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Friday 29 June 2012

Review: Jack Rosenthal & Maureen Lipman exhibition

One of my top two Coronation Street moments this year so far has been to watch 1968 Corrie episodes, written by Jack Rosenthal, acted out in front of me in a Manchester pub, The Lass O'Gowrie.

My other Corrie highlight has been seeing the wonderful Fat Brenda show, live on stage in Harrogate, twice!

Anyway, the landlord of the Lass O'Gowrie pub in Manchester who arranged for Jack Rosenthal's 1968 Corrie episodes to be acted out in his pub, was invited along as a special guest this week to the Jack Rosenthal and Maureen Lipman exhibition at the University of Sheffield.

It's over to Gareth now to let us know what happened because in addition to attending the exhibition, Gareth managed the recreation of Stan and Hilda's wonderful meal out in an Chinese restaurant...

From Gareth Kavanagh:

"It was a delight to be invited to the opening of the Jack and Maureen exhibition of papers and personal mementoes at the University of Sheffield this Wednesday, just gone.  The University holds Jack's archives of papers, a priceless haul of papers, scripts, correspondence and personal moments spanning his incredible career and without it, we would never have staged Coronation Street 1968 at the Lass O'Gowrie in January.  Through my work with the scripts and papers within this amazing archive I came to realise that it was Jack who had created the Coronation Street I came to love in the seventies with my Mum on cold winter nights, while my Dad was playing darts.

Within this collection you can read treasures such as Maureen's school reports (must be more consistent in Latin!), appreciate Jack's BAFTA and read original submissions and Corrie scripts all lovingly curated by the Special Colelctions team at the University.  It's personal, moving and funny.  You realise how prolific the two of them were and how lucky we were to enjoy Jack's prolific talents over the decades.

Picture copyright: Gareth Kavanagh. Gareth is pictured on the right dressed in black with Maureen Lipman and some of the actors from the Chinese Restaurant scene including Joan Kempson as Hilda Ogden. Joan once played Edna Miller in Corrie.

Jack's widow, the great Maureen Lipman was on hand to open the exhibition and gave us a real sense of the man behind the work, regaling us with tales of his meeting the Queen Mother and his Jewish, northern and working class roots which defined him his entire life.  He was a man supremely confident in his skin, Maureen regaled us - the same with paupers and kings and that gift just shines in his work.  Clearly moved by the exhibition, Maureen told a tale of Jack's final night before he passed when she asked him if his dear old friend who had visited him had said anything to him.  "Yes," Jack replied, "He said he loved me."  Maureen asked what he had said back and Jack smiled, chuckled wickedly and replied, "Nothing; we just had sex then he left!"

Follow that!

As the floor dissolved into peals of laughter, it was my job to introduce the Chinese Restaurant scenes from episode #788 of Coronation Street, which were part of our Coronation Street 1968 celebration in January.  John Draycott, Joan Kempson and Christina Tam stepped up to the plate and smashed it out of the park.  It was every bit as moving and funny as it had been last time round and I think nothing was more fitting than to hear life breathed back into Jack's words once more. 

I think we were all left with the impressing of a life well lived and one well worth celebrating. 

A true privilege."

See also:  Review of the 1968 episodes acted out in the Lass O'Gowrie earlier this year.

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