Sunday, December 4, 2016

Ayckbourn Advent Calendar: Day 4

Throughout December, the blog will be celebrating Christmas with an Ayckbourn Advent Calendar. Drawing on items held in the Ayckbourn Archive, it looks at plays set at Christmas, plays premiered during the festive period or just items connected to Christmas. Join us each day from 1 - 24 December for a new item from the archive.

Day 4: Christmas V Mastermind
Quite possibly the playwright's own most dis-liked play from his entire play canon, Christmas V Mastermind was his fourth-full-length play.
It opened on Boxing Day 1962 at the Victoria Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent, to an audience comprising less people than were in the cast. The heating was also broken and the play failed to attract its intended family audience.
To be fair, a play about industrial action at Santa's toy factory is perhaps not the most appealing of subjects for children...
On top of this, the play itself seems to have been jinxed as this report from the Evening Sentinel shows with three of the cast struggling to make it back for the play's opening performance.
And most bizarre of all, the actress Heather Stoney had an accident leading to her wearing an eye-patch for several performances, which Alan Ayckbourn altered the script to reflect! Sadly, the script alterations do not survive as it would be intriguing to know what reason he came up with for a fairy having a touch of the piratical about them.
Christmas V Mastermind article from the Evening
Sentinal, December 1962.
Copyright: Evening Sentinel

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Ayckbourn Advent Calendar: Day 3

Throughout December, the blog will be celebrating Christmas with an Ayckbourn Advent Calendar. Drawing on items held in the Ayckbourn Archive, it looks at plays set at Christmas, plays premiered during the festive period or just items connected to Christmas. Join us each day from 1 - 24 December for a new item from the archive.

Day 3: Dad's Tale
We return today to 1960 and Alan Ayckbourn's third play, Dad's Tale.
The image below is one of the earliest surviving promotional items relating to Alan Ayckbourn's plays and is held in The Bob Watson Archive at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough.
This is an 'A' board advertising the play at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, featuring a scene from the play with Rosamund Dickson and Stanley Page facing off.
As can be seen, it's not terribly sophisticated (and even less so in life!). The photo and logo are just stuck on with some 'professional' typesetting - a felt tip pen - announcing the play's details.
Note how the play is credited to Roland Allen; Alan Ayckbourn's pen name for his first four plays.
Dad's Tale advertising board.
Copyright: Scarborough Theatre Trust

Friday, December 2, 2016

Ayckbourn Advent Calendar: Day 2

Throughout December, the blog will be celebrating Christmas with an Ayckbourn Advent Calendar. Drawing on items held in the Ayckbourn Archive, it looks at plays set at Christmas, plays premiered during the festive period or just items connected to Christmas. Join us each day from 1 - 24 December for a new item from the archive.

Day 2: Dad's Tale
Alan Ayckbourn's third full-length play was, like its predecessor Love After All, premiered during Christmas at the Library Theatre, Scarborough.
Unlike Love After All, Dad's Tale was a Christmas play which was aimed at a children's audience. Unfortunately, the Library Theatre had not much experience programming Christmas shows and the play opened on 19 December 1960, after schools had broken up; thus depriving the show of the all important festive school trips to the theatre and it played to very small houses.
Dad's Tale was notable as Alan accepted the commission to write it before he was informed by the theatre's Artistic Director, Stephen Joseph, that it should contain ballet scenes!
Stephen had arranged the production as a co-production with the British Dance Drama Theatre and Alan had to write a play which would contain balletic interludes.
Today's Advent item features the British Dance Drama Theatre in rehearsals for Dad's Tale in a cutting from The Stage newspaper, marking the first time an image from an Ayckbourn play was reproduced in the theatre industry newspaper.
Dad's Tale in The Stage newspaper in December 1960.
Copyright: The Stage

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Ayckbourn Advent Calendar: Day 1

Throughout December, the blog will be celebrating Christmas with an Ayckbourn Advent Calendar. Drawing on items held in the Ayckbourn Archive, it looks at plays set at Christmas, plays premiered during the festive period or just items connected to Christmas. Join us each day from 1 - 24 December for a new item from the archive.

Day 1: Love After All
Not so much a Christmas play, but Alan Ayckbourn's second full-length play - Love After All - was premiered on 21 December at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, and ran through Christmas week; except for Christmas Day.
The first Advent item is a press cutting published on 22 December 1959 - sadly the publication is not recorded - which reviews the play proclaiming it 'an excellent alternative' to Christmas pantomimes; I can't help but feel that's damning with faint praise....
Love After All was written by Alan with the intention he would play the quick-changing lead role, but when he was called up for what turned out to be a very short-lived National Service, he had to vacate the part.
As the article notes though, he did manage to attend the first night for a production which was directed by Clifford Williams, who went on to become a famed director at the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Love After All review, 22 December 1959
Copyright: To be confirmed