A playwright whose father was lost at sea when she was just five is preparing to stage the world premiere of a play depicting the harsh lives of fishing families.
Morna Young was inspired by the loss of her father, Donnie, who was lost overboard from the trawler Ardent II in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea in April, 1989.
Despite an air and sea search Donnie’s body was never recovered.
As a child, Morna always expected him to return to Burghead in Moray.
“As a child there will have been a part of me still waiting – fishermen are away at sea and you are used to it.”
Now, Lost At Sea is about to premier at Perth Theatre before going on a nationwide tour across Scotland.
The play spans 40 years of a fishing family and the surrounding community. It is the story of two brothers experiencing the extremes of the industry – one is lost to the ocean, the other makes his fortune.
Morna, 34, said: “I knew that it was a chance for me to write something that would be a tribute and it was an opportunity to get to know my dad – because I was so young when he died I don’t really have any clear memories of him.”
By interviewing people in Moray fishing communities she learned about her father’s life, and the hardships of the industry, including loss of life.
“The people in the communities I visited don’t usually talk about their tragedies.
“However, many of them trusted me with their history and stories to write Lost At Sea because of my personal connection and background as a ‘born and bred fisher quine’.”
In 2011, after living in London , Morna decided to return home to Burghead to write the play with the support of her family.
She said: “I didn’t know what I was going to write but it felt like the time was right.
“Writing the play was my opportunity, many years later, to grieve properly. I am fortunate that I have writing as my way of doing that.”
Morna doesn’t think she will ever know exactly what really happened to her father.
She said: “The priority when I moved home was getting to know who my dad was rather than answers about exactly what happened and maybe that is because there never seemed to be definite answers.”
Morna also wanted to cover all fishing communities who have lost men at sea.
She said: “I wanted to write a story that reflected anyone involved in the fishing industry.
“In my dad’s case it was just him that was lost from the boat but when an entire boat is lost that is seven or eight men from a village, all at once. That is like war.”
The play is in Doric but that is not something Morna thinks should be an issue for audiences, no matter where they come from. She said: “I grew up speaking Doric and it is the language of most of the fishing villages in the north east. It never crossed my mind to do it differently.”
After writing the play Morna says her “entire life has changed”. She added: “What I needed to do and wanted to do was know who my dad was and that was the gap in my life I wanted to address.
“There is a harsh reality that I will never personally know him and during this process people have made an effort to share memories with me.
“I do feel closer to him having done this process and it felt really important to do something so I could say, ‘Here is my tribute to my dad’.”
Lost At Sea” premieres at Perth Theatre on Thursday April 25 and runs until May 4 then tours Scotland including Dundee, Aberdeen, Greenock, Inverness, Edinburgh and Dumfries