Ayckbourn Chronology: 1973

Notable Events

During 1973, Alan Ayckbourn…

wrote The Norman Conquests trilogy of plays apparently as a result of an off-hand - and not entirely serious - comment to a journalist in 1972 that his next project would be a play trilogy; when this was published, Alan decided to meet the challenge.

directed The Norman Conquests at the Library Theatre - the first of his 'event theatre' pieces; three plays set around different locations at a country house over a single weekend. At this point, it is not known as The Norman Conquests but only by the individual play titles.

had Absurd Person Singular open at the Criterion Theatre in the West End. It will go on to have the single longest unbroken run of an Ayckbourn play in the West End.

received his first major theatre award with the Evening Standard Award for Best Comedy for Absurd Person Singular.

saw Samuel French publish Time & Time Again.

saw How The Other Half Loves have its first UK tour, directed by Hugh Goldie, having closed in the West End during 1972.

World Premieres

Fancy Meeting You (retitled Table Manners)
18 June: The Library Theatre, Scarborough
Make Yourself At Home (retitled Living Together)
25 June: The Library Theatre, Scarborough
Round And Round The Garden
2 July: The Library Theatre, Scarborough

Notable Ayckbourn Productions

How The Other Half Loves (Tour)
13 March: UK tour produced by Bill Kenwright
Absurd Person Singular (West End premiere)
14 July: Criterion Theatre, London

Professional Directing

Fancy Meeting You *
Make Yourself At Home *
Round And Round The Garden *
* The Library Theatre, Scarborough


Evening Standard Award for Best Comedy
Absurd Person Singular


"I suppose I want to work on the fringe. I don't want to write wholly conventional plays but I have to face it: I'm not too interested in the kitchen sink. I began by writing the lightest of farces, plays which people told me later were the most difficult to do."
(Sunday Times, 3 June 1973)

"They're [the plays] all about fairly well-to-do people. My step-father was a bank manager and the milieu that I remember from childhood stays with me. What's more important, though, is that they are all about characters. I like them. I take them quite seriously. And if you do that you can dig up all sorts of things about them. You can even allow them some unhappiness."
(Sunday Times, 3 June 1973)

"If you write successful comedies I don't think you'll ever be considered thoroughly respectable."
(Sunday Times 3 June 1973)

"When I write them [the plays] first I rarely put stage directions in, because it saves time not to. Quite an important portion of the script happens during rehearsals. I never consider a play finished until I've done it."
(The Times, 4 July 1973)

"I was complaining [to
Stephen Joseph] about a play I was in, and he said 'if you can write a better one I'll do it'. So I wrote myself a super part, and it went awfully well. Then I wrote a second play for me in which I played four parts, and then I wrote a third play for me in which I played eight parts. But I was starting to write better than I could act, so I then wrote a super part and gave it to someone else. Then I gave up acting altogether."
(The Times, 4 July 1973)

"What's become important to me now is to find better sources of comedy, which means exploring all my characters in some depth."
(The Times, 4 July 1973)

"I think I enjoy writing to certain limitations and restrictions. I've always written for this little theatre [the Library Theatre in Scarborough], so all my plays are two-door plays, though other doors may get added in the West End. They never have more than eight people, because we can't afford more than eight actors. And the last thing you want to do is give any of them small parts."
(The Times, 4 July 1973)

"I've always wanted to play around. I wanted to write one play backwards which started with a cupboard full of vicars with no trousers on, and then wound down to two people having breakfast. And call it whatever farce is backwards - Ecraf."
(The Times, 4 July 1973)

"The middle-classes are a very broad spectrum of society. I think they are the funniest people. At the lowest end you've got the person perhaps trying to pretend he has a better background than he has. At the other end are people trying to maintain a position. In between there are lots of taboos which it is fun to jump over or break down."
(Northern Echo, 21 July 1973)

"I like to forge a bond so that people recognise themselves. I want people to laugh together."
(Northern Echo, 21 July 1973)

"Some critics can't decide whether I'm serious or joking. I suppose the answer is I'm serious about joking."
(Northern Echo, 21 July 1973)
All research for this page by Simon Murgatroyd and copyright of Haydonning Ltd. Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.