IN PICTURES: Bradford Literature event celebrating the life and works of Andrea Dunbar
by Mark Davis
On the Saturday 1st July we attended “Andrea the Writer” an event that examined how Andrea Dunbar captured the humour, humanity and hope of some of Bradford’s most deprived areas, without shying away from the problems they faced. The event was hosted by Bradford Literary Festival at the Bradford City Hall Chamber with guest speakers Adelle Stripe (author of Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile), Claire MacDonald, George Costigan with Michael Stewart.
Andrea Dunbar began writing her play The Arbor at the age of 15. Just three years later, it premiered at London’s Royal Court Theatre and was later extended and performed in New York. Her 1987 film, Rita, Sue and Bob Too, has become a Northern cult classic. Andrea’s life was short and troubled, but also very productive and her honest depictions of life on a run-down Bradford estate have made her one of Yorkshire’s most inspirational writers.
It was a fantastic event and a thoroughly interesting insight into the person behind one of the North’s most iconic films. We also enjoyed the company of Lisa (Andrea Dunbar’s daugher) as we visited some of the key locations from the film Rita, Sue and Bob Too.
About the speakers
Known for roles in Rita, Sue and Bob Too and Happy Valley, George Costigan’s career has included working with Sally Wainwright, Willy Russell, and Clint Eastwood. He has directed Daniel Day-Lewis and Pete Postlethwaite, and his writing for the stage includes Trust Byron, for which he was nominated for Best Actor at the Edinburgh Festival.
Revd. Dr. Claire MacDonald FRSA is a London based writer and Unitarian minister. She met Andrea Dunbar in 1978 at Keighley Women’s Aid, and Adelle Stripe in 2014 when Adelle began researching Andrea’s work. She is currently Professorial Fellow at Central School of Speech and Drama, her most recent collection of plays and essays, Utopia: Three Plays for a Postdramatic Theatre was published by Intellect in 2015.
Adelle Stripe was born in 1976 and grew up in Tadcaster. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Manchester University and is the recipient of the 2016 K Blundell Award for Fiction. She teaches at MMU. Her writing has appeared in publications in the US and UK including The Guardian, Stool Pigeon, Caught by the River, Penny Dreadful and Chiron Review.
About the chair
Michael Stewart is from Salford but is now based in Bradford. He has won several awards for his scriptwriting, including the BBC Alfred Bradley Bursary Award. His debut novel King Crow was the winner of The Guardian’s Not The Booker Award. His new novel, Ill Will, will be published by HarperCollins later this year.