Friday, December 30, 2016

Review Of 2016

As 2016 draws to a close, it's time to have a look at some of the notable Ayckbourn-related news from the past 12 months.

> 2016 turned out to be something of a bumper year for new plays by Alan Ayckbourn, although there was some confusion as to which if any was the big new play! As usual, all the plays premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, starting with The Karaoke Theatre Company, followed by Consuming Passions and No Knowing.
> The Karaoke Theatre Company marked the first time Alan Ayckbourn had written a piece specifically intended for improvisation as the company of the title staged several short pieces with the help of the audience. It marked a striking new departure for the playwright and highlighted an alarming propensity amongst Scarborough audiences for cross-dressing!
> This was followed by Consuming Passions, which consisted of two parts - Premonitions and Repercussions - which were performed as individual shows at the SJT before being combined into one full-length piece later in the season; at which point it was revealed this was actually Alan Ayckbourn's 80th full-length play - a piece of news held back by the playwright as he didn't wish for the play to be promoted on the back of what he felt was an arbitrary number.
> The year ended with the last of the new Ayckbourn plays with No Knowing running at the SJT throughout December. A Christmas-set play looking at marriage, it's somewhat notable for having a speech on marriage which closely resembles a speech from an unproduced play written by the author at the age of 17 in 1958!
> The Stephen Joseph Theatre also staged the first major revival of Henceforward... for more than two decades. The dystopian, future-set drama drew acclaim and proved to be as pertinent as ever with its look at creativity, love and the pernicious creep of technology.
> Outside of the plays, Alan Ayckbourn was awarded the Honorary Fellowship of Oxford Literary Festival.
> Although there wasn't much in the way of publications this year, there was a new edition of Unseen Ayckbourn with illustrations for the first time; the book includes images of 20 items in the Ayckbourn Archive related to the book's exploration of lost, unwritten and unpublished plays as well as other interesting and unseen Ayckbourn ideas and works.
> Amateur companies wanting to tackle some new Ayckbourn plays now have the chance with the welcome release of Arrivals & Departures alongside Hero's Welcome and Roundelay with more coming soon.
> There was an Ayckbourn world-first for the only amateur company dedicated to Alan Ayckbourn's plays; Huddersfield's Dick & Lottie company staged a double-bill of Woman In Mind and Invisible Friends, two plays which it became apparent in performance were even more connected than the playwright has previously suggested. The two plays had never been performed in repertory before.
> Back in Scarborough, the Premier Patrons event at the Stephen Joseph Theatre was launched and offered exclusive access to Alan Ayckbourn's rehearsals as well as the chance to be some of the first victims, sorry volunteers, to try their hand in The Karoake Theatre Company. Details of a new SJT event which will also include some exclusive Ayckbourn events will be announced at www.sjt.uk.com soon.
> Ayckbourn outside of Scarborough of note saw an excellent West End revival of How The Other Half Loves - apparently the first since its West End premiere in 1970; I say apparently as it actually wasn't! Despite being advertised as such, the play had been revived at the Duke of York's Theatre in 1988. Pitlochry Festival Theatre staged a very welcome revival of the Damsels In Distress trilogy in its entirety. Meanwhile, Robin Herford directed an acclaimed and successful tour of the classic Ayckbourn play Relatively Speaking around the country with Robert Powell and Liza Goddard. As always, there's far too many Ayckbourn productions to highlight during the year.
> Across the Atlantic in New York, the city saw the premier of the Ayckbourn classic Confusions, a mere 40-odd years after its world premiere! The 59E59 Theaters welcomed Alan Ayckbourn and his company with his revival of Confusions and the world premiere production of Hero's Welcome, both of which proved to be a great success at the Brits Off Broadway festival.
> Closer to home, it's been another record-breaking year for Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website with more visitors than ever. This year saw the notable addition of Archive pages to many of the plays as well as new sections including a Significant Ayckbourn Dates section, an addition of dozens of interviews and articles by the playwright as well as a revamped Ayckbourn shop.
> Alan also made a surprise contribution to a major British writing anniversary with a contribution of songs to the show Where's Peter Rabbit? at The World Of Beatrix Potter Attraction in Bowness-on-Windermere, marking the 150th anniversary of the birth of Beatrix Potter.
> It's also been a sad year seeing the passing of several notable Ayckbourn actors, who all made their mark in Ayckbourn world premieres between the 1960s and 1980s. This year we said goodbye to Lavinia Bertram, Graeme Eton, Lesley Meade and Stanley Page; all notable actors who made lasting marks with associations with Alan Ayckbourn at the Library Theatre and the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round.

The blog will be looking forward to some of the Ayckbourn treats coming in 2017 in the New Year.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Ayckbourn Advent Calendar: Day 24

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 24: My Sister Sadie
And so we come to the end of the Ayckbourn Advent Calendar, which I hope you've enjoyed reading over the past month.
We end with, appropriately, a Christmas card.
As we saw on Day 22, the Stephen Joseph Theatre went through a period of adapting its Ayckbourn production posters into Christmas cards, starting with The Jollies.
Here is another example highlighting this author's favourite of Alan's family plays, My Sister Sadie. This opened in December 2003 at the SJT.
On the left, we have the original poster image and, on the right, the Christmas variation. This was used for a postcard which was distributed by the theatre to promote the play and is a quite rare Ayckbourn collectible.
So from Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website, I'd like to wish you all a Happy Christmas and thank you for once again supporting the website and blog over the year. We've had another record-breaking number of visitors to the website during 2016.
Season's Greetings to you all and may your celebrations may not at all be like an Ayckbourn Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Ayckbourn Advent Calendar: Day 23

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 23: Sugar Daddies
The most recent of Alan Ayckbourn's plays to incorporate Christmas elements are Sugar Daddies (2003), Life & Beth (2008) and this year's No Knowing - which closes at the Stephen Joseph Theatre tomorrow afternoon.
To illustrate this latter selection of plays, we have a photograph from Sugar Daddies, which premiered at the SJT during summer 2003.
The image features the first meeting between Rex Garner as Uncle Val and Alison Pargeter as Sasha, when the Santa Claus dressed Val is almost the victim of a hit and run.
Despite his jolly appearance and apparently charitable activities, it turns out that Val is not quite the generous benefactor he would like to project and has been a criminal career into whose life, Sasha is drawn in.
Not a terribly Christmas-y play, admittedly, but it is a picture of Santa as we get closer to the big day!
Rex Garner and Alison Pargeter in the world premiere of Sugar Daddies.
Copyright: Tony Bartholomew

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Ayckbourn Advent Calendar: Day 22

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 22: The Jollies
As the Advent blog has previously noted, Alan Ayckbourn has written a number of family plays between 1988 and 2004 which were premiered during the Christmas period.
One such example is The Jollies which was premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in December 2002.
This also marked the start of several Christmas postcards from the SJT which featured the poster image of the Ayckbourn show with Christmas elements.
With a limited print run, the postcards are quite rare and some of the more unusual Ayckbourn collectibles from over the years.
Below is reprinted the original poster for The Jollies alongside its Christmas variation.
The Jollies promotional images.
Copyright: Scarborough Theatre Trust

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Ayckbourn Advent Calendar: Day 21

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 21: Mr A's Amazing Maze Plays
Although not strictly a Christmas play, Mr A's Amazing Maze Plays was written for the festive slot in the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round's 1982 schedule.
It also marked the first of a number of 'family' plays by the playwright which all premiered during the Christmas period in Scarborough between 1988 and 2004.
As seen earlier in the Advent Calendar with Dad's Tale and Christmas V Mastermind, Alan Ayckbourn's earliest attempts to write family plays for Christmas were, to put it mildly, a disaster.
Mr A's Amazing Maze Plays changed all that though with a play inspired by Alan realising that children were coming to his 'adult' plays and largely grasping what they were seeing; as a result - and wary of what he saw was the patronisation of children in so many traditional Christmas shows - he set about writing an exciting piece of live theatre which would both involve and challenge young people.
The play's unique selling point was in the second act, the audience themselves make the decisions for the heroine Suzy as she traverses a strange mansion in the search for her dog's stolen bark.
The play proved to be a huge success and is the most revived of all of Alan Ayckbourn's family plays, having even been staged by the National Theatre in 1993.
Reprinted below is Alan Ayckbourn's notes for the structure of the second-act of the play, showing all the different paths and permutations that the audience could take Suzy through the mansion. Quite how he deciphered it all is anyone's guess!
Alan Ayckbourn's Mr A's Amazing Maze Plays notes.
Copyright: Alan Ayckbourn

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Ayckbourn Advent Calendar: Day 20

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 20: Relatively Speaking
Today we're going back to a period when Alan Ayckbourn's plays were a notable part of the television Christmas schedule.
Between 1985 and 1989, four major adaptations of Alan Ayckbourn's plays were screened in prime-time schedules during the Festive period.
They began on New Year's Day in 1985 with Absurd Person Singular, followed by Season's Greetings on Christmas Eve 1986, Way Upstream on New Year's Day 1988 and ending with Relatively Speaking on Christmas Eve 1989.
Whilst Absurd Person Singular and Season's Greetings are obviously Christmas plays, the other two have no connection to the festivities within their plots.
However, in today's archive item we have a promotional Christmas card for Relatively Speaking on BBC2 in 1989. Despite the lack of Christmas connection within the actual play, you can see holly and bows incorporated into the card design.
The card features sketches of the actors Michael Maloney, Gwen Watford, Nigel Hawthorne and Imogen Stubbs and is held in the Ayckbourn Archive at the University of York.
Relatively Speaking promotional Christmas card.
Copyright: BBC

Monday, December 19, 2016

Ayckbourn Advent Calendar: Day 19

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 19: A Trip To Scarborough
In 1982, the Stephen Joseph Theatre's schedule was dominated by Alan Ayckbourn's epic Intimate Exchanges; a play with 16 possible permutations, more than 30 hours of dialogue and 10 characters - all delivered by two actors!
Amidst this year-long event, Alan wrote a light entertainment for the festive slot in the schedule which is also the only play he has written set in his adopted hometown of Scarborough.
A Trip To Scarborough is an adaptation of R.B. Sheridan's play, but with a number of typical Ayckbourn twists. The original Restoration plotline is joined by two plots set during World War II and the present day.
The play was originally set in Scarborough's Royal Hotel as a subtle nod to the late Tom Laughton - who was a Scarborough hotelier, chairman of Scarborough Theatre Trust and brother of the actor, Charles.
At the time, the Royal could lay claim to being Scarborough's most prestigious hotel and was well-known both in and out of the town as what we would now call a 'destination venue.'
The Christmas photo below shows Alan Ayckbourn (front, centre) on the grand staircase at the hotel in 2007 along with the company of his revival staged at the Stephen Joseph Theatre.
Following the revival, the script of the play was altered from the Royal Hotel to a generic Scarborough hotel, given it had been more than three decades since Tom's death.
Alan Ayckbourn and the 2007 A Trip To Scarborough company.
Copyright: Tony Bartholomew


This Week: 19 December 2016

Ayckbourn Plays This Week & Coming Soon
Until 24 December: No Knowing at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough (directed by Alan Ayckbourn)

News Round Up:
> Happy Christmas and New Year from Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website. This will be the final This Week column of the year with the blog resuming on 9 January 2017. But there'll still be Ayckbourn Advent calendar entries all this week plus next week, we'll have a round-up of 2016 and a look ahead to 2017.
> This week marks the final chance to see the world premiere production of Alan Ayckbourn's No Knowing at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough. The fun piece for Christmas can be seen until 24 December and further details can be found at www.sjt.uk.com.
> If you're looking for a late Christmas present for an Ayckbourn fan, don't forget you can now order the new edition  of the website's book, Unseen Ayckbourn: Illustrated Edition now. Updated for 2017 with 20 archival illustrations, it offers a fascinating insight into Alan Ayckbourn's lost, unproduced and unpublished plays. and is written by his archivist, Simon Murgatroyd. Further details can be found here and it can be ordered from Amazon here.

Sponsoring A Play On Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website
If you have a favourite Ayckbourn play, there's opportunity to be associated with it via Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website. Every Play on the site is open to sponsorship for a nominal fee - to help with the costs of running the website and domain costs - and which gives the sponsor (individuals only, not businesses) a credit on every page relating to the specific play. You can find out more about sponsoring a play and which plays are still available by clicking here.

Event Of The Week
A weekly feature highlights an event in Alan Ayckbourn's life pertinent to the week in question.
Lost & Found: On 21 December 1959, the world premiere of Alan Ayckbourn's second play Love After All took place at the Library Theatre, Scarborough. Credited to his pseudonym Roland Allen, this was a period farce inspired by The Barber Of Seville and was a great success for the company. Unfortunately, Alan was less enamoured by his work and destroyed all known copies of the play; Love After All was presumed lost for posterity. In 2007, his Archivist Simon Murgatroyd in conjunction with the British Library, discovered the only surviving copy of the play in the Lord Chamberlain's Collection at the British Library restoring the complete Ayckbourn play canon for the first time.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Ayckbourn Advent Calendar: Day 18

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 18: Making Tracks
An unusual item today with a very rare image of an alternative poster design for Making Tracks, which premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round in 1981.
The play opened on 16 December and was intended as a light musical for Christmas, created by Alan Ayckbourn in conjunction with the composer Paul Todd.
Despite being a play that most Ayckbourn fans are probably unaware of, it was a huge success in Scarborough (where it was also revived the following Christmas) and at the Greenwich Theatre where it performed to capacity houses in 1983.
Despite this, the play has never been produced again, never been published and has - essentially - been withdrawn. There is very little surviving material relating to the play and this item is possibly the rarest piece related to it.
The providence of the poster is unknown as it is connected with the Greenwich production, but does not reflect the actual advertising nor the original promotional material in Scarborough.
Given the obscurity of the play and the imager, this places the poster in the rarer realms of Ayckbourn memorabilia over the decades.
Making Tracks poster.
Copyright: To be confirmed


Saturday, December 17, 2016

Ayckbourn Advent Calendar: Day 17

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 17: Season's Greetings
We come to the end of our look at Season's Greetings with the most recent major UK production of the play with the National Theatre's revival in 2010.
For this production, directed by Marianne Elliott, the role of Bernard was play by Mark Gatiss, famed for his television and stage work in the likes of The League Of Gentlemen, Sherlock and Game Of Thrones.
The play marked the first Ayckbourn production at the National Theatre since House & Garden in 2000 and was subsequently followed by a revival of A Small Family Business in 2014.
Mark Gatiss in the 2010 National Theatre revival of Season's Greetings.
Copyright: Catherine Ashmore

Friday, December 16, 2016

Ayckbourn Advent Calendar: Day 16

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 16: Season's Greetings
We continue our look at Season's Greetings and the men behind the role of Bernard and his memorable puppet show.
Following the show's successful premiere in Scarborough in 1980, the production transferred to the West End to The Round House in an early attempt by Alan to bypass the West End and its reliance on the star system.
Given the perennial popularity of the play, it is perhaps surprising to note it was a flop on its original London production and seemed likely to be passed over for a West End transfer.
Fortunately, the Artistic Director of the Greenwich Theatre - Alan Strachan - liked the play and he persuaded Alan to direct the play at the venue. The success of the play at Greenwich led to the production being transferred to the Ambassador's Theatre in the West End complete with the majority of its cast.
Amongst these was Bernard Hepton playing Bernard, here pictured in the midst of performing the puppet show.
Bernard Hepton as Bernard in the West End premiere of Season's Greetings.
Copyright: John Haynes




Thursday, December 15, 2016

Ayckbourn Advent Calendar: Day 15

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 15: Season's Greetings
Season's Greetings opened at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round, Scarborough, on 25 September 1980 and was an immediate hit with audiences.
The play has numerous well-known scenes and characters, but perhaps the stand-out is Bernard's puppet show of The Three Little Pigs, which is rightly recorded as one of the funniest single scenes in an Ayckbourn play.
Over the next three days, we'll be highlighting three of the actors who have so memorably played the scene starting with Ronald Herdman in the original production. Ronald can be seen with the puppet show (bottom left), which also shows how the composite set was realised in the round; see yesterday's blog entry for Alan's original sketch of the floor-plan for this production.
A scene from the world premiere of Season's Greetings.
Copyright: Scarborough Theatre Trust

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Ayckbourn Advent Calendar: Day 14

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 14: Season's Greetings
We now move onto what is probably Alan Ayckbourn's most famed - and revived - Christmas play, Season's Greetings.
Debuted in 1980 at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round, Scarborough, the play is notable as being a last minute replacement for the advertised play Sight Unseen. Given Alan's penchant for writing plays to the latest possible deadline at the time (i.e. the start of rehearsals), a last minute replacement meant rehearsals had to be delayed as Alan was still writing the new play!
The pencil sketch below is by Alan Ayckbourn and shows his proposed layout for the original production of Season's Greetings alongside notes on the scene settings of the play; it's worth noting how the notes refer to three acts. When the play was originally performed it was in three acts, before substantive cuts were made to reduce it to a two act play for its revival the following year.
The sketch is held in the Ayckbourn Archive at the University of York
Sketch of the layout for Season's Greetings.
Copyright: Alan Ayckbourn

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Ayckbourn Advent Calendar: Day 13

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 13: Joking Apart
As we noted yesterday, Joking Apart (1978) is one of Alan Ayckbourn's festive plays featuring as it does a scene set on Boxing Day.
This is regarded as one of the key scenes in the play and is probably it's most memorable as it features a tennis match between Richard and his business partner Sven.
The duo play the match in pouring rain during which Sven achieves his one notable victory during the play; only for it be be immediately fatally undermined by Richard admitting he was playing with his wrong hand.
The original production was notable for featuring Robert Austin playing Sven for which he won much acclaim and when the play transferred to London in 1979, he reprised the role in the West End. This marked a rare example of an actor from Alan's Scarborough company going onto to reprise a role in the West End; previously only Ten Times Table had opened in London with members of the Scarborough company.
This rarely reproduced photo is from the world premiere production of the play at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round in 1978.
Robert Austin in the world premiere of Joking Apart.
Copyright: Scarborough Theatre Trust

Monday, December 12, 2016

This Week: 12 December 2016

Ayckbourn Plays This Week & Coming Soon
Until 24 December: No Knowing at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough (directed by Alan Ayckbourn)

News Round Up:
> Lastweek saw the official launch of Unseen Ayckbourn: Illustrated Edition; an updated edition of the book by Alan Ayckbourn's Archivist, Simon Murgatroyd, looking at some of the more obscure areas of Alan Ayckbourn's playwriting from lost plays to never written ideas, alternative titles to alternative versions as well as other interesting ephemera. Updated for 2017, it includes new entries on recent plays such as Roundelay and The Karaoke Theatre Company as well as updates to other entries. For the first time, the book also features 20 illustrations of items drawn from the Ayckbourn Archive relating to the entries in the book. Unseen Ayckbourn: Illustrated Edition is priced at £12 and further details can be found here and it can be ordered from Amazon here.
> Alan Ayckbourn's new play No Knowing continues at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, this week. The play sees a couple celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary, but is their relationship all as it seems? A look back to last Christmas holds some surprises for all. No Knowing can be seen at the SJT until 24 December and further details can be found at www.sjt.uk.
> We're mid-way through the Ayckbourn Advent Calendar today. Keep checking daily until 24 December for a look at items from the Ayckbourn Archive relating to Alan Ayckbourn's Christmas set plays or just connected to Christmas.

Sponsoring A Play On Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website
If you have a favourite Ayckbourn play, there's opportunity to be associated with it via Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website. Every Play on the site is open to sponsorship for a nominal fee - to help with the costs of running the website and domain costs - and which gives the sponsor (individuals only, not businesses) a credit on every page relating to the specific play. You can find out more about sponsoring a play and which plays are still available by clicking here.

Event Of The Week
A weekly feature highlights an event in Alan Ayckbourn's life pertinent to the week in question.
Alain Resnais: On 15 December 1993, Alain Resnais's award-winning film adaptation of Alan Ayckbourn's Intimate Exchanges was released. The French film - or rather films as there are two, Smoking and No Smoking - adapted 12 of the possible 16 different versions of Intimate Exchanges for a unique cinematic version of Alan's play. It was the first in three acclaimed adaptations of Alan's plays by Resnais leading to Private Fears In Public Places and Life Of Riley. The French auteur was a big fan of Alan Ayckbourn's work and had been visiting Scarborough to see the plays for several years before Alan became aware of the fact. Arguably Resnais's films adaptations are the best screen versions of Alan's plays to have been made.

Ayckbourn Advent Calendar: Day 12

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 12: Joking Apart
It's the half-way point of our Advent calendar and the first Archive item relating to Alan Ayckbourn's 1978 play, Joking Apart.
This play is not commonly associated with Christmas but the third scene is set on Boxing Day and is a perfect example of festive celebrations not going entirely smoothly within an Ayckbourn play.
Joking Apart marked the first time the playwright had set a play over an extended period of time; in this time, 12 years with each scene spaced four years apart.
The item below is part of Alan Ayckbourn's own, coffee-stained, early notes regarding the structure of the play held in the Ayckbourn Archive.
The note reads (anything in brackets indicates a pencil note): 1. Fireworks - 12 years ago; 2. 4 years later - Summer (Games); Interval; 3. 4 years later (Rain); 4. Today (Barbecue).
What can immediately be seen is there is no indication of the four celebrations which are marked in the four scenes (Bonfire Night, summer, Boxing Day, Debbie's birthday). However, the key elements of the scenes are in place with the fireworks, the games, the rain and the barbecue.
What can also be seen is Alan Ayckbourn's propensity for doodling over his notes; practically all his notes held in archive feature doodles of various sorts!
Alan Ayckbourn's early Joking Apart notes.
Copyright: Alan Ayckbourn

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Ayckbourn Advent Calendar: Day 11

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 11: Alan Ayckbourn
It's time for another Santa Claus and, in this case, it's the playwright himself.
This Archive item is an unusual article from the Scarborough Evening News in December 1974 in which Alan Ayckbourn is dressed as Santa Claus for a children's party!
At the time, Alan Ayckbourn had been the Artistic Director at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, for two years and was a vocal and visible presence in the town promoting the venue.
As noted in the article, this was apparently the very first time Alan Ayckbourn played Santa Claus in public - there is no record whether it was his last time too!
Copyright: Yorkshire Regional Newspapers

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Ayckbourn Advent Calendar: Day 10

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 10: Absurd Person Singular
We come to the end of our extended Christmas look at Absurd Person Singular with a key document from the Ayckbourn Archive.
This is an extract from the first page of Alan's hand-written first draft for Absurd Person Singular, in which the characters of Sidney and Jane Hopcroft are introduced.
The piece is also notable for Alan's thumbnail sketches of the layout of the sets for the three acts of the play and how they would appear in the world premiere production, in the round, at the Library Theatre, Scarborough.
The complete manuscript is held in the Ayckbourn Archive at the University of York and one of only several still intact hand-written drafts by the playwright.
The first page of the first draft of Absurd Person Singular.
Copyright: Alan Ayckbourn.


Friday, December 9, 2016

Unseen Ayckbourn Book Launch

Yesterday saw the official launch of the new edition of the book Unseen Ayckbourn at the playwright's home venue, the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough.
The author and playwright's Archivist, Simon Murgatroyd, officially announced Unseen Ayckbourn: Illustrated Edition to members of the the SJT Circle.
The new edition features both new and updated entries to the book which focuses on Alan Ayckbourn's lost, unpublished and unwritten works.
Simon, who also maintains The Bob Watson Archive at the SJT, was interviewed by Press Officer Jeannie Swales and was delighted with the event.
"This is the first time I've had an actual book launch and to do it in the theatre I love in front of passionate supporters of the Stephen Joseph Theatre was a wonderful experience."
This edition marks the first time Unseen Ayckbourn has featured illustrations with 20 pictures of material drawn from the Ayckbourn Archive, highlighting some of the notes and items which have informed the research of the books.
It includes the playwright's own notes for unwritten plays such as Sight Unseen as well as for early versions of Neighbourhood Watch, Ten Times Table and Sisterly Feelings as well as newspaper articles and concept publicity.
Updated for 2016, the book includes more than 30 new entries relating both to more recent work such as Roundelay, Surprises and My Wonderful Day. Many of the existing entries have been updated with new information as well.
Written by Sir Alan's Archivist, Simon Murgatroyd, Unseen Ayckbourn explores the Ayckbourn Archive for withdrawn and lost work, unpublished pieces, alternative versions of existing plays, alternative titles to plays, unused or revised ideas and concept as well as other ephemera.
The previous edition of the book was named as one of The Stage newspaper's Theatre Books of 2013.
Unseen Ayckbourn is priced at £12 and is available via amazon.co.ukLulu Booksamazon.com and Barnes & NobleA PDF ebook is also available from Lulu Books priced at £9.50.
Alternatively signed copies can be obtained by contacting the author at admin@ayckbourn.net which cost £12 plays £2.95 postage and packing; payment can only be made via PayPal.

Ayckbourn Advent Calendar: Day 9

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 9: Absurd Person Singular
By and large, the screen adaptations of Alan Ayckbourn's plays have been disappointing; the main exception being Alain Resnais's movie adaptations.
On the small screen, the best Ayckbourn adaptations came within a very concentrated period and consist of Absurd Person Singular, Absent Friends and Season's Greetings; all broadcast within a single two year period.
The adaptations were screened on the BBC, were all directed by Michael Simpson and have generally stood the test of time well.
They are also notable for the casts (Julia McKenzie's Diana in Absent Friends stands as one of the finest performances of the role in any medium) and Absurd Person Singular was no exception.
As can be seen from the publicity photographs below, it featured Michael Gambon, Nicky Henson, Maureen Lipman, Geoffrey Palmer, Prunella Scales and Cheryl Campbell.
For Ayckbourn fans*, this is the only place you can see a recording of Michael Gambon perform in an Ayckbourn play. Although Michael did not appear in the original West End production of Absurd Person Singular, he has appeared in more West End productions of Alan's plays than any other actor beginning with The Norman Conquests (1974) and ending with Man Of The Moment (1990).
The cast of the BBC adaptation of Absurd Person Singular.
Copyright: BBC
* The irony here is that's Ayckbourn fans in the USA. For while the BBC adaptation of Absurd Person Singular is legitimately available to stream from www.broadwayhd.com in the USA, it is not available in the UK. Not even from the BBC store....

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Ayckbourn Advent Calendar: Day 8

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 8: Absurd Person Singular
There is a famous story regarding Alan Ayckbourn's Christmas-set play, Absurd Person Singular, regarding its highly successful Broadway transfer.
Having achieved massive success in the West End - it is still, more than 40 years, the single most successful Ayckbourn production to have played in the West End - it was picked up for a Broadway transfer.
Bizarrely, despite being fully aware of what had been bought and its existing success, the American producers began to insist on some fairly radical changes to the play. Not least the second act be transposed to the final act!
The reasoning was the second act was deemed far funnier. Alan's patient explanation that the play was intended to end on a dying fall was not appreciated and the producers threatened to make the change without his permission or input.
Fortunately, Alan's agent - the legendary Margaret Ramsay - was not one to let her clients be bullied and she was able to throw the producer's own contract back at them which forbade any changes.
Which leads to one of the strangest items in the Ayckbourn archive. Despite being rebuffed for their suggestion, the producers had a professional laugh counter go to an actual production and count the laughs; 'scientifically' divided into 'chuckles', 'Belly-Laughs' and 'Roll-Em In The Aisles'.
The conclusion, apparently proudly presented to Alan, demonstrated there were more laughs in the second act than than the third.
Alan's response was apparently along the lines of, "I know. And your point is?" The original laugh count is held in the Ayckbourn Archive and reproduced below.
Despite the producer's belief the play was there wrong way round, it still stands as the single most successful Ayckbourn production to have ever been staged on Broadway.
Absurd Person Singular on Broadway laugh count.
Copyright: Alan Ayckbourn

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Ayckbourn Advent Calendar: Day 7

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 7: Absurd Person Singular
The Absurd Person Singular theme continues from yesterday with an example of this author's favourite poster related to the play.
Alan Ayckbourn revived Absurd Person Singular at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round, Scarborough, in 1989; the first time he had directed the play since its world premiere in 1972.
For the play, the accompanying poster design was used which - certainly from this Archivist's experience - is the single best poster design for the play used for a major production.
Sadly the poster was not used in Scarborough very much as, at the time, the theatre had seasonal programmes / playbills / posters. As a result, the only time the design received extensive exposure was during the UK tour of the production.
Absurd Person Singular revival poster.
Copyright: Scarborough Theatre Trust

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Ayckbourn Advent Calendar: Day 6

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 6: Absurd Person Singular
Absurd Person Singular is probably Alan Ayckbourn's most famous Christmas-set play alongside Season's Greetings.
It premiered at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, in 1972 and marked the first production of an Ayckbourn play after Alan had been appointed Artistic Director of the venue.
The play is set in three kitchens over three Christmases (past, present & future) and was famously originally set in the living rooms of the three couples, but Alan threw away the pages he had written and transposed the action to the kitchen.
The play's title was also intended for another play entirely, but when Alan did not write the play, he decided the title was too good to throw away and so he kept it; as a result, the title has nothing to do with the play!
The play is also notable for being the first Ayckbourn world premiere production to have its own publicity image; prior to this, the programme covers were just a standard Library Theatre logo design and posters and promotional flyers just incorporated season listings.
The image below is the original design for the play and was used on flyers for the production; it didn't appear on the actual programmes.
The flyer is very rare and one of the most collectible pieces of ephemera connected to Alan Ayckbourn's classic plays.
Absurd Person Singular flyer image.
Copyright: Scarborough Theatre Trust

Monday, December 5, 2016

Ayckbourn Advent Calendar: Day 5

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 5: Christmas V Mastermind
We're five days in and so far there's not been any sign of Santa Claus, which really won't do.
So here we have Santa as he appeared in Alan Ayckbourn's fourth play Christmas V Mastermind, which opened at the Victoria Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent, on Boxing Day 1962.
Here Father Christmas, in what seems to be his more relaxed outfit, is played by Stanley Page alongside his fairy secretary played by Heather Stoney; sadly lacking the eye-patch she had to wear for several performances as seen in yesterday's article.
The other actors are Peter King as the criminal Scrunch and David Halliwell as the gnome foreman of Santa's Christmas factory. Not pictured is Alan Ayckbourn playing the villain of the piece - one of his final roles as an actor and the first time he acted opposite his future wife, Heather Stoney.
The play was a disaster and led Alan to stop writing plays for young people for 26 years. He would then pen Mr A's Amazing Maze Plays in 1988, whose success showed that he was rather better at it than his initial attempts suggested.
A scene from Christmas V Mastermind.
Copyright: Alan Ayckbourn

This Week: 5 December 2016

Ayckbourn Plays This Week & Coming Soon
Until 24 December: No Knowing at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough (directed by Alan Ayckbourn)

News Round Up:
> Alan Ayckbourn's new play, No Knowing, is now running at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, until 24 December. The play sees a couple celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary, but is their relationship all as it seems? A look back to last Christmas holds some surprises for all. Further details can be found at www.sjt.uk.
> Don't forget to catch our daily Ayckbourn Advent Calendar running until 24 December. Each day on the blog we're delving into the Ayckbourn Archive highlighting press cuttings, photos, notes and other archive items from Alan Ayckbourn's Christmas set plays or just connected to Christmas.
> If you missed Alan Ayckbourn's acclaimed revival of his 1987 play Henceforward... this summer in Scarborough, you can catch it on a short tour in 2017. The play, directed by Alan Ayckbourn, will be visit several end-stage venues from 19 January. Tickets are now on sale for the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford (19 - 28 January), the Theatre Royal Windsor (13 - 18 February) and Cambridge Arts Theatre (22 - 25 February). More details to be announced soon.

Sponsoring A Play On Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website
If you have a favourite Ayckbourn play, there's opportunity to be associated with it via Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website. Every Play on the site is open to sponsorship for a nominal fee - to help with the costs of running the website and domain costs - and which gives the sponsor (individuals only, not businesses) a credit on every page relating to the specific play. You can find out more about sponsoring a play and which plays are still available by clicking here.

Event Of The Week
A weekly feature highlights an event in Alan Ayckbourn's life pertinent to the week in question.
A Trip To Scarborough: Despite having been based in Scarborough since 1957, Alan Ayckbourn has only ever written one play actually set in the town. In 8 December 1982, the playwright unveiled A Trip To Scarborough, a play adapted from R.B. Sheridan's play of the same title. Alan though added two plot lines set during World War II and the present day alongside Sheridan's original plot making it very much his own play. 

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

Monday, November 28, 2016

This Week: 28 November 2016

Ayckbourn Plays This Week & Coming Soon
28 November - 3 December: Relatively Speaking at Bath Theatre Royal
1 - 24 December: No Knowing at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough (directed by Alan Ayckbourn)

News Round Up:
> There's a world premiere of an Alan Ayckbourn play this week with the opening of No Knowing at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough. The play sees a couple celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary, but is their relationship all as it seems? A look back to last Christmas holds some surprises for all. No Knowing can be seen at the SJT from 1 - 24 December and further details can be found at www.sjt.uk.
> Christmas is in the air! The blog will be launching its first Advent calendar this week with a daily delve into the Ayckbourn Archive for Christmas related goodies. From 1 - 24 December, we'll be pulling out press cuttings, photos, notes and other archive items from Alan Ayckbourn's Christmas set plays or just connected to Christmas.
> Your final chance too see Liza Goddard and Robert Powell in Alan Ayckbourn's Relatively Speaking takes place this week when its UK tour comes to an end at the Theatre Royal Bath. The production, directed by Robin Herford, will be at the venue until 3 December.

Sponsoring A Play On Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website
If you have a favourite Ayckbourn play, there's opportunity to be associated with it via Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website. Every Play on the site is open to sponsorship for a nominal fee - to help with the costs of running the website and domain costs - and which gives the sponsor (individuals only, not businesses) a credit on every page relating to the specific play. You can find out more about sponsoring a play and which plays are still available by clicking here.

Event Of The Week
A weekly feature highlights an event in Alan Ayckbourn's life pertinent to the week in question.
Amazing Mr A: On 30 November 1988, Alan Ayckbourn's Mr A's Amazing Maze Plays was premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round in Scarborough. It was the first of his 'family' plays and written to meet - what Alan perceived as - the need to provide a play for families that did not patronise its intended audience. Its success led to a string of family plays in which the playwright wrote pieces which he hoped would entertain the family, but would excite and stimulate younger audiences, who he felt were often ill-served by traditional Christmas productions.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

No Knowing In Rehearsal

Alan Ayckbourn's latest play No Knowing is now in rehearsal.
The new comedy for Christmas opens at the Stephen Joseph Theatre on 1 December in which family secrets from last Christmas are uncovered after a 40th wedding anniversary party.
Bill Champion & Laura Matthews in rehearsals for No Knowing.
Copyright: Tony Bartholomew
Alan Ayckbourn says: “Forty years of married bliss? At least that’s what Arthur and Elspeth seem to be telling the guests at their anniversary party. But are they both being completely truthful?  Or are there things they’re not telling us?
“Certainly their son and daughter, Nigel and Alison, have their doubts. But as with most marriages, where does the truth really lie? The plain fact is, there’s absolutely no knowing, is there?”
Russell Dixon & Jacqueline King in rehearsals for No Knowing.
Copyright: Tony Bartholomew
No Knowing stars Russell Dixon and Jacqueline King as Arthur and Elspeth, with Bill Champion and Laura Matthews as their son and daughter, Nigel and Alison.
Jacqueline King & Laura Matthews in rehearsals for No Knowing.
Copyright: Tony Bartholomew
Written and directed by Alan Ayckbourn, No Knowing is designed by Kevin Jenkins, with lighting design by Tigger Johnson.
Russell Dixon, Bill Champion & Jacqueline King in rehearsals
for No Knowing.
Copyright: Tony Bartholomew
No Knowing can be seen at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough from 1 to 24 December.
Performances are in the SJT’s McCarthy auditorium at 8pm on 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22 and 23 December; and 3pm on 3, 8, 15, 17, 18, 22, 23 and 24 December.
Tickets are priced at £16, with discounts available for groups, and can be booked at the box office on 01723 370541 or via the website: www.sjt.uk.com

Monday, November 21, 2016

This Week: 21 November 2016

Ayckbourn Plays This Week & Coming Soon
28 November - 3 December: Relatively Speaking at Bath Theatre Royal
Until 19 November: Relatively Speaking at The MK Theatre, Milton Keynes.
1 - 24 December: No Knowing at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough (directed by Alan Ayckbourn)

News Round Up:
> Your final chance too see Liza Goddard and Robert Powell in Alan Ayckbourn's Relatively Speaking takes place next week when its UK tour comes to an end at the Theatre Royal Bath. The production, directed by Robin Herford, will be at the theatre from 28 November - 3 December ending a successful UK tour.
> The world premiere of Alan Ayckbourn's No Knowing takes place next week at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough. This fun piece for Christmas is running from 1 - 24 December and further details can be found at www.sjt.uk.com.

Sponsoring A Play On Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website
If you have a favourite Ayckbourn play, there's opportunity to be associated with it via Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website. Every Play on the site is open to sponsorship for a nominal fee - to help with the costs of running the website and domain costs - and which gives the sponsor (individuals only, not businesses) a credit on every page relating to the specific play. You can find out more about sponsoring a play and which plays are still available by clicking here.

Event Of The Week
A weekly feature highlights an event in Alan Ayckbourn's life pertinent to the week in question.
Henceforward...: On 21 November 1988, Alan Ayckbourn's acclaimed play Henceforward... had its West End premiere at the Vaudeville Theatre. The production starred Ian McKellen and Jane Asher and marked the first - and only - time, Alan has worked with the acclaimed actor. Notably, this was the first production featuring McKellen to take place after publicly coming out in the same year. The production was critically acclaimed and following a successful initial six month run, it was extended with Martin Jarvis taking over the role of Jerome from McKellen.

Monday, November 14, 2016

This Week: 14 November 2016

Ayckbourn Plays This Week & Coming Soon
Until 19 November: Relatively Speaking at The MK Theatre, Milton Keynes.
28 November - 3 December: Relatively Speaking at Bath Theatre Royal
1 - 24 December: No Knowing at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough (directed by Alan Ayckbourn)

News Round Up:
> The Ayckbourn plays Arrivals & Departures, Hero's Welcome and Roundelay are now all available to produce by amateur companies. Further details can be found at the Samuel French website.
> The UK tour of Alan Ayckbourn's breakout work Relatively Speaking continues this week with a visit to the MK Theatre, Milton Keynes, next week. It stars Robert Powell and Liza Goddard and is directed by Robin Herford.
> Booking is now open for the world premiere of Alan Ayckbourn's No Knowing at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough. This fun piece for Christmas is running from 1 - 24 December and further details can be found at www.sjt.uk.com.

Sponsoring A Play On Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website
If you have a favourite Ayckbourn play, there's opportunity to be associated with it via Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website. Every Play on the site is open to sponsorship for a nominal fee - to help with the costs of running the website and domain costs - and which gives the sponsor (individuals only, not businesses) a credit on every page relating to the specific play. You can find out more about sponsoring a play and which plays are still available by clicking here.


Monday, November 7, 2016

This Week: 7 November 2016

Ayckbourn Plays This Week & Coming Soon
Until 12 November: Henceforward... at the Old Laundry Theatre, Bowness-on-Windermere (directed by Alan Ayckbourn).
Until 12 November: Relatively Speaking at Cambridge Arts Theatre.
14 - 19 November: Relatively Speaking at The MK Theatre, Milton Keynes.
1 - 24 December: No Knowing at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough (directed by Alan Ayckbourn)

News Round Up:
> Alan Ayckbourn's acclaimed revival of Henceforward... enters the final week of its in-the-round tour and can be seen at the Old Laundry Theatre, Bowness-on-Windermere, until Saturday. It will be touring end-stage venues in the New Year, starting at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford, from 19 - 28 January. Further venues are to be announced and tour details can be found at www.sjt.uk.com.
> The UK tour of Alan Ayckbourn's breakout work Relatively Speaking continues this week with a visit to Cambridge Arts Theatre, followed by the MK Theatre, Milton Keynes, next week. It stars Robert Powell and Liza Goddard and is directed by Robin Herford.
> Booking is now open for the world premiere of Alan Ayckbourn's No Knowing at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough. This fun piece for Christmas is running from 1 - 24 December and further details can be found at www.sjt.uk.com.

Sponsoring A Play On Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website
If you have a favourite Ayckbourn play, there's opportunity to be associated with it via Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website. Every Play on the site is open to sponsorship for a nominal fee - to help with the costs of running the website and domain costs - and which gives the sponsor (individuals only, not businesses) a credit on every page relating to the specific play. You can find out more about sponsoring a play and which plays are still available by clicking here.

Event Of The Week
A weekly feature highlights an event in Alan Ayckbourn's life pertinent to the week in question.
Artistic Director: On 12 November 1972, Alan Ayckbourn was appointed the Artistic Director of the Library Theatre in Scarborough; a position he would hold for 37 years until 2009 across three venues - the Library Theatre, the Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round and the Stephen Joseph Theatre. It is a date frequently given incorrectly in published works ranging every year from 1969 to 1972. This is due to the fact that between 1969 and 1970, Alan was appointed Director of Productions at the Library Theatre; an annual appointment made by Scarborough Theatre Trust between 1967 and 1971. Having been appointed to the position twice, Alan was again appointed to the role in 1972 and - following the end of the season - he was permanently appointed in the role of what was renamed the Artistic Director. He is regarded as the company's second Artistic Director after Stephen Joseph with the current incumbent, Paul Robinson, being the company's fourth Artistic Director since 1955.

Monday, October 31, 2016

This Week: 31 October 2016

Ayckbourn Plays This Week & Coming Soon
1 - 12 November: Henceforward... at the Old Laundry Theatre, Bowness-on-Windermere (directed by Alan Ayckbourn).
Until 5 November: Relatively Speaking at The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry.
7 - 12 November: Relatively Speaking at Cambridge Arts Theatre.

News Round Up:
> Alan Ayckbourn's acclaimed revival of Henceforward... transfers to the Old Laundry Theatre, Bowness-on-Windermere, for the final venue on it's in-the-round tour. The dystopian comedy can be seen from 1 - 12 November. Henceforward... will be touring end-stage venues in the New Year, starting at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford, from 19 - 28 January. Further venues are to be announced and tour details can be found at www.sjt.uk.com.
> The UK tour of Alan Ayckbourn's breakout work Relatively Speaking continues this week with a visit to the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, followed by the Cambridge Arts Theatre next week. It stars Robert Powell and Liza Goddard and is directed by Robin Herford.
> Booking is now open for the world premiere of Alan Ayckbourn's No Knowing at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough. This fun piece for Christmas is running from 1 - 24 December and further details can be found at www.sjt.uk.com.

Sponsoring A Play On Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website
If you have a favourite Ayckbourn play, there's opportunity to be associated with it via Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website. Every Play on the site is open to sponsorship for a nominal fee - to help with the costs of running the website and domain costs - and which gives the sponsor (individuals only, not businesses) a credit on every page relating to the specific play. You can find out more about sponsoring a play and which plays are still available by clicking here.

Event Of The Week
A weekly feature highlights an event in Alan Ayckbourn's life pertinent to the week in question.
Miller Time: On 6 November 1979, Alan Ayckbourn's production of Arthur Miller's The Crucible opened at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round, Scarborough. It marked the first time Alan had directed a Miller play and featured the largest cast yet to be seen at the three-year-old venue. Although Alan was pleased with the production, it did not compare to his most famous production of a Miller work, which also transferred from the National Theatre to the West this week in 1987. This production was A View From The Bridge, starring Michael Gambon, and it was universally acclaimed and Arthur Miller stated he considered it a definitive production of his work.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

New Ayckbourn Plays Available To Perform

Samuel French has announced several recent plays by Alan Ayckbourn are now available to perform.
Arrivals & Departures, Hero's Welcome, Roundelay and Farcicals are now all available to license via the Samuel French website for both amateur and professional performance.
You can find details about the individual plays by clicking on the links below.

Arrivals & Departures

Hero's Welcome

Roundelay

Farcicals

If you are unsure which of Alan Ayckbourn's are available to perform - or would like to check whether performing rights are available for a specific play, then visit the Licenses page at Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website here.

Important note regarding amateur Ayckbourn Productions within London
For some time, the Samuel French website has noted on practically all of its Alan Ayckbourn pages the following message.

This title is currently restricted in London, please contact the Licensing Department for further details.

IGNORE THIS if you are interested in staging an Ayckbourn play in London. Whilst several titles are at any one time unavailable to produce in London, the vast majority of the plays are available to perform.
Do not be put off by this message and just make an enquiry as usual via the Samuel French website. It is more than likely the play will be available to produce - allowing for certain restrictions pertaining to plays being toured or to be produced in London.

Monday, October 24, 2016

This Week: 24 October 2016

Ayckbourn Plays This Week & Coming Soon
Until 29 October: Henceforward... & The Karaoke Theatre Company at the New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme (directed by Alan Ayckbourn).
Until 29 October: Relatively Speaking at Malvern Theatres.
31 October - 5 November: Relatively Speaking at The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry.
27 - 29 October: Woman In Mind & Invisible Friends at South Hill Park, Bracknell (amateur)

News Round Up:
> this week offers the final chance to see Alan Ayckbourn's Karaoke Theatre Company. The play is currently on tour with his acclaimed revival of Henceforward... at the New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme, until 29 October. This marks the final week of performance of the interactive theatre work. From 1 - 12 November, Henceforward... will tour onto the Old Laundry, Bowness-on-Winderemere, from 1 - 12 November. Further details can be found at www.sjt.uk.com.
> Dick & Lottie, the UK's only amateur company dedicated to the work of Alan Ayckbourn, is presenting a double bill of two related plays on tour. The company is presenting Woman In Mind and Relatively Speaking at South Hill Park, Bracknell, from 27 - 29 October. Further details can be found at www.dickandlottie.com.
> The UK tour of Alan Ayckbourn's breakout work Relatively Speaking continues this week with a visit to Malvern Theatre, followed by the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, next week. It stars Robert Powell and Liza Goddard and is directed by Robin Herford.
> Booking is now open for the world premiere of Alan Ayckbourn's No Knowing at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough. This fun piece for Christmas is running from 1 - 24 December and further details can be found at www.sjt.uk.com.

Sponsoring A Play On Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website
If you have a favourite Ayckbourn play, there's opportunity to be associated with it via Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website. Every Play on the site is open to sponsorship for a nominal fee - to help with the costs of running the website and domain costs - and which gives the sponsor (individuals only, not businesses) a credit on every page relating to the specific play. You can find out more about sponsoring a play and which plays are still available by clicking here.

Event Of The Week
A weekly feature highlights an event in Alan Ayckbourn's life pertinent to the week in question.
A New Home: This week marks the 40th anniversary of the opening of the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round, Scarborough. Founded as the Library Theatre by Stephen Joseph in 1955 as the UK's first professional in-the-round company, it moved to its second home on 26 October 1976. Initially known as Theatre In The Round At Westwood and intended to be a temporary home for the company, the new venue became a home for 20 years and was renamed the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round in 1978. Alan Ayckbourn, then Artistic Director of the company, oversaw the move to its new home and later its permanent home, the Stephen Joseph Theatre, in 1996.

Monday, October 17, 2016

This Week: 17 October 2016

Ayckbourn Plays This Week & Coming Soon
Until 29 October: Henceforward... & The Karaoke Theatre Company at the New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme (directed by Alan Ayckbourn).
Until 22 October: Relatively Speaking at The Lowry, Manchester.
24 - 29 October: Relatively Speaking at Malvern Theatres.
27 - 29 October: Woman In Mind & Invisible Friends at South Hill Park, Bracknell (amateur)

News Round Up:
> Alan Ayckbourn's revival of Henceforward... and his new work The Karaoke Theatre Company are now on an in-the-round tour at the New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme, from 11 - 29 October before Henceforward... visits the Old Laundry, Bowness-on-Winderemere, from 1 - 12 November. Further details can be found at www.sjt.uk.com.
> Dick & Lottie, the UK's only amateur company dedicated to the work of Alan Ayckbourn, is presenting a double bill of two related plays on tour. The company is presenting Woman In Mind and Relatively Speaking at South Hill Park, Bracknell, from 27 - 29 October. Further details can be found at www.dickandlottie.com.
> The UK tour of Alan Ayckbourn's breakout work Relatively Speaking continues this week with a visit to the The Lowry in Manchester, followed by Malvern Theatres next week. It stars Robert Powell and Liza Goddard and is directed by Robin Herford.
> Booking is now open for the world premiere of Alan Ayckbourn's No Knowing at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough. This fun piece for Christmas is running from 1 - 24 December and further details can be found at www.sjt.uk.com.

Sponsoring A Play On Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website
If you have a favourite Ayckbourn play, there's opportunity to be associated with it via Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website. Every Play on the site is open to sponsorship for a nominal fee - to help with the costs of running the website and domain costs - and which gives the sponsor (individuals only, not businesses) a credit on every page relating to the specific play. You can find out more about sponsoring a play and which plays are still available by clicking here.

Event Of The Week
A weekly feature highlights an event in Alan Ayckbourn's life pertinent to the week in question.
If I Were You: The world premiere of Alan Ayckbourn's If I Were You took place on 17 October 2006. This marked Alan's first return to the theatre following his stroke in February the same year. That he was able to premiere a brand new show six months later was due to the fact he had finished writing the play just days prior to the stroke. He directed the body-swapping comedy at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, before it embarked on a UK tour. He would then not premiere another new play until 2008, taking almost 18 months away from writing following the stroke.