Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ask The Archivist: 31 January 2012

Ask The Archivist is a regular feature allowing you to put your Alan Ayckbourn related questions to the playwright's archivist Simon Murgatroyd. 
If you have a question regarding any aspect of Alan's work, email it to: ask@alanayckbourn.net and we'll publish any interesting questions.  

Question: Which, if any, of Alan Ayckbourn's plays have been published in a digital format?

Answer: Currently, 13 of Alan Ayckbourn's plays have been published in a digital format and are available to buy.
Of these plays, only one is available as an individual play - Season's Greetings - with all the rest published in various collected volumes.
The plays currently available are:

Absent Friends - published in Three Plays 
Absurd Person Singular - published in Three Plays
Bedroom Farce - published in Three Plays
House & Garden - published in Alan Ayckbourn: Plays 4 
If I Were You - published in Alan Ayckbourn: Plays 5
Life & Beth - published in Alan Ayckbourn: Plays 5
Life Of Riley - published in Alan Ayckbourn: Plays 5
My Wonderful Day - published in Alan Ayckbourn: Plays 5
The Revengers' Comedies - published in Alan Ayckbourn: Plays 4
Season's Greetings - published as a single play volume 
Snake In The Grass - published in Alan Ayckbourn: Plays 5 
Things We Do For Love - published in Alan Ayckbourn: Plays 4

As of writing, there are no details about further Alan Ayckbourn's plays due to be published in a digital format in the immediate future, but any news about forthcoming publication will be carried at Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website.

All the publications listed on this page are available via the shop at Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website here.

To submit your question to Ask The Archivist, email Simon Murgatroyd at: ask@alanayckbourn.net.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ask The Archivist: 24 January 2012

Ask The Archivist is a regular feature allowing you to put your Alan Ayckbourn related questions to the playwright's archivist Simon Murgatroyd. 
If you have a question regarding any aspect of Alan's work, email it to: ask@alanayckbourn.net and we'll publish any interesting questions.  

Question: Whilst reading the original reviews of Absent Friends (and several other plays from the '70s), I noticed the number of his plays is frequently reported incorrectly. Why?

Answer: The simple answer is that for many years Alan Ayckbourn didn't include Jeeves amongst his list of plays (in all likelihood this was due to it being a musical, rather than him wanting to forget the entire experience of the flop musical!). This led to many media articles giving the wrong number of plays (i.e. that Absent Friends was Alan's 15th rather than 16th play).
It was only during the 1990s that Alan decided - again presumably because by then he had written other musicals which were included in the list - to include Jeeves in the list of plays.

To extrapolate further, there wasn't a definitive, easily accessible Ayckbourn play-list to all intents and purposes until www.alanayckbourn.net was launched in 2002. Prior to that, there were often discrepancies between how many plays there were and how they were numbered.
For instance, between 1965 and 1971, it's not unusual for many of Alan's earliest plays not to be counted in media reports. Between 1975 and the early 1980s, quite frequently Jeeves is excluded from the list, presumably as it was a musical and Alan hadn't written any other musicals at that point. This means that what was regarded as his silver anniversary play, Season's Greetings - which was marked by a silver programme cover - in 1982, is actually now regarded as his 26th play (one wonders if future generations will ponder why a 26th play was deemed worthy of a silver cover rather than the 25th!).
The first published authoritative list of Alan's plays was compiled by the Stephen Joseph Theatre's press and marketing manager Jeannie Swales and Alan's PA Heather Stoney in 1999 for the A Chorus Of Approval event at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, to mark the playwright's 60th birthday. This list formed the basis of the definitive play list which is used today and can be found on Alan Ayckbourn's website here.

To submit your question to Ask The Archivist, email Simon Murgatroyd at: ask@alanayckbourn.net.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

New Feature: Ask The Archivist

The Alan Ayckbourn New Blog launches a new (hopefully) regular feature for 2012 today with Ask The Archivist.
Alan Ayckbourn's Archivist and Administrator of this blog and the playwright's official website www.alanayckbourn.net, Simon Murgatroyd, wants to hear your questions regarding the history of Alan Ayckbourn and his plays.
So if there's a burning question you have regarding any aspect of Alan's work, why not send it and it might get chosen to be answered in this blog. To submit your question, just email it to: ask@alanayckbourn.net. We'll publish the most interest questions and - hopefully - provide the answer to it!

Question: We kick off the new feature with a question inspired by the forthcoming London revival of Absent Friends: Juse how many London (West End) productions of Alan's plays have there been over the years?

Answer: It's not as straight-forward a question as it may seem as it depends on how you define London or London's West End. Most people when referring to London productions mean the West End - except there's no real agreement on what definitively constitutes the West End! Some lists strictly stick to a defined area, some only list commercial theatres whilst some lists include subsidised theatres or venues not strictly in the West End (such as the National Theatre).
On Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website, for consistency's sake we now define London as any venue which is defined as West End theatre by the Society Of London Theatres and are listed on its website; this includes most major theatres in London from the commercial West End to the National Theatre to subsidised producing houses such as The Old Vic and The Royal Court.

So having defined the criteria, we can provide an answer. Between 1964 and April 2012, there will have been 39 different Ayckbourn plays produced in London. If you include revivals of plays staged more than once in London, that figures rises to 50 productions of Alan Ayckbourn's plays.

And for completist's sake, here's a complete list of both London premieres and revivals of Alan Ayckbourn's plays between 1964 and April 2012, when his latest play, Neighbourhood Watch, opens in London.

London Premieres:
Mr Whatnot (New Arts, 1964); Relatively Speaking (Duke Of Yorks, 1967); How The Other Half Loves (Lyric, 1970); Time And Time Again (Comedy, 1972); Absurd Person Singular (Criterion, 1973); Table Manners (Globe, 1974); Living Together (Globe, 1974); Round And Round The Garden (Globe, 1974); Absent Friends (Garrick, 1975); Jeeves (Her Majesty's, 1975); Confusions (Apollo, 1976); Bedroom Farce (National, 1977); Just Between Ourselves (Queen's, 1977); Ten Times Table (Globe, 1978); Joking Apart (Globe, 1979); Sisterly Feelings (National, 1980); Taking Steps (Lyric, 1980); Season's Greetings (Apollo, 1982); Way Upstream (National, 1982); Intimate Exchanges (Ambassadors, 1983); A Chorus Of Disapproval (National & Lyric, 1985); Woman In Mind (Vaudeville, 1986); A Small Family Business (National, 1987); Henceforward... (Vaudeville, 1988); Man Of The Moment (Globe, 1990); The Revengers' Comedies (Strand, 1991); Invisible Friends (National, 1991); Mr A's Amazing Maze Plays (National, 1993), Wildest Dreams (Barbican, 1993); TIme Of My Life (Vaudeville, 1993); Communicating Doors (Gielgud, 1995); By Jeeves (Duke Of York's, 1996); Things We Do For Love (Gielgud, 1998); Comic Potential (Lyric, 1999); House (National, 2000); Garden (National, 2000); GamePlan (Duchess, 2002); FlatSpin (Duchess, 2002); RolePlay (Duchess, 2002).

London Revivals:
How The Other Half Loves (Duke Of York's, 1988); Absurd Person Singular (Whitehall, 1990); Bedroom Farce (Aldwych, 2002); Absurd Person Singular (Garrick, 2007); Table Manners (Old Vic, 2008); Living Together (Old Vic, 2008); Round And Round The Garden (Old Vic, 2008); Woman In Mind (Vaudeville, 2009); Bedroom Farce (Duke Of York's, 2010); Season's Greetings (National, 2010); Absent Friends (Harold Pinter, 2012).

These lists do not include fringe theatres in London such as The Round House, Greenwich Theatre, the Orange Tree Theatre, The Print Room, Jermyn Street Theatre, the Landor Theatre and Riverside Studios, all of which have produced Ayckbourn plays.

For further details about the London productions of Alan's plays by clicking here.

Don't forget to email your Ayckbourn questions to ask@alanayckbourn.net.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Pop Culture: Pointless

The first in a (very) occasional and largely irreverent series looking at Alan Ayckbourn in popular culture.

If you were watching the BBC's popular tea-time quiz show Pointless last night, you would have had a chance to show off your knowledge of Alan Ayckbourn and other playwrights.
The quiz featured a question which asked the contestants to show their theatre knowledge by naming the playwright of a selection of six plays.
The aim of Pointless being to get not only the correct answer, but also the answer which had the lowest amount of correct answers when put to the public (so in this case, Edward II was written by Christopher Marlowe and no members of the public recognised the answer; this being the pointless and best answer on the board).
Unfortunately, as can be seen in the video on the BBC iPlayer (link below), the contestant who chose A Chorus Of Disapproval by Alan Ayckbourn was clueless in this category rather than pointless and gave the answer as that well-known playwright... Gordon Taylor (sadly I can find no evidence the Chief Executive of the Professional Footballers' Association has written any plays, never mind one which shares the title of one of Alan's most famous works).
As someone wiser than me once said (probably my Dad), the answer's only easy if you know what it is....

This is actually the second Ayckbourn related question on the BBC in the past two weeks as a recent edition of Celebrity Mastermind asked which seaside town theatre had Alan Ayckbourn Ayckbourn as an Artistic Director between 1972 and 2009? (the Stephen Joseph Theatre, obviously).