“Shirley Valentine”
Willy Russell
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
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
Tim Firth (at the
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
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
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...
Willy Russell - first left on the front row.
Shirley Valentine (now Shirley Lavender) seventh from the left, middle row.
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
A woman's journey
to her inner freedom
Act 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
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
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
 Costas:
- 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 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)
II. Housewifehood:
- 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!
The first turning point!
Shirley Bradshaw  Shirley Valentine (22)
When does the second one occur? And How?
Shirley & Marjorie /Shirley & Gillian
Do you find similar experience in life?
 While you wish to be somebody else, that
person wants to be you.
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
--She hopes to recapture the
excitement and free spirit of
her single days as Shirley
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
Andrucki, Martin. “SHIRLEY VALENTINE by Willy Russell. “The Public
Theatre:Jan. 1997. 21 May 2006 <http://www.thepublictheatre.org/guides/ 9697_shirley_valentine.html>.
Brown, Joe. “Shirley Valentine.” Washingtonpost.com. 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.” Variety.com. Aug. 23, 2005
21 May 2006 <http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117927971?categoryid=33&cs=1>.
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 <http://www.realtheatre.co.nz /Reviews/Reviews.htm>.
“Willyrussell.com. ” The official-unofficial web- site delicate to Willy Russell. 21 May 2006
“Willy Russell.” 21 May 2006 <http://www.student.nada.kth.se/~d97-ask/blood/Willy/willy.htm>.

Shirley Valentine”