FEST 2012

2012 marked the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic — a liner with an enduring relationship to its home port of Liverpool.

From the headquarters of its owners, to the homes of its musicians, the memory of the Titanic is part of the memory of the city itself.

The Theatre in the Rough Festival 2012 presented a 5-day festival of THEATRE, LIVE MUSIC, ART, AUTHORS' TALKS and an HISTORICAL EXHIBITION, all created locally, to commemorate the anniversary.

Fest 2012 took place at Old Christ Church, Waterloo, from 3 — 7 July, attracting over 1,500 visitors.

Creative Team

Becky Downing, Tom Hosker, Grant Ryan Lenton,
Caroline Ryder, Keri Spellman, Cat Stobbs

Natalie Dowdeswell, Sarah Van Parys, Chris Fittock

Joanne Allen

Sound Design
Christopher Johns

Rebecca Watkin, Ellie Wharton

Tommy Evans, Neil Thomson

Fred Fleet: The Film, the Book, the Soundtrack, the Fridge Magnet

by Sarah Williams

"You don't know me. You know the idea of me. People believe what they want to believe"

Liverpudlian Fred Fleet was the Lookout on the Titanic. It was Fleet who first sighted the iceberg, proclaiming "Iceberg, right ahead!"

Fleet had only his naked eye, as the keys for the binocular case had inadvertently been taken away by Officer David Blair when he was transferred to another ship.

100 years later, in April 2012, somebody left a pair of binoculars on Fleet's grave in Southampton. These were accompanied by a handwritten note: "Sorry for bringing these 100 years too late".

Fleet survived that night, but he did not survive the legend of the Titanic: he committed suicide in 1965, and was buried in an unmarked grave until, in 1993, a headstone was erected by the Titanic Historical Society.

In this imagining, Fleet pores through the other 'gifts' that still define Titanic, and by extension, his own life. Featuring Celine Dion, some crisps and a fridge magnet, this is a funny and touching look at the commercialisation of a tragedy, and the effect on its victims.


Phil Montgomery

"I don't know how this is supposed to work... what I'm supposed to say, or do. You know I've never been one to believe. But now, I feel like I'm just... drifting"

A knock at the door. A man from the White Star Line. He has a recovered pocketwatch. It's stopped at 2.28.

What happened in the water that night?

How many more watches are at the bottom of the sea?

How many are still ticking?


by Charlotte Heather

"I'm dead excited to see me Dad... He says he's
going to take me fishing, on a trip somewhere. I don't know where exactly..."

Georgia is a ten year-old tomboy from Liverpool. Her father works in finance in New York, and she dreams of going fishing with him.

He kept putting it off when he was back home, always too busy with work.

But now Georgia and her mother are aboard the Titanic, excited to be visiting him in America...

10,000 Lighbulbs

by Hayley Greggs

"A beast of a burden. Not be accepted lightly. It would be easy to jump in — but difficult, if not impossible, to climb out"

J. Bruce Ismay was the chairman of the White Star Line.

On the 15 April 1912, he escaped the tragedy in a lifeboat. And for this, he was castigated — especially by the American press of Randolph Hearst.

"Not enough lifeboats". "A coward". Just two of the charges levelled against Ismay. But was he really more concerned with luxury than safety?

In this dream play, Ismay travels through both a process of guilt and an assertion of innocence.

How did his dream turn to a nightmare? And was he really to blame?

A Concept of Beauty

by Becky Downing

"Titanic was something of a promised land to me, foreign. She was a concept of beauty rather than a carrier of people"

Clara, Tom, and their two-year old son Toby, are aboard the Titanic — replete with fun, wonder and all human life.

But as Clara tells her story of laughs and luxury, the screams and sorrow begin to intrude.

A play that balances beauty and horror, and tells the Titanic story from a very human, and maternal, perspective.

The Working Class Mask

by Madeleine Jones

"Drip. Drip. Drip. They say the sea's a cruel mistress. But they fail to mention how it gets into your mind. And forms a tsunami inside your soul"

A man ritually dresses into a set of fine clothes. But he is not in First Class. Who is he and what is he doing?

Whilst bedlam reigns on deck, something is dripping into his cabin...

A play about the chaos of class aboard the Titanic.

A Tuneless Lament

by Josephine Ellison

"I listen to music so often that when I'm not listening to it, I'll notice tiny rhythms, everywhere. Footsteps, closing doors, banging hammers, squeaking chairs..."

Fred Clarke, of 22 Tunstall Street, Smithdown Road, was a member of the Titanic's band.

These were the valiant men who continued to play on even as the ship sank — the music a comfort amidst the chaos.

Clarke did not survive the sinking. Here, his sister tells of her loss, and of how sometimes music is the only language that can describe the indescribable.

Audio Plays

Seven new audio plays exploring Liverpool's links with the Titanic

Seven original audio plays were created for embedding in week-long historical exhibition for Fest 2012, each relating to an artefact or piece of information.

Together, they aimed to bridge a gap between history and art, creatively bringing the past to life.


Exhibition & Author's Talk

Over 1,000 visitors explored a range of fascinating and haunting stories relating to Liverpool and the Titanic.

A highlight was the first ever public showing of the dress uniform of Sir Arthur Henry Rostron, the captain of the Carpathia — rescuer of over 700 of the Titanic's passengers. This was kindly loaned by his family, who still live locally.

We also welcomed Dr. John Welshman, Senior Lecturer in History at Lancaster University, giving a reading and talk around his latest book, Titanic: The Last Night of a Small Town.

Live Music

We welcomed The Mersey Rigger, a Liverpool-based folk and maritime band, performing their latest touring work, Titanic: Queen of the Ocean, an original folk musical telling the story of the Titanic from the point of view of its passengers.

We also hosted Time Ashore, another Liverpool-based folk band, switching between fiddles, mandolin, whistles, recorder, acoustic guitar, vocals and bodhran to offer a vibrant and flexible mix of hauntingly beautiful music.

I Titanic

We asked our audiences to leave feedback for all our 2012 events.

They filled in mocked-up Marconigrams, and we've put them all online to browse through...