Thursday, September 26, 2013

Surprises nominated for Best New Play

The UK Theatre Awards 2013 have just been announced with a nomination for Alan Ayckbourn's plays Surprises.
The play, which premiered last year, has been nominated in the Best New Play category and is up against Mike Bartlett's Bull and Tom Wells's Jumpers For Goalposts.
Surprises is Alan Ayckbourn's 76th play and revolves around three intertwined love stories set in the near future.
The world premiere production was directed by Alan Ayckbourn and starred Ayesha Antoine, Bill Champion, Laura Doddington, Sarah Parks, Ben Porter and Richard Stacey. The play was originally co-produced by the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, and Chichester Festival Theatre in 2012 before going on a UK tour in 2013.
The UK Theatre Awards - which is organised by the Theatrical Management Association - will take place on October 20 at London’s Guildhall. Watch this space for the result.
Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website sends out congratulations to the company and everyone involved in the production for the nomination.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Ayckbourn Articles: The Repertory Company

In the run-up to Alan Ayckbourn's 75th birthday in April 2014, a monthly feature reproduces articles by the playwright highlighting his life in theatre through the years.
Last month we looked at Alan Ayckbourn on the cusp of becoming the Artistic Director of the Library Theatre in Scarborough (now the Stephen Joseph Theatre) and maintaining Stephen Joseph's legacy.
We now move forward four years to the final year at the Library Theatre, where Alan had been Artistic Director for four years. Here he talks about one of the often over-looked but essential facets of his time at the Stephen Joseph Theatre: the repertory company. Particularly during the '70s and '80s, there was practically a permanent repertory company in Scarborough which Alan nurtured and felt was important to the identity of the theatre.

One of the more unusual and also the happiest aspects of this theatre has been the comparative stability of the company. Speaking as a playwright this has proved invaluable. The problems and often the agonies of producing a new play are considerably reduced when a nucleus of the cast is already, to some degree, in tune and sympathetic. It would be churlish, if not downright ungrateful then, if I did not acknowledge the debt I owe to actors like, for instance, Chris Godwin. To date, he has produced sufficient stamina to appear in no less than ten of my plays (some of them twice). It's an actor/author relationship which is, I suspect, unequalled in contemporary theatre, certainly in this country and has been made possible only because of the existence of the company itself. (For the record, second in the 'league table' is Stanley Page, seen here last summer in Bedroom Farce and Confusions, who has been in nine plays. Then Heather Stoney with eight and Janet Dale with seven).
Of course, the point is really that we have managed, in this most uncertain and unstable of professions, to achieve surprising continuity. Whilst I'm not a believer that companies should remain so static that they risk stagnation, a set-up such as ours depends entirely on its shared identity. Its star persona, if you like, is generated by the sum of its individual talents. It's an identity that ideally alters gradually as new elements are added and others lost but if all goes well it should still have enough personality for a regular audience to relate to and recognise. Having worked in both star theatre and company theatre I make no pretence as to where my preferences lie. It's our ambition as a company to prove the point.

Copyright: Alan Ayckbourn (1976). Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.