FEED35: Production reViewed: DRACULA (1994)

As FEED continues its celebration of Soho Rep’s history, we are delighted to take another look at perhaps one of the most monumental productions in the theater’s history – DRACULA – in a version by Mac Wellman. This pull-the-stops-out production was directed by Artistic Director Julian Webber and was by all accounts one of the most successful environmental stagings to ever be seen in downtown theater.

For the evening, FEED was honored that almost all of the design team from this landmark production returned to Soho Rep for a trip down memory lane. The evening was moderated by Anne Kauffman, freelance director and member of Soho Rep’s Artistic Council.

The participants were: Mac Wellman (playwright), Kyle Chepulis (Set Design), Brian Aldous (Lighting Design), John Kilgore (Sound Design), Melissa Shiflett (Music Composition).


BRIAN ALDOUS got his start in lighting working for Dennis Parichy, resident designer for the late lamented Circle Rep, about 25 years ago. He first lit a Mac Wellman play, with Kyle Chepulis as the set designer, in 1989: Crowbar, EnGarde Arts’ Victory Theatre Project. His most recent design for a play was for Mac Wellman’s 3 2’s or Afar, with Kyle Chepulis as set designer, at Dixon Place last fall.

KYLE CHEPULIS In the theatrical world, most recently designed Mac Wellman’s 3 2’s; or Afar at Dixon Place and previously, Future Anxiety at The Flea Theater, an organization and theater that he, Mac Wellman and Jim Simpson founded in 1997.  One of his  companies, Technical Artistry, provides lighting design and technical consultation to museums, exhibitions, theaters, galleries and the arts.  Presently working on a new Flea Theater complex opening in 2013 downtown and recently consulted on the New Ohio Theater.  Brian Aldous and he even helped setup Soho Rep, HERE and many NYC theaters throughout the years.

ANNE KAUFFMAN (MODERATOR) NY Theater: Soho Rep, P73, 13P, Clubbed Thumb, The Vineyard, New Georges, Naked Angels, Dixon Place, Cherry Lane Theater, Playwrights Horizons, New York Theater Workshop. Regional Theater: The Wilma, Yale Rep, Steppenwolf, Goodman, ATL, The Arden, Woolly Mammoth, Asolo Rep, ART, Encore Theater, Shotgun Players, Chautauqua. OBIE Award for The Thugs, Lilly Award for Directing, Alan Schneider Award for Directing. Drama League Fellow, Founding Associate Artist of The Civilians, NYTW Usual Suspect, Clubbed Thumb Associate Artist, New Georges Kitchen Cabinet, Artistic Council Soho Rep.

JOHN KILGORE was the sound designer for Dracula by Mac Wellman. Designs for Soho Rep include Len Jenkin’s Careless Love and Swoop, also by Mac Wellman. Broadway designs include Starmites, Love! Valour! Compassion!, The Rose Tattoo, Tartuffe, and one of the only shows to close before it opened, Bobbi Boland. With Len Jenkin, Dierdre O’Connell and Steve Mellor, he is the sometime perpetrator of the Dream Express, the outlaw cabaret lounge act that is an outgrowth of Careless Love. His midtown recording studio, John Kilgore Sound & Recording, serves the theatrical, jazz, cabaret and alternative music worlds. He has been composer Steve Reich’s recording engineer since 1993.

MELISSA SHIFLETT began her career as resident composer to the experimental Dream Theatre at the Body Politic Theatre in Chicago.  She specializes in opera and song-writing.  Her opera Dora, composed to a libretto by Nancy Fales Garrett, was originally premiered by La MaMa, ETC in association with The American Chamber Opera Company and was given its second full production in April, 2009, by the Peabody Chamber Opera at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.  Excerpts from Dora were presented on New York City Opera’s first annual Vox festival showcase.  Her opera My Undying Love: An Amusement was presented by The Construction Company in 2008 in a production by The American Chamber Opera Company.  Other operas include Lisa’s Room: A Dream commissioned and performed by Piccolo Productions in Chicago, and Without Colors produced by the Minnesota Opera New Music Theatre Ensemble. Ms. Shiflett’s Songs on Sara Teasdale Poems and Water Dreams were premiered at Carnegie Hall in 2002 by soprano Shauna Holiman and can be heard on Albany Records.  Her Lullaby Duets were performed at the DIA Center for the Arts in New York, The William Ferris Chorale in Chicago, and on a concert of her songs at the 92nd Street Y on their Meet the Virtuoso series.  Songs she composed for theater have been performed both nationally and internationally in the plays Dracula by Mac Wellman and Tales of the Lost Formicans by Constance Congdon.  The most recent works, Fantasy Songs and The Rose Saga, sung by Ms. Shiflett and Helen Mandlin, have been performed at The Construction Company in New York City and the 92nd Street Y. Ms. Shiflett has received grants from the Illinois Arts Council, the Margaret Jory Copying Assistance Program of the American Music Center, Meet the Composer, and a Diverse Forms Artist Grant (funded by the NEA, Rockefeller Foundation and Jerome Foundation) to complete the orchestration of her opera Dora.  She holds degrees in Music Composition and Piano from the American Conservatory of Music.  She is a music instructor at the 92nd Street Y and is a member of ASCAP.

MAC WELLMAN’s recent work includes 3 2’s; or AFAR at Dixon Place in October 2011, The Difficulty of Crossing a Field (with composer David Lang) at Montclair in the fall of 2006 (and elsewhere more recently),  and 1965 UU for performer Paul Lazar, and directed by Stephen Mellor at the Chocolate Factory in the fall of 2008.  He has received numerous honors, including  NEA, Guggenheim, and Foundation of Contemporary Arts fellowships.  In 2003 he received his third Obie, for lifetime Achievement. In 2006 his third novel, Q’s Q, was published by Green Integer, and in 2008 a volume of stories, A Chronicle of the Madness of Small Worlds, was published by Trip Street Press as well as a new collection of plays The Difficulty of Crossing a Field from Minnesota Press. His books of poetry include Miniature (2002), Strange Elegies (2006) both from Roof Books, and Left Glove, just out from Solid Objects Press.   He is Distinguished Professor of Play Writing at Brooklyn College.

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