It is more than fitting that “the blood is the life” is a theme running through the heart of the stunning new version of Dracula that made its world premiere at His Majesty’s Theatre last week.
And, yes, you read that right. World premiere. In Aberdeen. At His Majesty’s. Something that doesn’t happen often. But we will come back to that.
For now, let’s return to the “blood is the life” motif. For nearly 50 years, the lifeblood of Aberdeen and the whole of the north-east has been oil. It has nurtured and enriched the region for almost two generations now – but it is fast dwindling, and we need to find a new source of sustenance.
There are, of course, the alternatives to oil, such as the burgeoning green energy sector. But other sectors are available – and I like to think I was witnessing not so much the birth but the resurrection of one major driver for the north-east at the aforementioned premiere of Dracula: Mina’s Reckoning.
The stunning play, which has rightly been winning five-star reviews, was made right here in Aberdeen, in a co-production between Aberdeen Performing Arts (APA) and the National Theatre of Scotland.
Elgin-born Morna Pearson’s retelling of Bram Stoker’s iconic vampire story resets it in the north-east. It is passionate, audacious and spellbinding, full of chilling gothic horror, leavened with unexpected laughter, shot through with the wonderfully rich Doric tongue, and comes with a twist that will live in your head rent-free for a long time.
In short, it’s a Dracula for our times and an instant classic.
Now, Dracula: Mina’s Reckoning is touring every major theatre in Scotland before heading south to Liverpool and Coventry. We should feel proud that the rest of the country will see this fantastic showcase of what the creative community of Aberdeen can do, and do wonderfully well.
And there is more to come, with APA chief executive Sharon Burgess telling a post-premiere gathering of the drive to create more original work here in Aberdeen and have people come to the Granite City to see it. If that’s not a powerful clarion call for the north-east’s future as a city of culture then nothing is.
World premieres in Aberdeen can be the norm
We are more and more realising that our region’s success depends on bringing people here. The cruise ships lining up to berth at the new South Harbour is just the start.
And when people get here and discover a city rich with art galleries, replete with festivals, with venues offering everything from West End smash hits to intimate blues and jazz gigs, to stand-up, to homegrown theatre, it can only enhance our reputation further.
Before Covid, the cultural sector in Aberdeen was gaining traction as a major player in our lives and in our economy. It is doing so again
Before Covid, the cultural sector in Aberdeen was gaining traction as a major player in our lives and in our economy. It is doing so again.
Perhaps I am an eternal optimist, but I can see the day when world premieres in Aberdeen are seen as the norm, not the exception.
And maybe we can tweak the Dracula quote a bit… In Aberdeen, “the art is the lifeblood”.
Scott Begbie is a journalist and editor, as well as PR and comms manager for Aberdeen Inspired