An international program of activities has been launched to honor one of Ireland’s leading authors – master of the Gothic genre, Bram Stoker, whose vampire thriller, ‘Dracula,’ has sold tens of millions of copies worldwide.
A four-day festival named after him, Bram Stoker Festival, will take place in Dublin from Friday, 24th October to Monday, 27th and include more than 30 activities ranging from large-scale spectacles to intimate performances in unusual spaces, as well as diverse film and literary events.
The festival has five key strands; Children of the Night, Street Treats, Deadly Words, Dark Energy and Sinister Screenings with program highlights including the ethereal ShapeShifter’s Ball from party masters Body&Soul at the Irish Museum of Modern Art; the Irish première of The Curse of Styria featuring international actor Stephen Rea – a secretive, sexy and sinister film based on Le Fanu’s Carmilla; and an underground train ride through one of Dublin’s best-kept secrets – an almost mythical Irish Rail tunnel beneath the city’s streets.
The literary program ‘Deadly Words’ will feature ‘The Stoker Lecture’ with Professor William Hughes exploring the influence of Le Fanu on Stoker; ‘The Stoker Debate: Madness and Sexuality,’ with Dr. Jarlath Killeen and psychiatrist Dr. John Griffin examining Stoker’s state of mind. International journalist and writer, John Sean Hillen, will present ‘Digging for Dracula,’ based on his book of the same name, detailing his worldwide adventures in search of literary truths and the meanings of centuries-old myths associated with vampires.
In association with Horrorthon, the festival will host a combined reading of Dracula and Carmilla and with Trinity College, Hearing Voices, with leading Irish actors Phelim Drew and Owen Roe reading a selection of Gothic literature. During a ‘Hammer Classics’ event, renowned authors Lynne Truss and Joanna Briscoe will discuss their new novels. Irish speakers can enjoy Dracula – An Chéad GaelGore, presented by Áras Inis Gluaire and Fíbín Teo. During ‘Literary Death Match,’ four authors will pitch their words and wits in a literary battle before a panel of three ‘expert’ judges all chaired by wordsmith Rick O’Shea.
‘Sinister Screenings’ at Meeting House Square chosen by film curator Maeve McGrath will include the 80’s cult classic The Lost Boys and for Gothic music fans, The Cure in Orange. The Irish première of Beautiful Noise, the first-ever documentary about one of the most influential, underground music movements of the 20th century with special guest appearances from musical icons will also take place. In addition, John Cocteau masterpieces La Belle et La Béte, a gothic fairytale, and Orpheé, a retelling of the Orpheus myth will be screened at the Brookes Hotel cinema. The annual Irish Film Institute’s ‘Horrorthon’ will screen an array of shocking films from Ireland and abroad.
‘Street Treats’ includes a ‘Goths Versus Zombies Dance-Off,’ a fancy dress, music and dance battle between two legions of horror lore on the streets of Dublin with an advance free online Goth/Zombie make-up tutorial. Glaswegian artist Claire Biddles will host a ‘Goth Karaoke’ where people can live out their teen Goth fantasies by performing on stage while at St Anne’s Park, Clontarf, a special performance of Der Vampyr from ‘Opera in the Open’ will resonate through the trees.
The ‘Dark Energy’ program offers an eclectic mix of unusual events including Blood and Earth, an interactive food cookery demo with ‘Domestic Godless;’ Bloodworks, an educational exhibition at the Science Gallery; and The Judges House, an audio-horror experience hidden within Marsh’s Library. Straight from Edinburgh Festival Fringe the Total Theatre Award will perform its winning show, Near Gone, and DJ Nico de Transilvania will host Romanian Night, an evening of Balkan electro. There will also be a ‘roving festival club’ with official nightclub partners The Opium Rooms in the Camden Quarter, Generator in Smithfield and Alfie Byrne’s at the Conrad Hotel each hosting a Gothically themed soiree with, according to organisers, “blood-curdling cocktails, heart-pounding tunes and unsettling interactions around every corner.” The Camden Quarter will host ‘The Weekend of the Dead,’ with on-street performances and Ireland’s biggest séance and at Alfie Byrne’s, Dr Sketchy’s Anti-Art School, a life drawing class and cabaret extravaganza will be held.
‘Children of the Night’ is a varied family-friendly program. In Temple Bar, the Project Arts Centre will host Vampire with No Teeth, a production of three spooky mini-stories told using interactive storytelling and live illustration. The Ark will present two fun fearsome events; Dracula’s Basement Spooky Sounds Laboratory where Dracula will raid The Ark’s music cupboard for all their weirdest instruments and put them in his sound lab in the basement and Minnie & the Illywackers Family Halloween Concert, a musical event performed by this jazz, blues and country band featuring Dracula inspired songs, sounds and gothic pumpkins.
Lord Mayor of Dublin, Christy Bourke said the City Council had “done a frighteningly good job of putting together this horrific programme,” while Ray Yeates, Dublin City Arts officer, added, “What’s particularly wonderful about Bram Stoker’s Dracula is the fact that he can be attractive, enigmatic, terrifying and abhorrent all at the same time.”
John Concannon, director of market development at Fáilte Ireland said this year’s festival “is perfectly positioned to lure overseas visitors to the home of Bram Stoker to be thoroughly enchanted by the curiosities of his surprising city.” Jo Mangan, director at Big House Productions and the festival’s artistic director, said, “We are so thrilled to have been able to secure so many extraordinary artists, events, makers and creators. This is a weekend for all to delve into the Gothic embedded in the very fabric of this beautiful city.”
The festival is hosted by Dublin City Council in partnership with national tourism organization, Fáilte Ireland, and supported by Dublin UNESCO City of Literature, the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, DublinTown.ie, Dublin Castle, the Office of Public Works, Dublin Festival Season, 98fm, Irish Rail, Temple Bar Cultural Trust, Dublin Bus, LUAS and Entertainment.ie.