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Graeae Theatre Company

Graeae presents

Reasons to be Cheerful

by Paul Sirett

A standing ovation at the guest night at Hackney Empire
The closing scene of the performance
John and Nadia singing Spasticus Autisticus
Nadia Albina, Dan McGowan and Jude Mahon singing Billericay Dickie
Time slows and Dave and Vinnie enter a kung fu moment
The cast raising a beer during the song



Reasons to be Cheerful was nominated for Best Touring Production and the Renee Shepham Award for Best Presentation of Touring Theatre at the TMA Theatre UK Awards

Jenny Sealey said: ‘I’m thrilled that Reasons to be Cheerful has been shortlisted for this award. The show had a hugely talented cast, band, crew and creative team and this nomination is already a fantastic testimony to everyone’s hard work and passion. Graeae and the New Wolsey have a great working relationship and to win an award as co-producers would be a fitting acknowledgement of what we have achieved together.’

This year, Reasons to be Cheerful was bigger, better and more rockin’ than ever before. With an epic 1,633 mile tour under its belt the show then performed a number of one off gigs including featuring at the London 2012 Paralympic Opening Ceremony. This culminated with the storming performance at Southbank Centre as part of Unlimited Festival which had the whole audience singing and signing along.

It’s 1979: Labour loses to the Tories, strikes rock the nation and Ian Dury and the Blockheads’ Reasons to be Cheerful (Part 3) climbs the charts. As the ultimate fans, Vinnie and his mates would do anything to see Dury at the Hammersmith Odeon, only the gig is sold out. But life has a habit of throwing strange things at you, and one night of frustration becomes something else entirely…

Written by Paul Sirett and directed by Graeae’s Jenny Sealey, this acclaimed coming of age tale featuring Ian Dury and the Blockheads’ greatest hits such as Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll, Sweet Gene Vincent, Spasticus Autisticus and Hit Me with your Rhythm Stick has filled theatres with raucous glee. ‘Ave it!

‘A Masterpeice!’ Chaz Jankel – The Blockheads

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Production Credits

Direction – Jenny Sealey
Musical direction
– Robert Hyman
– Gaelle Mellis
Lighting design
– Ian Scott
– Mark Smith
Sound design
– Lewis Gibson
– Mark Haig
Original production co-produced by Graeae, New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, and Theatre Royal Stratford East.

Reasons to be Cheerful (Part3) original track – Lyrics and music by Ian Dury, Chaz Jankel & Davey Payne

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Performance Schedule


Recent performances

Ha Ha Hackney: Maggie Maggie Maggie *** *** ***!
Saturday 1 September 7.30pm

Liberty Festival, Trafalgar Square
Sunday 2 September

Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, London
Sunday 9 September 2pm


2012 Spring Tour venue details

New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich
9 Feb – 18 Feb 2012

Hall for Cornwall
23 Feb – 25 Feb 2012

Hull Truck
1 March – 4 March 2012

Watford Palace

13 March – 17 March 2012

Dundee Rep
20 March – 24 March 2012

Hackney Empire
28 Mar – 1 April 2012

Nottingham Playhouse
3 April – 7 April 2012

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This opportunity has now passed. If you’re interested in further workshops e-mail training[at]

Reasons to be Cheerful – Workshops

To accompany the REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL tour, Graeae is offering a workshop programme to groups that visited the show.

Suitable for: Participants aged 14 and above. Workshops can be adapted to suit students at BTEC, Diploma, A Level, and Higher Education degree level.

There were three workshop options, each drawing influence from the production:

Creative Access: The Graeae Aesthetic
Engage with Graeae’s exciting creative approaches, exploring how devised work is enriched by
the use of audio description, visual storytelling and accessible performance techniques in the
devising process. Outcome: to provide participants with practical tools enabling them to
devise and perform a short, accessible scene.

Song Writing: Your World, Your Voice, Your Story
Engage with the storytelling, poetry and lyrics of Ian Dury’s music, using his unique style as
inspiration to find the group’s individual or collective voice. Outcome: to offer participants
the opportunity to create/write a short song in their own style and perform it to the group.

Exploring Key Themes: Identity and Relationships
Engage with the above themes by exploring selected snapshots from the narrative using
various dramatic techniques (such as role play or forum). Outcome: to give participants
the opportunity to devise and perform a short scene inspired by the above themes.
Time required: Minimum 2 hours. Maximum number of participants: 25

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Reviews / Feedback

‘Paul Sirett’s script snaps, snarls, laughs and leers, just like Dury’s music.’
The Stage

‘REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL emerges not only as a funny, energetic and
moving show, but also one that pulses with a deep, natural human energy.’
The Scotsman

‘The music is brilliant… there are moments of crude punk genius’
The Times

‘Oi, oi! Paul Sirett’s new musical fashioned around the music of Ian Dury is rough, ready and bloody brilliant.’
Time Out – Critics’ choice 4 Stars

‘The energy and anarchic attitude are faultless.’
The Daily Telegraph

‘Reasons To Be Cheerful – The Musical is a Graeae Theatre Company triumph. The BBC’s banned Spasticus Autisticus is joyfully defiant.’
The Guardian


Celebrity Quotes

‘REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL is a total blast: for the nostalgics it’s a truly touching and affectionate tribute to one of our great street poets; and for everyone one else it’s We Will Rock You and Matilda served up by the best ensemble cast I’ve seen in years. The instinct to get up on stage with them and dance is overwhelming. Whew!Danny Boyle (Film Director)

‘Beyond emotional, beyond brilliant. Well done all involved.’ Baxter Dury (Ian’s son)

‘When the curtain came down everyone was on their feet applauding and wanting more. There was enough energy on stage to light up all of the West End. This production must have the chance to reach the large audience it really deserves. It is a timely, funny and immensely entertaining piece of theatre. I can’t wait to see it again’ Jenny Agutter (Actress)

‘Surely, what defined Ian Dury was his spirit, courage and wit… this is exactly at the heart
of Graeae’s production of REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL.When I saw the show I was amazed by the pace, vigour and attention to detail of these brilliant actors and musicians. Having worked and hung out with Ian Dury for so many creative years, I knew exactly what uplifted him and what irritated him – big time! He applauded strength of spirit and sincerity. I think I could truthfully say on Ian’s behalf that
had he been here to see these guys he would be proud, gob smacked and may even have
shed a tear for the sheer bravura of this musical. A masterpiece!’ Chaz Jankel (chief Blockhead & Ian’s former writing partner)

‘Great cast, very cool band, best night out for ages I hope it gets an extended run.’ John Turnbull (Blockhead)

‘There is energy and honesty, fantastic music and above all, excellent entertainment. I know
Ian would be overwhelmed with pride to see how his and the Blockheads’ music has been
brought to a new audience. The show really, really deserves to go further.’ Jemima Dury (Ian’s daughter)

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Download The Easy Read Synopsis for REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL Download REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL plain text programme

Promo for Reasons to be Cheerful

BSL synopsis for Reasons to be Cheerful

Reasons to be Cheerful - A note from the writer

Download A note from the writer as an MP3

Reasons to be Cheerful - Audio description of the set

Download Audio description of the set as an MP3

Reasons to be Cheerful - Audio description of characters and costume

Download Audio description of characters and costume as an MP3

Reasons to be Cheerful - Cast and production team

Download Cast and production team as an MP3

Reasons to be Cheerful - Reasons to be Cheerful (Part3) original track – Lyrics and music by Ian Dury, Chaz Jankel & Davey Payne. Performed by the cast

Download Reasons to be Cheerful (Part3) original track – Lyrics and music by Ian Dury, Chaz Jankel & Davey Payne. Performed by the cast as an MP3

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