Subterranean Theatre: The Maurie
Tuesday 2nd – Saturday 13thJune.
Cunard Building, Water Street, Liverpool, Merseyside, L3 1DS
My first play since Waiting for Brando is The Maurie. It’s based on a short story by an incredible Liverpool writer, merchant seaman and activist, George Garrett (1896-1966). Garrett was a founder member of Liverpool’s Unity Theatre, a radical activist and a ‘militant advocate of tolerance’ who traveled the world and wrote a series of short stories and plays that led George Orwell, who he met and gave guidance and support to in his research for ‘The Road to Wigan Pier’, to say, ‘I was very greatly impressed by Garrett. Had I known before that it is he who writes under the pseudonym of Matt Low in the Adelphi (a magazine published in the 1920’s and 30’s) and one or two other places, I would have taken steps to meet him earlier.’ In my role as Co-Director of Writing on the Wall, I have been running a two year Heritage Lottery funded project based on two suitcases full of material from Garrett’s life – original writings, photographs, discharge books, medals, etc. The archive is now with the Record Office at Liverpool’s central Library.
George Garrett, Merchant Seaman, writer and playwright, worked on The Mauretania as a stoker in the early 1920’s. He lived in New York between 1923 and 1926 where he roomed with future Hollywood actors and worked to hone his craft while writing two plays heavily influenced by his hero, Eugene O’Neill. In the late 1930s thirteen of his short stories were published alongside the writings of George Orwell, Christopher Isherwood and W.H. Auden – an incredible achievement for a self-taught working class writer. He was a founder member of Merseyside Left Theatre, later to become The Unity Theatre. You can find out more about at www.georgegarrettarchive.co.uk.
His short story, The Maurie, is set in the stokehold of the Cunard Liner, Mauretania. When I read the story for the first time his use of the phrase ‘Subterranean Theatre’ inspired me to think I could adapt it for the stage. I didn’t know at the time that I would get a chance to produce it in the basement of Liverpool’s iconic Cunard Building. But it makes perfect sense. During the 175th anniversary celebrations of the Cunard Line, it’s easy to forget the people who made this formidable ships run. The Mauretania was the fastest ship on the seas for twenty years, holding the covetted Blue Riband from 1909 to 1929; you can only imagine the effort put in by the stokers to maintain this speed. I can;t tell you how pleased I am that The Maurie will be directed by Carl Cockram, and brought to you by the team that produced ‘Waiting for Brando. We had such a good time on Brando, and the whole cast and crew inspire me with such confidence, that I’m convinced this will be a production that will be talked about for some time to come.
Tickets available from Liverpool Philharmonic Hall Box Office 36 Hope Street, Liverpool L1 9BP
Garrett described the scene in the engine rooms of the Mauretania as a ‘Subterranean Theatre’; it’s a fitting tribute to Garrett, and the stokers that their contribution to Liverpool’s maritime history is recognised as part of the Liverpool’s One Magnificent City celebrations. In celebrating the mighty Cunard line and the lives of those who worked below decks, The Maurie will be a unique and exciting dramatic production, guaranteed to be a highlight of Liverpool’s cultural calendar for 2015.
Tickets are limited so don’t delay! Looking forward to seeing you all there.
Mike Morris, Writer and Producer.
Tel: 0151 709 3789
Click Here for Tickets: www.writingonthewall.org.uk
Ticket Price: £15, £10 concessions