Thomas Howes as George SymonsAs the world commemorates the centenary of the Titanic’s tragic maiden voyage, the MAC in Belfast is preparing for a compelling courtroom drama that will uncover a narrative hidden for 100 years.

This month, the MAC, Belfast’s brand new arts venue, will debut its new production Titanic (Scenes from the British Wreck Commissioner’s Inquiry, 1912) by award-winning playwright Owen McCafferty.
Directed by Charlotte Westenra, the 14 strong cast will tell the story of the disaster in the words of the ship’s survivors, taken word from word from the accounts recorded at the British Inquiry that was held immediately after the disaster, 100 years ago.

Today the MAC revealed some of the stars that will take to the stage in a few weeks’ time to tell this compelling story.
Thomas Howes from smash-hit ITV drama, Downton Abbey, will play the role of George Symons, look-out on the Titanic, who gave his testimony to the British Inquiry on 17 May 1912. Symons was questioned in particular about the use of binoculars on board the Titanic.
Another TV star cast in the MAC production is Ben Caplan, who recently starred as PC Peter Noakes in hit drama Call the Midwife. Ben will play Sir J Simon, the Solicitor General at the British Wreck Commissioner’s Inquiry.

A wealth of local talent will also take to the stage. Belfast-born actor Ian McElhinney, who stars in HBO’s Game of Thrones, has been cast as the Court Clerk, the only fictional character in the production who provides the role of narrator.

Gillian Mitchell, Director of Programmes at the MAC said: “What is so powerful about this piece of drama is the fact that it uses the word for word testimonies of the survivors and uncovers their personal stories.

“Everyone knows the tragic story of the Titanic sinking, but less well-known are the individual stories for survival that were uncovered during the Inquiries that followed. Having read Owen’s fantastic script, I was gripped by the real-life drama that these people not only endured on that fateful night, but on the weeks and months following it in court. That they were brought to an Inquiry immediately after the event, while emotions were still so raw, is just something that wouldn’t happen today. It has made for a really compelling piece of drama that will work so well on stage.”
Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development at The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said “The Arts Council was delighted to be able to fund a brand new contemporary theatre piece, which explored the personal stories behind the Titanic. As the first drama to be staged in the new theatre, Titanic will capture the imagination of local and international audiences, bringing to life historical accounts of one the most tragic events in our history.”
Rehearsals are currently underway at the MAC, with much anticipation of the production which opens on Sunday 22 April. Tickets for Titanic (Scenes from the British Wreck Commissioner’s Inquiry, 1912) are available online from www.themaclive.com or by phoning 028 9023 5053.
ENDS

For further information please contact Deborah King, Stakeholder Communications on 02890339949 or Maeve Lewis, Marketing Manager on 02890 235 053 or email maeve@themaclive.com.
Notes to editors:
Full programme details are available from themaclive.com
The MAC (Metropolitan Arts Centre) is a brand new arts venue in Belfast’s city centre, bringing the very best of local and international talent. The MAC includes:
- 2 Theatres (a 350 seater and 120 seater)
- 3 Art galleries
- 1 Rehearsal space
- 1 Dance studio
- 3 Education and workshop rooms
- 4 Offices for resident art groups
- 1 Café and bar
- 1 Artist-in-residence studio
- 1 Permanent artwork
All exhibitions are free admission and are open Monday – Sunday 10am-7pm, late night Thursdays until 8pm.
The building is an £18million landmark designed by Hackett Hall McKnight, and demonstrates Northern Ireland’s commitment to the arts. The MAC project has been made possible by the significant support of DCAL, Arts Council NI, DSD, Garfield Weston Foundation, Monument Trust, Ulster Garden Villages, Foundation for Sport, Belfast City Council, Youth Council NI, Esmee Fairbairn, Foyle Foundation and Belfast Harbour.