The Baths

A new theatre production, which will give audiences a chance encounter with life in and around the Victorian Templemore Baths in east Belfast, will open to the public for a limited number of exclusive performances on Monday 7th May. The Baths is a community-led production involving people from the local area and is being created by leading Belfast theatre company Prime Cut Productions.

Acclaimed Director Louise Lowe, who is an artistic associate of the company, will direct the production and is currently working with local community groups to develop the show based on their own experiences, as well as those of their ancestors who have used the Baths over many generations. Multi award-winning theatre practitioner Lowe specialises in creating productions in unusual locations and bringing the history of the places alive through the performances. In 2011 her brave and intimate production Laundry, which considered life for the inhabitants of Ireland’s various Magdalene Laundries, won Best Production at the Irish Times Theatre Awards.

Prime Cut Productions is inviting audience members to the historic Templemore Baths to watch the immersive performance unfold which will incorporate stories from the area from the years 1912 and 2012. The production will be incredibly intimate with only three audience members moving around the building to watch a variety of performance types including one-to-one theatre, movement and dance pieces, soundscapes and visual installations which will all tell tales of the Baths today and 100 years ago.

Unbeknown to many, Templemore Baths was at the centre of life for most people in east Belfast in the early 1900s. Back then few homes had bathing facilities and when the baths were originally opened in 1893 they were one of four in the city to fulfil a hygienic and sanitary purpose for the Belfast people. Men from the Shipyard, including those who worked on the Titanic, were joined by Dock and Mill workers on a Friday evening for a wash before heading to the dance halls in the city centre. As a result, the Baths were arguably key in helping to turn Belfast into the thriving industrial hub it became in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The Baths also fulfilled a recreational need in the area when they were opened with the introduction of 2 large heated swimming pools which became a past time attraction for local people of all ages.

Speaking about the history of this remarkable building Lowe commented:

“Templemore Baths has since been central to the east Belfast community for over five generations and with this passing of time thousands of stories and tales have been spun. The Baths will give a voice to some of the people from the area who are not so well known. It will consider how the community around the building has transformed in the past 100 years through the accounts of several generations, both through families who have been part of East Belfast’s rich history and people who have moved into the area from elsewhere bringing a diversity in culture with them.”

The Baths is produced by Prime Cut Productions in collaboration with Dee Street Community Centre, Knocknagoney Community Centre and the Polish Association of Northern Ireland. 

Commenting on what audiences can expect from the show Prime Cut’s Executive Director Emma Jordan said:

The Baths will consider the history of life in a small part of Belfast with a rich fabric of social history. East Belfast has undergone huge cultural change with new people, cultures and voices having moved into the area in the past 20 years or so. The production promises to be an engaging and memorable non-typical theatre experience. The audience will embark on a stimulating, entertaining, thought-provoking journey around the spaces where the read stories unfolded, taking in the sights and smells of Templemore Baths while the story unfolds.”

Details of how to get tickets will be available shortly, so check back on the website for updates.

Louise Lowe
Dee Street Community Centre, Knocknagoney Community Centre and the Polish Association of Northern Ireland
Templemore Swimming Pool
7th - 12th of May
Belfast City Council, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Esmee Fairbairn, Community Relations Council