Friday, April 28, 2017

60 Years At The SJT: 1979

2017 marks the 60th anniversary of Alan Ayckbourn joining the Library Theatre, Scarborough, in 1957. Alan has been indelibly associated with the company since that time as actor, writer, director and Artistic Director.
To mark this anniversary, the blog will be running a weekly feature highlighting each year's significant achievements and events relating to Alan Ayckbourn alongside notable photos.

60 Years At The SJT: 1979
If there is a single 'fact' that has been perpetually mis-reported during most of Alan Ayckbourn's long career as a playwright, it would be he is a farceur.
He isn't. Never has been. Never will be.
True, he has written plays with elements of farce within them but works frequently cited - such as The Norman Conquests, Absurd Person Singular, Relatively Speaking and - yes - Bedroom Farce - are assuredly not true farces.
They're comedies - mainly tragicomedies, occasionally high comedies - or, as the playwright like to note, just plays. Generally, Alan Ayckbourn likes to make you feel more than one emotion during the course of an evening.
However, there is an exception to this rule. For out of the 81 full-length plays he has written, one is indisputably a true, no doubts about, farce. Just one though.
Alan Ayckbourn circa 1979.
Copyright: Alan Ayckbourn
Taking Steps, which Alan himself dedicated to the master farceur Ben Travers when it premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round, Scarborough, in 1979.
Twenty years after he began writing - with the now withdrawn first play The Square Cat being as close to farce as Alan ever came between 1959 and 1979 - Alan decided to set himself the challenge of writing a farce, which fully met the conventions of the genre.
Why a challenge? Because as the playwright notes, he considers farce one of the hardest genres to write in, which explains the lack of them during his career,
“They [farces] are the most difficult plays to write because you are asking for a seemingly logical string of circumstances to lead to something totally illogical and unlikely without the audience for a moment looking back, and saying, “Oh no, wait a minute, this couldn’t happen.”…. The more wild the journey the more crafty and crafted the play has to be. I mean, this is no mistake, that most farce-writers are quite old dramatists, if not in years at least in experience.”
At the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round, the summer of 1979 had been dominated by Alan's random choice play Sisterly Feelings, which could be produced any one of four ways depending on the flip of a coin and the whim of an actor. It was a huge and ambitious production for the Scarborough theatre.
But arguably, it wasn't the defining production of that year. That came at the end of the summer season with a play that was neither scheduled nor advertised in the main brochure. At the end of August, a promotional flyer was printed advertising a new Ayckbourn.
“A little earlier than usual comes Alan Ayckbourn’s 'annual' play. This, his 23rd [actually 24th], opens on Friday 28 September and plays for only four performances during this run before the professional company takes a month’s break. At the moment all we have is the title, but rest assured the script will arrive in time for rehearsals, so don’t miss this opportunity to be the first audience ever to see the new offering of this phenomenally popular and entertaining writer.”
Whilst this may seem a strange way to promote a play at a month's notice, it was actually all too common at the Scarborough venue given Alan's predilection for writing his plays to the latest possible deadline; generally a day before rehearsals began.
Alan Ayckbourn's sketch of the set for the world premier
of Taking Steps taken from his original manuscript.
Copyright: Alan Ayckbourn
So it was not unusual for the theatre to not know what the play was either about or like until rehearsals began. In this case, early September by which point the four performances had sold out.
Except, even as rehearsals started, no-one truly knew what this play was like because he hadn't finished writing it. Describing it as "a pig to finish" Alan couldn't find a satisfactory climax before rehearsals were due to begin!
"The only time I fell down on the job was over Taking Steps. Farce is the most difficult thing of all to write because it has to be a riot from beginning to end. I was a couple of days late with it this year and strayed into my rehearsal period."
Having missed most of the first week of rehearsal - with inspiration only coming after he apparently slept on the problem - was Alan's play ready for its first read-through.
Which did not go quite as planned.
For while the actor Robin Herford recalls that most of the company “wept our way” through the reading, one actor was less than impressed and declared themselves not happy with their role. Quite possibly unique in the history of Alan's plays, this led to a confrontation between playwright and actor, which saw the actor leave the rehearsal room and the company, never to return.
Fortunately, a replacement was quickly found and rehearsals from that point proceeded smoothly and Alan began to reveal details of the play to the public.
Alan Ayckbourn (right) during rehearsals for Taking Steps.
Copyright: Scarborough Theatre Trust
“[This is] me in cheerful vein. I wrote it as a humble tribute to Ben Travers. I’m rather superstitious and produce my plays only in winter and spring. This time I decided to try a jolly autumn one for a change.”
Not only was Alan making a rare excursion into farce, but also writing a play specifically for the round; it is often forgotten that Alan has written the vast majority of his plays for theatre-in-the-round, although only Taking Steps (and, to an extent, How The Other Half Loves) are designed to specifically work only in the round.
“It [Taking Steps] is perhaps one of the archetypal ‘in the round’ plays because the floor is vitally important, and the floor, of course, in the round is like the backcloth is in the proscenium, everyone sees the floor and the joke is based around the floor.”
Robin Herford & Lavinia Bertram in the world premier
production of Taking Steps.
Copyright: Scarborough Theatre Trust
Taking Steps opened on 28 September 1979 and despite the fact its success was almost guaranteed, there was still an anxious wait to see how a play so different to Alan’s most recent creations would be received. The response was unexpected for both Alan and the acting company.
"I find the cast sitting in the tiny green room in stunned silence. The applause is still rattling through the tannoy speaker on the wall. Finally it dies out. There is a pause. Then one of them says, 'It’s a bit frightening this really, isn’t it?'"
Apparently the first night ran 17 minutes longer than it had in dress rehearsals due to the sheer volume of laughter. Alan’s first true farce was a hit. Following its short run, it returned in repertory from 30 October to 12 January becoming one of the Scarborough theatre’s biggest hits since it opened in 1955.
Alan would also note to his agent, Margaret 'Peggy' Ramsay that "It's just had three of the best receptions that I've ever had for any play of mine in Scarborough."
It also became the first play to run for more than 100 performances when it returned for the 1980 summer season; memorably the Scarborough Evening News reported “Taking Steps Clocks Up 1,000 Shows" - nearly there, just not quite.
Nearly right...
Copyright: The Scarborough News
Despite all its success in Scarborough, the West End production - which ran concurrently with the 1980 Scarborough production - was largely an unmitigated disaster in the playwright's eyes, as this memorable account from Paul Allen's biography of Alan Ayckbourn, Grinning At The Edge shows.
“On the London opening night of Taking Steps the Act 1 curtain arrived to almost complete silence, in contrast to the aching roar greeting it in Scarborough, and things were not much better at the end. Alan was aware of the sound of [his partner] Heather sobbing beside him. 'She was more upset than I was. I just went out into the night,' he says, but I suspect his upset was simply buried at once.”
The disappointment of the production marked the final time he would let anyone but himself direct a London premier of a new work. His only comfort was that his own production was running simultaneously in Scarborough with the polar opposite reaction.
“It’s very interesting: it’s the first time that a play of mine - Taking Steps - opened in London while it was still running in Scarborough. I’ve never done that before. It was like looking at two pictures. And you say: 'Well, I don’t care what they say down there and whether they think this or that. There’s a whole group of people in here who are having a marvellous time.' And in that sense one was perhaps able to survive the buffers of that experience better.”
Alan Ayckbourn & the Taking Steps company celebrate its
100th performance in 1980.
Copyright: Scarborough Theatre Trust
Of the more than 600 productions staged by the Stephen Joseph company in its three homes since 1955, Taking Steps undoubtedly deserves a place as one of the most significant. And you don't have to take my word for it, for you can judge Alan's Ayckbourn's only farce this summer when it returns to Scarborough, directed by Alan Ayckbourn, at the SJT.

Taking Steps, directed by Alan Ayckbourn, can be seen at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, from 13 July to 5 October. Further details and bookings can be found at www.sjt.uk.com.

Monday, April 24, 2017

News: 24 April 2017

News Round Up:
> There's just two weeks left to catch Robin Herford's well-received production of Alan Ayckbourn's Improbable Fiction at the Mill At Sonning. The play can be seen until 6 May and further details can be found at www.millatsonning.com.
> Several performances of the world premiere staging of Alan Ayckbourn's epic two-part The Divide at the Edinburgh International Festival have already sold out. Produced in association with the Old Vic Theatre, The Divide is an epic love story set in a dystopian future where the sexes have been divided following a catastrophic disease which has decimated the male population. The Divide will be performed at King's Theatre, Edinburgh from 8 - 20 August and early booking is advised via the festival website here.
> Book now for Alan Ayckbourn's new play and revival at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, this summer. He is directing the world premiere of A Brief History of Women and a revival of Taking Steps. Further details and bookings can be found at www.sjt.uk.com.
> The blog is celebrating Alan Ayckbourns' 60th anniversary at the Stephen Joseph Theatre throughout the year with an article every Friday taking a year-by-year look at his association with the company.
Unseen Ayckbourn: Illustrated Edition by Alan Ayckbourn's Archivist Simon Murgatroyd is now available from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. Fully updated for 2017, this book explores the unseen, withdrawn and unpublished works of Alan Ayckbourn with illustrations for the first time.

Friday, April 21, 2017

60 Years At The SJT: 1978

2017 marks the 60th anniversary of Alan Ayckbourn joining the Library Theatre, Scarborough, in 1957. Alan has been indelibly associated with the company since that time as actor, writer, director and Artistic Director.
To mark this anniversary, the blog will be running a weekly feature highlighting each year's significant achievements and events relating to Alan Ayckbourn alongside notable photos.

60 Years At The SJT: 1978
Two years after leaving its original home at the Library Theatre in Scarborough, it became obvious that the 'short-term' venue the company had moved to was to become more permanent than expected.
Acknowledging this on 1 April 1978, the Theatre In The Round At Westwood was renamed the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round to mark the company's 23 year affiliation with its late creator, Stephen Joseph.
Alan Ayckbourn & Ken Boden preparing to mount the new
sign for the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round in 1978.
Copyright: Scarborough Theatre Trust
The decision to sink roots at its new home - for what would turn out to be 20 years - led to a number of changes in both the venue and the company. One of the most significant being the appointment of the company's first Musical Director, Paul Todd.
Joining the company in early 1978, Paul would work extremely closely with Alan Ayckbourn over the next decade bringing more music into productions, forming the company's first house band and encouraging an increasingly ambitious and wide visiting music programme at the theatre.
He was also pivotal in allowing Alan to increasingly explore music within his plays and for him to return to the musical genre in which he had been badly stung by his experiences with the West End mega flop Jeeves in 1975 alongside Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Alan Ayckbourn with Paul Todd.
Copyright: Scarborough Theatre Trust
Alan's first foray into lyric writing with Paul came with the late night revue, Men On Women On Men, in the recently opened Studio space at the theatre. The revue featured 14 songs including Copy Type; a song which has frequently been performed by award-winning actress Janie Dee in her own revues.
The success of the piece would lead to Paul and Alan working on a further nine lunchtime and late night revues together between 1978 and 1986; a couple of which would also be revived by the pair when Alan joined the National Theatre for a two-year sabbatical from 1986 to 1988.
Men On Women On Men would also mark the first time Alan would direct his own work for television as, in 1979, BBC North recorded the piece with much of the original company. Recorded in black and white, running to just half-an-hour and screened only once - and then confined purely to the BBC North area of broadcast - it is a largely unknown and unseen piece of Ayckbourn on television.
Lavinia Bertram, Malcolm Hebden & Fiona Mathieson in
Men On Women On Men.
Copyright: Scarborough Theatre Trust
Even more obscure is the fact that in 1984, BBC North also recorded the Ayckbourn / Todd revue The 7 Deadly Virtues at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round, Scarborough. Reduced to half an hour and renamed Deadly Virtues - by virtue of not covering all seven pieces - there is no known surviving recording of this and shown just once at 10.15pm, it was seen by a very small audience.
It is in fact strange to note that Alan Ayckbourn - who has largely shunned television with just one original screenplay for the format - has directed for television three times, each time a music oriented piece with the last being a television adaptation of By Jeeves.
The success of Men On Women On Men quickly led Alan to work with Paul on his first full-length musical since Jeeves with Suburban Strains in 1980. Alan and Paul would also produce the musical Making Tracks in 1981; the use of music opening up another path for Alan's writing.
Lavinia Bertram & Robin Herford in Suburban Strains.
Copyright: Scarborough Theatre Trust
“The music actually helps me as a playwright; it's given me that necessary kick beyond naturalism. You have an equivalent of the soliloquy, no need for a boring old drunk scene to make characters say what they feel. If you suddenly bring in a shaft of music from somewhere, they can actually play the subtext. Generally the English prefer to hint round the truth, which is fun and leads to a lot of comedy, but for me it's been very interesting to find this other dimension.”
Paul and Alan worked together until 1987, after which the Musical Director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round became John Pattison. During this period, Alan's use of music within his plays - often cinematically with incidental themes became prominent - and he wrote Dreams From A Summer House together with John.
Alan would later go on to work extensively with the composer Denis King and, as of 2017, since his first revue with Paul Todd in 1978, Alan has written seven full-length musicals and eleven revues; it is now considered a major strand of his writing career and yet all began in the Studio at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round with the idea of a late night entertainment to keep audiences in the building.
Paul Todd (right) with the theatre band
performing in Suburban Strains.
Copyright: Scarborough Theatre Trust

Friday, April 14, 2017

Take a Chance on Sisterly Feelings

There's a rare opportunity to see Alan Ayckbourn's classic 'chance' play Sisterly Feelings in May.
Dick & Lottie - the UK"s only amateur company dedicated to the works of Alan Ayckbourn is presenting Sisterly Feelings at the Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield, from 31 May to 3 June.
The play, set on Pendon Common, follows the lives and loves of two sisters, Abigail and Dorcas, and the choices they make with regard to their relationships and where these choices lead them.
The play famously features alternative second and third scenes, both decided randomly during the performance with the first choice determined by the flip of a coin.
It is the second of Alan's 'chance' plays to be presented by the company this year following a production of Roundelay in January. The company will also be presenting the random murderer thriller It Could Be Any One Of Us in October.
Sisterly Feelings is directed by John Cotgrave and the company has now performed more than 25 productions of Alan's plays alongside numerous rehearsed readings of his work.
The company received the patronage of Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website in 2015 as a mark of both its commitment to the work of Alan Ayckbourn for more than a decade as well as for the quality of its productions.
Sisterly Feelings can be seen at the Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield, from 31 May to 3 June at 7.45pm with a Saturday matinee at 2pm. Tickets are £12 (under 26s £8) and they can be booked via the LBT website here.
You can find out more about Dick & Lottie and Sisterly Feelings at Dick & Lottie's website here.

If you're looking for the regular Sixty Years At The SJT article, it's taking a break for Easter and will resume next Friday.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

New Look

Changes are afoot at Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website www.alanayckbourn.net.
The entire Plays section of the website is being re-designed over the coming months with new pages, a new look, clearer navigation and improvements to existing pages.
An example of one of the new Images pages.
Foremost among the changes will be an introduction of an Images page for every play offering a selection of images drawn from the Ayckbourn Archive and production posters alongside rehearsal and production photographs; where the Images page has been added it can be accessed via the navigation bar for the play.
Visitors to the History page of the plays (formerly the Background page) will increasingly find Behind The Scenes insights into rarely known facts about the play's history and an In Brief page presenting the essential facts about the plays. Frequently Asked Questions pages are also being added to many of the plays.
The redesign will run throughout the year, but has already begun and the redesign can be seen in the Arrivals & Departures, Roundelay, Hero's Welcome and Consuming Passions sections. These pages also feature an improved navigation tool on the play's home-page.
Of course, while the redesign is taking place it will mean there will be a disparity in look and features between certain areas of the website, but we hope you'll bear with us while we bring these improvements to the entire website.



Monday, April 10, 2017

News: 10 April 2017

News Round Up:
>  The News Round Up will be taking a short break over Easter and will return as normal on Monday 24 April.
> Changes to Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website are coming in the months ahead. The entirety of the Plays section of the website (which includes detailed sections on every single Ayckbourn play and work) is to be upgraded with a new look and new features including a dedicated Images pages for each play with posters, photographs and archival material. The first example of the new layout can be found at Alan's last play, Consuming Passions, and will be carried over to every other play over the coming months.
> Book now for Alan Ayckbourn's new play and revival at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, this summer. He is directing the world premiere of A Brief History of Women and a revival of Taking Steps. Further details and bookings can be found at www.sjt.uk.com.
> Tickets are on sale for the world premiere staging of Alan Ayckbourn's The Divide at Edinburgh International Festival. Produced in association with the Old Vic Theatre, The Divide is an epic, two-part love story set in a dystopian future where the sexes have been divided following a catastrophic disease which has decimated the male population. The Divide will be performed at King' Theatre, Edinburgh from 8 - 20 August with further details and bookings available at the festival website here.
> Alan Ayckbourn's classic comedy How The Other Half Loves is touring this autumn. Directed by Alan Strachan - who directed the acclaimed West End revival last year - it will be touring to Theatre Royal Windsor (30 Aug - 9 Sep), Salford Lowry (11 - 16 Sep), Theatre Royal, Glasgow (18 - 23 Sep), Theatre Royal Bath (2 - 7 Oct), Richmond Theatre (16 - 21 Oct), Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford (23 - 28 Oct), Everyman Theatre, Chelthenham (6 - 11 Nov), Theatre Royal, Brighton (20 - 25 Nov) and Norwich Theatre Royal (27 Nov - 2 Dec). Further details can be found here.
> The blog is celebrating Alan Ayckbourns' 60th anniversary at the Stephen Joseph Theatre throughout the year with an article every Friday taking a year-by-year look at his association with the company.
Unseen Ayckbourn: Illustrated Edition by Alan Ayckbourn's Archivist Simon Murgatroyd is now available from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. Fully updated for 2017, this book explores the unseen, withdrawn and unpublished works of Alan Ayckbourn with illustrations for the first time.

Friday, April 7, 2017

60 Years At The SJT: 1977

2017 marks the 60th anniversary of Alan Ayckbourn joining the Library Theatre, Scarborough, in 1957. Alan has been indelibly associated with the company since that time as actor, writer, director and Artistic Director.
To mark this anniversary, the blog will be running a weekly feature highlighting each year's significant achievements and events relating to Alan Ayckbourn alongside notable photos.

60 Years At The SJT: 1977
By 1977, Alan Ayckbourn had been writing professionally for 18 years and written 20 plays.
Despite this, his 21st play would demonstrate that no matter how experienced he was, sometimes the process of writing a play is still not an easy one and can be beset by wrong turns and problems.
Ten Times Table was such a play.
The previous year had seen the opening of the Theatre In The Round At Westwood, a new home for the company of which Alan was now Artistic Director following 20 years at the Library Theatre. Alan had chosen to open the venue not with a new play, but a revival of one of the few plays which had not been previously produced in Scarborough, Mr Whatnot.
His first new play at the venue would come in 1977 and would reflect much of the frustration he experienced in moving the company to its new home; predominantly through the interminable amount of meetings he attended.
Ten Times Table was announced to the world on 6 November 1976 by the Yorkshire Post with other publications - such as the Daily Telegraph - also carrying the news that his '20th' play (actually his 21st) would open in January with the title Ten Times Table, but no other details existed as it had not been written yet.
The Daily Telegraph's report on
Alan Ayckbourn's Ten Times Table.
Copyright: Telegraph Media Group Ltd
At the time, Alan still wrote to the latest possible deadlines which was generally as close to rehearsals starting as possible.
His central idea for Ten Times Table essentially remained the same throughout the writing process centring on a committee of ten people preparing for a historical festival in his fictional town of Pendon.
Early notes show the plot was initially slightly more fixated on the relationships between the characters and that rather than based in the single location of the final play, it was multi-location with the action moving variously between the Swan Hotel and the homes of the various committee members, as this brief hand-written description notes.
"Follow Lawrence and Charlotte in [act] I through the eyes of the friends. We see Lawrence and Charlotte beginning the Friends Committee up to its break up. [Act] II Lawrence and Charlotte at home - guests etc. Their relationship under pressure. [Act] III The break up - the Festival in the tent?"
An early description of the plot for Ten Times Table written
bu Alan Ayckbourn.
Copyright: Alan Ayckbourn
Admittedly, this doesn't really resemble the final play (other than the committee and the festival), but this is where the play originated and, from which point, Alan began writing on Tuesday 21 December.
In context, rehearsals were set for Wednesday 29 December with the play opening on 18 January.
At which point, it all went wrong.
"I broke down in the middle. I actually got to a point in the play where I had to admit 'I simply can't go on, I don't know where we are. 48 hours before we started to reading it. And I turned back, to do my other trick. I was on page 46, or something, and I went back to page 23 [see below]. That's 23 pages thrown away, which is a hell of a lot of play: it was nearly a third or a quarter of the play."
By mid-day on Christmas Eve, Alan realised his mistake was not only the multi-location setting of the play, but the emphasis on Lawrence and Charlotte's relationship, rather than the committee. He decided to base the play in a single location and jettisoned the Lawrence and Charlotte relationship.
Which unfortunately had an awkward knock-on effect. At the time, Alan's partner (now wife), Heather Stoney, had been offered the central role of Charlotte. She also typed the plays as he dictated them to her....
Having stopped writing to reconsider the play, he realised his mistake; which does contradict his earlier statement suggesting the cut was far more brutal.
"My mistake, I discovered, had occurred on page seven, when I foolishly chose to leave the single location and take my characters out and about."
The playwright's original hand-drawn design for the set with
multiple locations, even moving into one of the seating blocks.
Copyright: Alan Ayckbourn
The effect of this was to completely cut the character of Charlotte from the play. Heather was informed of this, before Alan resumed writing the play for Heather to type!
Resuming writing from  page seven, Alan wrote the entire play between Christmas Eve morning and Boxing Day night! The play's first read-through - having had to be typed with copies printed and bound - took place on 28 December evening with rehearsals commencing the next morning.
Christopher Godwin (standing) during rehearsals for the
world premiere of Ten Times Table.
Copyright: Scarborough Theatre Trust
The play itself proved to be a huge success for the company, but extraordinarily - given all the effort - it was scheduled to play for just 11 days, closing on 29 January; the size of the company meant it could not be revived for the summer season.
The popularity of the plays and demand for tickets saw its run extended for a week until 5 February, but - all told - it was only performed 18 times in Scarborough.
The play also generated much interest as it was presumed that it was autobiographical and Alan had been inspired by the people he had met at many of the committee meetings. Although Alan would later suggest no characters were based on real people, at the time he was not so keen to disavow the suggestion.
"One professional committee man managed to string out the [local council] meetings for about four hours, so I wrote him into the play. Everyone recognised him. On the first night, in Scarborough, people were nudging me and saying: 'Blimey, we know who that is.' And then I saw the actual councillor in the audience. I was dreading what he would say, but he was delighted, went to see himself in the play every night. The last thing he asked me was: 'Who's going to play Me in London?'"
A scene from the world premiere of Ten Times Table with
Robin Herford (fourth from left) as Count. Evans.
Copyright: Scarborough Theatre Trust
In Paul Allen's biography of the playwright - Grinning At The Edge - the actor Robin Herford confirmed his character, Councillor Donald Evans was based on Councillor Maurice Plow, a bank manager who had also been a member of Scarborough Theatre Trust for many years. Maurice was famous at the theatre's previous home, the Library Theatre, for leading a rebellion against Stephen Joseph's decision in 1958 to end the playing of the National Anthem after every performance; he would even resign from the board in protest before later rejoining the board.

We're taking a short break for Easter and the 60 Years articles will resume on Friday 21 April.

Monday, April 3, 2017

News: 3 April 2017

News Round Up:
> Alan Ayckbourn's talk at the British Library in association with the Royal Society Of Literature has now sold out. The event, scheduled for 22 May, will see Alan Ayckbourn discussing his plays, themes and career with Peter Kemp.
> Tickets are on sale for the world premiere staging of Alan Ayckbourn's The Divide at Edinburgh International Festival. Produced in association with the Old Vic Theatre, The Divide is an epic, two-part love story set in a dystopian future where the sexes have been divided following a catastrophic disease which has decimated the male population. The Divide will be performed at King' Theatre, Edinburgh from 8 - 20 August with further details and bookings available at the festival website here.
> Alan Ayckbourn's classic comedy How The Other Half Loves is touring this autumn. Directed by Alan Strachan - who directed the acclaimed West End revival last year - it will be touring to Theatre Royal Windsor (30 Aug - 9 Sep), Salford Lowry (11 - 16 Sep), Theatre Royal, Glasgow (18 - 23 Sep), Theatre Royal Bath (2 - 7 Oct), Richmond Theatre (16 - 21 Oct), Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford (23 - 28 Oct), Everyman Theatre, Chelthenham (6 - 11 Nov), Theatre Royal, Brighton (20 - 25 Nov) and Norwich Theatre Royal (27 Nov - 2 Dec). Further details can be found here.
> Booking is open for Alan Ayckbourn's new play and revival at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, this summer. He will be directing the world premiere of A Brief History of Women and a revival of Taking Steps. He will also be hosting two gala events, A Brief History of Plays, in which he will be celebrating his 60th anniversary with the Scarborough company through reminiscences, anecdotes and extracts from many of his plays. Further details about all these events can be found at www.sjt.uk.com.
> The blog is celebrating Alan Ayckbourns' 60th anniversary at the Stephen Joseph Theatre throughout the year with an article every Friday taking a year-by-year look at his association with the company.
Unseen Ayckbourn: Illustrated Edition by Alan Ayckbourn's Archivist Simon Murgatroyd is now available from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. Fully updated for 2017, this book explores the unseen, withdrawn and unpublished works of Alan Ayckbourn with illustrations for the first time.