The 25th November is now officially Shelagh Delaney day in Salford. Now in its third year, Salford Arts Theatre dedicated the night to the City itself, with three very different pieces hoping that a new generation can #BeInspired. Andrew Riley went along for Quays News.
Shelagh grew up in Salford and sprang to fame in 1958 when her first play A Taste of Honey was staged by Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop company in London. Her later work included the films The White Bus (1967), Charlie Bubbles (1967) and Dance With a Stranger(1985).
For the past three years, Salford has celebrated the life of one of its own with Shelagh Delaney day. The writer of numerous plays, Delaney is an inspiration to many young writers, and indeed, Salford Arts Theatre is actively looking for the next Salford playwright for next years event, but more of that later…
The first part of the evening was performed by Bernie Shaw and his fellow musicians, who aside from performing the Ewan MacColl song “Dirty Old Town”, also performed this self penned tribute to the city.
From there, the play itself took centre stage.
Written by Bernie Shaw, “Sodding Salford” is set in a bar. Two pals, Joe and Chas, one from either side of the River Irwell argue about which is the greater city, Manchester or Salford, over a couple of pints.
It’s a very entertaining 30 minute play, which draws on both cities rich history as the pals try to score points from each other over which bank of the Irwell is best. They even drag in the barmaid, who just happens to be from the wrong end of the Ship canal, Liverpool to settle the final result.
Well written, and beautifully acted, it’s a real testament to the spirit and history of both cities, and worth watching.
the third act of the evening was extracts from a Delaney radio play, originally broadcast by BBC Radio drama North, called “Out of the pirates Playhouse”.
A group of friends try to come to terms with growing up, and out growing their childhoods, whilst dealing with all the hormonal urges that come with adolescence. Performed by a group of the theatre’s own young performers, each one of them looked confident, at ease on the stage, and unperturbed by being in the spotlight. Beautifully directed by Roni Ellis, the radio play came to life in the hands of these very talented Salford kids.
Then, the final work of the evening, a piece by Roni Ellis herself, in collaboration with Emily Cox, Libby Hall and Charlie Kenney called “A Moment”
Another moving piece, looking at Salford through the eyes of those who still live there, expertly woven together to form yet another superb piece of theatre.
The tales slowly moving from one side of the stage and back again, culminating in an emotionally wrenching solo made this the highlight of the night.
At the beginning of the evening, Roni Ellis took the stage to announce that the theatre is looking for next years Delaney day piece to come from someone outside of the theatre, and that they will be giving whatever time they can to help a local aspiring writer to get their play staged as part of 2017’s event.
“We want to encourage the creativity we know Salford has, and to help the next generation of writers from this great city to shine” she told the audience.
“We cant pay you, but we will give as much of our time as is needed to see your work on this stage next November”
Overall, the night got 7 out of 10.