Wednesday, 18 November 2015

THE BALLAD OF THE DRIFTWOOD MERMAID MEDIA RELEASE

Just posting here the media release for my next storytelling show, at No.28 in Belper on December 5th.


THE BALLAD OF THE DRIFTWOOD MERMAID

A Storytelling Drama by Marty Ross
No. 28, Market Square, Belper, Derbyshire DE56 1FZ.

Saturday 5 December 7.30pm. Tickets £7 / £5 concession.

Storyteller MARTY ROSS (BBC Radio drama; Doctor Who & Dark Shadows audio drama) returns to Belper with his latest dramatic performance, a very modern version of a classic folk tale from his native Scotland, with all the mix of magic, poetry and eerie romance that implies.

Marty Ross has become a regular performer at Belper's No. 28 Arts Centre with shows such as The Blackwater Bride, 21st Century Poe & Blood And Stone. For his latest show, he returns to the folklore and fairy tale tradition of his native Scotland, drawing inspiration from a legend of the Solway coast between South West Scotland and North West England, the tale of 'the Haunted Ships', lying sunken out in the deep waters and haunted specifically both by ghosts and by fairies – not the twee, cute butterfly winged fairies of Victorian sentimentality, but the fierce and seductive and sometimes downright frightening fairies of Scots / Irish folklore.

The original story concerns a Laird and his wife, the fairies trying to tempt the wife off into their undersea kingdom. But Ross is a storytelling 'modernist', always keen to move the resurgent art of storytelling away from being too quaint and olde worlde... and so in his version of the story our central characters are a very modern couple, David and Jenny who've made some serious money with an internet business and have channelled that money into refurbishing a house on the Galloway cliffs. But the marriage has its problems and when a handsome young sculptor, named Finn, who may have a connection to the 'otherworld' of the Haunted Ships, charms Jenny, the scene is set for a climax of drama and terror and magic.

MARTY ROSS is well established as a playwright, particularly with radio drama for the BBC, including The Darker Side Of The Border, Ghost Zone, Catch My Breath, My Blue Piano, Rough Magick, Lady Macbeth Of Mtsensk, Moyamensing and The Dead Of Fenwick Moor. He has also written two Doctor Who audio dramas and the award-nominated Dark Shadows: Dress Me In Dark Dreams. Redder Than Roses and The Woman On The Bridge were commissioned for and performed at the Buxton Festival. Crooker's Kingdom was performed this Halloween at Cromford Mill. Shortly to be produced is Romeo & Julian, commissioned by Amazon Audible.


As a storyteller he has performed successfully at the likes of the Edinburgh Fringe, London Horror Festival and Glasgow Southside Fringe. He regularly performs in the East Midlands, where he currently lives, with regular shows at No. 28 in Belper and Chilwell Arts Theatre in Nottingham. Shows have included 21st Century Poe, The Blackwater Bride, Ghosts Of Christmas Past, The Strange Tale Of The Glasgow Golem, Blood And Stone & The Gorbals Vampire.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

THE BALLAD OF THE DRIFTWOOD MERMAID No.28 Belper Derbyshire 5 Dec

As promised, here's a little more detail on my next storytelling show, which is being performed at my regular performance haunt of No. 28 in the Market Square, Belper, Derbyshire. This is THE BALLAD OF THE DRIFTWOOD MERMAID.


This is my contemporary version of one of the classic Scottish folk tales, that of The Haunted Ships, as first collected - so far as I'm aware - in Allan Cunningham's "Traditional Tales Of The English And Scottish Peasantry" in the early 19th. century. The tale is native to the Scottish borders, to the area of the Solway Firth, that great sweep of water between South West Scotland and North West England. I've always felt a strong connection to that area - my Dad's boss used to have an upmarket log cabin in the area and we would go there for weekends away. Years later, it was in that selfsame log cabin that I had my honeymoon!



My version is set on the very edge of the Solway, at the tip of the Mull of Galloway (the same region where that other classic Scots horror tale, The Wicker Man, was filmed.) and is very definitely set in contemporary times. In the original, the fairies who haunt the Haunted Ships out in the Solway get their eye on the wife of a country Laird and try to tempt her from her husband into their underwater kingdom. The Laird does what he can to stop this happening... but the story comes to a rather abrupt end when the ghosts / fairies come up with a cunning plan to steal her away that is never actually put into practice. I decided, therefore, in my version to not only update the story to a contemporary setting but to develop the plot further - though of course I don't want to give too much away at this stage!


Anyway, in my story Jenny and David, making a fresh start after some marital difficulties in Glasgow, make a fresh start in a state of the art house they've had built on the Galloway cliffs. But they aren't quite over the problems with their marriage, these difficulties compounded when Jenny gets closer to Finn, a young fisherman who makes a hobby of carving extraordinary beautiful sculptures out of driftwood. And out among the great heap of sunken ships not far off the coast, the ghosts and the fairies are still covetous of human beauty....


The show was performed at the London Horror Festival where one wag said it was like "Scots folk tale meets H. P. Lovecraft" and maybe there's something in that. Certainly it's intended, for all its modern setting, to have the rich mix of romance and spookiness, beauty and the uncanny, that typifies the greatest folk tales.

The show is at 7.30pm on Dec 5th at No. 28 Market Square, Belper, Derbyshire DE56 1FZ. Tickets are £7 full price & £5 concession. More details on the poster above.

THE BALLAD OF THE DRIFTWOOD MERMAID at No.28 Belper Dec 5th

Hi, full post to follow on the subject, but in the meantime here's the poster for my next storytelling show, which is THE BALLAD OF THE DRIFTWOOD MERMAID at my familiar haunt of the No.28 arts centre in Belper Market Square on Dec 5th. It's my radical contemporary reinvention of the classic Scots border folk tale of The Haunted Ships. Details of booking etc. are on the poster anyway....


LADY MACBETH OF MTSENSK back on BBC Radio 4 12.11.15 at 2.15pm

Hi just a quick post to let you know that my radio play LADY MACBETH OF MTSENSK, adapted from the story by Nikolai Leskov is back on Radio 4 today at 2.15pm (and available through iPlayer / BBC website etc for a full month thereafter) and to post links to my two previous MAKING OF posts, which are here....

LINK NO ONE:
http://martyrossstoryteller.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/lady-macbeth-of-mtsensk-bbc-radio-4.html


LINK NO TWO:
http://martyrossstoryteller.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/siberia-in-north-london-recording-lady.html

Sunday, 20 September 2015

21st CENTURY POE: FALLING FOR THE USHERS at Glasgow's Britannia Panopticon Music Hall October 10th.


Just announcing....
21st. Century poe:
falling for the ushers
sat. october 10th. 7.30 pm, britannia panopticon,
113-117 trongate, glasgow, g1 5hd.

TICKETS £8 / £6 CONCESSION.

BOOKINGS:

0141-553-0840

Scottish storyteller & playwright Marty Ross (BBC Radio horror; Doctor Who audio) drags The Fall Of The House Of Usher kicking & screaming into contemporary Glasgow – in one of Glasgow's most atmospheric locations, the world's oldest surviving music hall. What better show to get Glasgow in the mood for Halloween?

Edgar Allan Poe's The Fall Of The House Of Usher is long-established as a classic horror tale, but Marty Ross is a ‘modernist’ on the live storytelling scene, audaciously relocating the tale to his own era and his own Glaswegian 'back yard'. Thus, in his version, Falling For The Ushers, haunted twins Roderick and Madeline Usher have left behind the misty Gothic manor of the original story to become superstars of Glasgow's contemporary art world, thanks to their macabre conceptual installations in the manner of Damien Hirst and the Chapman Bros. But when Madeline’s old art school admirer Ed shows up, their tragic downfall is as inescapable as ever. And Marty Ross's unique performing style, combining evocative language with expressionistic mime and gesture, makes full-blown theatre out of the story as he embodies a whole cast list of larger than life characters.

21st CENTURY POE has already been a hit at the Edinburgh Fringe and London Horror Festivals, as testified by the reviews below, but it has never enjoyed a more atmospheric location than the Victorian grandeur of Glasgow's – and the world's – oldest surviving music hall. This is sure to be one of the highlights of the run up to Glasgow's Halloween.

Ross has a great aptitude for suspense and terror, and he hurls himself into his tale with energy and passion, in words which ring with Glasgow rhythm. An accomplished piece of work… a chilling conclusion.” – The Scotsman

“…What Marty Ross does with literature’s most mystical and macabre works is make them sing with new energy and beguile an audience all over again…. poetically re-worked ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ manages, in its modernisation, to preserve and revere the original, even intensifying its impact… a bewitchingly good story that leaves a haunting reminder long after the lights have gone down.” - 3 Weeks ****

Insanely good storytelling… a master craftsman who never turns down the pressure… Ross’ violently impressive performance make this a heart-pounding triumph… Trainspotting meets gothic horror….” – Broadway Baby *****

Visceral. A compelling narrator and onstage presence. … left you thinking as well as reeling… theatre that kept you on edge… an immensely entertaining ride that scared and shocked in equal measure – a fair ground ghost ride for the 21st Century….” – Fringe Review

Well established as a playwright, particularly with dark drama for BBC radio (Ghost Zone, Catch My Breath, Darker Side Of The Border, Rough Magick, Lady Macbeth Of Mtsensk, Moyamensing, The Dead Of Fenwick Moor), plus Doctor Who & award-nominated Dark Shadows audio drama, as well as Blood And Stone, nominated for a 2012 Rondo Award (horror fandom’s Oscars), Ross also regularly performs as a live storyteller throughout Scotland and England. Two plays of his have premiered at the last two Buxton Festivals – Redder Than Roses: A Glimpse Of Mary, Queen Of Scots & The Woman On The Bridge. A new play Crooker's Kingdom, has been commissioned by Cromford Mill for premiere this Halloween. Another audio drama, Romeo & Julian, has just been commissioned by Amazon Audible.

TICKETS £8 / £6 CONCESSION.

BOOKINGS:

0141-553-0840

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

VAMPIRES IN THE VAULT @edfringe review by Donna Foulis of TVBomb.co.uk

Just posting here the first review in of my Edinburgh Fringe show VAMPIRES IN THE VAULT, written by Donna Foulis of TVBomb. I'll post a link to the website here: http://www.tvbomb.co.uk/2015/08/vampires-in-the-vault/

Donna here is reviewing one of the two stories I'm doing under the Vampires In The Vault heading, namely Blood And Stone, the real life 'Countess Dracula'. I'm performing that show every second day, tonight (i.e Tue 11 August) & also Thur 13 & Sat 15 at 17.55. The other story, The Gorbals Vampire, very warmly received last night, is being performed, same time, same place, on Wed 12 & Fri 14. Venue is Paradise In The Vault, 11 Merchant Street, venue 29, just uphill from the Grassmarket, just down the hill from Greyfriars Bobby, turn the corner at the Oz Bar and go under the bridge. You can book through www.paradise-green.co.uk (0131 510 0022) or the edfringe office at: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/vampires-in-the-vault

But also for convenience's sake, I'll paste in the review text below. Thank you, Donna!


We all like a good story. We tell them to each other every day, emphasising the key details to excite our friends’ attention. Marty Ross has perfected this art of storytelling and will captivate your attention for an entire hour leaving you imagining that you are sitting in the depths of the ancient, mouldering castle where this thrilling tale takes place.
The show alternates between two pieces, with tonight’s performance telling the thrilling tale of Blood and Stone. The story provides a sequel to Hungary’s infamous tale of Countess Elizabeth Bathory, unravelling the layers to the countess’s story as the mystery of this seemingly vampiric woman, is picked apart by an intriguing visitor to the castle.
The performance moves at a seemingly impossible speed and with a furious energy. Ross seems to have no need to stop and come up for air, effortlessly switching between characters to deliver a fluid and captivating sequence of events and detailed imagery. The pace of the narrative is well-timed to add mystery and intrigue that really draw the audience in. There is barely any evidence of movement from any of the audience members—no fidgeting or turning of heads to read others’ reactions—as Ross has their full attention throughout the performance.
This show is a must see for lovers of gothic and ghostly tales, the cave likevenue adding to its authenticity. It’s certainly intriguing enough to make one want to go back and listen to his other tale The Gorbals Vampirewhich has Glasgow as its gothic setting.

Me in my 17th century Gothic clobber

Sunday, 9 August 2015

VAMPIRES IN THE VAULT: Blood And Stone at the Edinburgh Fringe

Well, my 2015 Edinburgh Fringe show VAMPIRES IN THE VAULT has begun its run as of last night. Last night I performed one of the two vampire tales I'm presenting on alternate days this year, The Gorbals Vampire. That's on again on Mon 10, Wed 12 & Friday 14 August. You can read the background on that elsewhere on this blog. But tonight Sun  9 August, and also on Tue 11, Thurs 12 & Sat 15 August, I'm presenting Blood And Stone in which I bring back from the dead the fearsome 'Bloody Countess' aka Countess Dracula, Elizabeth Bathory, and so I thought I'd reprint here my piece on my lifelong passion for the Countess. (Here's a LINK for booking for the show: T I C K E T L I N K




THE COUNTESS & I.

We go back a long way together, Erzsebet Bathory and I. One of my earliest childhod memories is of a Saturday afternoon in the Govanhill area of Glasgow when I badgered my parents to let me spend my pocket money on a book I had just seen in a shop along the road: the novelisation of Hammer Films’ version of the Bathory story Countess Dracula. My Mum and Dad, to be fair, were less worried about my exposure to the horrors within those pages (I was already the kind of kid allowed to sit up in his Star Trek pyjamas to watch the late night horror film on TV), than concerned over the waste of money on a book surely unreadable to a child with his age still in single figures. (“Think of all the long words,” I remember my Mum saying.) But I persevered and soon had my hands on my very first ‘grown-up’ book, with its gorgeous front cover of a beautiful young Ingrid Pitt and its disturbing back cover image of a grotesquely aged Pitt shoved in her prison cell at the end of the film (which therefore ends just before BLOOD & STONE begins.) And within those covers I was introduced to at least a fictionalised version of the great lady, right at the absolute inception of my literary life. She has haunted me ever since.




How could she not? As someone who firmly believes that great horror is achieved when – and only when - horror and beauty ring out at the same instant (No beauty? Then I’m not interested.), this woman, simultaneously magnificent and beautiful and monstrous beyond conception, might stand as the sheerest embodiment of that aesthetic, less a commonplace serial killer (yawn...) than a kind of wondrous, terrible Goddess of death, like Kali or Medea, Hecate or Clytemnestra.

Throughout the rest of my childhood, a childhood blessed with the true writer’s ability to promiscuously mingle ‘fact’ and fantasy, the tenement building in Glasgow’s Catchcart Road which housed that newsagent’s shop became for me the home of Countess Bathory. I would look at the dusty upper windows of that tenement and visualise the Countess locked up in there – for it was the image of the imprisoned Countess of her latter years that truly haunted my imagination. (Likewise, the toy shop across the street where I bought a model kit of Doctor Jekyll turning into Mr. Hyde housed, in my imagination, that very laboratory somewhere in its back shop.)  

And so, inevitably, I dreamed of one day creating my own artistic, dramatic vision of the Countess. The basic plot of BLOOD & STONE was already at least half-formulated in my mind by my teenage years, but I dithered over getting it down on paper, fearful perhaps of doing justice to the great lady, but also at a loss to think who would produce such a grim, gothic story. It hardly seemed material for the BBC or the Royal Court!

Then, when a backpacking trip around Austria saw me basing myself in Vienna, in a hotel room so cheap the window looked out on a romantic airshaft heaped with dead pigeons, I felt the Countess herself taking a hand in the matter. There’s no time to deal with this in BLOOD & STONE, but not all the Countess’s atrocities were committed in her Hungarian Castle. She also had a townhouse in Vienna, just behind the Imperial Court (signifying how highly ranked her family were in the Austro-Hungarian monarchy) and committed some of her crimes there. The monks on the other side of the street used to chuck pots across at her window when the screams of tortured girls disturbed their devotions – but never thought of reporting someone so important to the authorities. Vienna doesn’t publicise her its Bathory connection like it publicises Mozart, but after a bit of detective work at the Vienna police museum, I worked out her Vienna address and made my way there after dark one night.

The street is narrow, poorly lit and with houses that seem to lean towards one another across the street in Caligari fashion. The doorway that once been hers was large but drably painted and many of the floors above in a building now split into offices and apartments looked empty, derelict, buried in dust. I couldn’t help but picture her staring out of the uppermost windows, haunting the spot still. And, standing there, I happened to glance a few doors along to the window of a small record shop on the same block. Two big musicals were playing in Vienna that year: one of them, Elizabeth, portrayed the tragic 19th. Century empress ‘Sissi’, Austria’s very own Princess Di. The other show was Tanz Der Vampyr, a musical based on Roman Polanski’s film Dance Of The Vampires (aka Fearless Vampire Killers). But the way the posters for the two shows were juxtaposed in the window, one above the other, meant that what I saw when I glanced that way was the dim lamp light falling across two words only:
                                    VAMPYR ELIZABETH
It was like a sign, direct from the ghost of the lady herself to my own imagination. I turned away, hurried back up the street towards the brighter lights and broader byways around the opera house. And I swear I could hear the moth-eaten folds of her gown hissing after me up the pavement, pursuing me all the way back to the grey shadows of that hotel room. That night I felt her crawling into my skull.




After that, I had to write something. The first form the idea took on paper was that of a stage play entitled Laundry, but this was a different piece from BLOOD & STONE: the bare bones of the plot were identical, but Laundry updated the story to modern Eastern Europe, both under and after Stalinism and was written in a surreal, absurdist style closer to Ionesco or Kafka or Durrenmatt than to a straightforward horror story. Inevitably, perhaps, no one knew what to do with a play so wilfully off-beat and peculiar so the script lay gathering dust, like the Countess’s ghost up behind those Vienna windows.

But still I couldn’t let go of her; or she wouldn’t let go of me. The idea came to me to take the story back to what it had been in the first place: a pure no-bullshit gothic horror story, 17th. Century castle setting and all. When I took up professional storytelling, I performed a rough-and-ready 25 minute version of Blood And Stone during one of my regular stints with the Storytellers Of Nottingham in Nottingham’s haunted Trip To Jerusalem pub. It worked well, but seemed too big and intense for that tiny venue and limited slot, so I thought about developing it further as a full length piece in its own right. Meanwhile, I pitched it tentatively to BBC Scotland as a radio play, but they took understandable fright at the thought of something so dark and nasty coming on straight after The Archers. Then Mariele Runacre Temple, who’d already produced another play of mine, Medusa On The Beach, for her Wireless Theatre Company dropped me a line about a new audio drama company being set up specially to focus on horror drama. And I knew in an instant that the ghost which had trailed me along the Vienna streets that night, which had maybe been trailing me all the way from that Glasgow street of my childhood, had found a home.




BLOOD & STONE was recorded in a spooky Norfolk church and then released, through 3D Horror Fi, Wireless Theatre Company, Amazon Audible, iTunes etc. and was very well received, ultimately earning a 2012 Rondo award nomination. Here's a link for downloading the audio drama version... BLOOD AND STONE AUDIO 

But the tight hold the Countess had taken of me meant it wasn’t enough to just write a script and let others perform it – that dream of a longer storytelling version offered me the chance to bring to fruition my own inner Countess, to fully channel the way, years before, I’d felt her spirit creeping into me, whether in the streets of Glasgow or Vienna. Storytelling, when it’s really going full tilt, has an almost Shamanic quality… one feels the characters are passing through one like spirits, like you’re a medium, an intermediary, between your audience and the world of the dead. And, God help me, as I rehearse Blood And Stone, day and out, as I twist mind and voice and body into the Countess’ stark contours, it really feels as if there’s more than my imagination at work, as if something/someone who followed me home, skirts a-rustle that night in Vienna is slipping on my skin and bones like a ragged ballgown, a pair of dark gloves, a tragic mask for a tragic (anti) heroine…..

Monday, 3 August 2015

CATCH MY BREATH on BBC Radio 4 Extra & VAMPIRES IN THE VAULT at Edinburgh Fringe

Up to my eyeballs in preparations for heading up to Edinburgh for my Edinburgh Fringe show VAMPIRES IN THE VAULT, which runs from 8 - 15 August, with me performing my story THE GORBALS VAMPIRE on 8, 10, 12, 14 August & BLOOD & STONE on 9, 11, 13 & 15 August. Here's a link for booking tickets: B O O K I N G L I N K


But, MEANWHILE, if you want a free sampler of my distinctly Scottish brand of Gothic horror, BBC Radio 4 Extra are putting on my 5 part serial CATCH MY BREATH on again this week, running over 5 days, Mon 3 - Fri 7 August, playing at 6pm, with a midnight repeat. The show should then go on BBC iPlayer etc for a whole month, so no excuse not to catch up with this dark and disturbing contemporary retake on the darker side of Scottish highland mythology.


Here's a listening link to the BBC Radio 4 Extra. First episode should be available from 6.30 pm UK time today - and then after that, as I say, for a whole month. If you want to check out the 'behind the scenes' story of my writing the piece, check out this couple of entries from earlier posts on my blog:

CATCH MY BREATH behind the scenes part 1: LINK

CATCH MY BREATH behind the scenes part 2: LINK

It should put you just in the mood for catching up with me in Edinburgh!

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Me & The Gorbals Vampire

STOP PRESS: THE GORBALS VAMPIRE IS NEXT ON AT LEE ROSY'S IN NOTTINGHAM ON 23RD. OCTOBER AT 8PM. YOU CAN GET TICKETS VIA WWW.NOTTMFRINGE.COM....

In the run up to the opening next weekend (eek!!!) of my Edinburgh Fringe show VAMPIRES IN THE VAULT, I thought I'd talk here a little about the background of one of the two vampire tales I'm performing. (If you want to book tickets, link is H E R E ! ! !



THE GORBALS VAMPIRE, which I'm performing on Sat 8, Mon 10, Wed 12 & Fri 14 August, is inspired by one of the strangest true stories of post war Glasgow social history. The fact that I, mad keen on vampire tales since shoplifting my first copy of Dracula at the age of eight, spent a significant part of my youth staying with my grandmother Jessie Downs in her tenement at the corner of Langside Road and Butterbiggins Road, two turnings and about five minutes walk away from the Southern Necropolis, scene of the phenomenon gave the story immense resonance for me. I loved Hammer Horror, but here was a vampire story that took place not in distant Transylvania but just around the corner.



What actually happened is that in September 1954, local kids got the idea into their heads that a vampire with iron teeth was running amok in the graveyard devouring children. And so for several nights these kids would descend upon the graveyard en masse, some it is said even carrying wooden stakes with which to tackle the vampire directly. Police were called in to chase the kids away, headlines were made and the adult world started looking for a scapegoat for all this under age anarchy. They found it in the then current popularity of US horror comics, then in the super gory era of the EC horror comics such as Tales From The Crypt and The Vault Of Horror and their various competitors. Questions were asked in the Houses of Parliament and it wasn't long before a ban was imposed on the US comics.



In fact, the forces of the state may have been barking up completely the wrong tree: interviewed in later years, several of the now grown up vampire hunters denied they had ever read any of these comics and more local legends of an 'Iron Man' and a female monster, Jenny With The Iron Teeth, may have had more actual relevance to what happened.

But the whole thing essentially petered out with, alas, no real sighting or experience of anything that could honestly be said to be a vampire: a slightly anticlimactic ending for anyone other than a sociologist or a historian of censorship.

In consequence, I was haunted ever since first hearing the story by the thought of rectifying reality's inability to deliver a real honest to goodness vampire – and that's just what I've done in the story I'm performing at the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe. My story is set a generation later, in 1976, all the better to relate it to the era of my childhood and allow a guest appearance for one of the great horror comics of my childhood, House Of Hammer.



In my story, ten year old Timmy is the son of one of the original vampire hunting kids: he's heard the story off his Dad and his incautious repeating of it one day gets him into a world of trouble, both human and supernatural. For this is no whimsical piece of tongue in cheek mock-gothic japery: I set out to produce a real honest to goodness gritty, disturbing supernatural story about the most unsettling subject imaginable, the destruction of a child's innocence by the most squalid and ancient evil, a piece more 'Exorcist' than 'Edward Scissorhands'.

I didn't want my vampire to be some kind of lah-di-dah Byronic aristocrat either: I pictured a vampire appropriate to the rather past-its-best setting of the Southern Necropolis: a rancid, ancient working class vampire in a shabby second hand tartan suit straight off a barrow in Paddy's Market, Nosferatu-bald save where barbed wire grows out of the back of his head, wrinkled and liver-spotted and generally smelly.

Fallen tombstones in Southern Necropolis

Gatehouse of the Southern Necropolis

Nature reconquers the Necropolis

And of course I took a wander, by way of my old Govanhill haunts, out to the Southern Necropolis when I was first gathering my ideas for the show. The photos from the trip are on this page. Particularly note 'The White Lady', actually a kind of timeworn grey in colour. A whole mythology surrounds the Lady herself: she's supposed to turn her head to look at you when you walk by, at least if you're not looking too close – and indeed to wander the graveyard freely after dark in ghostly form.

The White Lady

I was particularly struck by the pile of coins placed between her feet like votive offerings to an ancient Goddess. There I was in the middle of the Gorbals, an area – as ever – of sometimes grinding poverty, but no one had thought to help themselves to these coins, as if they belonged to the Lady and no one else. This caught hold of my imagination and the Lady herself features in my story, a kind of divine counterpoint to the the hellishness of the vampire himself.

These claw-like bushes rising from the tombs put in an appearance in the show!


That the gravestones almost seem to be humping one another adds to the illicit atmosphere

I'm really excited about the show: I need to set up performances in Glasgow after Edinburgh is done, because I think I've paid my home town, my own neighbourhood even as a South Sider, the best kind of tribute I've got in me: I've taken a quirky social incident and made it into an honest to goodness folk tale, a backstreet myth, a Gothic epic of good and evil.

More branches from beyond the grave!



Well, we'll see whether that comes across in a week and a half's time!  

The juxtaposition of graveyard & tower block crucial in the show

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

VAMPIRES IN THE VAULT poster for Edinburgh Fringe

My brilliant designer Liam Proctor of DAPR Collectivehas just sent through the proof of the poster for my Edinburgh Fringe show VAMPIRES IN THE VAULT and it's a quantum leap beyond all I asked of him, so I don't know what more to do here and now than post it big as I can. It basically says it all. Tickets can be booked H E R E ! ! ! !





Thursday, 4 June 2015

VAMPIRES IN THE VAULT my Edinburgh Fringe show 8 - 15 August

Hi, seeing as today's the day the official Edinburgh Fringe guide is released, thought I'd better crack on and attach here the media release for the show, which has all the details on dates etc. Tickets can already be booked  H E R E ! ! !

Vampires in the Vault
A dramatic storytelling show by MARTY ROSS
Paradise In The Vault (venue 29)
11 Merchant St. EH1 2QD
8 – 15 August 17.55
Box office: 0131 510 0022
www.paradise-green.co.uk
Tickets £8 / £6 (2for1 on 10th. & 11th.)



After his acclaimed 21st. Century Poe shows at 2013 & 2014's Edfringe, live storyteller and playwright Marty Ross (BBC Radio drama; Doctor Who & Dark Shadows audio) descends once again into the Vault with a themed show alternating two vampire tales – dare you see them both?

His radically updated Poe shows saw him acclaimed as “a compelling onstage presence”, “a master craftsman who never turns down the pressure” with a gift for “insanely good storytelling” and “a great aptitude for suspense & terror”. Now he descends deeper into the dark with stories of vampirism, historic and modern, supernatural and disturbingly real.

In THE GORBALS VAMPIRE, being performed on Sat 8th, Mon 10th. Wed 12th. & Friday 14th. August, Glasgow's very own urban legend of an iron-toothed vampire in the city's Southern Necropolis inspires a disturbing tale of innocence lost. Twenty years ago, Timmy disappeared in the graveyard, victim of a schoolkid prank. Now he's back, to tell the tale of where he's been... and how close he came to being trapped there forever.

In BLOOD & STONE: Lullaby For A Vampire Countess, being performed on Sun 9th. Tue 11th. Thurs 13th. & Sat 15th. August, Ross again draws on a true tale, in this case that of the Hungarian Bloody Countess Elizabeth Bathory, aka “Countess Dracula”, who in the early 1600s was imprisoned in her castle for bathing in the blood of her victims. This fictional sequel to the historical story imagines a servant listening to the Countess' protestations of innocence and being tempted to set her free.... (Marty Ross' audio drama version of this story was nominated for a 2012 Rondo Award – the horror world's Oscars – and can be downloaded here: http://www.wirelesstheatrecompany.co.uk/product/blood-and-stone/ )

Anyone who has seen Ross' previous shows will be aware of his ability, with the simplest resources, to – as Broadway Baby said - “ paint vile pictures and weave a grotesque spell over his listeners”, to create, in the words of Fringe Review “an immensely entertaining ride that scared and shocked in equal measure – a fair ground ghost ride for the 21st. Century.” Forget any quaint olde-worlde notions of live storytelling – this is storytelling as visceral, in your face, expressionistic, full tilt theatre, Ross using bold gesture and imagistic language as he shifts fluidly across a whole dramatis personae of characters innocent and monstrous, young and old, male and female, good and evil. Horror and dark humour, stark tragedy and grand guignol, Gothic Hungary and the hard side of modern Glasgow, are all evoked as vividly as in any classic horror film. Descend into The Vault and see for yourself....


Thursday, 14 May 2015

BLOOD AND STONE: Lullaby For A Vampire Countess at Belper Arts Festival Saturday May 23rd.

PHEW! Just back from a couple of well-received 21st CENTURY POE shows at Glasgow Southside Fringe, slightly exhausted, and pole-axed with a head cold, but making time to post here details of my next show, in just over a week at Belper Arts Festival, in the No. 28 arts centre, which is becoming a regular haunt for my macabre storytelling. Show is BOOKING H E R E ! ! !

BLOOD & STONE – Lullaby For A Vampire Countess
A Dramatic Performance by Marty Ross

Belper Arts Festival, May 23rd. No. 28, Market Square, Belper DE56 1FZ. 7.30pm (doors open 7pm). Tickets £7 / £5 from Belper Arts Fest box offices at Oxfam books, King Street & Gatehouse Tea Rooms, DeBradlei Mill, Chapel Street. Ticket hotline: 07845 400914. http://www.belperartsfestival.org

The early 1600s. Hungary’s real life ‘vampire’ countess Elizabeth Bathory is imprisoned in her castle, the most prolific serial killer in history. But what if a servant were naïve enough to set her free...?

It’s one of history’s great horror stories – the Countess who bathed in blood to preserve her beauty. It has inspired horror films from Hammer’s ‘Countess Dracula’ to recent efforts starring Julie Delpy and Anna Friel. Those accounts have focused upon the Countess’ gory heyday, but the emphasis in Marty Ross’ storytelling show is on the aftermath… the ageing Countess punished by being locked for years in a lightless chamber in her castle, her hunger fierce as ever. Blood And Stone imagines that hunger being turned loose on the world once again, in a haunted and haunting drama: a unique and intense theatrical experience, far beyond all cliches of what a 'storytelling' show might be.

Those who have seen Marty Ross' previous performances at No. 28 in Belper (The Blackwater Bride at last year's Belper Arts Fest; two performances of 21st Century Poe)... or at venues around Nottingham or the Edinburgh Fringe (where BLOOD & STONE is headed) or the London Horror Festival (where this show was successfully performed in 2013) will know his storyteller’s ability to shape-shift through the forms and voices of a myriad of strange characters, male and female, young and old, good and evil. Well established as a playwright, particularly with dark drama for BBC radio (Ghost Zone, Catch My Breath, Darker Side Of The Border), plus Doctor Who & award-nominated Dark Shadows audio drama– as well as the audio drama version of Blood And Stone, nominated for a 2012 Rondo Award (horror fandom’s Oscars) - as a storyteller he is a whole dramatis personae in himself, a key figure in the current revival of this oldest – and yet suddenly most modern - of theatrical forms.

As Broadway Baby said of his show 21st. Century Poe, “Ross is a master craftsman who never turns down the pressure, weaving a grotesque spell over his listeners…”. Using not just powerful words, but mime and gesture indebted to the likes of German Expressionism, Ross’ storytelling is more Jacobean Tragedy than Jackanory, creating vivid on-stage images, even as he projects more scarifying images still into the audience’s imaginations… which is where the really scary stuff always happens….

Reviews for Ross’ previous shows:

Insanely good storytelling… a master craftsman who never turns down the pressure… violently impressive….” – Broadway Baby *****

Ross has a great aptitude for suspense and terror… chilling.” – The Scotsman

Visceral. A compelling narrator and onstage presence. … left you thinking as well as reeling… theatre that kept you on edge… an immensely entertaining ride that scared and shocked in equal measure – a fair ground ghost ride for the 21st Century….” – Fringe Review



Sunday, 3 May 2015

21st CENTURY POE at Glasgow Southside Fringe 9 & 10 May

Just a quick note to correct a misprint in the Glasgow Southside Fringe brochure regarding the 21st CENTURY POE shows I'm doing next weekend as part of the fest at The Bungo on Glasgow's Nithsdale Road. The brochure says I'm doing FALLING FOR THE USHERS on both 9 & 10 May, but in fact I'm doing USHERS on Sat 9, but doing a DIFFERENT, equally stunning, show on Sunday 10 May, HEART SHAPED HOLE, the show that got me my best reviews when I did the show at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2013. Extra value: 2 nights, 2 shockers! I'll paste in the poster here, which has all the details, including how to book at www.brownpapertickets,com.

USHERS can be booked H E R E ! ! !

and HEART SHAPED HOLE can be booked H E R E ! ! !


Sunday, 26 April 2015

BLOOD & STONE: Lullaby For A Vampire Countess this week at Lee Rosy's

Big event this week is my Walpurgisnacht show this Thursday 8pm at Lee Rosy's in Nottingham (downstairs, in the "crypt"!) Tickets are £4 / £3. I'm performing BLOOD AND STONE: LULLABY FOR A VAMPIRE COUNTESS, based on the true story of real life 'vampire' Elizabeth Bathory, history's most prolific serial killer who, according to legend, bathed in blood to preserve her beauty. So below I'll reprint my little essay on my 'relationship' with the Countess, which I originally wrote to accompany my audio drama version of the story, written for the Wireless Theatre Company and 3DHorrorFi and which was nominated for a 2012 Rondo Award. (You can download the audio drama version HERE!!!


THE COUNTESS & I.

We go back a long way together, Erzsebet Bathory and I. One of my earliest childhod memories is of a Saturday afternoon in the Govanhill area of Glasgow when I badgered my parents to let me spend my pocket money on a book I had just seen in a shop along the road: the novelisation of Hammer Films’ version of the Bathory story Countess Dracula. My Mum and Dad, to be fair, were less worried about my exposure to the horrors within those pages (I was already the kind of kid allowed to sit up in his Star Trek pyjamas to watch the late night horror film on TV), than concerned over the waste of money on a book surely unreadable to a child with his age still in single figures. (“Think of all the long words,” I remember my Mum saying.) But I persevered and soon had my hands on my very first ‘grown-up’ book, with its gorgeous front cover of a beautiful young Ingrid Pitt and its disturbing back cover image of a grotesquely aged Pitt shoved in her prison cell at the end of the film (which therefore ends just before BLOOD & STONE begins.) And within those covers I was introduced to at least a fictionalised version of the great lady, right at the absolute inception of my literary life. She has haunted me ever since.

How could she not? As someone who firmly believes that great horror is achieved when – and only when - horror and beauty ring out at the same instant (No beauty? Then I’m not interested.), this woman, simultaneously magnificent and beautiful and monstrous beyond conception, might stand as the sheerest embodiment of that aesthetic, less a commonplace serial killer (yawn...) than a kind of wondrous, terrible Goddess of death, like Kali or Medea, Hecate or Clytemnestra.

Throughout the rest of my childhood, a childhood blessed with the true writer’s ability to promiscuously mingle ‘fact’ and fantasy, the tenement building in Glasgow’s Cathcart Road which housed that newsagent’s shop became for me the home of Countess Bathory. I would look at the dusty upper windows of that tenement and visualise the Countess locked up in there – for it was the image of the imprisoned Countess of her latter years that truly haunted my imagination. (Likewise, the toy shop across the street where I bought a model kit of Doctor Jekyll turning into Mr. Hyde housed, in my imagination, that very laboratory somewhere in its back shop.)  

And so, inevitably, I dreamed of one day creating my own artistic, dramatic vision of the Countess. The basic plot of BLOOD & STONE was already at least half-formulated in my mind by my teenage years, but I dithered over getting it down on paper, fearful perhaps of doing justice to the great lady, but also at a loss to think who would produce such a grim, Gothic story. It hardly seemed material for the BBC or the Royal Court!

Then, when a backpacking trip around Austria saw me basing myself in Vienna, in a hotel room so cheap the window looked out on a romantic airshaft heaped with dead pigeons, I felt the Countess herself taking a hand in the matter. There’s no time to deal with this in BLOOD & STONE, but not all the Countess’s atrocities were committed in her Hungarian Castle. She also had a townhouse in Vienna, just behind the Imperial Court (signifying how highly ranked her family were in the Austro-Hungarian monarchy) and committed some of her crimes there. The monks on the other side of the street used to chuck pots across at her window when the screams of tortured girls disturbed their devotions – but never thought of reporting someone so important to the authorities. Vienna doesn’t publicise her its Bathory connection like it publicises Mozart, but after a bit of detective work at the Vienna police museum, I worked out her Vienna address and made my way there after dark one night.

The street is narrow, poorly lit and with houses that seem to lean towards one another across the street in Caligari fashion. The doorway that once been hers was large but drably painted and many of the floors above in a building now split into offices and apartments looked empty, derelict, buried in dust. I couldn’t help but picture her staring out of the uppermost windows, haunting the spot still. And, standing there, I happened to glance a few doors along to the window of a small record shop on the same block. Two big musicals were playing in Vienna that year: one of them, Elizabeth, portrayed the tragic 19th. Century empress ‘Sissi’, Austria’s very own Princess Di. The other show was Tanz Der Vampyr, a musical based on Roman Polanski’s film Dance Of The Vampires (aka Fearless Vampire Killers). But the way the posters for the two shows were juxtaposed in the window, one above the other, meant that what I saw when I glanced that way was the dim lamp light falling across two words only:
                                    VAMPYR ELIZABETH
It was like a sign, direct from the ghost of the lady herself to my own imagination. I turned away, hurried back up the street towards the brighter lights and broader byways around the opera house. And I swear I could hear the moth-eaten folds of her gown hissing after me up the pavement, pursuing me all the way back to the grey shadows of that hotel room. That night I felt her crawling into my skull.

After that, I had to write something. The first form the idea took on paper was that of a stage play entitled Laundry, but this was a different piece from BLOOD & STONE: the bare bones of the plot were identical, but Laundry updated the story to modern Eastern Europe, both under and after Stalinism and was written in a surreal, absurdist style closer to Ionesco or Kafka or Durrenmatt than to a straightforward horror story. Inevitably, perhaps, no one knew what to do with a play so wilfully off-beat and peculiar so the script lay gathering dust, like the Countess’s ghost up behind those Vienna windows.

But still I couldn’t let go of her; or she wouldn’t let go of me. The idea came to me to take the story back to what it had been in the first place: a pure no-bullshit gothic horror story, 17th. Century castle setting and all. When I took up professional storytelling, I performed a rough-and-ready 25 minute version of Blood And Stone during one of my regular stints with the Storytellers Of Nottingham in Nottingham’s haunted Trip To Jerusalem pub. It worked well, but seemed too big and intense for that tiny venue and limited slot, so I thought about developing it further as a full length piece in its own right. Meanwhile, I pitched it tentatively to BBC Scotland as a radio play, but they took understandable fright at the thought of something so dark and nasty coming on straight after The Archers. Then Mariele Runacre Temple, who’d already produced another play of mine, Medusa On The Beach, for her Wireless Theatre Company dropped me a line about a new audio drama company being set up specially to focus on horror drama. And I knew in an instant that the ghost which had trailed me along the Vienna streets that night, which had maybe been trailing me all the way from that Glasgow street of my childhood, had found a home.

BLOOD & STONE was recorded in a spooky Norfolk church and then released, through 3D Horror Fi, Wireless Theatre Company, Amazon Audible, iTunes etc. and was very well received, ultimately earning a 2012 Rondo award nomination. But the tight hold the Countess had taken of me meant it wasn’t enough to just write a script and let others perform it – that dream of a longer storytelling version offered me the chance to bring to fruition my own inner Countess, to fully channel the way, years before, I’d felt her spirit creeping into me, whether in the streets of Glasgow or Vienna. Storytelling, when it’s really going full tilt, has an almost Shamanic quality… one feels the characters are passing through one, seizing hold of one, like spirits, like you’re a medium, an intermediary, between your audience and the world of the dead. And, God help me, as I rehearse Blood And Stone, day and out, as I twist mind and voice and body into the Countess’ stark contours, it really feels as if there’s more than my imagination at work, as if something/someone who followed me home, skirts a-rustle that night in Vienna is slipping on my skin and bones like a ragged ballgown, a pair of dark gloves, a tragic mask for a tragic (anti) heroine…..

Friday, 3 April 2015

VAMPIRES IN THE VAULT - my 2015 Edinburgh Fringe show

Starting to prepare my storytelling show for this year's Edinburgh Fringe. Again, it's at the Vault @ Paradise Green, where I performed my 21st. Century Poe shows at the last couple of Fringes. The show is ALREADY BOOKING at Edfringe Website H E R E ! ! !



This year, I'm doing, as the title makes fairly obvious, two vampire stories, alternating them between Saturday 8th and Sat 15th August, 17.55 every day.

On Saturday 8, Monday 10, Wednesday 12, Friday 14 August, I'm performing THE GORBALS VAMPIRE  in which I use the true story of how some kids on Glasgow's south side got the idea that there was a vampire with steel teeth haunting Glasgow's Southern Necropolis - using this as the leaping off point for a very gritty horror story of innocence lost.

Then on Sunday 9, Tuesday 11, Thursday 13 and Saturday 15 August, I'm performing BLOOD AND STONE: LULLABY FOR A VAMPIRE COUNTESS, in which I use another real life 'vampire' story as a leaping off point for a dark fictional drama. The real life story in this case is the infamous one of Elizabeth Bathory, the 17th century Hungarian bloody Countess, who bathed in human blood to maintain her beauty. The true story ended with the Countess being sealed up within a room in her castle. My story imagines a sequel to this true story... In which someone is seemingly naive enough to let the Countess out!

I'm also performing BLOOD & STONE at Lee Rosy's in Nottingham on April 30 (Walpurgisnacht!) and at Belper Arts Festival on May 23rd. My audio drama version, nominated for a 2012 Rondo Award, is available from the Wireless Theatre Company website HERE

Friday, 27 March 2015

21st. CENTURY POE comes home... to Glasgow's Southside Fringe!

AT LAST! After all this time performing my storytelling shows everywhere from the Edinburgh Fringe to the London Horror Festival, I'm finally getting to take a couple of my 21st. Century Poe shows to my own neighbourhood, the centre of my spiritual universe, namely Glasgow's south side. I'll paste in below the details:

21st. CENTURY POE
9th May: FALLING FOR THE USHERS 10th. May: HEART SHAPED HOLE

Southside Fringe 2015. The Bungo, Nithsdale Road, Glasgow.
8pm 9 & 10th. May Tickets £7 / £6

Tickets for FALLING FOR THE USHERS: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/1391795

Tickets for HEART SHAPED HOLE:


Marty Ross (BBC Radio horror; Doctor Who audio) drags Edgar Allan kicking & screaming into the modern world in a horror double bill of storytelling performances!

"True! - nervous - very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad?"

In virtually all the greatest chillers of Edgar Allan Poe, the same note is struck straightaway: an isolated, tormented narrator wants – needs! – to tell us of the strange and terrible experiences he has undergone. They are ideally suited, therefore, to contemporary theatre’s great comeback kid, the most ancient and suddenly most modern form of narrative theatre: live storytelling.
As a theatrical storyteller with a flair for the Gothic and macabre - as reflected in his parallel career as playwright for the likes of BBC radio’s “Marvellously chilling” (Guardian) Darker Side Of The Border, Ghost Zone & Catch My Breath, as well as Moyamensing, his 2014 Halloween show for Radio Scotland, plus Doctor Who and award-nominated Dark Shadows audio drama - Marty Ross has seized upon the dramatic potential of Poe’s tales. But as a storytelling ‘modernist’ keen to shift this resurgent form away from once-upon-a-time-in-a-land-far-away ‘folkiness’, he has no intention of presenting Poe’s stories as period pieces: rather he has radically updated them to our era, both in plot & language – while shifting the setting to his native Glasgow: and now after having performed them to sell-out houses and five star reviews everywhere from the Edinburgh Fringe to the London Horror Festival, he brings his distinctly Glaswegian horror aesthetic home to Glasgow's south side for this year's Southside Fringe.
In line with this distinctive approach, FALLING FOR THE USHERS (Saturday 9th May) shifts Poe’s incestuous siblings from their misty Gothic manor to the world of Damien Hirst / Chapman Bros.– type contemporary art. But when an old friend from Glasgow School of Art shows up, the scene is set for a denoument as dark and tragic as that of the original story. On Sunday 10th. May, HEART SHAPED HOLE sets Poe’s Tell Tale Heart beating against a background of Glasgow tower block drug dealing, as young junkie on the make Stanley tries to murder his way to power, but can't escape that strange pounding in his head.... Perverse passions, substance abuse, macabre humour, murderous violence… shift Poe from his olde worlde settings to our times and one is close to the world of David Lynch, William Burroughs, even Irvine Welsh.
Ross' performances are far removed from the comfy-chair raconteur-ing of too many people’s clichés of live storytelling. Ross’s performance style is in-your-face, expressionist, intensely physical… more Theatre of Cruelty than Jackanory. Those who have managed to overlook live storytelling till now have been ‘astonished’ at the theatrical intensity of his performances, as attested by the reviews below:

On FALLING FOR THE USHERS:
Ross has a great aptitude for suspense and terror, and he hurls himself into his tale with energy and passion, in words which ring with the native Glasgow rhythm... an accomplished piece of work which builds towards a chilling conclusion.” – The Scotsman - review by Claire Smith

“…poetically re-worked ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ manages, in its modernisation, to preserve and revere the original, even intensifying its impact. Marty Ross delivers a bewitchingly good story that leaves a haunting reminder long after the lights have gone down.” – 3 weeks: Review By Katharine Wootton

On HEART SHAPED HOLE:

An insanely good piece of storytelling... Ross is a master craftsman who never turns down the pressure, painting vile pictures and weaving a grotesque spell. The tone is foul and relentless - Trainspotting meets Gothic horror…. Ross’ violently impressive performance make this a heart-pounding triumph which demands appreciation.” – Broadway Baby: Review by Gwen Sims-Williams


This was visceral. Marty Ross is a compelling narrator and onstage presence. … left you thinking as well as reeling… This was theatre that kept you on edge and occasionally threatened to send you off it. As a raconteur it is the utter conviction with which Ross performs that… draws you into his world. An immensely entertaining ride that scared and shocked in equal measure – a fair ground ghost ride for the 21st Century…” – .Fringe Review: Reviewed by Donald C Stewart