How a vampire yarn inspired a mural

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More than 60 years ago hundreds of Glasgow primary school children swamped the city’s Southern Necropolis – in search of a vampire.

Now secondary school pupils are being asked their own visual interpretation of this bizarre example of urban myth run wild, in support of a fascinating new play appearing at the Citizen’s Theatre.

Back in 1954 it seems lurid American comics had somehow inspired an outlandish urban myth among Glasgow kids that a vampire “with iron teeth” had killed and eaten two young boys.

The playground yarn “went viral”, decades before any such technology existed, and led to remarkable scenes recounted now in the play “The Gorbals Vampire” by Johnny McKnight, based on these real life events.

The action is centred around the Gorbals in Glasgow, but the ScottishPower Foundation is calling upon talented youngsters from the south side, Milngaive, Bearsden and Kirkintilloch to submit their depiction of a mythical Glasgow legend.

A Marvellous Murals competition offers them the chance to see their work turned into a major artistic statement as the city’s next top mural.

A community cast of 50 performers from the Citizens’ local community and beyond will present the production on the Citizens Theatre’s stage on October 28 and 29.

Ann Loughrey of the ScottishPower Foundation said: “By encouraging people, young and old, to get out and learn about this legendary story we’re hoping to inspire a new generation of art and theatre lovers in the area.”

Guy Hollands, learning director at the Citizens Theatre, said: “As well as the 50 community performers that will appear on stage in The Gorbals Vampire, we’re providing opportunities for young people and adults from the Gorbals and across the city to get involved in the project by creating short stories and comic art inspired by the story, as well as sharing their memories of that night and volunteering at the theatre.

“I’m delighted that our supporters, ScottishPower Foundation, have embraced this wish to involve as many people as possible in The Gorbals Vampire by launching their Marvellous Murals project, which is also inspired by the story.”

The mural will be created from the winning design by experts from Art Pistol, who are responsible for much of the street art seen in and around Glasgow today. From the giant snarling tiger on the Clyde to the huge hand puppets at the shadowy underpass at Cowcaddens.

Marvellous Murals entries are now open and close at 5pm on Friday, October 7.

To enter, young people (aged 11-18) should request an entry pack from marvellousmurals@stripecommunications.com and post to FAO: Team Foundation, Stripe Communications, 86/3 Commercial Quay, Edinburgh, EH6 6LX. Competition entry sheets can be requests from the same details above.

Tickets for The Gorbals Vampire are on sale now and are available to buy from citz.co.uk or by calling 0141 429 0022.