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Blood Brothers banner outside the Liverpool Playhouse: Designed by Adrian Henri

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Tupperware Man

Painted Veg poster

Jane Hollowood in the original schools production of Blood Brothers

John, Paul, George, Ringo & Bert poster

Blind Scouse poster

The Willy Russell Archive contains over 5000 items, and includes manuscripts, CDs, records and tapes, programmes, publicity and media material including newspaper cuttings and press releases, correspondence, legal, financial and administrative documents, casting and audition records, administrative material and promotional ephemera.  The collection showcases the process by which Willy Russell’s works were created, adapted, presented and publicised, and demonstrates their widespread and international appeal.  It also illustrates Willy Russell’s collaborative works, both written and musical.

You can access the Willy Russell Archive by visiting the LJMU's website HERE

 

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WILLY RUSSELL: Behind The Scenes

This exhibition, at Kirby Gallery, Knowsley, showcases material from the Willy Russell Archive at Liverpool John Moores University and celebrates a selection of Willy Russell’s work spanning five decades from early works referencing the local area, to Our Day Out, Stags and Hens, Educating Rita, Shirley Valentine and Blood Brothers. Archive film of performances, posters, playbills, handwritten notes and scripts bring his stories to life, alongside items from his own personal collection to give a rare insight into his work.

It's appropriate that this exhibition is presented in Kirby. Willy Russell was born in this area and lived his early childhood here.

"Childhood I think of as being from when i was six and lived in bungalows until I was just fourteen when they built this new estate for us a mile down the road, still on Lord Derby's land, so it's still very, very rural and so we moved from the bungalows; they were all knocked down and then my father had bought a shop in Admin Road, a chippy."

" ...where the perimeter of Kirby meets rural Lancashire, we lived right on the edge, there was literally a farm next door to us between us and St. Helens. All farmland. And when I was brought up in Knowsley, on the Maypole Estate, that was all farmland. The assumption is, because of the work I have written I am completely urban - my culture is as every bit rural as it is urban."

On leaving school, aged 15, he became a ladies hairdresser eventually running his own salon until at the age of twenty- one he decided to try and reclaim the education he’d missed at school and went  back to college, eventually qualifying as a teacher. During these years Russell also worked as a semi-professional singer, writing and performing his own songs on the then flourishing and vibrant folk scene.

 
Music Roots: Wallet containing various business cards where Willy has either played or visited, across the North West of England. (above)
Above: Some of the extremely rare posters from Willy Russell's hundreds of productions.

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