Willard Stoker

Ormskirk Actor, Playwright and Director
Willard Stoker.

William Richard Stoker was born above the Stoker Drapery and Furnishing business at 5,7, and 9 Burscough Street.
William grew up in Ormskirk amidst the company of tradesmen and townsfolk and he absorbed the atmosphere of the town during his early years to such an extent that later in his career, when he was the Director of the Liverpool Playhouse, he turned his memories and experiences into a play in 1960.
The Play, entitled ‘I Remember, I Remember’ had lead character Alf and Alice Stoker, amongst the young talent performing in the play was a local actress called Rita Tushingham in one of her first roles. Stoker had employed an ambitious Rita as an assistant stage hand in 1958.
Stoker had travelled extensively in his early career, learning his craft from theatre companies in Moscow and Leningrad, the USA and working as a director and producer in Scottish Rep. In Perth, Glasgow and Edinburgh, where he produced plays for performances at Balmoral Castle.
During his time as the producer at the Liverpool Playhouse, he was responsible for casting many young actors , some direct from drama school. In 1955 and 1956 he chose a young actor for small roles in a couple of comedy productions, giving the young talent of Richard Briars his first break. Just a couple of years later, Stoker cast another Drama School graduate in one of his productions, to great critical acclaim, that was a very youthful John Thaw. One of Stokers last productions,
Stoker left the Liverpool Playhouse in 1962 and moved to the West End to direct at the Savoy Theatre and then went on to produce and direct on Broadway, returning to England in the 1970s to Direct Dryden’s ‘Marriage a la Mode’ at the Northampton Theatre, casting a new comer, Julian Fellowes, in one of that future Downton Abbey screenwriter in an early role.
Willard Stoker, a draper’s son from Ormskirk,who loved the travelling theatres that visited his hometown, left a very important legacy within the world of acting, he was the man who gave young working class actors the chance to become stars.

Dot Broady –Hawkes
Ormskirkbygonetimes.co.uk
https://www.facebook.com/Ormskirkbygonetimes

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