Thursday, June 4, 2009


Edward Gorey. Dracula. A Perfect Pairing.

Edward Gorey claimed to have read Bram Stoker's 1897 classic, Dracula at age 7. Master Edward showed remarkable stamina in his literary choices for one so young. Structured as a series of journal entries and letters between characters, Dracula can be difficult for many adults to work their way through.

Mr. Stoker (pictured to the right) died in 1912. In 1924, his widow authorized an adaptation of Dracula to be turned into a London stage play. By 1927, this stage adaptation opened on Broadway with Bela Lugosi portraying Count Dracula and Edward Van Sloan as Professor Van Helsing. Most people are familiar with the 1931 Universal Studios movie, in which Lugosi and Van Sloan reprised their signature roles. There was a 1922 German expressionist silent film titled Nosferatu directed by F. W. Murnau and staring Max Schreck which was based on Stoker's novel, but this was an unauthorized adaptation.

In 1973, producer John Wulp engaged Edward Gorey to create the sets and costumes for a re-staging of the 1924 play in a production by the Nantucket Stage Company. The summer of 1973 saw the first staged production of the Gorey-designed Dracula on stage. This production began a saga that would lead Mr. Gorey to Broadway, a Tony Award, several books (both finished and unfinished), and a slew of Gorey-designed Dracula collectible items.

Dracula was not Edward Gorey's first work on the stage, but his involvement with this production was so singular that, in the program the production is titled The Edward Gorey Production of Dracula. Every visual element of the production, from the proscenium and drop curtain, to the sets, furniture and costumes was designed by Mr. Gorey. Inside the program are photos of several finished drawings and sketches by Mr. Gorey, but the cover was (obviously) drawn by someone at the theatre. The program I am showing is signed by Mr. Gorey.

More Dracula to come...


Bloglion said...

Especially astounding to me are the sheer number of vintage Dracula-related books, posters, prints, postcards, playbills, bed cloths, home furnishings, and other ephemera that bear Gorey's imagery, not to mention items created in the last 10 years or so. I used to imagine collecting only Dracula/Gorey because there are so many items to gather that it's essentially a whole sub-genre of Gorey collecting!

ampootozote said...

I know...As I say at the end of the post...More Dracula to come! I gave up the idea long ago to try and tackle this subject in one or even two postings.