Shakespeare brought to life in Titanic setting

Belfast is getting ready to stage the largest Shakespeare production ever to be seen in the city, Belfast Tempest. Pictured at rehearsals are Adam Kaleta (backl left), Lord Mayor Arder Carson,  ACNI Chief Executive Roisin McDonough, June Jordan, Philip Udoh, ( front left) and Katie Varga. Picture:  Brian Morrison.
Belfast is getting ready to stage the largest Shakespeare production ever to be seen in the city, Belfast Tempest. Pictured at rehearsals are Adam Kaleta (backl left), Lord Mayor Arder Carson, ACNI Chief Executive Roisin McDonough, June Jordan, Philip Udoh, ( front left) and Katie Varga. Picture: Brian Morrison.

A Belfast take on Shakespeare’s final play will create an unrivalled theatrical spectacle when it opens at Titanic Quarter on Wednesday night.

Around 30 tonnes of sand have been used to create the remote island at the centre of The Tempest plot - with live music, holographic surround sound and a cast of 250 adding to the drama at the T13 warehouse.

The ambitious project is the largest Shakespeare production ever staged in the city and is one of many events taking place around the world to mark the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death on April 23, 1616.

A cast of professional actors from Belfast’s only intercultural theatre company - Terra Nova productions - is being supported by a vast array of local talent including choirs, dancers, drummers, set designers and volunteers as well as actors. The Belfast Tempest will span 150 years of the city’s history with six performances over four days.

Artistic director and writer Andrea Montgomery has created this particular interpretation of a popular classic, including the introduction of four female leads in traditionally male roles, and other major parts for black and Asian cast members and those with disabilities.

As the warehouse is exposed to the wind, audiences are being advised to wrap up warm and to bring a cushion as the seating will be on bleacher seats disguised to look like shipwrecks.

The storyline is centred on the central character Prospero (played by Belfast actor James Doran) and his daughter Miranda (played by 22-year-old Belfast actor Debra Hill).

For this production, Prospero is a 19th century shipyard boss.

Creative producer Tom Finlay said the idea was to use the play as a metaphor for the last 100 or so years of Belfast’s history.

“Prospero represents the guys who built the Titanic. We have Belfast with its big, industrial past, and we have the 19th century shipyard storm that he whips up That starts us off, but the other end of the play shows us how Belfast is today. The city is now a new place with all of these new people. All of those new communities bring parts of their culture to make this new island for us to live in...alongside all the old faces,” he said.

Refreshment stalls will be available but patrons are welcome to bring their own picnics.

Tickets are available at crescentarts.org or visitbelfast.com.