Ayckbourn Chronology: 1981

Notable Events

During 1981, Alan Ayckbourn…

directed the world premiere of Way Upstream at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round which saw the stage flooded in order to create a canal with a moving cabin cruiser and accompanying rain-storms.

wrote the musical Making Tracks with Paul Todd, inspired by his experiences working for BBC Radio.

had Joking Apart broadcast by BBC Radio 4.

saw Samuel French publish Season's Greetings, Taking Steps, Sisterly Feelings and Ten Times Table.

contributed two songs with Paul Todd on the theme of travel to the BBC Radio programme Pen To Paper.

saw Chatto & Windus publish the hardback collection Sisterly Feelings & Taking Steps.

directed Suburban Strains at the Round House in London; the first time the Scarborough company had transferred to the West End/ It was an unsuccessful attempt to circumvent the West End.

World Premieres

Way Upstream
2 October: Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round
Making Tracks
16 December: Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round
Me, Myself And I (Revue)
2 June: Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round

Notable Ayckbourn Productions

Suburban Strains (London premiere)
5 February: The Round House, London

Professional Directing

Suburban Strains
The Round House, London
Way Upstream *
Making Tracks *
Me, Myself & I *
The Conservatory
You Should See Us Now *
* Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round, Scarborough

Plays In Other Media

Joking Apart
Radio: 6 July, BBC Radio 4
Making Tracks
Original cast recording (Scarborough)


"When the time comes for me to write a new play, I usually take two weeks off from the theatre where I spend most of the year directing. Then I sit down and work right up against the deadline. The play goes straight from the typewriter into rehearsal. Often the first time the actors see the script is when they get it the night before we start rehearsing. Then, after three weeks' rehearsal, we put it on. I would say that 99 per cent of what I have written in the two weeks' writing stays the same. Because I direct the play myself, I can short-circuit much of the writing process, and I'm always anxious to get the actors doing the lines while they are still ringing in my head. I'm a gregarious person and I find the process of writing so lonely that I can't wait to get back to working with other people."
(Sunday Times, 8 February 1981)

"Without being over-modest, I think that by now I can out a play together. Plays are as much about what you leave out as you put in; as far as mine are concerned, they are a sort of selective editing of life."
(The Word, March 1981)

"I don't think I should now try and be clever and write a play about urban guerrillas, because I don't know anything about them. I think you should stick to what you know best. My duty is to entertain. I aim to create recognisable human beings in familiar predicaments, so that people will understand each other better."
(The Word, March 1981)

"You've got to be serious about comedies and take the characters seriously; all the best comedy is rooted in deeply serious things, and throws light upon aspects of life we're frightened to think about. What I'm trying to get at is a painfully funny play, one that leaves you uplifted and enlightened."
(The Word, March 1981)

"Thank God P.G. Wodehouse never decided to become a great serious novelist. For me there is little I want to say that can't be said comically. The world needs its P.G. Wodehouses."
(Scarborough Evening News, 20 June 1981)

"All the best dialogue is overheard in restaurants."
(Scarborough Evening News, 20 June 1981)

"I once wrote half a play using a biro instead of a pencil which I normally use and then blamed the fact that it wasn't any good on the biro. I do get a bit grumpy, I'm afraid."
(Wigan Evening Post, 1 July 1981)

"One hears one's name bracketed as being this or that, by people who palpably have never read or seen your work. Especially 'establishment', which I really resent, having spent half my life working as far away from the establishment as I can possibly get."
(Unknown publication, August 1981)

"We [Scarborough's Library Theatre] were the first of the fringe theatres. I think it would be fair to say that
Stephen Joseph started a sort of underground fringe company. And indeed, as all fringe groups are, we were all suspect communists and suspect everything else. As an actor in that company, you didn't mention you worked for it if you were auditioning for another company."
(Unknown publication, August 1981)

"I've got a great fondness for silent film, all the old classics, particularly the Buster Keatons and the Harold Lloyds and people like that, rather more than Chaplin."
(Unknown publication, August 1981)
All research for this page by Simon Murgatroyd and copyright of Haydonning Ltd. Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.