Interview with the director of 'Dracula'

The sights and sounds of Halloween have passed, but there is still plenty of terror at the La Jolla Playhouse as the first performances of “”Dracula”” continue to sell out night after night. This newest take on an old tale is directed by two-time Tony Award-winning director Des McAnuff, who has done extensive work in theater and in film.

There are many things that make this production of “”Dracula”” unique. One of them is all the special effects.

“”[The use of special effects] allows you to dream on a larger scale,”” McAnuff said. “”It allows me to develop image chains and ideas that I would not be able to do without this technology.””

“”Just to get through a technical rehearsal is painful,”” McAnuff admits, however, and of course, there were things that just could not be managed.

McAnuff said he had originally wanted “”a curtain of fog of mist — so that on the whole front of the stage, the fog just pours like Niagara Falls to the stage floor.””

However, he said that this could not be accomplished.

“”The air currents in this theater — and I speak from years of experience with that stage — are just terrible,”” he said.

McAnuff has other things on his mind: He is also the artistic director for the La Jolla Playhouse. This means that he is in charge of picking out the Playhouse’s plays for the next few years.

“”We have a lot of commissions out … so we have a lot of work in development,”” he said. “”You’ll see a lot of new work in the coming years, that’s for sure. We’ll continue to do stupidly big musicals like this one, I’m sure, even though they may not be good for us.””

According to McAnuff, this new work should be interesting because of the influence of the events of Sept. 11.

“”I think two things will happen,”” he said. “”I think we’ll see a rise in what you might refer to as ‘escapist theater,’ because it is important for people to use the theater in that fashion when it is suitable, or when it is applicable.

“”And then I think there will be a reaction on the completely opposite [side],”” he said. “”I think during war times, serious times, there tends to be serious writing, too. During times of conflict and stress, there are always issues to debate and discuss, and the theater is the oldest social, moral and political platform in Western civilization.””

McAnuff said he would really love to do “”Shakespeare’s whole tetrology from ‘Richard II’ to ‘Henry V’ … because I think Shakespeare managed to witness these shifts in history that actually apply to all ages.

“”I would love for you to come and see all four productions over a long weekend,”” he said, “”so you could see what that whole thing was about.””

He said that he hopes that UCSD students will come to see it.

“”It’s sad when I walk around campus thinking that some of these students are never actually going to see a play at the La Jolla Playhouse,”” he said. “”It’s just sad. I think it should be a part of your career here.””

“”[Dracula is] sexy, passionate, scary, smart,”” McAnuff said. “”I think it definitely has appeal on all kinds of levels. It’s a great story … it’s about a group of young people banding together to fight a dark, overwhelming force … it’s very much about a young generation kind of finding itself.””

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