Monday, 31 October 2016

My... best... Halloween... ever...!

Well, what a Halloween weekend it's been! Friday night I was off to see Chilwell Arts Theatre to catch a rare big screen appearance of Rosemary's Baby, by one of my artistic heroes (though let me stress a total disapproval of certain incidents in his personal life!) Roman Polanski. 

Then the very next night I was back there to perform my storytelling drama 21ST. CENTURY POE: FALLING FOR THE USHERS, which updates Poe's Fall Of The House Of Usher to the contemporary Scottish conceptual art scene. This was quite a show, where I enjoyed the luxury of a specially designed set, Bauhaus meets Jackson Pollock, complete with some post-Damien Hirst sculpture - as well as seriously atmospheric lighting, with shades of fire and dark water. 

Then, briefly drawing breath, it was out to Belper in Derbyshire to perform THE GORBALS VAMPIRE, my show based on the urban legend from my native Glasgow of an iron toothed vampire haunting the city's Southern Necropolis. Apart from getting a couple of serious carpet burns on my bare knees during a bit of seriously dramatic acting (when I performed it earlier this month at Glasgow's Britannia Panopticon, I accidentally thumped my nose with my fist and played much of the second half with a big bead of real blood on my proboscis: it must be one of THOSE shows), the show seemed to go down very well and I hope to return to Belper before long.

And then today, Halloween itself, the show I recorded for BBC Scotland at Glasgow's Britannia Panopticon went on air. I'll put a link here for the show. As you'll see, the page in question  gives the option of listening to the complete show as it went out - my story, or rather the intro to my story by John Kielty, who played Poe in my Radio Scotland drama MOYAMENSING, starts about 14 minutes in. But you can also listen to Kirsty Logan 's story in the first half or, scrolling down, listen to four separate stories by the tellers who were there that night, presented in isolation. Whichever way you choose, I'd love for you to listen to my story, A Whisper Of Black Silk, which is on one hand a very Glaswegian ghost story, but also a darkly comic comment on the rigidities and neuroses swirling beneath the machismo of many a Glaswegian male - you can audibly hear a local audience latching onto that sardonic undercurrent! Just below is the link...

I N T H E D A R K on BBC Scotland

Just the thing for Halloween (although, PS, as it's on BBC iPlayer I'm not sure non-UK listeners will be able to hear).

And tonight I'm going to round it all off by relaxing and letting someone else do the work, heading to the cinema for a rare chance to see Stanley Kubrick's magnificent THE SHINING on the big screen.

How on earth do I top this next Halloween???

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Halloween Part One: 21ST CENTURY POE: FALLING FOR THE USHERS at Chilwell Arts Theatre

Drawing breath briefly before my big Halloween storytelling weekend... at two of my regular performing venues. First up on Saturday night I'm performing 21ST CENTURY POE: FALLING FOR THE USHERS, my radical update of The Fall Of The House Of Usher, which sees haunted siblings Roderick & Madeline Usher relocated from their misty Gothic manor to the contemporary conceptual art scene in my home town of Glasgow.

I was rehearsing in the theatre just the other day, even as our production designer Stuart constructed the set around me. And I got a first look at a couple of my co-stars.

And here's the set under construction. This will represent, among other things, the converted warehouse on a Glasgow quayside which my modern version of the Ushers call home. Someone might just fall out of that big window.... Note the Jackson Pollock influence on the direction of the screens, hinting at the dark oily roll and chop of the waters of the River Clyde as they flow just below.

It's going to be a great show and anyone who wants to book should contact Michael Schillinger at

Then on Sunday, I'm performing The Gorbals Vampire at No.28 in the Market Place in Belper. You can book for that at

Monday, 24 October 2016

THE GORBALS VAMPIRE comes to Belper, Derbyshire

Yes, it's the week of my two big Halloween storytelling shows. On Saturday, 29th of October, I'm performing 21st CENTURY POE: FALLING FOR THE USHERS at Chilwell Arts Theatre. More of that in my previous post and if you want to book, contact:,uk

Meanwhile, the very next night, Sunday 30th October, I'm performing THE GORBALS VAMPIRE at another regular venue, No.28 in the Market Place in Belper, Derbyshire. 

This show is inspired by the urban legend from my native Glasgow about an iron toothed vampire running amok in the city's Southern Necropolis. There's more on the background elsewhere on this blog, here's a link....

But the story's close to my heart. I spent a significant portion of my youth - and particularly the bit when I was making my first beginnings in the theatre - was spent living with my dear Nana, Jessie Downs, literally about ten minutes' walk away in her tenement at the corner of Langside and Butterbiggins Road. Basically, she was the biggest influence on my life, and indeed the greatest artistic influence, since it was from her I learned the art of storytelling. 

She was a great, spontaneous storyteller. Crucially, the stories she told were not traditional folk tales, but stories from the old Hollywood movies that she loved so much. I would huddle at her side on a Sunday morning and she would tell me the stories of movies like Frankenstein, Wuthering Heights, Gaslight, The Spiral Staircase.... not simply synopsising the plots, but retelling the stories in a dramatic and visual detail as rich as that of the original films, often happily taking an hour, two hours, to tell the whole story, often adding her own distinctive 'touches' and flourishes that occasionally made the film itself a disappointment when I finally got to see the 'real' thing.

The influence of this on my own work as a storyteller should be obvious to anyone who's been to one of my shows - which favour single stories taking a whole evening, stories having all the depth and detail of a feature film, stories unapologetic about the influence of modern popular cultural genres from movies to comic books... as opposed to the purist emphasis on snippety ten minute long, rigorously pre-modern folk tales of the more 'trad' approach to the form. I am a storyteller for whom the modern world exists - for whom storytelling is as fully contemporary a form as TV drama. 

Anyway, you can imagine how big a deal it was to me when I learned that ten minutes from Nana's front door lay the site of the last great vampire panic in European history: the Gorbals, and not Hungary or Transylvania. I took to wandering the graveyard, pondering the true story - which, of course, ended anti-climactically as, for all the fuss, there doesn't seem to have been a real vampire in the graveyard.

But what, I thought, as I looked at bare bushes sprouting among the broken tombstones like clawed fingers reaching up, if there really WAS something there - a very distinctly Glaswegian Nosferatu? And what if a vampire-mad boy, like the vampire-mad boy I had been, fell into its clutches?

And a story was born. It's been very well received on native soil, back home in Glasgow, with full houses at both the Southside Fringe and the Britannia Panopticon, as well as a successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe, as part of my Vampires In The Vault double bill. But now I'm taking my vampire further afield - and I hope Derbyshire will take this very Scottish monster to its big English heart!

Tickets can be booked at - here's a link below:

Saturday, 15 October 2016

21st CENTURY POE: FALLING FOR THE USHERS at Chilwell Arts Theatre Saturday October 29th

My two Glasgow shows last week at the wonderful Britannia Panopticon - In The Dark for BBC Radio Scotland & my own The Gorbals Vampire - went well, with full houses and wonderful appreciative audiences both nights.

But I've barely got time to draw breath before my two shows on Halloween weekend. On Sunday 30th October, I'm performing The Gorbals Vampire at the No. 28 Arts Centre in Belper, Derbyshire - more on that to follow. 

But first up, on Saturday 29th October, is 21st CENTURY POE: FALLING FOR THE USHERS, in which I radically reinvent Poe's "Fall Of The House Of Usher" for our era.

Haunted twins Roderick & Madeline Usher are no longer glooming it around a Gothic mansion in the middle of nowhere, but are now superstars of Glasgow's contemporary conceptual art scene, Turner prize nominees for their macabre installations. But when an old flame of Madeline's from Glasgow School of Art shows up, the stage is set for a tragic downfall as dramatic and disturbing as that in the original tale.

This has always been one of my best received shows and I've performed it at the likes of the Edinburgh & Glasgow Southside Fringes, as well as the London Horror Festival - and it's great to be bringing it, finally, to my theatrical 'home base' at Chilwell Arts Theatre. I was just rehearsing today while our wonderful resident production designer Stuart was busy painting a bit of Jackson Pollock-style set design. My shows are always a bigger, grander affair at Chilwell!

Want to book for this unique Halloween event?

Contact Michael Schillinger of Chilwell Arts Theatre at: 07772 053412 or at:

Monday, 10 October 2016

THE GORBALS VAMPIRE & IN THE DARK at Glasgow's Britannia Panopticon this week

Home in Glasgow gearing up for a big week of dramatic storytelling at one of my favourite venues, the hugely atmospheric Britannia Panopticon Music Hall - basically, if the Phantom Of The Opera was playing gigs in Glasgow, this is where he'd play.

On Tuesday, I'm performing as one of a whole line up of storytellers in BBC Radio Scotland's IN THE DARK, performing a very gritty contemporary Glaswegian ghost story about the dark side of MacHismo, A Whisper Of Black Silk. I understand this show is SOLD OUT already, but if you miss it live, the show is being recorded and will be broadcast on Radio Scotland on Halloween itself.

Then, the very next night, Wed 12th October at 7pm, I'm performing my full length drama THE GORBALS VAMPIRE, already a sell-out at this year's Southside Fringe back in the Spring. This is my dark, disturbing and darkly comic take on the local legend of an iron toothed vampire haunting the city's Southern Necropolis. I spent much of my formative years -- and learned the ropes of storytelling -- living with my Grandmother just about ten minutes' walk away in her tenement on the corner of Butterbiggins and Langside Road: you can't imagine how much of a big deal it was to this Hammer Horror-daft kid to hear that the last great vampire 'panic' of European history had happened a couple of streets away. So this show is a big deal to me. Tickets (£8 / £6) are bookable here....

And don't forget, I'm also performing Halloween weekend down England way... Saturday 29th October sees me performing 21st CENTURY POE: FALLING FOR THE USHERS at another favourite haunt, Chilwell Arts Theatre.

And then on Sunday 30th. October I'm back at No.28 in Belper performing, you guessed it, THE GORBALS VAMPIRE all over again. Tickets for that show are now available at