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.

We are delighted to welcome actor George Costigan (Bob) to talk about his experiences acting in Rita, Sue and Bob Too, one of the most controversial films of the 1980s that was both set and shot in Bradford.

Revd Dr Claire MacDonald will reflect on her time spent with Dunbar at Keighley Women’s Aid and writer, Adelle Stripe, will discuss her debut novel, Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile, which was inspired by Dunbar’s extraordinary life and works.

This event will examine how Dunbar captured the humour, humanity and hope of some of Bradford’s most deprived areas, without shying away from the problems they faced.

About The Speakers

George Costigan

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.

Photo by Ant Robling

Claire MacDonald

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

About The Chair

Michael Stewart

Michael Stewart’s debut novel, King Crow, was the winner of the Guardian’s Not-the-Booker Award. Other books: Couples; Café Assassin; Mr Jolly and Ill Will: The Untold Story of Heathcliff. Walking the Invisible, a hybrid memoir about the Brontës’ lives and landscapes, will be published by HarperCollins in June 2021. He is also the creator of the Brontë Stones project.