Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Ayckbourn Ensemble In New York

The Ayckbourn Ensemble opens in New York tomorrow offering the chance to see three Ayckbourn plays during the Brits Off Broadway festival.
All three plays will receive their New York premieres at the festival with Alan Ayckbourn directing his own company at the 59E59 Theaters
The playwright has previously brought his company the festival to much acclaim in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011. This year's visit is the most ambitious and largest scale yet.
The productions comprise Alan Ayckbourn's highly acclaimed latest play Arrivals & Departures, a revival of his classic 1992 play Time Of My Life and well as two new one act plays, known jointly as Farcicals. They will be in repertory from 29 May - 29 June, 2014. Arrivals & Departures and Farcicals will also be making their North American premiere.
Arrivals & Departures is described by the playwright as a 'memory' play and follows two disparate characters brought together during an anti-terrorism raid and what has led them to this stage of their lives.
Time Of My Life is a play which extrapolates forwards and backwards from a pivotal birthday meal in the lives of the Stratton family.
Farcicals consists of two related one act farces, The Kidderminster Affair and ChloĆ« With Love; they are described by the author as amongst the silliest and most frivolous things he has ever written!
The Ayckbourn Ensemble premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, during summer 2013 and drew much praise with notable acclaim for Arrivals & Departures and Time Of My Life.
The Ayckbourn Ensemble can be seen at the 59E59 Theaters in repertory from 29 May to 29 June with four days where you can see all three productions during a single day on 8, 14, 22 and 28 June (please note: the 8 and 14 June Ensemble days have now sold out).
Tickets are priced from $25 - $70 ($17.50 - $49 for 59E59 Members) and can be booked online at, where further information and all the latest news about the festival can be found.
To find out more about the plays, visit the Alan Ayckbourn website's sections dedicated to Arrivals & DeparturesTime Of My Life and Farcicals.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Boy Who Fell Into A Book Musical Casting Announced

Further details about the new musical adaptation of Alan Ayckbourn's play The Boy Who Fell Into A Book have been announced.
Alan Ayckbourn will direct the new musical version of his 1998 play which premieres at the Stephen Joseph Theatre during his 75th birthday year.
It plays in the Round from 18 July to 31 August, and brings together a musical team and musical theatre cast drawn from award-winning musicals to West End hits.
The play follows ten year old Kevin, who falls into his favourite book and meets his fictional hero, tough hard-bitten private investigator, Rockfist Slim - two hundred and twenty pounds of solid muscle and now only too real. Together the gallant, incongruous pair, pursued by arch-enemy Monique, set out on the most exciting journey of their lives on a quest to save the world!
The production reunites the team responsible for The Demon Headmaster (National Theatre Studio and UK No. 1 Tour) with Paul James writing the musical adaptation and lyrics and composers Cathy Shostak and Eric Angus as composers.
Alan Ayckbourn will be collaborating with the team as he directs the play and said: “I think they’ve caught the spirit of the play very closely; Paul, Cathy and Eric obviously love the piece and, as a director, I’ll happily hitch a ride along with that sort of enthusiasm.
“It’s a family show - not a children’s show. It’s for anyone who ever secretly read under the bed clothes as a child and who has ever been captivated by a story in a book. In terms of a musical it’s small scale, in that it doesn’t have a cast of hundreds, but I feel with big potential.”
Musical adaptor and lyricist Paul James, said: “I think it’s important when writing any musical, particularly a family show, to repeatedly ask questions like ‘Is the plot clear?’ ‘Do the songs move things along?’ ‘Do they sing well?’ And – most important of all – ‘Is it fun?’ Having worked closely with Alan, as both original author and director, having successfully work-shopped the show, and having now assembled such a hugely talented cast, I think we can holler ‘Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!’ And it really is a show for all ages – the kids’ll love the clever stuff, the adults the slapstick.”
The cast features Nicolas Colicos (By Jeeves, SJT; The Bodyguard, Adelphi Theatre) as Rockfist Slim; Evelyn Hoskins (This is My Family, Sheffield Crucible) as Kevin; Katie Birtill (Priscilla Queen of the Desert, UK Tour; Dreamboats and Petticoats, West End) as Monique and Mummy Wubbly; Stephen Matthews (The Lion King, Lyceum Theatre) as Red Gareth and Ebeneezer; John Barr (Hairspray, Leicester Curve) as Red Bishop; Natasha J Barnes (Chess, Union Theatre) in four parts including the White Queen.
Behind the scenes, the play will be designed by Michael Holt with lighting design by Jason Taylor
and Mark Warman will be Musical Director.
Tickets for The Boy Who Fell Into A Book are priced from £10 to £24.50 and are available from the SJT box office on 01723 370541 and online at

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

40 Years On: Alan Ayckbourn's Play For TV

Today marks the 40th anniversary of a unique part of the Ayckbourn play canon, the first and last time a screenplay by Alan Ayckbourn was broadcast.
On 20 May, 1974, Alan Ayckbourn's screenplay Service Not Included was shown on BBC2, a 30 minute drama written specifically for television - and his only screenplay to have been filmed.
Alan has always remain specifically committed to theatre and unlike many of his contemporaries has chosen not to work in other medium such as film and television. So what is the story behind Service Not Included?
By 1973, Alan Ayckbourn was already a substantial figure in British theatre and hugely successful. Although it was a year away from the West End premiere of The Norman Conquests, which would cement his fame, he had already had major West End hits with Relatively Speaking, How The Other Half Loves and Absurd Person Singular.
That year he was contacted by the television director Herbert Wise about a new BBC drama series entitled Masquerade. Alan knew Wise, as he had previously been responsible for directing the first television production of an Ayckbourn play with a 50 minute adaptation of Relatively Speaking, starring Celia Johnson and Donald Sinden in 1969; he would later go on to film The Norman Conquests for television in 1977.
Wise wrote to Alan asking if he would consider writing a 30 minute piece for the series, which would consist of six plays all united by the theme of "a masked fancy dress party, taking place now in a large 19th century country house."
There were several caveats, notably the screenplay should have no more than four main speaking parts and not more than four sets. Intrigued by the possibility, Alan agreed - largely as "a personal favour" to the director - and responded in July 1973 that he had already had an idea about "an end-of-convention party for a group of Rentokil representatives and their wives."
Once the summer season at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, had finished in September, Alan set about writing his first screenplay in November 1973, delivering it to his agent Margaret Ramsay on 1 December.

"Since I had no clear brief aside from a fancy dress party, I wrote multiple locations with a huge cast; consequently it cost more than a low budget film to produce. I didn't observe the limitations of theatre in any way but chose a theme where the camera followed on character (a waiter) from location to location - overhearing snippets of conversation from various groups of people involved in an office party. The waiter made no comment at any stage leaving the viewer free to connect the dots and put together themselves the web of machinations, betrayals and love affairs."

Alan believed the resulting screenplay, entitled Now Being Served, was "very downbeat for me" but it was sent that day to the BBC for assessment, although Alan was not entirely happy with the experience.

"It has taken me more time than any full length play ever took me [to write] - and I'm far less sure of the result."

The screenplay was well-received though, but there was initial concern about the budget needed to film it and the size of the cast, which included a three piece band. Compromise was achieved with the agreement of a slightly larger budget in January 1974 and Alan dropping the band from subsequent drafts of the screenplay.
Wise received a final draft of the screenplay on 4 February 1974 and approval was given for filming. The first read-through for the script took place on 18 March 1974 with filming scheduled for 25 - 29 March following a week of rehearsals.
Filming took place entirely on location at the Berystede Hotel, Ascot, with the final cast coming at at a still rather substantial 16 actors; which included amongst its number, the actress Heather Stoney - now Alan Ayckbourn's wife - in a mermaid fancy dress!
With the title now altered to Service Not Included, the programme was broadcast on BBC2 at 11pm on 20 May 1974. It has never been repeated and never had a commercial release. Largely ignored, The Stage newspaper did review it and described it as an "enjoyable half-hour."
Service Not Included has no plot as such, but offers a waiter's eye view of an end of conference party at a hotel. All the events of the night are seen through the eyes of the waiter Jace, offering snippets of conversation between the party-goers.
If this idea sounds vaguely familiar, it's because Alan reworked that same year as the basis for the one act play Between Mouthfuls, which is part of his popular Confusions. Within the play, a waiter moves between two tables and the audience hears only what the waiter hears as he moves back and forth between the diners.
Service Not Included is a genuine Ayckbourn rarity, rarely seen or read. Having never been repeated on television or made commercially available, its only other outing was an exclusive reading of the screenplay by participants at the 2011 Ayckbourn Weekend event in Scarborough.
Service Not Included has also never been published, although an original copy of the screenplay is held in the Ayckbourn Archive at the University of York.
It remains unique in the Ayckbourn canon as being his only venture into screenplays (see note below). The experience, however, was not one Alan was keen to ever repeat...

"I wrote a half-hour original TV play back in 1974. It was shown on BBC2 at 11 o'clock at night to an audience of five people. Hardly worth it."

Copyright: Simon Murgatroyd. Please do not reproduce this article without permission from the copyright holder.

* With regard to screenplays, Alan Ayckbourn did write one for a movie version of Relatively Speaking during the 1970s, although this was never filmed. Alan also did a number of swift rewrites over an afternoon to Michael Winner's screenplay adaptation of the film A Chorus Of Disapproval, although Alan believes the vast majority of these were rejected by Winner and were not used in the final film.
For a number of years there was also confusion regarding A Cut In The Rates, a short play written for a BBC educational series exploring the process of staging plays. Occasionally inaccurately described  as a screenplay, A Cut In The Rates was written as a short play, whose first live production was filmed and subsequently broadcast as part of the programme; A Cut In The Rates was later published and is quite a popular one act play.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

40 More Things You Probably Didn't Know About The Norman Conquests...

The Norman Conquests is currently celebrating the 40th anniversary of its original West End production in 1974.
On Tuesday, the blog reproduced an article by Alan Ayckbourn about 40 things you probably didn't know about The Norman Conquests. That article ended with the West End production in 1974.
Alan's archivist Simon Murgatroyd continues the story with 40 more - slightly less obscure - things bringing the trilogy up to date.

1) The West End production of The Norman Conquests would go on to win the Evening Standard and  Plays & Players Best Play (surely plays!) Awards.

2) Alan would also receive the Variety Club Of Great Britain Playwright Of The Year award on the back of The Norman Conquests in 1974.

3) Seventeen months after it opened at the Globe Theatre (now the Gielgud) in London, the trilogy transferred to the Apollo Theatre.

4) The transfer included a change of cast, notable amongst which was Julia McKenzie. Alan later cited her performance in this and on the television adaptation of Absent Friends as to why he picked her for her award-winning role of Susan in Woman In Mind.

5) When Absent Friends opened at the Garrick Theatre in July 1975, Alan Ayckbourn had five plays running in the West End alongside Absurd Person Singular and The Norman Conquests. This was a record for any playwright in the West End.

6) The Norman Conquests ran for 20 months in the West End, closing on 13 March 1976.

7) The director of the London production, Eric Thompson - father of the actress Emma Thompson - also directed the Broadway production of the play, which opened on 7 December 1975 at the Morosco Theatre...

8) Having had it's initial try-out on the other side of the country at the Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles, between 10 October and 29 November 1975.

9) Dustin Hoffman was actively considered for the role of Norman on Broadway and the actor even came to London to see the trilogy.

10) With the opening of The Norman Conquests on Broadway alongside Absurd Person Singular, Alan had a record-breaking four plays running simultaneously on the Great White Way.

11) To mark his Broadway achievement, 45th Street was renamed Ayckbourn Alley for the day in March 1976.

12) It was also the first Ayckbourn production in New York to win an award with the Drama Desk Award For Unique Theatrical Experience.

12) Back in England, the trilogy's first post-London performance was at the Theatr Clywd, Mold, opening on 9 August 1976.

13) Since then it has become practically a staple of professional and amateur theatre in the UK and in 2013, the publishers Samuel French revealed it was the second most produced Ayckbourn work (counting productions of all of the plays in the trilogy) behind Ernie's Incredible Illucinations.

14) The Norman Conquests was the first of Alan Ayckbourn's plays to be published in a mass market edition (as opposed to a acting edition) when Chatto & Windus published the trilogy.

15) Since then, The Norman Conquests has never been out of print and has been published around the world.

16) The success of the West End production led television & film companies to express interest in adapting the plays. The first major show of interest was by the BBC which wanted to both adapt the plays and produce a spin-off series centred on the characters....

17) The spin-off series idea was mooted by several companies, although Alan was 'mystified' as to why any of the characters deserved a spin-off series!

18) It's frequently reported the West End production of The Norman Conquests poached the actors Felicity Kendal and Penelope Keith from the popular TV series The Good Life - it was actually the other way round and the TV series took the actors after their West End run was finished alongside another Ayckbourn stalwart, Richard Briers.

19) The creators of The Good Life, John Esmonde and Bob Larbey, have noted that both the TV series The Good Life and Ever Decreasing Circles were influenced by Alan Ayckbourn's plays.

20) Several major film companies expressed an interest in making a movie of the trilogy - although none of them ever offered to make a trilogy of films about the trilogy!

21) Eventually, the rights to produce the trilogy for television were obtained by the producers David Susskind and Verity Lambert for Thames Television.

22) The director of the television production was Herbert Wise, who had also directed the very first Ayckbourn television adaptation with the now long-lost 1969 broadcast of Relatively Speaking.

23) Alan and his agent fought long and hard for the plays to be kept to their original running length rather than be cut for television; they largely succeeded and set the template for many future arguments over running time on both television and radio.

24) Unfortunately, filming of the trilogy was interrupted by a technician's strike and the director Herbert Wise always believed this affected the quality of the piece.

25) The trilogy was premiered on British television on 5 October 1977. Broadcast over three weeks, it marked the first time six hours of prime-time British television had ever been given over to a living playwright.

26) The television adaptation was sold around the world and found much success, particularly in America where it was shown on PBS and was nominated for an Emmy for outstanding writing.

27) With the advent of the home video market, Table Manners was released on VHS in the UK in 1981 on the same day that the movie Star Wars was released...

28) Unfortunately the company did not have the rights to release it on VHS and the videos were withdrawn. It would be another 25 years before The Norman Conquests was made commercially available in the UK.

29) The BBC did eventually adapt the trilogy but for the radio in 1990 with a cast which included a number of actors who regularly worked with Alan's company in Scarborough.

30) It is now truly a multi-media play and the only Ayckbourn work which has been released on video, DVD, download / streaming (TV), audio cassette, CD and download / streaming (audio)!

31) In 1999, the National Theatre named The Norman Conquests as one of the 100 most significant plays of the 20th century.

32) 30 years after it closed in London, Kevin Spacey announced in 2006 the trilogy would be revived in London at the Old Vic....

33) It took another two years to revive it though with Matthew Warchus directing an acclaimed production.

34) The Old Vic was converted into an in-the-round space to present the plays as originally intended. This marked the first time, an Ayckbourn play had been in-the-round in the West End.

35) The Old Vic's revival transferred to Broadway in 2009 to the Circle In The Square theatre, again the first time an Ayckbourn play had been presented in-the-round on Broadway.

36) Considerably more successful than its original New York production, the trilogy won a plethora of awards including the Tony for Best Revival Of A Play.

37) Despite its many revivals and popularity, Alan Ayckbourn has only directed The Norman Conquests twice. First for its original production at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, in 1973 and second, for a revival at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round, Scarborough, in 1993.

38) When asked which of characters in The Norman Conquests he most resembled, Alan Ayckbourn noted: "I once said I thought I was essentially Reg inside, but probably came across to people as Tom, but would dearly love to have been Norman! They're all me, though. To paraphrase the Bard if you cut them, I will bleed."

39) When asked what inspired the character of Norman, the playwright once said: "It amused me to conceive a character who felt it his God-given duty to please every woman he met. He sees himself as a New Man. In fact he is just an Old Man in New Man's clothing. Well, sort of. The joke is that he goes to inordinate lengths to seduce women who, for various reasons, don't really need that much persuading."

40) And as to the age-old question of why Norman chooses East Grinstead as the destination for his romantic escape, it's actually an old joke as Alan's wife, Heather Stoney, explains: "The actual story of why Alan came up with East Grinstead is that there is a lovely country house hotel just outside said town called Gravetye Manor. We had stayed there and Alan thought it would be lovely if Norman had booked he and Annie into there. The chances of Norman actually doing that are pretty slim but Alan liked the thought as an in-joke. The hotel's address is East Grinstead."

Copyright: Simon Murgatroyd. Please do not reproduce this article without the permission of the copyright holder.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

40 Things You Probably Didn't Know About The Norman Conquests...

Alan Ayckbourn's famed trilogy The Norman Conquests is currently celebrating the 40th anniversary of its triumphant original London production in 1974.
The plays - Table Manners, Living Together and Round & Round The Garden - opened at the Globe Theatre 11 mon the after they had premiered in Scarborough at the Library Theatre.
To mark the trilogy's 40th anniversary last year, Alan Ayckbourn wrote this article about the plays. We're reproducing it today to mark the London anniversary.

40 things you probably didn’t know about The Norman Conquests (though some of them you probably may have done)
by Alan Ayckbourn

1) I never intended to write a trilogy originally but I mentioned the idea to a local press man at the end of the season the previous year (Him: "What you are planning next, Mr Ayckbourn?" Me: (airily) "No idea, yet. Who knows? Maybe a trilogy.") Motto: never talk off the record to journalists...

2) When the trilogy was publicly announced in the spring the following year, I was forced to write them whether I wanted to or not. Actually I still quite fancied the idea.

3) All three plays were written in less than a fortnight.

4) They were constructed cross-ways i.e. all the scenes 1, then all the scenes 2, etc.

5) Consequently I finished two of the plays in the space of a single night. (I realised then I had never done that before and probably never would again). I proved myself wrong; some years later I was to write House & Garden.

6) Half way through writing them, I heard from one of the actors, (Christopher Godwin, cast to play Norman) that his current job had been extended by an extra week and that he would be unable to join us until the second of our initial three week Scarborough rehearsal period.

7) To compensate for his absence, I wrote the character of Norman out of scene one of one of the plays altogether.

8) I dictated the plays, as was my custom at the time, from half illegible pencil notes to a long suffering assistant (Heather, now my wife) who typed each page on to stencils (before photo-copiers in those days).

9) We then ran them off page by page on a hand cranked duplicator, pausing after completing one set of pages in order to replace one stencil with the next.

Poster for the world premiere
production at the Library Theatre,
Scarborough, in 1973.
Copyright: Scarborough Theatre Trust
10) We then punched up the pages, paginated them by walking round in circles in our tiny Hampstead home, finally assembling each script individually. Thirty-six in all. Six sets for the cast, three sets for the stage management, one set for the theatre management, one set required to register at the British Library and one set for me, author and director. Quite a cottage industry, playwriting in those days!

11) The plays were originally entitled Fancy Meeting You, Make Yourself at Home and Round and Round the Garden. Originally they had no overall title.

12) The plays had no intended ‘proper sequence’ and were meant to be seen in any order. They still are.

13) Due to the absence of Norman we were forced to wait for him and for the initial rehearsal week concentrated principally on the first scene of Fancy Meeting You.

14) Fancy Meeting You thus became known, by default, as the ‘first’ play in the sequence. The belief continues to this day that this was my original intention. ("I’m afraid I did see them in the wrong order but I must say I really enjoyed them, despite that.") Very irritating!

15) After the initial rehearsal period, in 1973, all three plays opened at the Library Theatre, Scarborough in the space of three weeks: Fancy Meeting You, 18 June, Make Yourself at Home, 25 June and finally Round and Round the Garden, 2 July.

16) Despite the brevity of rehearsal, not one of the actors had a serious ‘dry’ on any of the first performances and, even if they had done, being in the Round there was no prompter to help them out. In emergency, you dig yourselves out, lads!

17) Midway through the run, up at Scarborough hospital, Chris Godwin’s wife, Christine, gave birth to their firstborn, Ben, during mid-performance. I went onstage at the curtain call and announced the happy news to a stunned Norman - and a gleeful audience.

18) The plays proved extremely popular during that summer of 1973 and audiences, once word got round as to what was happening, built through the season, till seats in the 250 seat temporary makeshift Library auditorium were at a premium.

19) Despite their Yorkshire success, London Managements who ventured north were somewhat less enthusiastic, claiming trilogies were never popular with a West End audience. Though what that was based on, heaven knows.

Programme for the London
premiere at Greenwich Theatre
in 1974.
Copyright: Greenwich Theatre
20) Finally, separate managements each offered to produce a different one in a separate production. I declined the offer feeling, if they all had different favourites, that we might just be on to something.

21) Near the end of the run, Michael Codron, my regular producer (Time and Time Again, Absurd Person Singular) rather reluctantly agreed to produce all three. Jubilation.

22) A few weeks later he withdrew the offer, having had second thoughts, deeming the venture too big a risk. I went home to tell my partner. It is one of the few occasions when I have known her really angry!

23) Some weeks later, my agent Peggy Ramsay phones to ask what was to become of the enormous pile of scripts of the unwanted trilogy which were cluttering up her office, "taking up valuable shelf space." Depressed, I tell her she can burn them as far as I’m concerned.

24) Fortunately she doesn’t because my regular London director at the time, Eric Thompson, phones to say he is going into hospital briefly for a minor operation and had I anything new for him to read?

25) A few days later, Eric phones again, full of excitement, saying they must be done again. He suggests Tom Courtenay might be interested. Tom had previously worked with us both on Time and Time Again and was still friendly, so it seemed like a good idea to approach him. Tom says yes, depending on the rest of the cast.

26) In search of a London theatre to mount them, Eric suggests we approach the Artistic Director of Greenwich Theatre, Ewan Hooper. Over lunch, we sell Ewan the idea.

27) Eric suggests Felicity Kendal as Annie, Michael Gambon as Tom and Mark Kingston as Reg. I suggest Penelope Keith whom I’d seen recently as Fiona in a production of How The Other Half Loves as Sarah and Penelope Wilton, whom we both adored, as Ruth. Miraculously they all said yes.

28) Learning of our plans, Michael Cordon, ever the shrewd one, offers to underwrite the cost of six weeks rehearsals in London with, in return, the option of first West End refusal to transfer them.

29) Two of the plays are re-named. Fancy Meeting You becomes Table Manners and Make Yourself at Home, Living Together. Round and Round The Garden stays as it is, We agree on the overall title. The Norman Conquests is born.

29) We start rehearsals in April the following year at a more leisurely pace than previously. Table Manners premieres 9 May, Living Together on 21 May and Round and Round the Garden on 6 June.

Programme cover for the West End
premiere production in 1974.
Copyright: TBC
30) On the opening night of Table Manners, Eric is so nervous he refuses to sit in the auditorium to watch the show. We compromise and both sit, unknown to the cast, in a spare dressing room at the top of the building, listening to the performance through the show relay system. Well, at least we’re still in the same building as the performance!

31) Halfway through the show, audience reaction gets so loud it overloads the show relay system which cuts out and we miss half the dinner party sequence. We both sit anxiously, high in our distant dressing room for return of signal, like Houston waiting for astronauts to emerge from the other side of the moon.

32) Despite the good omens, for some reason I am convinced the show is a failure and immediately afterwards set off for a walk in the darkness intent on pacing round Greenwich Park, only to find it closed for the night. I return to the theatre to meet a jubilant press officer who says the critics were universally positive. Never wholly trusting critics, I don’t believe him.

33) The following day, my fears are dispelled. The reviews are sensationally good. Later that day I drive with Eric to start on final bring back rehearsals for Living Together. On the way there, Eric says, “Great reviews”. I say, “Yes”. “You do realise”, he says, “that we now have to do it all over again”. “Yes”, I say, “we need to do it twice more”. For the rest of the journey we sit very quietly.

34) All three shows get great reviews, though, and run to capacity at Greenwich. Michael Codron unsurprisingly takes up his option to transfer them.

35) The last Saturday, 29th June, are notable for three things:-

36) First, it is the first time we perform a ‘triple’ day, morning, afternoon and evening.

37) Second, in the gap between shows at lunchtime, one or two of the cast engage in an impromptu game of football with the audience.

38) Third, I am approached by a ticket tout at the front of the theatre who tries to sell me a matinee ticket at three times the official price. At this moment, I know we have a hit!

39) Between 1st and 8th of August 1974, The Norman Conquests transfers to the Globe Theatre (now the Gielgud) in Shaftesbury Avenue. Penelope Wilton, who had previous commitments, is replaced by Bridget Turner to play Ruth.

40) Somewhere or other, somewhere in the world, in some language or other, individually or all together, there’s usually a performance of The Norman Conquests going on. Nice that.

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

You can find out more about The Norman Conquests by visiting

Friday, May 9, 2014

Have You Seen 'Unseen Ayckbourn'?

Unseen Ayckbourn, the first book to be produced by Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website, is available now from online retailers and offers a behind the scenes peek at Alan Ayckbourn's writing career.
Written by Alan Ayckbourn's Archivist and official website administrator Simon Murgatroyd, Unseen Ayckbourn was picked by The Stage as one of its theatre books of 2013.
The book draws on the author's years of experience working with the Ayckbourn Archive and the previously unexplored rarities from more than five decades of playwriting found within the archive.
From Alan Ayckbourn's school day writing to his earliest existing play, The Season, to unwritten plays such as Sight Unseen to the present day with unused concepts for the 2013 play SurprisesUnseen Ayckbourn explores a wealth of material relating to withdrawn, unpublished, lost and never seen plays and ideas for plays.
Supported by extensive quotes from Alan Ayckbourn and exclusive extracts - frequently never before published - from these works, Unseen Ayckbourn explores a side of the playwright's extensive career rarely touched upon.
The book also includes an exclusive conversation with the playwright about his early writing career and an extensive behind the scenes look at the musical Jeeves told from the perspective of the correspondence held in the Ayckbourn Archive.
Proceeds from Unseen Ayckbourn also help support Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website and its sister sites Stephen Joseph & The Library Theatre and Scarborough In The Round.
Unseen Ayckbourn is priced at £10 and available from here, here, Barnes & Noble here and the publishers Lulu here.