My mother, Shirley Dynevor-White, who died at the age of 89, was an actress at Joan Littlewood’s Theater Workshop in London in the 1950s.
Between 1953 and 1959, she participated in many productions with them at the Theater Royal, Stratford East, including A Christmas Carol (1953), The Dutch Courtesan (1954), Richard II (1954) and An Italian Straw Hat (1955).
She later worked in film and moved into television, spending the last 15 years of her career as a stage manager on the set of Coronation Street, which she loved.
Shirley was born in Cardiff to Hedley Teague, a landscape gardener, and Nancy (née Sutton), a nurse. She showed her acting talent at Hereford High School for Girls and after leaving school she worked for a while as a representative in Pontypridd before moving to London where she worked as an usher at the Curzon cinema.
In 1953, she auditioned for Stratford East, where Littlewood guided her. “With her wool hat, she was the most magical director I could imagine, with an extraordinary approach to drama, theater and life,” she later said. “When I received a telegram inviting me to work for the company, it was one of the most exciting moments of my life.”
At the beginning of 1954, another actor joined the Theater Workshop – Gerard Dynevor, my father. Within minutes of meeting her, he invited her to a local coffee shop, where he proposed over a cup of tea. In November of that year, Shirley gave birth to my older brother, Jonathan. Her labor began at the stalls in Stratford East while watching Gerard play The Good Soldier Schweik. “It was awfully funny and I was laughing so hard between contractions,” she said. “I stayed until the end and we almost made it to the Queen Charlotte Hospital in time.”
After Shirley left the company, she took a modeling job and joined a temp agency, but mostly stayed at home looking after my brother and me. In 1966, when the family moved to Manchester, Gerard died.
As a result, Shirley had to give up acting to earn enough money to raise her two sons alone. She began working in television production, mainly for Thames, London Weekend and then Granada, where she became stage manager in Coronation Street.
Throughout these years, she continued to take up acting work whenever she could. She played Eva Braun in Peter O’Toole’s 1976 film Rogue Male, and on television, she has appeared in Charlesworth, Scotland Yard, Armchair Theatre, Family Solicitor, The Liars, Crown Court and The Wednesday Play.
In 1989, she married Simon White, guitarist for Manchester-based rock iconoclasts Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias. When she was diagnosed with dementia in 2009, Simon cared for her devotedly at home until her death. She was an extremely kind, caring and lively soul with a delightfully mischievous sense of humor that stayed with her almost to the end.
She was survived by Simon, Jonathan and I, grandchildren Rosie, Maddie, Phoebe, Sam and Hattie, and great-grandchildren Louis and Elio.