Morna Young on Lost at Sea: 'I spent a lot of time thinking how to capture the sea and the community around it'

Morna Young on Lost at Sea: 'It's a big choral play, I spent a lot of time thinking how to capture the sea and the community around it'

credit: Corey Arnold

Writer and theatre-maker discusses her first play, inspired by the loss of her father, ahead of its Scottish theatre tour

Morna Young grew up on the north-east coast of Scotland and its landscape and Doric dialect informs her plays. Her work is tender and wry, with a bracing lack of sentimentality: Lost At Sea was inspired by the loss of her fisherman father and spans 40 years in the fishing industry. Originally commissioned for Eden Court in Inverness in 2014, it has now found a home at Perth Theatre and former Traverse Theatre artistic director Ian Brown is directing an impressive cast of nine, including Andy Clark, Tam Dean Burn and Helen McAlpine.

'I had been talking about it with Eden Court's then-artistic director, Colin Marr, and we were talking about the epicness of the piece and how staging something so elemental can be tricky, and he suggested Ian Brown, mentioning his original production of Bondagers,' says Young. 'He represents a generation of Scottish plays that I think are quite epic, although that's a very different play – it's about the relationship the workers have with the land. I was lucky that Ian said, "I love it. Can I come to your village?" He needed to get a sense of place and that coastline.'

Young's work occupies a unique space, but she laughs when the issue of working-class representation in theatre is raised. 'I never set out to be a Scots language playwright, or working-class voice, it's just that's my world. Because I had trained as a journalist, the obvious thing to me was to do interviews and collate that research. So my interest in the language side came from transcribing so many hours of audio … different cadences of voices, from one village to another. It's a big choral play, I spent a lot of time thinking how to capture the sea and the community around it. You can't really have that without the diversity of voices.'

Perth Theatre, Thu 25–Sat 4 May, then touring.

Lost at Sea

A young woman returns home to her Northeastern fishing village looking for answers about her father's death, as a mysterious force unravels her family's secrets. Written by Morna Young.

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