No matter where Queensland’s shake & stir theatre performs these days there is no doubting it’s a Bloody Good Show.
That’s because blood naturally plays a big part in the company’s latest production, Dracula, which has just started a return three-week season at the Queensland Performing Arts Complex’s Cremorne Theatre.
Dracula is back at QPAC after touring throughout Australia over the last five months.
The blood used while touring goes with them, with its keeper, Assistant Stage Manager Tenneale Rogers, charged with making sure the supply doesn’t run out.
“We only have room to tour 10 litres of blood at a time since we don’t have limitless space in our touring truck,” said Tenneale.
She has been with shake & stir since starting as an intern in her third year at university where she completed a degree in Applied Theatre at Griffith University followed by another degree( Bachelor of Fine Arts in Technical Production) with Queensland University of Technology. .
“The blood supply is similar to the pyro and smoke/fog/haze effects, I buy top ups while on the road,” she said.
Shake & stir’s critically acclaimed production of the Gothic horror story was sold out in record time the when last in Brisbane.
It opens with young lawyer Jonathan Harker visiting Castle Dracula deep within the Carpathian mountains and is taken by surprise by the strange hospitality he receives from his mysterious host.
Alone and trapped within the castle walls, Jonathan discovers that Dracula wants more than his presence at the dinner table – he might also be the main course.
Leaving Jonathan for dead and his castle behind, Dracula travels to London on a quest for seduction, true love and above all – blood.
In addition to ensuring there is plenty of blood to go around Tenneale says her role in the production, which tours with six actors, four crew and a truck driver, is to ensure she is available to help the Stage Manager and assist in the “artistic realisation of the show”.
“The job, however, tends to differ dramatically depending on the production. I like to see it as figuring out what jobs need tackling and assisting any department that needs it,” she said.
As for Dracula, her role is to manage and maintain the show props, costumes, wigs and special effects, along with maintaining the scenic “arting” of the Dracula set.
The Dracula set, which has been praised far and wide, is the work of shake & stir’s set designer Josh McIntosh who works closely with the company to design and build all of shake & stir’s sets.
“Originally it was made specifically to fit the Cremorne Theatre at QPAC,” said Tenneale.
“Since then it has had some modifications to make it work in other theatres across Australia. It definitely is an intricate set.The first night we packed it up from the rehearsal room into the truck it took us 10 hours, but we got better.
“Over the five months we have been touring we have shaved a bit of time off that and now bumping out the whole production only takes two hours.”
Tenneale said she had been on four tours with shake & stir over three years “and we are still traveling to venues we haven’t been to previously”.
Tenneale said she was excited to back in Brisbane “for a number of reasons”.
“It’s wonderful seeing familiar faces and being able to sleep in your own bed,” she said.
“I look forward to having friends and family come see the show and to see how it has grown and developed.
“The Cremorne Theatre has also had some work done since we were last there so I couldn’t wait to see and work in the new space.”
Purchase tickets to DRACULA here!
SheSociety is a site for the women of Australia to share our stories, our experiences, shared learnings and opportunities to connect.