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“Shirley Valentine” by Willy Russell. Source. Presented by Roxanne, Vanessa & Jasmine. Willy Russell (1947- ). - He was born in 1947 at Shiston near Liverpool, England. - At fifteen he left with little idea of what he wanted to do beyond a vague notion

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shirley valentine by willy russell
“Shirley Valentine”byWilly Russell


Presented by Roxanne, Vanessa & Jasmine

willy russell 1947
Willy Russell(1947- )

- He was born in 1947 at Shiston

near Liverpool, England.

- At fifteen he left with little idea of what

he wanted to do beyond a vague notion

of wanting to become a writer.

  • He decided to become a dramatist while he

was at St. Catherine's College of Education.

  • He was well into his adult years before his

interest in learning and he began attending night

classes. (source)

- The first play, Keep Yours Eyes Down, was taken by the college drama group to the Edinburgh Fringe in 1971.

- The first novel, The Wrong Boy, published in 2000, has been translated into 15 languages and is currently being

adapted for a major television series.

- The first music album, “Hoovering The Moon”, was released in 2003, spotlighting Russell's musical talent that has been overshadowed for years by his literary skills. (source)

Willy at Galway Arts Festival performing songs from his album HOOVERING THE MOON with Tim Firth (at the piano).

time line
Time line
  • 1971- Keep Your Eyes Down(The first play)
  • 1973- When The Reds

(produced at the Everyman Theatre, )

- King of The Castle

(his first play for BBCTV, set in a factory.)



(reworked musical version of this play )

1974- Death of A Young Man

(BBC Birmingham Play for Today )

- John Paul George Ringo and Bert

- Break In

  • 1975- Blood Brothers…
  • 1976- Our Day Out …
  • 1977- Lies
  • 1978- Stages and Hens
  • 1980- Educating Rita

- One Summer

1981- Educating Rita(screenplay)

- Blood Brothers

(Non-musical schools version)

  • 1986- Shirley Valentine

(Opens at the Liverpool Everyman Theater)

  • 1987- Russell began writing the screenplay for

Shirley Valentine

  • 1988- Stage play opened at London's

Vaudeville Theatre

  • 1989- The film was released
1993- “Shirley Valentine”

(opens at the Liverpool Playhouse)

  • 1995- “Words On The Run”
  • 1996- “Our Day Out”

(stage version at Belgrade Theatre Coventry)

  • 1997- “Terraces”

(broadcast by BBC Schools Television)

  • 2000- Wrong Boy

(the first novel from Willy Russell )

  • 2004- Hoovering The Moon

- In Other Words


Willy Russell in collaboration with Tim Firth sets up the W.R. Foundation Award to stage new writing at the 2005 Edinburgh Festival.


The musical show, created and polished by Willy and Tim Firth, moves on to Edinburgh for a twelve date season as part of the internationally famous Edinburgh Festival - the world’s largest

arts festival.(source)

John Moores University presents Willy Russell with an Honorary Fellowship - the citation was made by Pauline Collins.

willy russell s best known plays
Willy Russell’s best known plays
  • 1980- Educating Rita
  • 1981- Musical “Blood Brothers”
  • 1986- Shirley Valentine

The major characters in these plays

struggle to overcome their entrapment

in spiritually stifling working class


rainford school spot willy russell and the original shirley valentine
Rainford School: Spot Willy Russell and the original Shirley Valentine...

Willy Russell - first left on the front row. Shirley Valentine (now Shirley Lavender) seventh from the left, middle row.

shirley valentine
Shirley Valentine
  • One woman’s monologue.
  • Women exhibit strength and determination both behind the scenes and center stage.
The film:


Best Actress

Best Screenplay

OSCAR Nominated

Best Actress



Best Actress

UK Awards:


Best Comedy

Best Actress


Best Actress


summary act one scene one
SummaryAct One / Scene One
  • Shirley talks to the wall in their kitchen about

her family and friend Jane when she is preparing

evening meal. Jane’s invited Shirley to go to

Greece with her for fortnight, but she hesitated.

  • Accidentally, Shirley runs into her old classmate

Marjorie. After Marjorie leaves, on the way

home, Shirley feels that she will have nowhere

to go if she goes to Greece.

act one scene two
Act One/ Scene Two

Shirley has got everything ready for her traveling. Suddenly, her daughter Millandra comes home and Shirley tells her about her trip to Greece. Millandra thinks that is a disgrace and leaves home. Because of Millandra’s reaction, Shirley wants to give up. But a beautiful robe from Gillian changes her mind.

Shirley is going to Greece.

act two scene one
Act Two/ Scene One

In Greece, Shirley talks to a rock about

why she is alone but not lonely. One

evening, she goes to a bar and meets Costas.

She asks him if he can move the table and chair to

the sea to fulfill her dream, and Costas makes it. Next

day, Costas and Shirley go boating around the

island and they have sex.

On the day Shirley and Jane have to go back,

Shirley decides to stay in Greece. What happens next?

  • Shirley:

- a 42-year-old mother and housewife

- a wonder woman of observation and recall

- feeling trapped in her barebones row house


- rediscovers herself on a Greek island



- a prosaic, hidebound husband

- image of the inertia (imprisons himself & S)

“…he likes everything to be as it’s always

been. Like his tea always has to be on

the table…”(P2, L20)

- chief external obstacle to S’s change

“I’m not goin’ to Greece, if that’s what I’m not

getting fed properly, …y’ can forget it.”(P17, L5



- a young woman of uncertain ambitions

  • Brain:

- an aspiring busker poet

  • Jane:

- best friend

“…found her husband in bed with the

milkman.” (P3 L25)

  • Gillian:

- Shirley’s neighbor

  • Marjorie:

- high school friend


- a seductive Greek tavern owner

- a womanizer

“A dream, a dream. We move this table to the

edge of the sea, it makes your dream come

true?... Then, is no problem.” (P29 L12 bottom)

- a semi-professional romantic

- the helmsman of S’s voyage of liberation

shirley valentine21
Shirley Valentine

The development of her personality

I. Girlhood:

- a teacher thinks little of her abilities

“You must have been told that answer!” (P11, L2)

- true self is squelched (became a rebel)

“But I didn’t hate anythin’ y’ know. The only

thing I hated was me. I didn’t want to be a

rebel. I wanted to be nice.” (P11, L16)


- early marriage (no-expectations


“…I’ve been talkin’ to the wall for more

years than I care to remember now.

An’ I’m frightened. I’m frightened of life

beyond the wall.” (P14, L6 bottom)

- decides to go Greece (a fragment of her life)

“…I’m going to the land beyond the

wall….I’m gonna try anything. Like I used to.

Unafraid. Without fear of anythin’ new.”

(P22, L9 bottom)

shirley the sensational shirley the brave
Shirley The Sensational!Shirley The Brave!

The first turning point!

Shirley Bradshaw  Shirley Valentine (22)

When does the second one occur? And How?

“I'd fallen in love with the idea of livin'.”

shirley marjorie shirley gillian
Shirley & Marjorie /Shirley & Gillian
  • Do you find similar experience in life?
  • While you wish to be somebody else, that person wants to be you.

What happened to us in life?


two contrasting locations  transformation of the central character’s life

Act I:

Liverpool- industrial city, sunless (gloomy)

Kitchen - center of S’s circumscribed world

- arena of S’s growing discontent

- trapped in the banal space

- silent partner (frustrating life)

- routine household chores



Act II:

Greece - Mediterranean sun, romantic dream

Beach- a site of pleasure and self-indulgence

- village and tavern

- self-searching/ Greek-awakening

- inner freedom (nature, the sea, true self )

Self emancipation triggers visual transformation  external expression of the change in S.

  • Quest for happiness, meaning and freedom in life.

--She hopes to recapture the excitement and free spirit of her single days as Shirley Valentine.


1. Do you think Joe will join Shirley in Greece?

2. What is the most important factor in Shirley's decision

to stay in Greece?

3. Why does this play have only one character?

  Does this have anything to do with the central theme?

4. Do you agree with Shirley's choice in leaving home and her husband and staying in Greece?  Why or why not? Justify your reasons with examples from the text.

works cited
Works Cited

Andrucki, Martin. “SHIRLEY VALENTINE by Willy Russell. “The Public

Theatre:Jan. 1997. 21 May 2006 < 9697_shirley_valentine.html>.

Brown, Joe. “Shirley Valentine.” 21 May 2006



Ditkoff, Anna. “Diary of a Mad Housewife: Vagabond's Shirley Valentine Is Full of Charm.”

Citypaperonline:The Art. Baltimore City Paper:2006. 21 May 2006


Martinez, Julio. “Reviews-Shirley Valentine.” Aug. 23, 2005

21 May 2006 <>.

Russell, Willy. Shirley Valentine. Shirley Valentine and One for the Road. London: Methuen, 1988. 1-36.

Till, Francis. “NZ Herald Review of Shirley Valentine:Shirley Valentine at The Pumphouse”.

The Real Theatre Company Ltd: Bringing Professional Theatre to the North Shore.

Nov. 9, 2003. 21 May 2006 < /Reviews/Reviews.htm>.

“ ” The official-unofficial web- site delicate to Willy Russell. 21 May 2006


“Willy Russell.” 21 May 2006 <>.