The Lyric Theatre is exporting two successful Titanic productions across the Irish Sea to ensure they reach a wider audience marking the centenary year of the infamous shipwreck.
Newly-commissioned play White Star of the North goes on tour to Wales this week (24 April – 5 May) after finishing a packed three-week run at the Naughton Studio of the Lyric.
Starring fresh new talent, Andrew Simpson (Notes on a Scandal) and Roisin Gallagher (Dockers), the cast from Northern Ireland takes to the stage at the renowned Clwyd Theatr Cymru, in Mold as part of its 2012 Celtic Festival. It is one of three of the best new plays from Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales which were selected to take part in the celebration of new writing from the Celtic nations.
Belfast playwright Rosemary Jenkinson was commissioned by the Belfast Titanic Company in association with the Lyric Theatre and with funds provided by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.
Rosemary said: “White Star of the North is inspired by the society, the politics, the industry, the people and the public mores of Belfast in 1912. I'll be fascinated to know what Welsh audiences make of the play and especially Home Rule politics, as national independence has always been of great interest to Wales.”
Lyric Artistic Director Richard Croxford said: “It is obviously very important for the Lyric to ensure that as many of its productions as possible transfer to a wider audience following the initial run in Belfast. It helps us not only to promote the Lyric, but also to showcase our creative local talent on national and international stages.”
Further north in Birkenhead, a younger audience will get a chance to see pupils from Dundonald Primary School perform the Titanic play ‘She was alright when she left us’ when it is live-streamed on 2 May to Bidston Avenue School.
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 40 schools across Northern Ireland produce plays from the Pat & Plain range in recent 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.
The Titanic is of special interest to pupils at Bidston Avenue school in Birkenhead, 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.”