@ HMT this week - Lost at Sea
With thanks to Rachel Campbell of Aberdeen Performing Arts
One of the stars of a new drama about the lure and the risks of life on the ocean has spoken about her own life growing up in Aberdeen as the daughter of a deep-sea diver.
Sophia McLean is taking her first major Scottish role in Lost at Sea, playing Shona, a young woman returning to her home village searching for answers about her fisherman father’s death.
Lost at Sea, by Moray writer Morna Young, comes to His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen, from 9 to 11 May as part of its world premiere tour and Sophia is one of several cast members with links to the North East. She said: “I’m thrilled that my first major stage role in Scotland should be one about North East Scotland where I’m from, and that it’s written in the Doric that I grew up with; living in Aberdeenshire and visiting my Dad’s family in Elgin.
“When I was wee, you didn’t get often get major productions in Scots, or about the lives and stories of rural people in this part of the country.”
The play is especially meaningful for Sophia as her father Jim McLean was a commercial diver during the 70s and 80s working on a variety of jobs including work on gas-lines, vessels, barges and wreck recovery. She said: “Like many people from Aberdeenshire, I grew up very familiar with a very strong sense of the charm and the danger of the sea. With the knowledge too that dad’s job was a risky one – and that accidents happened. He lost both friends and colleagues to the sea, and had a few close calls himself.
“But he gave me a fierce respect and love for the sea, and those connected with her. All these things coupled with the ‘pull-your-breeks-up-and-get-on-with-it’ dark humour, the Doric, the familiar ‘no-questions-asked' future-focused prerogative, and the beautiful diamond weave in Morna’s writing make Lost at Sea an incredibly special piece to be a part of.”
“Lost at Sea really gets across that sense of the unforgiving nature of the ocean, of the terrible knock-on effects when things go wrong and of what it’s like in a community where life is built on the fishing, where the tradition goes back for countless generations.”
Sophia’s great grandfather was a familiar figure to many seafarers as he worked as part of the Waterguard in the Aberdeen Harbour Office on Regent Quay, and sang for BBC local radio in the evenings. His family were Gaelic-speaking fisherfolk and ferrymen from Durness. The shipping forecast was the first thing he listened to in the morning, even into retirement; and still a mainstay in Sophia’s home.
Other cast members with links to the region include Gerry Mulgrew, who plays Billy. Gerry studied in Aberdeen and was a teacher at Torry Academy. Kim Gerard, who takes the role of Eve, has family connections with St Monans where past generations were fishermen.
Lost at Sea is Morna Young’s personal tribute to North East Scotland’s fishing communities. Inspired by the loss of her fisherman father when she was five, the play shines a new and unique light on what is still the UK’s most dangerous profession.
As a Scots Language Ambassador (Education Scotland) she is proud that this production will bring Doric throughout Scotland during the UN’s Year of Indigenous Languages.
Tickets are available from from www.aberdeenperformingarts.com