Celebrate Belfast's Titanic Boat Factory

Dan Gordon hopes to 'inspire a new generation of titanic thinkers' with this play about the Belfast shipyard

The Boat Factory (All the Queen’s Men), a new play produced by Happenstance Theatre Company, sponsored by the Titanic Foundation, celebrates the history and achievements of Belfast’s famous shipyard by taking the story of the yard workers into the heart of the community.

Written by local actor and director Dan Gordon - best known for his role as Red Hand Luke in the BBC series Give My Head Peace - the play brings to life the vibrant history of the east Belfast shipyard.

The story is told through the eyes of yardman, Davy Gordon (played by Gordon) and his fellow worker Geordie Kilpatrick (played by Michael Condron), as they recount the glory days of the yard that employed 35,000 skilled workers at its height, manning the power station, docks, machine shops, engine works and sawmills.

Gordon drew his inspiration from his own youth, growing up in east Belfast and watching his father, grandfather and brothers become skilled yard workers.

'I’ve lived in the shadow of those big yellow cranes all my life and I wanted to tell their story because they are so much a part of me and our collective heritage,' he said.

'The yardmen built over 1,700 ships with pride and skill unmatched anywhere else in the world, and we need to celebrate that.' 

The ambitious project will embark on a 16 venue tour of the province, performing in schools, community centres, parochial halls and prisons. The goal is to enable communities to develop a sense of their own identity and foster pride in their shared heritage.

The production has found a fitting partner for the project in Titanic Foundation Ltd, a company dedicated to educating the public on Belfast’s maritime and industrial heritage.

'I am delighted Titanic Foundation will be supporting this inspiring project,' said Cliodhna Craig, Chief Executive of the Titanic Foundation. 'We are committed to educating everyone about our unique industrial and maritime history and we plan to continue this story through our new iconic visitor attraction, Titanic Belfast.'

Titanic Belfast will open to mark the centenary of the maiden voyage of RMS Titanic in April 2012. The Titanic-themed interactive visitor attraction will tell the story of the shipyard and its most infamous creation.

The aim of the attraction is to inspire a new generation of titanic thinkers and instil a sense of pride in the region’s heritage and achievements.

'Happenstance and Titanic Foundation share a common aim to tell this story and engage with communities across the country,' says Philip Crawford, Artistic Director of Happenstance. 'This exciting partnership means we can now help each other to do just that.'

The Boat Factory (All the Queens Men) will be staged at various community venues throughout Northern Ireland from March 3 - 27. Check out CultureNorthernIreland's What's On guide for dates and venues near you.