Wednesday, 14 April 2021


Emerge is an insightful and informative look into modern day perspectives contrasted against stories of a community dealing with the aftermath of the Titanic tragedy in 1912. We have worked with the SeaCity Museum to collate research and oral histories, exploring how the Titanic widows and the Southampton community were impacted following the tragedy.

We have collated real stories which reflect the inequalities and challenges faced in both 1912 and 2021, exploring how the human spirit triumphs in the face of adversity.

The project is funded by a Mayflower 400 Community Heritage Grant as part of the city-wide Mayflower 400 programme. The anniversary year seeks to celebrate Southampton, a city and a community, built on journeys and migration, whilst increasing access to and engagement in culture. 

 The 1997 blockbuster romantic and disaster film, ‘Titanic’ is an epic film that provides a fictional retrospective on the tragedy. However, we wanted to shift our focus to the forgotten families of the victims left behind and the working class communities already struggling amidst high levels of unemployment and poverty. The Titanic widows were most affected, Suffrage may have been on the rise, but the working class widows had no rights, no voice and little financial support. 

 Our young actors wanted to creatively explore hidden stories from in and around Southampton in an empathetic way to help them connect more deeply with their local heritage.

What can we learn from others and their acts of humility as we look beyond this time of crisis and how can we support each other as a community today?

We also wanted to empower our young people through different art forms, allowing them to develop lifelong skills, while learning more deeply about their local community and how others have also overcome adversity.

RMS Titanic was a passenger liner that, at the time of construction, was the largest ship ever built. It was on its maiden voyage sailing from Southampton, UK to New York City, US, when it sank after colliding with an iceberg. Commemorations and ceremonies are being held today to pay respects to those who lost their lives on the 15th April,1912. As part of the 109th anniversary of the sinking of RMS Titanic, we wanted to share our actor’s historical explorations and how the stories they are depicting have influenced them creatively and personally in 2021.

Right side: Enactment of the Lady Visitor (Miss Newman) visiting a Titanic widow. Photography credit: Southampton City Council Cultural Services Left side: Holly Parsons as Lady Visitor in Emerge Photography credit: Theatre for Life CIC

Interview with Holly Parsons 

Character name - 

Miss Ethel Maude Newman

Miss Newman was also known as the Lady Visitor. She was 36, and was known for visiting families in receipt of money from the Southampton fund, checking on their ongoing welfare. She served 28 years on the local administration committee before she died and was an important woman in the history of Southampton's response to the disaster. 

 How would you describe your character in three words? 

 Determined, Educated, Grounding. 

 As an actor what did you want to bring to the role? 

My main purpose for this character was to try and reflect a journey not only for the family of Amelia, but in Miss Newman herself. She has numerous character and story arcs that reflect the battles she faced when trying her best to help these families. 

 What do you want audiences to take from our final film in June? 

Firstly, I want the audiences to be just as educated as the company have been throughout this project. We all think because we have seen the film of the ‘Titanic’ that we know everything about the people during this time. I for one have learnt about those left behind and who now finally have an outlet to share their stories. It would be extremely gratifying if our audiences witness how these struggles are still parallel with modern day, and reflect on how each individual can change society for the better if we delve deeper into the system and address the flaws head on. 

 What can you learn from your character from 1912? 
 What messages from the past to help inform our future? 

From my character, you can learn to not judge a book by its cover. Pre judgements and perceptions of people can negatively impact how we treat them, speak to them etc. Miss Newman's journey shows true empathy for the family as we see her grow closer to them as people and not a number. This shows that kindness more than anything is limitless and there is always something no matter how big or how small that can impact someone's life for the better. 


Are you interested to learn more about Miss Newman? 

Join Jo Wren from Southampton Archives to find out about the devastating aftermath of the sinking of the Titanic for the people of Southampton and what was done to ‘help’ through a journey of Edwardian women’s and social history. 

SOUTHAMPTON: SeaCity Museum ONLINETuesday 20th April, 2021Door time: 6:50pm, Start time: 7:00pmAll ages (under 16s must be accompanied by an adult)


 Interview with Troy Chessman

Character name - 

Legal Representative 

 The Legal representative represents those (who like today) stand up and fight for justice against a biased class system, He was one of many who fought tirelessly on behalf of the Southampton families who had lost loved ones onboard the Titanic and then faced financial difficulties because of it. 

 How would you describe your character in three words? 

 Tenacious, humane, resilient. 

 As an actor what did you want to bring to the role? 

 I really wanted to bring this strong sense of humanity to this character, who really believed in finding justice for Southampton residents, but also blend it with his utmost professionalism. It was about identifying 'moments" in the text to allow the humanity to echo through. 

 What do you want audiences to take from our final film in June?

 I want audiences to learn about what happened after the Titanic disaster, like myself, I was never taught about the struggles that appeared after, the endless court battles and constant fight for compensation and the sheer extent of just how people were let down by those in power after such a horrific event. 

 What can you learn from your character from 1912?

 I have learnt from my character that if you have a platform and a voice, we should always make a stand, fight for what is right, challenge those injustices and provide a voice for those who simply cannot. 

Watch the premiere of 'Emerge' on the 25th June at 7.30 pm at MAST Mayflower Studios

TICKETS GO ON SALE - 22nd April 

£8 Full price, £5 Concessions

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Emerge is an insightful and informative look into modern day perspectives contrasted against stories of a community dealing with the aft...