Liverpool John Moores University’s Special Collections and Archives department has been working with Knowsley Culture Development & Events Service to bring its unique archive of Willy Russell’s films, scripts and notes to a new exhibition in the Kirkby Gallery, providing even more opportunities for the Merseyside community, and beyond, to access his work.
Born and raised in Knowsley, dramatist, composer, novelist and (occasional) performer, Willy, has created some of the most memorable and iconic work of his generation.
This exhibition of material from both Willy himself and the Willy Russell Archive at LJMU, celebrates a selection of 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.
Willy Russell commented:
"I always wanted to make the theatre relevant to city people and I’m delighted to work with Liverpool John Moores University and Knowsley Council to make this happen through the new exhibition of my personal collection. I hope that people see it as an accessible resource and are inspired to be creative themselves."
Val Stevenson, Head of Academic Services at LJMU Library Services said;
"Willy Russell’s archive is of international importance for theatre students, researchers and historians and is an invaluable resource. We are delighted, and very proud, to be the custodians of Willy Russell’s archive and to now be part of this exhibition in Knowsley celebrating his roots. Working with other cultural and educational organisations in Liverpool and holding exhibitions and events here at LJMU ensures that materials are always accessible for the community.
"The collection sits very well alongside the archives of the Everyman Theatre, the Unity Theatre and the Merseyside Youth Theatre (Fuse) Archive, providing a wealth of material for researchers and for anyone interested in Liverpool theatre."
The Willy Russell: Behind the Scenes exhibition runs until 23rd January 2016.
Read more about the exhibition in the Liverpool Echo