This weekend Salford Arts Theatre held the event, #BeInspired – A Night of New Writing in commemoration for Shelagh Delaney day – a day that is dedicated to Salford’s very own legendary playwright.

The evening was made up of a series of short plays written by five northern playwrights including Salford Arts Theatre’s writer in residence, 17 year old, Libby Hall – a young and talented Salfordian playwright, just as Shelagh Delaney was.

The little gem of a theatre set deep in the heart of Salford attracted a wonderfully mixed crowd of creatives and local community who all came together in celebration of Salford, new and local talent and of course, Shelagh Delaney.

Actors (from left to right): Jimmy Allen, Joel Hill and Clay Whitter. Photograph by Holly Pritchard.

Act 1 served us: ‘Wellthisistheplace’ by Stuart Crowther, ‘Your Playground Voice is Gone’ by Libby Hall and ‘I Want to Marry Johnny Marr’ by Phil Pearson.

Act 2 displayed: ‘Two Boys’ by Megan Challinor, ‘A Penny for Dreams Gone By’ by Libby Hall and ended the night with ‘Sisters of The Midnight Berries’ by Alex Clarke in which both playwrights, Libby Hall and Megan Challinor also performed in.

All plays gave us a taste of true northern spirit, mixing dark realities with grit, humour and humbleness. Each play had a thoughtfulness and poignancy to offer which managed to evoke emotion from their audience. Some great performances from the actors were so moving and real that at times the audience were laughing, crying and were even so engrossed that in parts they sat so quiet and still.

Many current and difficult topics were dealt with throughout the six piece display, such as; loss of loved ones, working class life, poverty, family, broken homes, bullying, unemployment, alcoholism and regret. Some also looked at: the ‘what ifs?’, ‘what weres’ and the ‘what could have’, ‘would have’ or ‘should have’ beens.

Actor, Clay Whitter from play, ‘I Want to Marry Johnny Marr’. Photograph taken by Holly Pritchard.

Phil Pearson’s play, ‘I Want to Marry Johnny Marr’, particularly stood out for its local references to Salford and famous Manchester band, The Smiths. It was an especially well written piece which had the perfect elements needed to tell a story. There were many layers to it which incorporated some darker elements with a great northern sense of humour. The way the actors navigated the set made for great visualisation of an imaginary setting and it received a fantastic reaction.

Overall, it was a delightful and inspiring evening which captured the heart and soul of northernness and showed that Salford truly does have a wonderful community filled with local talent and a creativity to offer.

Selina Todd’s new book launches at Salford Museum and Art Gallery

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