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Shelagh Delaney RIP


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#1 Dubliner

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 11:55 PM

I'm surprised that no one on this site has discussed the death of the influential playwright Shelagh Delaney who died on Sunday. She was the author of "A Taste of Honey" the Salford classic which was a huge success in at Theatre Workshop Stratford East, the West End and Broadway (twice). The 1962 film version directed by Tony Richardson is still much loved today and the power of its iconic performances by Dora Bryan, Rita Tushingham and Murray Melvin are undiminished. A 1960 documentary on her by Ken Russell presaged the  British "kitchen sink" films with its striking images of smoking chimneys, the ship canal, decaying terraces and emerging tower blocks. Her work has reached a huge global audience due to its influence on Morrissey's lyrics for The Smiths. She appears in the pantheon of great Northern icons such as Pat Phoenix and Viv Nicholson on their cover art. Her portrait adorned the cover for "Louder than Bombs" and the single "Girlfriend in a Coma".

#2 pbmum

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 10:07 AM

And she also wrote some fine plays for Radio 4.  I particularly remember one about the foot and mouth outbreak a few years back.

Only last week Stratford Picturehouse which is next door to the Theatre Royal had a special showing of the film 'A Taste of Honey' with a Q and A with Murray Melvin.  I didn't go to it, but as I live around the corner from there I often see Mr Melvin who is now the theatre archivist.  He is one of those enviable people who looks much better with age!

#3 El Peter

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 02:56 PM

I was sorry to learn of her death. She contributed to something interesting in British working class culture in the mid-1950s that made itself felt for some years thereafter and probably still does. I saw and heard her speak on film only a few years ago, though it had been recorded c.1960, and was impressed by this then very young woman accompanying a TV camera around Salford and commenting on the city and on her work. It was an intelligence that made her really rather beautiful. I would love to have met her, failing which media interviews in her middle age could have been intriguing affairs.

#4 Jan Brock

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 03:08 PM

View PostDubliner, on 22 November 2011 - 11:55 PM, said:

I'm surprised that no one on this site has discussed the death of the influential playwright Shelagh Delaney who died on Sunday.

Really ? As the only famous theatre play she wrote (out of a grand total of two it seems) was last produced in the very early 1960s it doesn't surprise me at all - I bet absolutely no-one here has ever seen a play written by her. Same era as Arnold Wesker of course, whose play from that period "The Kitchen" was recently revealed to us as a stinker of the highest order.

#5 armadillo

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 04:19 PM

I've never seen a play of hers performed live but surely plenty of people here have seen the film of A Taste of Honey as well as Charlie Bubbles and Dance with a Stranger? None of which are stinkers. And A Taste of Honey was certainly noteworthy in being a film from the the Northern renaissance of the early sixties that wasn't from the point of view of some sexist bloke whinging about how his girlfriend had the temerity to get pregnant, since it showed what it was like from the other side.

#6 Lynette

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 06:20 PM

I read she wrote T/H at the age of 17 which makes Polly Stenham geriatric.

#7 Ian

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 07:51 PM

View PostJan Brock, on 23 November 2011 - 03:08 PM, said:

Really ? As the only famous theatre play she wrote (out of a grand total of two it seems) was last produced in the very early 1960s it doesn't surprise me at all - I bet absolutely no-one here has ever seen a play written by her. Same era as Arnold Wesker of course, whose play from that period "The Kitchen" was recently revealed to us as a stinker of the highest order.

Whilst I would agree that the play has dated rather badly, and she was hardly prolific in produced stage works, ATOH was given a major revival at the Royal Exchange in Manchester in 2008 to generally favourable reviews. And I did see an earlier revival at Oldham Coliseum (from which my opening comment relates).
The engine roared, the motor hissed,
And who could see that the road would twist

#8 Jan Brock

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Posted 24 November 2011 - 01:48 AM

View Postarmadillo, on 23 November 2011 - 04:19 PM, said:

I've never seen a play of hers performed live but surely plenty of people here have seen the film of A Taste of Honey as well as Charlie Bubbles and Dance with a Stranger?

But this is not a film discussion board so why is it surprising no-one commented on her death ? She is a small footnote in theatre history really, but more than that in UK film history.

Well done to Ian for seeing two revivals of ATOH - of course as they were not in London I was not aware (or interested) in them.

#9 El Peter

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Posted 26 November 2011 - 04:24 PM

I found two interesting articles on the Manchester Evening News website. The first is about Shelagh Delaney's place in cultural history, the second has particularly good film clips from A Taste of Honey and from Ken Russell's film on her for the BBC's Monitor in which her observations of life 'then' resonate a half century on:    

http://menmedia.co.u...british-theatre

http://menmedia.co.u...-she-dies-at-71




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