Ayckbourn Chronology: 2017

Notable Events

During 2017, Alan Ayckbourn…

celebrated the 60th anniversary of joining the Library Theatre (the Stephen Joseph Theatre) in 1957 with two gala events dedicated to his experiences.

saw The Divide adapted by Annabel Bolton and staged as a co-production between Edinburgh International Festival & The Old Vic; his first work to have been performed at the festival.

revived and directed the musical By Jeeves to mark the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Old Laundry Theatre, Bowness-on-Windermere.

gave a talk at the British Library for the Royal Society Of Literature, 80 Plays On, discussing his career as a writer.

marked the 50th anniversary of the West End premiere of his first London hit, Relatively Speaking.

marked the 50th anniversary of the death of his mentor, Stephen Joseph at the Stephen Joseph Theatre with a talk alongside Dr Paul Elsam and his Archivist Simon Murgatroyd and opened an exhibition dedicated to Joseph's work in Scarborough.

saw Samuel French publish Life Of Riley.

World Premieres

A Brief History of Women
5 September: Stephen Joseph Theatre

Notable Ayckbourn productions

Henceforward… (Tour)
19 January: UK tour produced by Stephen Joseph Theatre

Taking Steps (Revival)
18 July: Stephen Joseph Theatre
The Divide (Adaptation)
11 August: King's Theatre, Edinburgh
How The Other Half Loves (Tour)
30 August: UK tour produced by Bill Kenwright
The Norman Conquests (Revival)
3 October: Chichester Festival Theatre
By Jeeves (Revival)
9 October: The Old Laundry Theatre, Bowness-on-Windermere

Professional Directing

A Brief History Of Women
Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough
Taking Steps
Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough
By Jeeves
The Old Laundry Theatre, Bowness-on-Windermere
(UK tour)


"One of the joys in writing plays for as long as I have done is that you are hard-pressed to over-estimate your audience. You can trust that if you lay out a concept quite clearly then 99% of them will buy into that concept and willingly go with it. Not only that, but they’ll enjoy going with it."
(Official Website interview, 2 March 2017)

"Farce is the most difficult thing of all to write because it has to be a riot from beginning to end. The trouble with writing a play claiming to be funny is everyone will soon tell you if it’s not! It’s far more difficult to define an unsuccessful tragedy than it is an unsuccessful comedy - which is almost immediately judged on the silence it receives. Whereas an unsuccessful or a successful tragedy can be received in total silence throughout! Audiences might be suppressing their tears or suppressing their boredom and it’s very hard to tell!"
(Official Website interview, 2 March 2017)

"P.G. Wodehouse's writing is like all great fiction, all great art really, it just continually finds a new generation of fans. It’s beautifully written and it’s full of wonderful heart and - in Wodehouse’s case - it’s a totally harmless art. It’s a joyful art that just embraces you and it’s such fun."
(Official Website interview, 2 March 2017)

"I left public school at 17 and was hurled into the theatre. There I met many highly colourful members of the opposite sex and I was convinced - until I was in my thirties - that almost all women were totally mad! They completely intrigued me, which is why I write quite a lot of them, but I only met anything even remotely resembling a sane woman until quite late in life!"
(Official Website interview, 2 March 2017)

"I am anxious not to repeat myself. People say 'does it get easier to write?', and it does in a sense because you get a facility; but equally as difficult is you say 'Oh my God, I've done that!'"
(The List, 14 July 2017)

“I’ve only got two modes. One is
directing mode, the other is writing mode, and I am hell on earth when I am waiting for them to start”
(The Times, 22 July 2017)

“I am conscious of drawing on my own memories much more than I used to, which may be a result of age. Or maybe I have just chipped away most of the stuff I have seen in my life, and I am hacking away at me now.”
(The Times, 22 July 2017)

"The nice thing about The Round stage is that it asks questions you of as a writer and director, but if you present the story coherently, it provides the answers for you."
(The Press, 8 September, 2017)

Stephen Joseph was an exciting man. He was a sort of revolutionary, he introduced new forms of theatre and he had a passion for new work. So the idea that existed then of the dramatist being this remote soul living on the Faroe Islands and posting in a new script was not for him. His idea was the theatre of Shakespeare. The writer was just another member of the team, it didn’t matter who they were. We even had a box office manager who was once writing plays, we were all writing.”
(Yorkshire Post, 9 September 2017)

“I’d already written plays that weren’t going anywhere but he [Stephen Joseph] was the first person to offer me the chance to write a play with a semi-guarantee that it would be produced the following year, which was enormously helpful. There’s nothing like knowing your play’s going to go on to bring beads of sweat out on you.”
(Yorkshire Post, 9 September 2017)

“Revivals are strange things, one likes to have the plays redone but they have to be done really well. I’m not a director who happily leaps into doing things several times. I’m much more excited about the new work than the old stuff."
(Yorkshire Post, 9 September 2017)

“Yorkshire audiences can be brutally honest. They’ll say if they think something’s not good enough and I like the challenge of them. They sit there, they’ve paid their money and metaphorically they fold their arms and say ‘ok, come on, prove it’. So every show I’ve had to re-prove it which is a good thing. They certainly aren’t sycophantic, though having said that they are loyal and they’ve done the journey with me.”
(Yorkshire Post, 9 September 2017)

"As we see from the BBC’s pay inequalities there’s a still a bias against women, and although the gay movement has made an enormous stride towards being accepted, when you look at places like America under the right-wing administration the grip on these rights looks quite tenuous.”
(Yorkshire Post, 19 September 2017)

“People say, ‘Oh you always write about the middle classes’, and I say ‘No. That was 1968 for God’s sake!’”
(Daily Telegraph, 9 October 2017)

“I prefer to be called Mr Regional these days. I have withdrawn from the West End because of the hassle and its insistence on star casting, which is ludicrous. The damage is that some of them can’t do it and then some of them come with a preconceived image, so they bring their own fans who expect certain things. You get an actor who thinks ‘Thank God I’ve finally got out of playing the doctor in
Hollyoaks and can be the psychopath on stage’. And that doesn’t please the fans when they see nice Doctor Williams slashing and cutting. It doesn’t do the play any good either. And the idea that someone is slightly more important in terms of billing or focus is wrong. Everyone in my rehearsal room has an equal weight.”
(Daily Telegraph, 9 October 2017)

"Stephen Joseph's death was probably the saddest time of my life. That was the death of a rocket, falling into the sea. I guess for many of us, we remember the energy which he lifted us and thank him very much."
All research for this page by Simon Murgatroyd and copyright of Haydonning Ltd. Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.