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:

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