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John Godber and Shakers

John Godber was born in Upton, West Yorkshire on the 18th of may 1956. In his early career he trained as a teacher; Godber began his career teaching drama at Bretton hall college and bases many of his plays on his life experiences, including the play Teechers, which deals heavily with his reasons for leaving the profession. His plays are performed across the world, Godber is credited with being one of the most performed writers in the English language.

“I had become increasingly bored by the convention of modern drama. most plays i had read were set in realistic locations, and therefore fairly limiting in terms of how they could represent themselves to an audience.”

Writing alongside Jane Thornton, Shakers was first staged in 1985, at the height of the ‘Thatcherite’ yuppie revolution. At the start of the decade ‘working as a waitress in a cocktail bar’ was a glamorous idea for The Human League, when every town in the United Kingdom had its own ubiquitous cocktail bar. nearly 40 years later, you’ll be lucky to find a bar that is open, never mind thriving; soon the cocktail waitress will be a memory long gone. As times change Godber and Thornton reworked the play four times: Shakers, Shakers The Musical, Shakers: Under New Management, and the version ETC will be performing on the 13th of November 2022 ‘Shakers: Restirred’.

“I deliberately wrote short scenes, used short titles to make everything accessible. This play is designed to draw in an audience from a very working class city, I wanted to bring people who didn’t have a degree in english into the theatre.”

Shakers has been performed all over the world, including playing for many years in Prague, and is a favourite with young women in schools. Shakers: Under New Management loses the character of Carol and is performed with only 3 actresses, the play was originally written for 4 women. When it was performed in LA one of the actresses, Yeardley Smith, who played Nicky, was seen in it and asked to audition for a voiceover job, she was then successfully offered the chance to voice Lisa Simpson in the his animation series The Simpsons - and has been doing it ever since. during an early tour one of the actresses was taken ill, with no understudy on stand-by, writer John Godber went on as Nicky.

“As a teenager I looked forward to the weekend and to enjoy the big city of Wakefield, or at a stretch Leeds. The nightlife and clubs seem utterly exotic compared to the mining village I grew up in. This gave birth to shakers.”

After the success of Bouncers in 1984, Thornton and Godber wanted to recreate the success with an all female cast. The John Godber Company is currently on a 2022 tour of ‘Shakers: Under New Management’, and are currently gearing up for their next touring production.


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