Central Works' DRACULA INQUEST Begins Tonight

Tonight, July 12 8 PM under a "Full Thunder Moon" Central Works opens "Dracula Inquest" at the historic Berkeley City Club.

"Dracula Inquest" is a new play that brings Bram Stoker's iconic tale of horror to life, and promises to scare the crap out of you! In the words of Bram Stoker, "There are mysteries which men can only guess at, which age by age they may solve only in part." Several such mysteries occur at the end of the 19th century as Scotland Yard investigates macabre events at an institution for the criminally insane. Why does Stoker's Dracula maintain such an iron grip on our collective imagination? "I couldn't understand what so many people see in the countless iterations of vampire stories...till I actually sat down and read Stoker's Dracula," remarks playwright Gary Graves. For this summer's production at the "new play theater," the Central Works ensemble has been soaking in the lore and legend of vampire stories for several months. "We think we've come up with a wonderfully theatrical way to bring Stoker's novel to life for our 44th world premiere. We're giving this one the full Central Works treatment?to terrifyingly delightful effect," director Jan Zvaifler states.

Written by Gary Graves, Central Works premiere of "Dracula Inquest" is directed by Jan Zvaifler with a cast that features Joe Estlack (Van Helsing), John Flanagan* (Inspector Sly), Josh Schell (Jonathan Harker), Kenny Toll (John Seward) and Megan Trout (Mina Harker). (*member AEA) with costumes by Tammy Berlin, lighting by Gary Graves, sound design by Gregory Scharpen and props by Debbie Shelley.

"I sometimes think we must be all mad and that we shall wake to sanity in strait-waistcoats." ? Bram Stoker

In 1895, (two years after the events in Stoker's gothic classic) Detective Avery Sly from Scotland Yard arrives in the bowels of an eerie asylum for the criminally insane. He has come to inquire into a bizarre sequence of gruesome events surrounding the disappearance of a mysterious nobleman from Transylvania?Count Dracula. The hard-bitten cockney detective interrogates four surviving characters from Stoker's novel, all of whom are now inmates in the asylum.

As the inquest unfolds, some very unsettling questions begin to emerge: was Count Dracula really a demonic vampire, as the inmates claim? Or was he, in fact, the innocent victim of a bizarre conspiracy to murder the mysterious foreigner? Are Stoker's characters the heroic defenders of Victorian virtue we have come to know so well, or are they actually the corrupt and decadent remnants of a crumbling aristocracy? Are these poor prisoners really the determined vampire-hunters they claim to be, or are they merely demented lunatics?

Gary Graves is a playwright and director living in the Bay Area. Since 1998, he has been a company co-director of Central Works. He directs the Central Works Writers Workshop, an ongoing commissioning program, and he has directing, writing and acting with the company. He received a Ph.D. in Directing at U.C. Berkeley, and an MFA in Playwriting at Southern Illinois University. He currently teaches playwriting at the Berkeley Rep School of Theatre.

Jan Zvaifler is a company co-director and founder of Central Works. She has worked as a producer, actor and director for the company and throughout the Bay Area for the past 30 years. She has been a member of the Berkeley Cultural Trust since 1999, the Emeryville Artists Coop since 2005 and served on the Bay Area Playwrights Festival selection committee for 5 years.

Central Works opens "Dracula Inquest" today July12- Aug 17.

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