Taking a bow for Shelagh Delaney's 'new' play

From BBC - August 30, 2017

Nearly 60 years ago, a play called A Taste Of Honey by an unknown Salford writer put working-class issues centre stage and changed the world of theatre forever. Now, one of Shelagh Delaney's lesser-known works is being revived by people from the streets where she grew up - with the help of her daughter Charlotte.

When Charlotte Delaney was consulted about renaming a Salford tower bock Delaney Heights, she had just one question: "Was it affordable or social because I would not have said yes if it was not."

Just like her mum, what matters to working-class people, matters to Charlotte.

Rebranding the former student block after Salford's best-known playwright has set in motion the revival of another of Shelagh Delaney's so-called kitchen-sink dramas.

On 7 September, Sweetly Sings The Donkey - adapted by Charlotte Delaney - will be performed for the first time on stage at Salford's Lowry Theatre.

And, with one exception, all the actors are untrained and from Salford.

Community theatre group MAD Theatre Company has worked with around two dozen residents of Delaney Heights and its sister block Adelphi Court since January, before whittling it down to a cast of eight with ages spanning 14 to 69.

Rob Lees, artistic director with MAD Theatre added: "The young people are all extremely talented but what is interesting is the adults in the play.

"We have got Karen Harford who works for Guinness Housing Association and has never acted before. It is the same with Julie Wray, a doctor of nursing, who's had to take early retirement from her job."

It's part of a larger research project called Shelagh Delaney - Feminism and Culture which Charlotte is collaborating on with her mother's biographer Selina Todd.

Professor Todd said: "Shelagh Delaney felt that, in a way, Salford had a poverty of aspiration - it gave them an education yet at the same time it said you working class people you should just live in shoeboxes. You should be content with having manual jobs."

A taste of Shelagh Delaney


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