroy Dracula.

Control and Exploitation
The vampire novel Dracula followed a whole series of stories about vampires that became a favourite theme in the Romantic Era (1789–1799) and later in the 19th century. Dracula is classified as a gothic novel as Stoker incorporates elements such as old castles, mystery and supernatural apparitions.

The original play was followed by numerous film interpretations. In the modern vampire genre, for example “Interview with a vampire” and the “Twilight” series, the vampire takes on a more sensitive, romantic and responsible persona within the imaginary vampire world. However this play returns to the original Stoker depiction of the vampire as a cold, soulless exploiter who controls others for his own ends and takes without giving back.

The novel Dracula focuses on subjects that we deal with today: control and power – whether at the level of society or in personal relationships – and the question about genuine feelings and how deeply they are appreciated. This performance of ‘Dracula’ promises not only entertainment but also encourages us to look honestly at ourselves and our behaviour towards others.

About Semi-Circle
Since its foundation in 1975 the Semi-Circle has devoted itself to promoting English-language theatre and is respected for the quality of its performances. The members of this non-profit association are amateur theatre enthusiasts living mainly in the Basel region, and they represent a wide range of people: expats and Swiss locals, newcomers and long-term residents, all ages, professions and ethnic backgrounds. Theatre fans from near and far, students of upper schools in Basel-Stadt and Baselland also come and watch its shows, for example two years ago, when Semi-Circle performed “Calendar Girls”, based on the film of the same name that had been such a big hit.


By Bram Stoker, adapted by William McNulty

Performed by The Semi-Circle Basel - English Language Theatre Group

Where: Theater Rampe, Borromaeum, Byfangweg 6, 4051 Basel

When: 10, 11, 17, 18, 24 & 25 June 2016 (8pm)

Tickets: CHF 30.00 (CHF 25.00/person for groups of 10 or more) – available via Starticket.ch or at Bider&Tanner


Picture from rehearsals by Davide Germano

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