Everyman and LJMU exhibition marks Alan Dossor’s time as Artistic Director

As part of the Everyman’s 60th Year Celebrations, and working in partnership with Liverpool John Moore’s University, a free exhibition showcasing Alan Dossor’s time as Artistic Director runs at the Hope Street theatre from 3 to 8 June.

Arriving at the Everyman in 1970 at the age of 28, Alan Dossor ushered in what many have called a ‘golden age’, attracting companies of actors who went on to become household names, developing a pool of local writers, and creating a distinctive Everyman style.  

In his five-year tenure, actors including Bernard Hill, Matthew Kelly, Bill Nighy, Roger Phillips, Pete Postlethwaite, Jonathan Pryce, Anthony Sher, Alison Steadman and Julie Walters, and writers such as Alan Bleasdale, Chris Bond, John McGrath, and Willy Russell, were all given their ‘start’ at the Everyman thanks to ‘Dossor’ as he was affectionately named.

Working with Lucy Dossor, Alan’s daughter, the exhibition explores the key elements of Dossor’s approach and includes reproductions of photographs and posters from the Everyman’s archive, held at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU).

As Mark Da Vanzo, the theatre’s CEO explains, “Celebrating the 60th year at the Everyman could not pass by without taking a moment to reflect and celebrate Alan’s extraordinary legacy. His informal, adventurous and popular style, combining new work and reimagined classics, and giving actors and writers a chance to experiment and learn their craft, is still very much at the heart of our ethos today.

“We’re grateful to partner with LJMU who hold the Everyman’s archive and are pleased to not just share this exhibition now but also a long-term reminder of this remarkable man with the installation of a plaque on the wall as you go into the theatre. His daughter Lucy has chosen a perfect quote from her father: ‘Theatre won’t change the world, but the people watching it just might’. 

“We’ll endeavor to honour this as we continue to nurture new talent and tell stories that matter, long into the future”.

Alan Dossor in the Everyman

Speaking about the exhibition and the plaque, Lucy Dossor said, “Dad didn’t want a gravestone [when he died in 2016], so he might not approve of the sign we’ve put up. But he’s dead, so it’s not up to him.  

“I believe his drive to create theatre is summed up in the quote we chose. It’s hidden away in a far corner, you won’t come across it in passing, you must make a trip. People talk about Alan’s time as a ‘golden age’, but he would have said, tear it up, it’s bullshit, it’s the past, move on, do now.

“This is why the sign is hidden. He disrespected idolatry, celebrity, reverence. He has no grave, so the sign is a little place with his name on, and a message from him to everyone. Everyman. Feel free to destroy and make something better. But there must be laughs…” 

Susannah Waters, LJMU Library’s Head of Academic Services said, “This exhibition showcases some of the wonderful material in the Everyman’s archive alongside text by LJMU’s Dr Ros Merkin. We hope the photographs and posters on display will prompt fond memories for some visitors and inspire others to find out more about the archive. It’s been fantastic working with the Everyman and Lucy on this project and we’re looking forward to further collaboration later this year.”

A Celebration of Alan Dossor is part of the Everyman’s 60th Birthday Year – Everyone Starts Somewhere – highlighting the importance of regional theatres such as the Everyman in the ecosystem, not just for theatre but also the film and tv industry around the world.

The aim is to raise £60,000 across the next 12 months towards talent development, supporting the award-winning Young Everyman Playhouse and bringing new diverse voices to the stages. At the Everyman Theatre on Hope Street, the exhibition runs from Monday 3 to Saturday, 8 June, and is open from 11am to 3pm. 

A further exhibition celebrating 60 years of the Everyman will be held at LJMU’s Aldham Robarts Library between 19 August and 13 December 2024.

For more information on the Everyman’s 60th celebrations, visit https://www.everymanplayhouse.com/everyone-starts-somewhere and to find out more about the Everyman archive, visit https://www.ljmu.ac.uk/microsites/library/special-collections-and-archives/liverpool-theatre-and-writing/everyman-theatre-archive

Lead image: Alan Dossor, Artistic Director, Everyman Theatre, 70-75

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