- Willy Russell was born in 1947 at Whiston near Liverpool
- His dad worked in a factory (later bought a chip shop), his mother worked in a warehouse
- With 5 years moving to Knowsley
- He wasn't really interested in school (loved watching television)
- With 11 years he went to secondary school in Huyton. There was very much violence, so.
- .after one year he went to a countryside school in Rainford, where violence was also normal, but there the thugs had manners to ask if he wanted to get hurt! Comparing to Huyton it was a paradise for him
- In the school there was a lesson called "silent reading". During this lesson it was everytime a paradise for him just sitting there, seeing the sun falling through the window upon his face. He felt total peace and security and there his aim was born: He wanted to become a writer
- This feeling was wonderful and also terrible for him:
"It was a wonderful and terrible thought - wonderful, because I sensed, I knew, it was the only thing for me. Terrible because how could I, a kid from the "D"-stream, a piece of factory fodder, ever change the course that my life was already set upon? How the hell could I ever be the sort of person who could become a writer?" (Willy Russell)
- One day he had to do an exam to become a printer. His Dad wanted him to do this exam, he didn't really want to. He failed and the discussions at home about his life and his job were resolved with the suggestion by his mother. He should become a ladies hairdresser!!! (ā Rita???)
- He first wrote songs, sketches and poetry, even a book, but was often interrupted of women who wanted their hair done. (ā Rita???) Sais about himself he is the world's worst ladies hairdresser
- Soon after his first trials in writing he realised that he has to put himself into the world where he is able to write. He sensed that this world is an academic world. He has to get into an academic world.
- He enrolled in a night class for "O" Level English Literature and he passed it. But to go to a college he needed at least five "O" Levels. He found a college, earned the money to pay the fees and was educated and educated writing.
- It was whilst at St. Catherine\'s College of Education that he decided to become a dramatist. His first play, "Keep your eyes down", was taken by the college drama group to the Edinburgh Fringe in 1972. There it was seen by John McGrath who put Russell in touch with the Everyman.
- The following year, "When the Reds", led to his writing a play for the Everyman\'s Touring Company, "Sam O\' Shanker"
- 1973 also saw his first play for BBC TV, "King of the Castle", set in a factory.
- His \'major break\' came with his next play, "John, Paul, George, Ringo and Bert". It was an accurate and honest account of the group\'s rise and fall, culminating in an abortive attempt to stage a reunion concert and .
- .its success enabled him to give up teaching and concentrate on writing full-time.
- The sparkling Liverpool humour that has since become his trademark. The use of a narrator was a technique that was to reappear in his next stage play, "Death of a young young man" (1975), and again in "Blood brothers".
- Russell has strong views on the working classes\' attempts to gain access to middle-class culture. \"I don't want my plays to appeal only to those who go (to theatre) every night of the week, but also to people who have never been to a theatre- by engaging them at a level they trust, understand and value. The best way is to have a story to tell. I always come back to that. The lights go down, the curtain goes up, and you are with this story for two hours. That ritual, that magic, when it happens, welds the most wildly different people into one." (Willy Russell , 1984)
His greatest Plays
1972 When the Reds (stage)King of the Castle (TV)
1974 John, Paul, George, Ringo and Bert (stage)Death of a young young man (TV)
1975 Breezeblock Park (stage)
1977 Our Day Out (TV)
1978 One for the Road (stage)
1979 Daughters of Albion (TV)Stags and Hens (stage)
1980 Educating Rita (stage)One Summer (TV)
1983 Blood Brother (stage)Educating Rita (film/TV)
1988 Shirley Valentine (stage)
1989 Shirley Valentine (screenplay)
1990 Dancing thru' the Dark (screenplay)
The story about Rita and her development is directly connected to the life of the author of this drama Willy Russell. It's not just a story created by the author, but it has a lot of parallels to his real life.
- born in Whiston near Liverpool in 1947 (setting drama)
- mother worked in a ware house---like Rita working class
- didn't care much for school / watched telly, so bad at school (Rita)
- never went to the theatre or something like this (Rita)
- got to know cruelty and violence at secondary school, very hard time, real brutality (Rita)
- problem: was bad at school, came from working class, no connections to academic class (Rita)
- mother had the idea that he could become a hairdresser (Rita)
- knew that he would never be able to be a writer in the world he was living in
- wanted to join the academic world - better chances
- hairdressing senseless for him
- went back to school, did his exams (Rita went to Frank)
- wanted to go to college, didn't have enough money
- started studying = new beginning, feeling at home
- he once said himself that at the college he behaved like Rita, overvalued higher
- education; enthusiastic, wanted to talk with everyone about his new knowledge
- (even with the people in the bus)
- wrote down some of his own experiences
- wants it to be understood like this
- in his opinion a play must walk and live alone, without interpretation aid given by the author
- opposite, the play is about literature, education language, he tried to write the play also for people who have no knowledge of literature (like Frank and Rita)