Ayckbourn Chronology: 2021

Notable Events

During 2021, Alan Ayckbourn…

premiered his 85th full-length play - The Girl Next Door - at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough.

marked the 60th anniversary of his professional directing career as well as the 60th anniversary of his fourth play Standing Room Only and the 50th anniversary of Time & Time Again.

The Girl Next Door becomes the first Ayckbourn world premiere production to be filmed. The film - also the first Ayckbourn production in-the-round to be filmed - is streamed over two periods by the SJT during the year.

was featured in the interview film In Conversation with Alan Ayckbourn, conducted with Dr Paul Elsam and premiered at the Big Ideas by the Sea festival in Scarborough.

World Premieres

The Girl Next Door
8 June: Stephen Joseph Theatre

Notable Ayckbourn Productions

Relatively Speaking (Revival)
18 May: The Mill At Sonning
Absurd Person Singular (UK Tour)
From 16 June: (London Classic Theatre)

Plays in Other Media

The Girl Next Door
Film stream: 28 June, SJT Website


Note: The global COVID pandemic of 2020 continued into 2021. It is worth bearing in mind that quotes from the year reflect an uncertain country which was either in or coming out of lockdown and that the future of the arts in the UK was probably more precarious than it has ever been during living memory.

"Looking back, I realise the MacMillan Government (1957 - 1964) was the last time I remember the general feeling being the Government knows best. As knowledge increased, I think the trust has been lost. The trust has broken down. Maybe we’ve become warier of each other, a natural human wariness."
(Interview with Simon Murgatroyd, 20 April 2021)

"One of the joys of theatre-in-the-round is you sit within feet of the performer. Within feet of other people and seeing what the performer is doing and sharing that and reacting with other people."
(BBC Radio York, 4 May 2021)

“My spirit in lockdown had begun to pall, especially in this one, as I’ve had no springboard for my work. Like everyone else, I decided to keep busy at all costs: I wrote play after play, four actually, but they just lay there, unexplored, neglected, unfulfilled, because I had no feedback from actors or audiences of course, so I couldn’t move forward. I was parked on the runway, seeing where I might fly off to next.”
(The Press, 6 May 2021)

"I think we all suddenly realised the how important the liveness in live theatre was [during Lockdown]. There’s nothing like a shot in the arm of live performance with like-minded people sitting around you, reacting, and that is the thrill of live theatre. I felt this was severely lacking in my life."
(Interview with Dr Paul Elsam, 29 June 2021)

"In the end, it’s love that carries us through and the old sentimental in me believes that. The good things survive and will survive."
(interview with Dr Paul Elsam, 29 June 2021)

"I remember my real father, who was a musician and quite a man’s man, and he wanted to know what I wanted for my birthday and I said, I’d like a doll’s house and he looked absolutely appalled. God bless him, he made me the most beautiful doll’s house and he made it with little rooms and doors. My first characters inhabited that doll’s house and that was very early on when I was six or seven and I was already writing plays set in dolls’ houses."
(Interview with Dr Paul Elsam, 29 June 2021)

"It’s just glorious to be back in the rehearsal room, which is half my job really. I mean, writing is fine but you sit in a room on your own - which is what Lockdown consisted of really! And I wrote and wrote and wrote until I couldn’t write anymore and then I began to miss the company of people."
(BBC Look North, 1 June 2021)

"Once lockdown occurred, the writer in me said, so what’s different? My normal writing method was to shut all the doors and not see anyone for weeks on end. So this was fine. I wrote four shows during that time. But the thing is, a play when it’s written it’s like it’s unfinished. It’s like a piece of music which never gets played, it’s like a picture which never gets seen."
(BBC Today, 23 July 2021)

"Most theatres are in the middle of huge urban conurbations. In Scarborough, you can walk along the beach to work and that’s got to be a bonus. Or as my first manager said to me, ‘worth ten quid in you pay-packet, lad.”
(BBC Today, 23 July 2021)

"Everyone - thanks to internet - has a version of what’s happening. One just doesn’t know what the truth is. Who’s lying? I don’t know the answer, I wish I did."
(BBC Today, 23 July 2021)
All research for this page by Simon Murgatroyd and copyright of Haydonning Ltd. Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.