Distant relatives and friends of pupils at Dundonald Primary School were able to watch its production of Titanic play, She Was Alright When She Left Us when it was live-streamed on the internet.
At least 15 of the 90-strong cast have multi-ethnic backgrounds and so their relatives abroad were able to go online to watch the show.
While most of the pupils are from the Dundonald area, some come from a wide range of countries including, the Philippines, India, Poland, Bulgaria, Sudan and Nigeria. Given the emigration theme is central to the Titanic story, the play was very poignant for the young cast.
Svetozar Zdrawkov (11) whose parents are from Bulgaria had a part in the play: “I think the live stream is great because my auntie is able to watch the play from Chicago in America,” he said.
Written by Belfast actor Dan Gordon, the play was commissioned by the Ulster-Scots Agency in association with the Lyric Theatre and is part of a successful series of children’s plays called Pat & Plain.
The Lyric’s Creative Learning team has helped 36 schools across Northern Ireland produce plays from the Pat & Plain range in the last four years. This, the last in a series of plays, deals with the lives of the people who commissioned and built RMS Titanic, bringing its association with Belfast alive for children.
Doreen Neagle, Primary 7 teacher at Dundonald said the pupils and staff had worked hard to put on the performance.
“We wanted to use all the children in the year, not just a select few,” she said. “We didn’t want them to miss the experience of doing the show. We asked the children for suggestions on movement and they came up with a few. The Lyric mentor, Orla McKegney was a tremendous source of encouragement. I’m absolutely thrilled with the play. I find it very moving and yet it is quite simplistic. We have had a lot of great comments from parents.”
Dundonald Primary School has also made special links with a school across the Irish Sea in Birkenhead. Bidston Avenue School watched the performance during the live stream.
The Titanic is of special interest to this school, near Liverpool because Bruce Ismay came from the area. The chairman of White Star Line, which owned the Titanic, gained notoriety and derision because of the disaster and especially as he survived the shipwreck.
Philip Crawford, the Lyric’s Creative Learning Co-ordinator, said: “An audience of over 10,000 has watched the Pat & Plain plays in Northern Ireland over the past four years. The live-stream affords a terrific opportunity for the work to be seen by people across the world, including the children of Bidston Avenue, who will be working on the play when they visit Belfast in June.”
Students from Lurgan Junior High School, who have a media unit, filmed the play and ensured the live stream took place so there were no disappointed relatives.