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Everyman celebrates 50th birthday

Founding fathers of Liverpool theatre gather for bash

Written by . Published on September 29th 2014.

Everyman celebrates 50th birthday

SAY what you like about the new Everyman, they'll never recreate the smell of the old.

Forget the Ken Campbells, the Bleasdales and Russells, the political theatre and pantos, the Bill Nighys and Julie Walters, the Lears and the Lucky Strikes, when all was said and done, the Everyman boiled down to one thing: a heady bouquet of stale sweat, woodchip, rolling tobacco and quiche. It took decades for that scent to distill - and when the old Hope Hall went, it didn't get bottled. 

Francis Tucker %26#38%3B Gemma Bodinetz Everyman_50Th_Birthday_%28C%29 Brian Roberts-1831

A toast! Actor Francis Tucker and Artistic Director Gemma Bodinetz: Picture Brian Roberts

The Everyman Theatre celebrated its 50th birthday at the weekend. They threw a party and cut a cake in the basement. People who had been associated with it, in some meaningful way, over its lifetime, went along.

Mike McCartney, Joe McGann, Neil Caple, Carl Chase and Eithne Brown were among those present, Eithne leading the Happy Birthday Champagne salute.

Terry Hands, Peter James, Martin Jenkins, Michael Freeman Everyman_50Th_Birthday_%28C%29 Brian Roberts-2109Terry Hands, Peter James, Martin Jenkins, Michael Freeman: Pix by Brian Roberts

But the Everyman was always about more than who you could spot from the telly. Liverpool-born performance poet Gerry Potter, who made his name on the British fringe circuit asChloe Poems, was a member of the Everyman Youth Theatre in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Gerry, who appears at the Unity with Fenella Fielding, as part of the upcoming Homotopia Festival, wasn't one of those called to give a speech, but he later posted his own "birthday card" to the Ev: "I love how you taught me...that kindness and creativity can go hand in hand in reach out and sculpt a city."

As for those who did speak, it was over to the first "gang of four" Christopher Morahan, Terry Hands, Michael Freeman and Peter James who were young university graduates in 1964 when, among them, they worked out a way of getting municipal cash from the local education committees to fund a theatre, based on school matinee performances of plays. The move helped bankroll a theatre revolution that saw the Everyman go from beat bar, with theatre, in a Methodist chapel to a remodelling in the mid 1970s, complete with those famous dodgy neon lights.

Neil Caple %26#38%3B Joe Mcgann Everyman_50Th_Birthday_ %28C%29 Brian Roberts-1839Neil Caple and Joe McGann

Hands, the Everyman's founding artistic director who these days runs sterling stuff at Theatr Clwyd, declared at the end of his time on the mic:  "I wish I still worked here," - perhaps the ultimate endorsement of the new theatre.

Or was it? One 13-year-old close to Confidential's heart, a member of YEP's Young Actors (Young Everyman Playhouse) fairly astonished his old mum, herself an Everyman Youth Theatre stalwart, just two weeks ago. For walking into the foyer after a two month summer break of YEP, he took in a long lungful of air.

"I love the Everyman," he grinned broadly. "I love the smell of it."

"No kidding?"

"Yeh, there's nothing like it."

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8 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Jo StreetSeptember 30th 2014.

Having been a drama student up here in the 1960s, I saw many wonderful productions at the old Everyman, and now after living in the South for decades, I am back living in Liverpool and loving it. I loved the production of Hope Place at the new Everyman and am looking forward to being a regular audience member.

Ramsey CampbellSeptember 30th 2014.

Ah! Some of my Everyman memories are even hoarier. In February 1962 I saw my first Bergman film there, the wonderful WILD STRAWBERRIES.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
Sara BandOctober 1st 2014.

Aye - sadly there's nowhere in Liverpool to go and see a decent film any more.

AnonymousOctober 1st 2014.

Or go for a drink after a play

AnonymousOctober 1st 2014.

There's the Stasi basement where the Everyman Bistro used to be...

AnonymousOctober 2nd 2014.

I'd still love to take a wrecking ball to the place, and kill ever last one of the tweed jacket wearing twats.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Ramsey CampbellOctober 2nd 2014.

Ah, what a city of culture.

Sir Howard WayOctober 2nd 2014.

Some cultures ought to be confined to the Petri dish...

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