Scott Dixon’s lifelong fascination with horror and the supernatural takes the stage of the Commonweal Theatre in the form of "Dracula: Prince of Blood," which opens Sept. 8.
Dixon’s new adaptation of Bram Stoker’s classic novel about a vampire is his second play to be produced at the Commonweal. This one comes in the wake of a devastating cancer diagnosis that has prevented Dixon from performing in plays the past two seasons.
"It has helped me keep a positive attitude," Dixon said. "Because dealing with my cancer has taken away my performing opportunities, the writing has become my creative outlet."
That creative outlet is for Dixon both fun and challenging, he said. The story of Dracula has been retold in so many different ways that there would appear to be nothing new to say.
"It was, ‘What can I add that’s going to be something new, something different,’" Dixon said. "What does this story mean to a 21st century audience? What does this character mean to our culture today?"
For research, Dixon read not only the original novel, which was published in 1897, but as many scripts for Dracula-based plays as he could find. Then he set out to put his own spin on this oft-told tale.
In the back of his mind, Dixon hoped the Commonweal would take a look at his script. "It was not a guarantee," he said. "I planned to put it out there and see if anyone wanted to grab hold of it."
The Commonweal was in fact interested and grabbed Dixon’s "Dracula" for the current season. Conveniently enough, the actors Dixon envisioned for particular roles when writing the play are available.
"I had Jeremy van Meter in mind as Dracula certainly, the way he’s able to bring that quiet, magnetic presence on stage," Dixon said. He imagined Brandt Roberts as Renfield. And, he said, "I would have got down on my hand and knees to beg Hal Cropp to play Van Helsing. Fortunately, I didn’t have to."
Also in the play, which is directed by Craig Johnson, are Lizzy Andretta, Elizabeth Dunn, Ben Gorman and Ian Sutherland.
"This whole experience has been magnificent to watch their creativity and their imagination," Dixon said.
Dixon, though, has forced himself to watch from afar, as all playwrights must eventually do. At this point, with rehearsals well underway, the play is out of his hands.
"It’s easier because it’s being done at the Commonweal, where I do have this trust and respect," Dixon said. "It’s very much their show, their world to play in and explore."
Dixon’s affinity for horror stories began as a child. "It was something special that me and my mom had," he said. "We would watch all the monster movies together. I think I got fascinated by all the mythology and the stories of all the creatures."
Now, Dixon finds himself dealing with different, more frightening scenario. "Horror rattles you out of your sense of complacency," he said. "A cancer diagnosis will do the same thing."
What: "Dracula: Prince of Blood" When: Sept. 8 through Nov. 11 Where: Commonweal Theatre, 208 Parkway Ave. N, Lanesboro Tickets: $35, with discounts for seniors, students and groups of
10 or more; 800-657-7025, commonwealtheatre.org.
What: "Dracula: Prince of Blood"
When: Sept. 8 through Nov. 11
Where: Commonweal Theatre, 208 Parkway Ave. N, Lanesboro
Tickets: $35, with discounts for seniors, students and groups of 10 or more; 800-657-7025, commonwealtheatre.org.