Monday, February 29, 2016

Stephen Joseph Theatre announces new Artistic Director

The new Artistic Director at Alan Ayckbourn's home theatre, the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, has been announced as Paul Robinson.
Paul is currently the Artistic Director of Theatre503, an award-winning new writing theatre in South London that he has very much put on the map, launching and developing the careers of a range of writers. Theatre503 productions have transferred into the West End, have been co-produced with significant regional partners and have toured nationally – Paul's production of Land of Our Fathers is currently on a UK tour.
Paul Robinson
Photo by Richard Davenport
Alongside his work at Theatre503, Paul has directed for the National Theatre, at Manchester’s Royal Exchange and in the West End. His major revival of My Mother Said I Never Should opens at St James Theatre in the West End in April.
Paul will join the SJT on 1 June and will be moving into the area with his family over the summer.
Paul says: “I am of course delighted to be appointed Artistic Director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre. Over 60 years this magnificent venue has developed a company whose history, location and ethos combine to make it a unique and vital place. It is an organisation which simultaneously fosters a genuine notion of community and which is also a powerful regional voice, proudly situated in the vibrant town of Scarborough.
“I am excited to extend the legacy of my hugely talented predecessors including Stephen Joseph himself, Chris Monks, and of course Sir Alan Ayckbourn, particularly in his approach to progressive new work and nurturing emerging talent. I am thrilled to be directing and curating a range of work at the SJT, and forging close ties with our audience. It will be a privilege to lead this company at a moment when it is bursting with such opportunity.
“Theatre503 has been my home for over nine years and I have enjoyed every minute of it thanks to a superb team and excellent Board. We’ve faced down huge challenges and I have been lucky enough to see the burgeoning talent of a generation of artists come through the doors. I have no doubt that under new leadership it will continue to go from strength to strength.”
Richard Grunwell, chair of the SJT Board, said: “The Board and I were delighted with the range of interest shown in the post of Artistic Director and the quality of the applications received and candidates interviewed. This helps to demonstrate the keen interest throughout the arts industry in the future of the SJT. I am so pleased that Paul Robinson has accepted the role, and I have been impressed with his range of experience and considerable achievements, alongside the artistic vision and the opportunities he offers the SJT. I look forward to working with him.”
Mathew Russell, Chief Executive at the SJT, said: “I am thrilled that Paul Robinson will be joining the SJT as our next Artistic Director. He offers us the perfect attributes for the role at this time: experience in artistic leadership of a theatre committed to making new work and nurturing new talent, a proven track record as a director of high quality productions, often produced in partnership, and a firm commitment to reaching new audiences and participants in fresh and exciting ways. Paul is the ideal artist to help bring to life the creative aspects of our new business plan and operating model. We can't wait for him to join us in time for this year's Summer Festival.”

Friday, February 26, 2016

Archiving Ayckbourn: Season's Greetings

Archiving Ayckbourn is a regular feature presenting a look at every Alan Ayckbourn play through an object held in the Ayckbourn Archive. Each week, the feature will chronologically move through the play canon highlighting an object, article, photograph or other archival object offering an insight into the play, the playwright or moments of significance.

Season's Greetings (1980)
Or rather the play that was originally announced by Alan Ayckbourn before being replaced at the very last minute by Season's Greetings!
In 1980, Alan Ayckbourn announced the details of his silver anniversary play, his 25th play would be called Sight Unseen; at the time Alan did not consider his musical Jeeves to be part of the play canon. So whilst what was announced as his 25th play, we now consider to be his 26th play.
And if that hasn't confusing enough there's a whole saga involving a play that was announced and cancelled, but which later emerged as the basis for another play entirely!
To begin at the beginning, on 25 July 1980, the Evening Standard ran a short piece in which Alan Ayckbourn publicly announced the title of his next play for the first time.
Copyright: Evening Standard
This article (click on image to enlarge) confirms the title of the new play as Sight Unseen and the glimmer of a 'ludicrous' plot.
Later in August, the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round would confirm the title of the play and tickets would go on sale for the run starting on 4 September. In the meantime, it was rumoured that the play would be a comedy thriller.
Very little was known about Sight Unseen other than this until 2010 when two pages of Alan Ayckbourn's notes were found in the Ayckbourn Archive relating to the play and confirming that it was indeed planned as a thriller and would feature a random murderer - which might begin to sound familiar to Ayckbourn fans.
However, late in August, Alan Ayckbourn decided he couldn't write this play and abandoned it to write a completely different play, Season's Greetings, which shared only the hallway setting and character names of Sight Unseen.
Despite the late volte face and rehearsals starting several days later than expected, the play only opened a day late and proved to be a huge success; perhaps vindicating Alan's decision not to go ahead with Sight Unseen.
Copyright: Alan Ayckbourn
One of the pages of notes for Sight Unseen can be seen above (click on image to enlarge) and it shows just how close and also how different the play was to Season's Greetings.
The top half of the piece is devoted to the names of the characters, most of whom will be familiar to anyone who knows Season's Greetings, not leat the key couple Neville and Belinda Bunker. Keen-eyed readers will also spot a completely unfamiliar character, Detective Constable Seeks.
Just to demonstrate how this is not just an early idea for Season's Greetings, but definitely the basis for Sight Unseen, are the notes at the bottom of the page - which show the play was about the murder of Neville Bunker and the search for the killer, which could be any one of four characters.

Derek loves Melina [presumably Alan had not decided yet on Belinda or Melinda]
> Melinda kills Nev to free her
> Derek kills Nev to free her
> Bernard kills Nev to avoid family break-up
> Veronica kills Nev to avoid family break-up
> Phyllis longs to kill Melinda. Hopes she hurts Nev, her brother

This is certainly not the plot of Season's Greetings!
Although Alan abandoned Sight Unseen, the idea of a random killer thriller had obviously lodged in his brain and in 1982 he would write It Could Be Any One Of Us in which three people could be the murderer each night - the choice of killer determined by a game of poker at the beginning of the play.
Season's Greetings opened at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round, Scarborough, on 25 September 1980 and was directed by Alan Ayckbourn. More details about the play can be found here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

An Evening With Alan Ayckbourn's Archivist

The Stephen Joseph Theatre is holding a special event to mark the relaunch of its archive with a chance to meet Alan Ayckbourn's Archivist and take a peek at some of the rarities held by the theatre.
The event is being exclusively offered to Act III members of the SJT Circle (full details on how to join the SJT Circle can be found here). Taking place on 12 April, it will include a meal, a VIP tour of the Archive, a mini exhibition and a chance to talk with Simon Murgatroyd.
Simon is both Alan Ayckbourn's Archivist and the SJT's Archivist as well as the founder and administrator of Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website and the Scarborough In The Round website. He will be talking about his job as well as introducing the archive and what it contains.
The event marks the relaunch of The Bob Watson Archive at the SJT - named after the venue's original archivist - and the creation of a mini-display area which will become part of the SJT backstage tours in the future.
An Evening With The Archivist will offer the chance to get up close to Monty the 6ft gnome from Alan Ayckbourn's Neighbourhood Watch, see Stephen Joseph's desk and examine his four books and see what is believed to be the world's rarest piece of Ayckbourn ephemera in the world.
Alan Ayckbourn's Archivist
Simon Murgatroyd
Photo by Kath Dunn Mines
There will also be a very rare chance to see and handle Alan Ayckbourn's first script The Square Cat (1959) as well as the prompt script for the world premiere of the world famous adaptation of Susan Hill's The Woman In Black.
The mini-exhibition will also feature the only known copy off the original draft of Alan Ayckbourn and Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Jeeves, a shooting script for the rarely seen BBC television recording of Alan Ayckbourn and Paul Todd's revue Men On Women On Men as well as rarely seen photographs from the company's history among other things.
The two course meal will take place in the SJT Bistro and the evening will begin at 6.30pm and costs £15 per person. There will also be an opportunity to buy signed copies of Simon Murgatroyd's acclaimed book Unseen Ayckbourn with a portion of proceeds going towards the SJT Circle.
Further details about how to become an Act III SJT Circle member and get the exclusive chance to attend the An Evening With The Archivist event can be found by clicking here.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Ayckbourn Dates At Brits Off Broadway Announced

The 59E59 Theaters in New York has announced details of Alan Ayckbourn's visit to the Brits Off Broadway festival this year.
The playwright will be bringing the Stephen Joseph Theatre company to the festival with his latest play Hero's Welcome and a revival of his classic 1974 play Confusions.
Hero’s Welcome will run in repertory with Confusions from 26 May - 2 July. Its follows a soldier returning to his old neighbourhood with a new wife from where he left the now mayor at the altar year before.
Confusions can be seen from 28 May 28 - 3 July and features five loosely linked one act plays. Premiered in Scarborough in 1974 before transferring to the West End, Confusions is one of Alan Ayckbourn's most performed works. This production will mark its professional premiere in New York.
Alan Ayckbourn will direct both plays and the company will feature Stephen Billington, Elizabeth Boag, Russell Dixon, Evelyn Hoskins, Charlotte Harwood and Richard Stacey.
Details about Alan Ayckbourn's plays at the Brits Off Broadway festival and the rest of the festival programme can be found here.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Alan Ayckbourn & Amateur Theatre

In February 2016, Alan Ayckbourn’s official Website announced its first patronage with the amateur company Dick & Lottie.
Besides supporting a company which has shown considerable commitment and dedication to Alan Ayckbourn's plays, the patronage also marks the importance of amateur theatre to Stephen Joseph’s most influential protege, Alan Ayckbourn, and how amateur theatre was a key part of Alan’s early professional career.

When Stephen Joseph founded the UK’s first professional theatre-in-the-round company in the UK in Scarborough in 1955, the first person he met in Scarborough was Ken Boden. Ken was an insurance agent as well as a leading figure in Scarborough Theatre Guild and would prove key to helping found the theatre.
During Stephen’s tenure as Artistic Director from 1955 until 1965, the Library Theatre relied on Scarborough’s amateur theatricals as volunteers for front of house and backstage work, largely brought together by Ken Boden.
More than that though, Stephen genuinely believed amateur and professionals could and should work together in the theatre.

"Many Scarborough people are proud that theatre in the round virtually started its career here. From the start the venture had the support of local amateur groups. This extended beyond helping to set up and dismantle the theatre. Front of house help was recruited from volunteers, and prop-hunting, costume-finding, and the distribution of publicity material were all aided by voluntary help, under the supervision of Kenneth Boden. Besides helping us he has, as secretary of the local branch of the British Drama League, organised an amateur theatre in the round festival at Scarborough which looks like becoming an important annual event in the North of England."
Stephen Joseph

This event was the UK's first theatre-in-the-round festival and it ran between 1956 until 1990.
During the first eight years of the event, Stephen Joseph was the adjudicator and after a decade’s hiatus from 1968, the event returned with Alan Ayckbourn as adjudicator at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round from 1978.
The loyalty of the amateur community inspired by Stephen Joseph essentially enabled the Library Theatre to survive until the present day as in 1965, the venue was closed with no intention of it ever re-opening.
Fortunately, Ken Boden persuaded the now terminally ill Stephen Joseph to re-open the venue in 1966 for an amateur season. The in 1967 - with little money but much enthusiasm from the amateur community and the support of people who admired Stephen such as Alan Ayckbourn and Alfred Bradley - the company was relaunched and survives to this day, now in its third home the Stephen Joseph Theatre.

That amateur theatre was a vital part of Stephen Joseph’s philosophy can also be seen in the career of his most famous protege, the playwright and director Alan Ayckbourn.
During the formative years of his professional career, Alan wrote and directed for amateur companies before the explosion of fame led to him becoming one of the most successful British playwrights of the 20th century.
Part of Alan’s enduring success has always been his popularity with amateur companies and the way this community has so enthusiastically adopted his plays. It is something which is crucial to his success over the years.
His links to the amateur community though go back much further than people realise and the first verifiable amateur performance of an Ayckbourn play took place in 1961; six years before he went into the West End and just two years following his professional writing debut, The Square Cat.
It is hardly a surprise that the amateurs might turn to Alan following the success of his first two plays in 1959; one can imagine the local amateur companies queuing up to see if this exciting young writer would work with them. Obviously head of that queue were Ken and Margaret Boden with Scarborough Theatre Guild, for whom Alan would specifically write at least four plays.
On 4 October 1961, Scarborough Theatre Guild performed the one act play Love Undertaken at St Mary’s Parish House, Scarborough.
In all likelihood, this was not the first amateur production either as there’s strong evidence of amateurs performing his work in February that same year and possibly even late 1960. Love Undertaken though is significant as it is the earliest Ayckbourn production to receive a license for performance from the Lord Chamberlain’s Office, to which historically all plays had to be submitted for approval until 1968.
Love Undertaken was a one-act romantic comedy set in an undertaker’s office (the lead character is introduced rising from a coffin, where he has been hiding). There is no record of the success of Love Undertaken, but the following March, Scarborough Theatre Guild presented a double bill of more one act plays by the author, Follow The Lover and Double Hitch. The former is a comedy about an older couple who each believe the other is having an affair with someone younger. Enter two young detectives hired separately to investigate the alleged infidelities by each spouse, who naturally fulfil the prior suspicions of the couple.
Alan’s close ties with Scarborough Theatre Guild apparent here as he took on the role of the young detective opposite Ken Boden, which would later lead the playwright to declare any actor should be wary of performing with children, animals and Ken Boden!
Double Hitch was also a comedy in which two honey-mooning couples find themselves double-booked into the same decrepit holiday house and their fractious attempts to resolve this. There is evidence to suggest this was the very first Ayckbourn play to be performed by amateurs early in 1961 or possibly late 1960. Double Hitch would also have an extended life as it was performed at least twice more in drama festivals including the in-the-round festival which Stephen Joseph set up in 1960 in Scarborough.
The final play for amateurs (that is known of) was discovered in a Scarborough loft in 2007 but was probably written as early as 1958 before being offered for performance in the early 1960s.
The Party Game is a character study set at a house party, which stands in stark contrast to anything else Alan was writing in this period. Notably Margaret Boden, who was a frequent director for Scarborough Theatre Guild, turned the play down and it was never performed. This was eventually rectified in 2010 when the first public reading of the play was given by, appropriately, an amateur company when the participants of an Ayckbourn event read it at Scarborough’s Public Library, former home of the Library Theatre.
As far as is known, Alan did not write any more plays specifically for amateurs, although tantalisingly there are a couple of unproduced Ayckbourn plays in archive from this period, Relative Values and Mind Over Murder, which possibly might have been intended for amateur production.
By the end of the 1960s though there was no real need for Alan to write any more plays for the amateur market. The success of Relatively Speaking and How The Other Half Loves in London led to an insatiable demand from repertory and amateur companies for Alan’s plays, the former demand also feeding the latter. The popularity of these and all that followed quickly saw Alan become one of the country’s most performed playwrights and his archive holds many letters from amateur companies often practically pleading to be allowed to stage the new Ayckbourn almost as soon as the play had professionally premiered!

Alan also ventured into directing amateur companies as well with two productions for Leeds Art Theatre, of which he was the president, at Leeds Civic Theatre. At the time, Alan was working as a Radio Drama Producer for the BBC and he stepped in to help the amateur company.
His first production with the company was a revival in 1968 of Mr Whatnot; a huge technical challenge for an amateur company.
But perhaps most worthy of note is the lead role was played by a young actor named Bob Peck - who Alan joked he had found in a Leeds cellar and had been searching in cellars ever other such good actors.
So impressed was he by the actor, he employed him in a number of his BBC Radio productions and from which an extraordinary career on stage, television and film emerged - although he worked with both the National Theatre and RSC, to many he is probably most famous for the BBC’s Edge Of Darkness and Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park.
The second production was Relatively Speaking in 1970 - which perhaps surprisingly marked the first time he ever directed one of his most famous plays; he would not direct it professionally until 1977 in Scarborough.

Alan Ayckbourn may have long since stopped writing or directed plays for amateur companies, but they have long since embraced the playwright and hundreds of amateur productions take place every year around the world.
That his plays have become so embraced by and popular with the amateur community is something of which he is proud of.
This relationship between Alan Ayckbourn and the amateur community is something Alan Ayckbourn’s Official Website is celebrating through its patronage of Dick & Lottie.
This company is an excellent example of the ambitious standards so many amateur companies set themselves, providing productions of the highest standards and ably demonstrating Stephen Joseph’s belief that amateur theatre is something to be celebrated.

Dick & Lottie is currently touring Alan Ayckbourn Neighbourhood Watch to The Coach House Theatre, Malvern, (16 - 17 February) and South Hill Park, Bracknell (18 - 19 February). Further details about Dick & Lottie can be found here.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Archiving Ayckbourn: Suburban Strains

Archiving Ayckbourn is a regular feature presenting a look at every Alan Ayckbourn play through an object held in the Ayckbourn Archive. Each week, the feature will chronologically move through the play canon highlighting an object, article, photograph or other archival object offering an insight into the play, the playwright or moments of significance.

Suburban Strains (1980)
Suburban Strains is not one of Alan Ayckbourn's more well known creations. It was actually his first full-length musical since his infamous musical Jeeves with Andrew Lloyd Webber in 1975.
Suburban Strains was an altogether different musical though and created in collaboration with the composer Paul Todd. It was a small scale show in which the songs were an essential part of the plot - moving the story forward rather than just being there for decoration.
The musical premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round in January 1980 and featured an interesting new addition to the venue.
Copyright: Scarborough Evening News
This is an excerpt from an article (click on image to enlarge) published in the Scarborough Evening News in December 1979 announcing the installation of a double-revolve at the theatre.
The revolve consisted of an inner platform and an outer ring, both of which could be turned clockwise or anti-clockwise and independently of each other.
Within Suburban Strains this helped mark the passage of time, whether the play was going back in time to a younger Caroline (revolve moves anti-clockwise) or back to the present day (revolve moves clockwise). All of this was achieved by hand cranks located backstage in which stage managers would crank the wheel to turn the stage (and presumably got even fitter in the process!).
Of course such an arrangement is ripe for the odd mishap and there was at least one instance where the stage was revolved in entirely the opposite direction to what was expected leading actors and furniture flung in all directions.
Despite the stated intention to keep it a permanent addition, the revolve was really only used to its full extent with Suburban Strains in 1979 and for its revival in 1980. The stage was actually taken up in subsequent years.
It should also be noted that the Theatre Publicity Officer quoted in the article is the same Stephen Wood who would become Chief Executive of the Stephen Joseph Theatre between 1996 and 2015.
Suburban Strains opened at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round, Scarborough, on 18 January 1980 and was directed by Alan Ayckbourn. More details about the play can be found here.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

How The Other Half Loves Returns To The West End

Alan Ayckbourn's classic 1969 comedy How The Other Half Loves is to return to the West End in March.
One of the playwright's most popular and famous comedies, this will mark its third production in the West End following its popular 1970 London premiere starring Robert Morley - which ran for 869 productions - and its 1988 transfer to the Duke Of York's Theatre.
The production at the Theatre Royal Haymarket will be directed by Alan Strachan, who was responsible for the Theatre Royal Bath's acclaimed 2007 revival of the play with The Peter Hall Company as well as the 1988 West End revival. He has also directed several West End Ayckbourn premieres & revivals as well as working with Alan Ayckbourn in Scarborough.
The play follows Bob and Fiona's clumsy attempts to cover up their affair with their spouses' intervention only adding to the confusion. William and Mary Featherstone become stuck in the middle, falsely accused of adultery and with no idea as to how they've become involved. The plot culminates in two disastrous dinner parties on successive nights, shown at the same time, after which the future of all three couples seems in jeopardy...
The revival will be designed by Julie Godfrey and produced by Bill Kenwright, who has also produced a number of Ayckbourn revives in the West End including the acclaimed 2007 revival of Absurd Person Singular, also directed by Alan Strachan.
How The Other Half Loves can be seen at the Theatre Royal Haymarket from 23 March to 25 June. Further details and bookings can be found by clicking here.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Neighbourhood Watch on tour

Huddersfield-based Dick & Lottie return to the stage next week with a production of Alan Ayckbourn’s Neighbourhood Watch.
The company is touring the production to South Hill Park, Bracknell, and The Coach House, Malvern, with a production which recently sold out a week's run at the Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield.
Neighbourhood Watch is a cautionary tale of an innocent mistake on an estate leading to an alarming escalation of events as the residents of Bluebell Hill Development take extreme measures to protect themselves.
Dick & Lottie, was formed in 2004 to perform the works of Alan Ayckbourn and over the past 11 years has established a company which has presented 30 productions of the playwright's works.
Earlier this month, the company's achievements were recognised with Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website becoming the company's patron.
Neighbourhood Watch can be see at the Coach House, Malvern, from 16 - 17 February at 7.30pm (click here for bookings) and South Hill Park, Bracknell, from 18 - 19 February at 7.30pm (click here for details).

Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website is the patron of Dick & Lottie and further details about the patronage can be found here.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Archiving Ayckbourn: Taking Steps

Archiving Ayckbourn is a regular feature presenting a look at every Alan Ayckbourn play through an object held in the Ayckbourn Archive. Each week, the feature will chronologically move through the play canon highlighting an object, article, photograph or other archival object offering an insight into the play, the playwright or moments of significance.

Taking Steps (1979)
It is one of the great fallacies relating to Alan Ayckbourn that he is a farceur. Officially the playwright considers he has only ever written a single true farce in 80 full-length plays.
Taking Steps is actually the third of three farces written by the playwright, but given the other two are his first two plays (The Square Cat and Relatively Speaking) and not available to produce or ever been published, Taking Steps is in all respects his only farce.
Dedicated to the master farceur Ben Travers - who came to see the original Scarborough production - Taking Steps was created partly in answer to a conundrum. Can you do a farce in the round given you can't have the doors which are the prerequisite of so many classic farces?
Alan's solution was to present a farce without doors but with floors in which three storeys of the same house are overlaid on top of each other with action simultaneously taking place on the different 'floors' at the same time.
As well as being the only play he considers to be a farce, it is one of only a handful of plays the playwright wrote specifically for the round and which he believes cannot be performed satisfactorily in the pros arch or end-stage spaces.
Copyright: Alan Ayckbourn
The image above (click to enlarge) shows Alan Ayckbourn's first sketch of his idea for the set for Taking Steps. Alan has always had a strong idea of how his plays should be staged and always has a clear idea of how it will work on stage.
This very rough sketch shows the idea of the 'flat' stairs to each floor at the eve of the stage as well as showing the mix of various room props such as the bed, seats and sofa.
Alan particularly enjoyed the fact that as audiences exited the theatre via the stage at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round, many people would walk up and down the 'stairs'.
The second piece from the archive is a bit of history with a visit to the London production from a well-known couple.

As far as records show, this was the first visit to a West End production of an Ayckbourn play by the Prince Of Wales and his fiancee just two weeks after their engagement was announced on 24 February 1981.
As reported in the Archiving Ayckbourn's previous blog on Relatively Speaking, it was not unusual for members of the Royal family to visit Ayckbourn productions during the '60 through the '80s.
Their reaction to the production was unrecorded, but this was the final West End premiere not to be directed by Alan Ayckbourn and, sadly, a production that proved to be very disappointing for the playwright himself.
Taking Steps opened at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round, Scarborough, on 28 September 1979 and was directed by Alan Ayckbourn. More details about the play can be found here.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website announces patronage

Alan Ayckbourn’s Official Website is proud to announce it has agreed to be the patron of the drama company Dick & Lottie.
Based in Huddersfield, it is the only amateur company in the UK dedicated to the works of Alan Ayckbourn and during its first ten years has produced 25 of Alan Ayckbourn’s plays in 30 productions and public rehearsed readings.
Founded by John Cotgrave and Richard McArtney in 2004, the company is driven by John and Richard’s passion for Alan Ayckbourn’s plays. Ostensibly based at the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield, Dick & Lottie has also been touring its productions since 2015.
As the company reaches its 30th production, Alan Ayckbourn’s Official Website is delighted to celebrate the passion, commitment and dedication of the company to Alan Ayckbourn’s writing by becoming its patron and forging closer links with Dick & Lottie.
Aside from the patronage, the company has previous links with Alan Ayckbourn, having performed for the playwright in his home-town of Scarborough and also seen Lady Ayckbourn perform with the company its fundraising Ayckbourn Readathon in 2014.
Members of Dick & Lottie with Alan Ayckbourn in 2015
Alan Ayckbourn’s Official Website founder and Alan Ayckbourn’s Archivist, Simon Murgatroyd, feels as the website’s only patronage, this is the perfect association.
“I have known John & Richard for many years and seeing their company, Dick & Lottie, grow and succeed beyond anyone’s expectations has been a pleasure. I have met few people so committed to producing an authentic Ayckbourn experience and their productions constantly set a benchmark for amateur - and even professional - productions of his plays. I’m delighted the website is now the company’s patron and will be playing a part in the company’s future.”
John Cotgrave, Artistic Director of Dick & Lottie, is delighted at the recognition and association with the website and Alan Ayckbourn’s Archivist, Simon Murgatroyd.
“Dick & Lottie is thrilled and honoured to have such a prestigious patron. It is a kite mark recognising the quality we achieve with the staging of Ayckbourn's plays - past and present. We look forward to a burgeoning relationship in the coming years.”
Further information on Dick & Lottie can be found via the Dick & Lottie Facebook page and at Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website here.
For any reader wanting a clarification of what a Patron / Patronage is (in this context), please read the second comment below.

Dick & Lottie is about to tour with Alan Ayckbourn's Neighbourhood Watch.
Neighbourhood Watch can be seen at The Coach House Theatre, Malvern, from 16 - 17 February (click here for details and bookings) and at South Hill Park, Bracknell from 18 - 19 February (click here for details).
Further information about the production and future Dick & Lottie productions can be found at Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website here or via the Dick & Lottie Facebook page.