Borders Youth Theatre is based in Scottish Borders and for 22 years has provided excellent opportunities for young people to learn and develop theatre skills with experienced professionals. For their summer project this year they chose a musical theatre piece, The Watchers, a modern tale of Romeo and Juliet – but with vampires – set in Whitby.
The idea is that Bram Stoker’s famous novel, Dracula, was actually based on fact. The large dog-like animal which jumped from the wrecked ship, roamed the town, attacking the local population and turning them to vampires – or at least some. Others resisted the change to vampire but gained dog-like features. These latter became ‘the watchers’ who, for over one hundred years, have roamed the town, protecting the people of Whitby from the vampires. All of this is kept quiet, of course, by the people of the town for fear of chasing away the tourists on which the town depends.
So a little corner of Whitby – the Abbey, the harbour, the 199 steps, the Abbey Steps Tearoom – was created on the stage in Melrose and set off with fish and chips served out of copies of The Whitby Gazette (kindly supplied by the paper).
The cast of 30 young people aged 11 – 19 took on a variety of roles, first as tourists with all the appropriate paraphernalia, buckets and spades, inflatables, beach towels etc then as either watchers or vampires as the story reached its tragic climax.
Amazingly, the company had only 2 weeks to work with Craig and Clare, but put in the long hours necessary to produce four excellent and well-received performances. By co-incidence, the family of one of the cast were holidaying in Whitby but returned in time to see the performances. Their verdict – Borders Youth Theatre did Whitby proud.