Stags and Hens

written by

Willy Russell

directed by

Carl Whiteside

performed at

The New Wimbledon Studio Theatre
Box Office 0870 060 6646

8 - 12 November 2005

Stags and Hens Poster

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Directors Notes

Willy Russell is well known as the writer of plays and films such as Educating Rita, Shirley Valentine, Our Day Out, and the musical Blood Brothers. His work has attracted huge and appreciative audiences all over the world and his plays and musicals have won countless awards. He has also been writing songs since the early 1960s.

Born in Whiston, near Liverpool in 1947, Willy grew up in a left-wing household and left school with one O-level in English. His dad, at various times, worked in the mines, in a factory, ran a fish and chip shop and also ran a library-on-a-bicycle, transporting books in two suitcases strapped to the sides of his bike.

Willy originally began writing as a songwriter, composing songs in the folk idiom. Many of his songs were performed at local folk clubs playing in a semi-pro capacity on the same kind of circuit where the likes of Billy Connolly, Barbara Dickson, Mike Harding, Jasper Carrot and Victoria Wood cut their teeth. He also collaborated on a stage documentary A Lancashire Story, performed at Notre Dame College in 1969.

At the age of twenty, he decided to complete his education and went to college in order to improve his qualifications, after which he became a schoolteacher in Toxteth. Willy met Annie (now his wife) and at her prompting, he became more interested in drama, started going to plays and began to write.

His ambition to be a serious writer was fired and further focused when he saw a production of John McGrath's Unruly Elements at Liverpool's Everyman Theatre in 1971. What he particularly noticed about this play was 'the poetry of common speech', and this has been a hallmark of his own work. He has said that his work is concerned with the essential goodness of humanity, and although his characters are often depicted in bleak circumstances, there is an underlying optimism and warmth in his view of the world. This has inevitably led to accusations of sentimentality, but on the whole Willy Russell manages to avoid this pitfall.

Willy Russell continues to live and work in his home city of Liverpool and in 2005 is currently working on a number of projects including a proposed TV series of The Wrong Boy.

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"Stags and Hens was originally conceived as an in-house television piece for Manchester Polytechnic's television and drama students in 1978 when I held the Chair in Creative Writing. The play subsequently opened at the Liverpool Everyman in October 1978. The play is still as fresh and relevant today as it was then and is still being performed both here in the UK and as far afield as Australia, Canada, America and Sweden. In 1980 the play was adapted to create the film Dancin' Thru The Dark. I originally had an idea that although initially written as a student film, Stags and Hens could fairly easily be rewritten for the stage and so I sent a copy to Chris Bond at the Everyman and he was immediately up for it. Buoyed by this enthusiasm, I sat down and quickly rewrote and restructured it for theatre."


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"We decided to set the play in 1986. Partly because of how distinctive the era is in terms of costume and music, but also because of the economic state of the country at that time. 1984 saw the miners' strike with numerous pit closures, earlier in the 80's were the days of 15% interest rates, the economy was in downturn and the manufacturing industry was in decline. Many of the characters refer to wanting to get away but they're all too scared to do it. The recent history has sapped their courage."


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stags, hens, and all

Berni ~ Aisling Stevens
Carol ~ Tori Heggs
Frankie ~ Naomi Vaisey
Maureen ~ Katy Wey
Linda ~ Ellie Levy
Dave ~ Jeff Graves
Robbie ~ Nick Young
Kav ~ Ian Ward
Billie ~ Jason Rodericks
Eddy ~ Mike Tierney
Peter ~ James Derbyshire
Roadie ~ Jethro Crabb

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all the backstage help

Director ~ Carl Whiteside
Producer ~ Kathie Arundell
Stage Manager ~ Christina Cassells
Assistant Stage Manager ~ Cindy Graves
Set Design & Construction ~ Mike Tierney
Lighting ~ Cindy Graves
Lighting Assistance ~ Simon Harris
Sound & Music ~ Ian Ward
Costumes ~ Ellie Levy
Accent Coach ~ Mike Tierney
Make Up ~ Kristen Mcgorry
Publicity ~ Mike Norman-Smith
Artwork ~ Kristen Mcgorry
Matthew Petty
Photography ~ Kristen Mcgorry
Website & Programme ~ Matthew Petty
Front Of House ~ James

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The Hens
Carol (Tori Heggs)
Berni (Aisling Stevens)
Maureen (Katy Wey)
Frankie (Naomi Vaisey) calms Linda (Ellie Levy) down by doing her hair
Robbie (Nick Young) and Kav (Ian Ward) help the drunk groom Dave (Jeff Graves)
Eddy (Mike Tierney), Robbie (Nick Young) and Billie (Jason Rodericks) hang around in the Gents
Bille steps out of line, but Eddy pulls him back
Peter (James Derbyshire) tempts Linda (Ellie Levy)
Eddy tells Peter where to go, while Robbie stops him going
The Hens cheer Linda up
Eddy and Dave are left behind

a quickr pickr post

Building the set

Timelapse picture of the set being built

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