Drama to recall the day Derry made naval history

One of the U-boats surfacing on the River Foyle during the surrender in May 1945,
One of the U-boats surfacing on the River Foyle during the surrender in May 1945,

A new piece of theatre focusing on Derry during World War II will be performed at the Guildhall next month to mark the 70th anniversary of the surrender of German U–boats in 1945.

On Saturday, May 16, Derry City Council’s Museum & Visitor Services is running a one day programme of events to mark this historic event.

Playwright Felicity McCall.

Playwright Felicity McCall.

As part of the special programme, the Playhouse has been commissioned to present a new piece of drama about a Derry man, aged in his late 70s/early 80s who, as a boy, was one of the hundreds of local people who thronged Lisahally on May 14, 1945, to see the surrender of the submarines.

Through a series of flashbacks, Derry man ‘Peter’ will explore not only what happened on that day but also the role of the U-boats and the key role played by Derry as a naval base in the Allies’ victory at sea.

His story also looks at the impact on the city’s economy, which flourished during WWII, and the multi-cultural influence of troops stationed here, especially the American GIs.

Directed by Nicky Harley, the play has a high energy, comedic style suitable for family audiences and is in keeping with the “Horrible Histories” style of entertainment.

There will be several performances throughout the day on the hour, every hour from 10am- 5pm.

“This is a piece told in human terms, through short sketches and vignettes played by a variety of characters” says Nicky Harley.

“The narrative will also include three pieces of music - a lively Glenn Miller dance tune with a dance sequence, a Vera Lynn type number - ‘We’ll Meet Again’ or ‘It’s a Lovely Day Tomorrow’; and the chart topper of the month, Doris Day or Vera Lynn singing ‘My Dreams Are Getting Better All The Time’.

“We wanted to make a piece that recognises that the surrender has all but passed from living memory and younger members of the audience may know very little about it. Felicity has penned a beautiful script that is fun and lively and will reflect how the war and this one event impacted on Peter’s family.

“We wanted to reflect on the huge changes in society post-1945; the establishment of the US base; what we remember, how we remember and, above all, why we remember the day Lisahally made naval history. Derry, through its key role in WWII, is forever changed and has a legacy to be proud of.”

For more information, contact (028)71268027 or visit www.derryplayhouse.co.uk.