Coastal theatre will explore industrial heritage

(Back from left): Zoe Seaton, Big Telly Theatre Co; Kelli Baghus, Carrickfergus Enterprise; actress Joanne Donnelly; Mary Watson and Patricia McConnell, Heritage Hub at Carnlough Town Hall volunteers. Front:: Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Cllr Lindsay Millar and Jodie Jackson, Heritage Lottery Fund.

Outdoor theatre performances are being staged along the Causeway Coastal Route as part of an innovative project exploring Mid and East Antrim’s industrial history.

The £55,000 initiative, funded through the European Year of Cultural Heritage and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, will include a series of audience participative performances based on research into local 19th and 20th century industrial stories.

The first set of performances was delivered in Carnlough during European Heritage Open Days at the weekend when “Shaped by Industry” was officially launched.

The Big Telly Theatre Company will create bespoke performances at four coastal industrial heritage sites participating in the project including Carrickfergus Flame Gasworks Museum, Whitehead Railway Museum, and in Glenarm and Carnlough.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Cllr Lindsay Millar said, “This project is an engaging and exciting way to bring the area’s rich industrial heritage to life. It opens up these venues to a new tourist audience as well as offering them a chance to experience the world famous Causeway Coastal Route.

“These venues sit alongside a coast line that boasts stunning views, fantastic spots to eat and breath-taking walks, so there’s plenty for everyone to enjoy as well as these enlightening productions. 2018 is the European Year of Cultural Heritage, which has as one of its aims to connect industrial heritage with tourist audiences across Europe so our project is very much echoes this ambition.

“We are thrilled to have received support thanks to the National Lottery players, Tourism NI and the Department for Communities. This funding is a welcome boost as great work has already been done through other projects; including the new Heritage Hub at Carnlough Town Hall and the refurbishment of Whitehead Railway Museum.

“This latest initiative proves that this partnership is working and I hope everyone comes along to enjoy these special performances. We are also pleased to be working closely with our project partners, Big Telly Theatre Company and also Carrickfergus Enterprise who are promoting this initiative to our local tourism sector.”

Jodie Jackson, of the Heritage Lottery Fund’s NI Committee, added: “We were delighted to be one of the partner funders of the European Year of Cultural Heritage funding programme. We are really pleased to see this exciting and innovative project bring our incredible industrial heritage to life. We hope that local people and visitors enjoy the performances and learn more about that rich and varied heritage. We wish the project every success.”

Performances at all four participating sites are being planned for next spring.

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