Much is written elsewhere about the clashes between Shelagh and Salford Council, so I won't be repeating any of that here but you will find it in the links at the foot of this blog update. The day and the week leading up to it should be quite rightly seen as nothing but a joyful celebration of Shelagh's life and talent, and a doff of the flat cap to Salford's City Council of today (in particular SUE HILL) for backing the day and forgetting what happened back in the day.
The girl wrote what she knew, what she saw, what she experienced growing up in Salford. The hopes and shattered dreams, lost chances, lost loves, family ties and family shackles. All from a time when in winter you could write your name in the frost on the inside of windows in your two up two down cobbled street back to back with its outside toilet, and with washing lines strung across the front street. Central heating was an extra jumper if you had one. There is so much beauty in the grit the girl wrote, so much blood and thunder, with a voice that cried out against the prejudices of the times. I could wax lyrical but it would only add and perhaps steal from the those previously mentioned links.
I'm very proud to say that as a writer and performer that has been welcomed and supported in Salford that I am very much involved in the celebrations. But I have my personal reasons too, family ties if you will. Specifically the first faltering steps of a young Irish man who set foot on these shores in the fifties and landed in Salford, more on him shortly.
Shelagh's follow up play to A TASTE OF HONEY will be performed for the first time in over 50 years at SALFORD ARTS THEATRE. I'm delighted to be part of a talented cast who will be performing THE LION IN LOVE directed by the great NEIL BELL, the last time this play was performed was in New York in 1963, it's great to have it back, being performed in the city where it was written.
The play runs from this Wednesday 19th November through to Saturday the 22nd November at 7.30 pm each night. Tickets are available at the link at the foot of the blog, early bird prices at £5, concessions £6 and full price £10. You really don't want to miss this, it's a beautiful play; full of regret, heart, humour and love. I implore you not to miss it...
This was a time where you were paid on what effort you put in. Landing on the site, and after negotiating a rate with the foreman, given a shovel and told to 'dig a trench there or hole there'. He had interesting experiences to say the least. Those first few digging jobs were a nightmare. He'd dig, go for dinner, come back and find a six foot six bruiser digging in his trench saying this was now his hole and to 'F*** off if he knew what was good for him.' Dad wasn't the kind to 'F*** off.' This was a time where many a building site would see workers stopping work to make a circle around two blokes who would be putting fists up and fighting over a hole in the ground, the winner taking the hole and the wage paid for it, they were the unwritten rules. Dad had something going for him though. At one stage in Ireland in his youth he was one of the top boxers in Limerick, an eye injury putting paid to that, but he still had skills in those boxers hands. The bigger they were, the harder they fell. He never lost a fight on a building site, and before long his spade would be stuck in the ground with his jacket draped over it as he went for dinner. 'That's Harry O'Byrne's hole in the ground.' Such was his rep that no one got in that hole in the ground.
Dad went on to be a very successful businessman, a self made man who made his fortune with his own hands and retired, comfortably when he was 47 years old. A bull of a man in attitude and strength. Now in his later years it breaks my heart to see him fading, but he's still a Lion to me, a Lion who always put his family first, always ahead of him, working himself into the ground to give me and my brother David, everything he could, and he brought us up with a strong moral code. To me he was and still is a LION IN LOVE with his family.
I like to think that on one day in those Salford streets he probably walked past Shelagh Delaney, or saw her at a dance perhaps. I'm delighted to be involved in Shelagh's work.
This one's for Dad, and I'll be giving it all my heart and soul.
THE SMITHS SHELAGH DELANEY WALK: http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/smiths-walk-kick-shelagh-delaney-8097932
LOUISE WOODARD-STYLES 'SHELAGH DELANEY DAY Page on facebook http://Shelagh Delaney Day Event page
LOUSIE WOODWARD-STYLES link to Charlotte Delaney (Shelagh's daughter) interview http://louisewoodwardstyles.wix.com/shelaghdelaneyday
SALFORD STAR: SWEETLY SINGS DELANEY John Hardings study of Shelagh's work 1958 - 68 http://www.salfordstar.com/article.asp?id=2280
SHELAGH DELANEY IMDB Page http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0216340/
SALFORD ONLINE INTERVIEW WITH NEIL BELL, Director of THE LION IN LOVE http://salfordonline.com/entertainmentnews_page/53276-lost_shelagh_delaney_play_to_be_staged_in_salford_for_first_time_in_50_years.html