John Byrne in drama trib­ute to Raf­ferty

Play to be staged in town if bid gets OK

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Pais­ley artist and play­wright John Byrne has been in­spired by the mu­sic of Gerry Raf­ferty to write a stage show set in the town.

Dubbed Un­der­wood Lane, the the­atre piece will fea­ture Raf­ferty’s mu­sic in a tough sce­nario set around the re­li­gious di­vide in the west of Scot­land.

And it is Byrne’s am­bi­tion to have it staged in Pais­ley if it wins the bid to be­come UK City of Cul­ture 2021.

The story will cen­tre on the friend­ship of two teenagers – one a Catholic and one a Protes­tant – who grew up side by side but have never met, be­fore a chance en­counter leads to them set­ting up a band to­gether.

The show is ex­pected to fea­ture many of Raf­ferty’s best-known songs, such as Stuck In The Mid­dle With You, What­ever’s Writ­ten In Your Heart, Baker Street and Night Train.

Seventy-seven-year-old Byrne is work­ing with Neil McArthur, who was the mu­si­cal di­rec­tor on the Na­tional The­atre of Scot­land’s stage adap­ta­tion of Byrne’s Tutti Frutti.

Robin Le­fevre, who worked with Byrne pre­vi­ously on stage shows, is also in­volved.

Byrne said: “Un­der­wood Lane is where the Raf­ferty fam­ily lived.

“I knew Ger­ald, as I al­ways called him, from when I was eight years of age and I worked be­side his older brother Jim in Stod­dart’s car­pet fac­tory.

“I saw him two days be­fore he died af­ter I was told he was on his way out.

“I went down to see him in Glouces­ter, where he was liv­ing with his daugh­ter, Martha. We spent five hours laugh­ing and rem­i­nisc­ing.”

He added: “The script of Un­der­wood could stand alone with­out any mu­sic in it.

“I didn’t write it to ac­com­mo­date any of the songs – I just wrote it as a play. But it’s the songs that make the thing a com­plete work of art.”

As well as a play­wright, John Byrne is an artist of great dis­tinc­tion.

His of­ten quirky paint­ings are in­spired by Sur­re­al­ism

Gerry Raf­ferty died in Jan­uary 2011, and is best known for his mas­sive hit Baker Street.

Pais­ley 2021 bid di­rec­tor Jean Cameron said: “As one of Pais­ley’s best- known cul­tural fig­ures, John Byrne has been a big sup­porter of his home town’s bid to be UK City of Cul­ture 2021. So we are de­lighted he is work­ing on this mu­si­cal, which would be a fit­ting trib­ute to the mu­sic of his great friend Gerry Raf­ferty.

“Should we win, the pro­gramme for Pais­ley’s 2021 year will bring the best artists from Pais­ley, Scot­land and the UK here to work with lo­cal tal­ent, while telling our unique sto­ries on an in­ter­na­tional stage.

“This show would be a great fit for that and we would be de­lighted to stage it here in Pais­ley.”

Artists John Byrne, top, and Gerry Raf­ferty, above

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