An "exciting" new community project is set to look at a coastal town's relationship with the sea on the 70th anniversary of devastating floods.

The 1953 floods saw 307 people die across the eastern region as the North Sea rose up with all its power to cause death and destruction across Lowestoft and the East Coast.

Ahead of the anniversary of the devastating floods of January 31, 1953, the Marina Theatre in Lowestoft is set to lead on a new project that will see a new play commissioned as part of the 70th anniversary.

Lowestoft Journal: Marina Theatre in LowestoftMarina Theatre in Lowestoft (Image: Mick Howes)

A theatre spokesman said: "To mark this event and look ahead to the town’s future relationship with the sea in the face of climate change, the Marina Theatre in Lowestoft will lead a community project that will see the commission of a new live drama written by East Anglian playwright, James McDermott."

Tony Calladine, east of England regional director at Historic England, said: "It’s important that these powerful events are recognised and remembered, sharing community memories and experiences.

"I’m looking forward to seeing how these creative activities and dramatic performances can bring a shared understanding of the impact of this devastating flood and the lessons we learn as we look to protect the historic places we love in the face of climate change."

Flooding Back to a Resilient Future will see free workshops and community activities take place over the next few months - with stories being collected from people who remember the major flooding events of 1953 and 2013.

Working with schools, the project will also ask children and young people in the town to consider the impacts of climate change and imagine a future flood and how that may impact them.

Personal stories, photographs, archive material and creative responses to flooding and climate change will be drawn together to inspire a brand-new play written and developed by award-winning writer James McDermott. 

The production – professionally produced and performed in collaboration with Spinning Wheel Theatre company on the Marina Stage - will dramatise a future flooding event in Lowestoft seen through the eyes of a child.

Alongside performances of this new work - which is scheduled for July this year - there will be an exhibition of archive material relating to the 1953 floods and creative works from the community.

'A devastating toll'

With the project funded by Historic England, through the Lowestoft Heritage Action Zones in partnership with East Suffolk Council, Emma Butler Smith, Marina Theatre chief executive, said: "This project will enable us to engage with a broad cross-section of Lowestoft’s community both commemorating historical events and looking forward to a future by the sea in the face of the potential impacts of climate change.

Lowestoft Journal: Emma Butler Smith.Emma Butler Smith. (Image: Archant)

"James McDermott is a fantastic writer who we have worked with on projects in the past so it will be wonderful to premier a new play by him on our stage."

Craig Rivett, East Suffolk Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for economic development, said:"It's important that we commemorate and learn from these momentous events of our past in order to look forward.

Lowestoft Journal: Craig Rivett.Craig Rivett. (Image: East Suffolk Council)


"It will be fascinating to see those memories interpreted for the stage with the creative input of people living locally 70 years on."

Do you remember the major flooding events of 1953 or 2013?

If you have photos, videos, news cuttings or an interesting story to share the Marina Theatre would like to hear from you.

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