Ayckbourn Chronology: 1983

Notable Events

During 1983, Alan Ayckbourn…

was reported to be "more popular than Shakespeare" by an Arts Council Cultural Trends report; in context, the report showed he was the most watched and performed playwright in the UK in subsidised regional theatre between 1981 and 1983.

directed It Could Be Any One Of Us at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round, Scarborough; a thriller with the potential murderer randomly chosen during the performance by the drawing of a card.

directed A Cut In The Rates at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round; this one-off performance was recorded for the BBC as part of a educational programme broadcast in 1984.

directed a tour of Making Tracks from Scarborough to Greenwich Theatre. Despite sell-out houses, it is never professionally performed again in the UK.

saw Michael Billington's Modern Dramatists - Alan Ayckbourn published.

saw Methuen publish the first student edition of Confusions whilst Samuel French published Way Upstream.

was featured in the BBC1 documentary Backstage.

World Premieres

Incidental Music (Revue)
12 January: Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round
Backnumbers (Revue)
19 July: Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round
It Could Be Any One Of Us
5 October: Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round
A Cut In The Rates (One Act play)
12 November: Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round

Notable Ayckbourn Productions

Making Tracks (London premiere)
14 March: Greenwich Theatre, London
Time And Time Again (Tour)
23 May: UK tour produced by Bill Kenwright

Professional Directing

Making Tracks
Greenwich Theatre, London
It Could Be Any One Of Us *
Incidental Music *
Backnumbers *
At The End Of The Day *
Before Your Very Eyes *
Thark *

* Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round, Scarborough


"You always think it might be the last one [play] and that will be a dreadful thing when it does happen, though I don't know, I might be relieved but it's been rather nice, the next idea has always popped up like a mushroom when I've picked up the last one."
(The Standard, 11 March 1983)

"In the early part of my career people wrote wonderful, ecstatic, far too beautiful things about me, like, this is the greatest living playwright since Shakespeare, the funniest thing since Congreve. A lot of superlatives were used and I remember at the time glowing quite pleasantly and wondering where do we go from here, where does the greatest living playwright go except downwards. It is inevitable you will get a backlash."
(The Standard, 11 March 1983)

"I've learned that to be very funny you need to be very sad. All good comedy should make you cry, otherwise you're probably examining characters with insufficient depth."
(Marxism Today, March 1983)

Stephen Joseph inspired Relatively Speaking, the last play he was to work with me on. I was writing all kinds of stuff, trying not to sound like everybody else. He told me that if I wanted to break all the rules, which I obviously did, I ought to learn what they were first and write a well-made play with a beginning, middle and end, which you can then despise, and hate me for asking you to write it. I was very grateful to him."
(Marxism Today, March 1983)

"I've probably written more consistently for the theatre than any other writer. Most of them sooner or later go to film like Harold Pinter or something else. I've stuck purely with theatre, and I think it's because I'm a total theatre nut. I love it, I've lived my life in it. And I think some of my strongest muscles wouldn't be employed at all on television. I'm strong on construction, on the games element, on building two-hour bridges; television wants something quite different. I'd feel like an oil-painter who's suddenly been asked to work in water-colours."
(Marxism Today, March 1983)

"I am very lucky that my style is comedic. It puts me in touch with a lot more people. people sometimes ask me if I would like to write a serious play. I tell them they are serious, but the comedy makes them more accessible. My plays are about universal themes - marriage, life and death."
(Sheffield Star, 8 September 1983)

"Most of my characters get what they deserve. One knows there is a big hand somewhere waiting to pull the rug from under them."
(Sheffield Star, 8 September 1983)

"I just hope that in another 400 years my plays will have survived like Shakespeare's."
(Daily Mail, 15 November 1983)

"If I have a gift, it is that I can make people laugh and also, I hope, make them think."
(Daily Mail, 15 November 1983)

"Here [in Scarborough] I am always reminded of the fact that it takes ten years to build up an audience, but only three minutes to lose it if you do the wrong thing."
(Daily Mail, 15 November 1983)

"My plays are full of politics. But please Good they remain hidden. They certainly have no party politics. I hate all politicians equally and mistrust them. I have never voted for any of them."
All research for this page by Simon Murgatroyd and copyright of Haydonning Ltd. Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.