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Wednesday 06 November 2002
Port: Simon Stephens interview part 2
port by Simon Stephens
Simon Stephens: life in Stockport writ large

Stockport writer Simon Stephens has just had his play 'Port' premièred at the Royal Exchange.
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Growing in Stockport was a huge influence and here he talks about how he wrote the play and what growing up in Manchester means to him.

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On stage this week
Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf?
'Port' by Simon Stephens
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Nov 6 to Nov 30
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"I spent a week back home interviewing women I knew who had lived in Stockport all their lives. Recording the interviews. Making sense of their stories. Being stunned by their honesty, humour, compassion, intelligence. I interviewed close friends and complete strangers, my twenty year old cousin and my eighty eight year old Nana. I talked to them about their life, their aspirations, their memories, their relationship with the town.

" Stockport, it seems to me, like many working class or lower middle class towns is defined by its women.
Their stories fuelled this play more than anything else. I hope I have done their spirit justice. I wanted to write about the housing estates of Stockport that I knew.

But I wanted to write about the hope I found there, the humour, the honesty, the charm as well as the brutality, the irony and the despair. Because I thought that to deny that hope was nothing short of dishonest. And the time scale of the play seemed perculiarly resonant in my attempt to make sense of the city that raised me.

"The play runs from 1988 to 2002. It was the time scale, pretty much of my departure. But my absolutely the time scale throughout which Manchester defined itself as a cultural entity in my consciousness. From 'The Second Summer Of Love' to The Commonwealth Games.

"So many things happened there that touched how I am, even in my absence, that they inevitably drive through this play. Drive through it perhaps as much as anything else. To me at least, secretly, in private, this play is all of those things.

"It is the first Stone Roses LP. It is Shaun Ryder on Top of the Pops. It is Morrissey singing 'Moon river'. It is New Order at Reading. Or playing pool to 'Cigarettes & Alcohol'. Or the bomb in the Arndale. Or the failed Olympic Bids. It's Paul Morley's 'Nothing' and Simon Armitage's poetry. It is Cantona at Wembley, Solskjaer at the Nou Camp, Keegan at Maine Road. And the Commonwealth Games actually being fucking brilliant.

"It's drinking outside the pubs in the Market in the summer time and working in Gateways on Heaton Moor Road. And it's three hundred people at my Dad's funeral. And all of my mates. And my family. I hope I've done them all right."

What does growing up in Manchester mean to you? >>>

From Mark Stephens in Derby (Used to be Stockport)
I completely disagree with everything he said, but then being his younger brother I would say that.

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