A Subterranean Theatre in Liverpool’s Iconic Cunard Building
From Tuesday 2June to Saturday 13 June the basement of Liverpool’s iconic Cunard Building will be transformed into a Subterranean Theatre when ‘The Maurie’, a new site-specific play, is performed as part of Culture Liverpool’s One Magnificent City programme of events celebrating the Cunard Shipping Line.
‘The Maurie’, written by Mike Morris, Co-Director of Liverpool’s popular literature and culture organisation; Writing on Wall, is an immersive and engaging piece of theatre which celebrates the lives and conflicts of the stokers who worked in the engine room of The Mauretania, sister ship of the torpedoed Lusitania.
‘The Maurie’ has been adapted from a 1920’s short story of the same name, written by a re-discovered Merchant Seaman, and activist George Garrett, the subject of an extensive and successful Heritage Lottery Fund Project.
George Garrett (1896-1966), a Liverpool born Merchant Seaman, travelled the world and wrote a series of short stories, stage plays and documentary reports about poverty and struggle in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Garrett showed George Orwell around Liverpool when Orwell was researching his seminal work on unemployment in the 1930’s, The Road To Wigan Pier.
By transforming the basement of the Grade II* listed Cunard Building into an engine room, ‘The Maurie’ will delve into the underbelly of the mighty ‘Scouse Boat’; The Mauretania, and will offer the audience a chance to tour the rooms of The Cunard Building as the play leads them through the lives of those who powered the mighty ships, glimpsing into the preserved basements of the building which echo the stokeholds of the ships that first crossed the Atlantic Ocean.
After hundreds and thousands of people descend upon Liverpool to witness the three Queen ships on the River Mersey, Subterranean Theatre: The Maurie will be a theatrical highlight of the One Magnificent City celebrations which is a seven week programme of events celebrating Liverpool’s relationship with Cunard and its transatlantic links.
Writer Mike Morris says: ‘It’s incredibly exciting to be dramatising George Garrett’s short story, The Maurie, based on his time as a Stoker on the Mauretania. Garrett described the scene in the engine rooms of the Mauretania as a Subterranean Theatre, and it’ a fitting tribute to Garrett, and the Stokers who laboured below decks in almost inhumane conditions to keep these incredible liners running, that their contribution to Liverpool’s maritime history is recognised as part of the city’s One Magnificent City celebrations.’
Assistant Mayor and Cabinet Member for Culture, Tourism and Events, Councillor Wendy Simon, said: “One Magnificent City is a real melting pot of events and I’m delighted Writing on the Wall is staging this production in the beautiful and emotive surroundings of the Cunard Building.
“It will be a rare opportunity to see a production like this in this historic building and I urge as many people as possible to buy tickets and come along.”
The play is directed by Carl Cockram (The Quiet little Englishman, Waiting for Brando), and features popular Liverpool actors Paul Duckworth (Backbeat, 1994; (Reds & Blues: The Ballad of Dixie & Kenny, 2010), Joe Shipman, Nick Birkenshaw, Graham Hicks, Ben Worth and Bradley Thompson.