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New play drops anchor at Titanic builder’s birthplace

A NEW play which tells the story of the Titanic in the home town of the man who oversaw its construction, is to premier as part of the 2011 Festival of the Peninsula.

‘Titanic and the Men of Steel’ will be performed for the first time in Comber in the hall which was built to commemorate the life of Thomas Andrews, head of the draughting department at Harland and Wolff and the man who oversaw the plans for the RMS Titanic. He was also one of the 1,517 people who perished when the ocean liner was lost on its maiden voyage and who was described as heroic by survivors.

The play has been specially commissioned by Ards Borough Council to commemorate the centenary of the launch of the Titanic and follows the fortunes of John, a 15 year old boy, who walks through the gates of Harland and Wolff shipyard into a tough new territory to join the masses of men who were building the greatest ships in the world.

The drama, written and performed by Valhalla Street Theatre, will tell the story of the Titanic’s construction from two perspectives – the powerful businessmen whose dreams and ambitions were backed by ingenious designs, engineering greatness and strong women, and through the skilled men and the ‘shawlies’ from a hundred years ago who provide a glimpse of the streets of Belfast in the early 20th century.

Mayor of Ards, Councillor Mervyn Oswlad, who is also Chairman of the Council’s Titanic Working Group, said: “There are very strong links between Comber and the Titanic through the Andrews family and Thomas Andrews in particular. His own story is a remarkable one in the midst of the even more compelling and more remarkable story of the Titanic itself. Even the venue — the Thomas Andrews Jr memorial Hall which opened in 1914 — has resonance, being one of the earliest and most substantial memorials built to a single victim of the Titanic disaster”.

The play is part of the 2011 Festival of the Peninsula. ‘Titanic and the Men of Steel’ takes place on September 16, at 8pm in Andrews Memorial Hall, Comber. Tickets priced £5 (£3 concession) are on sale now at Ards Tourist Information Centre, Tel: 028 9182 6846. For further information about the Festival of the Peninsula, see page 4 or visit www.festivalofthepeninsula.info.

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