Ayckbourn Chronology: 2011

Notable Events

During 2011, Alan Ayckbourn…

saw the Borthwick Institute for Archives at the University Of York acquire the Ayckbourn Archive for the nation.

directed Neighbourhood Watch at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, which then transferred to the Brits Off Broadway festival in New York at the 59E59 Theaters.

was featured in the BBC's flagship arts programme, Imagine, to coincide with the world premiere of Neighbourhood Watch. A BBC Radio programme, Ayckbourn In Action, meanwhile explored his career as a director.

directed Dear Uncle at the Stephen Joseph Theatre; his adaptation of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya originally commissioned by David Pugh for the West End in 2009.

had London fringe premieres of Snake In The Grass at The Print Room, Haunting Julia at Riverside Studios and Drowning On Dry Land at the Jermyn Street Theatre in London.

saw Samuel French publish If I Were You, Life & Beth and My Wonderful Day.

saw Faber publish the collections Alan Ayckbourn: Plays 4 & 5.

saw Unseen Ayckbourn by Simon Murgatroyd published with a look at lost, altered and unwritten Ayckbourn plays.

was featured in the BBC documentary series Town with Nicholas Crane when it visited Scarborough.

saw a new audiobook adaptation of Henceforward… by LA Theatre Works released alongside a collection of other plays.

World Premieres

Neighbourhood Watch
13 September: Stephen Joseph Theatre
Dear Uncle (Adaptation)
12 July: Stephen Joseph Theatre

Notable Ayckbourn productions

Life Of Riley (Tour)
26 January: UK tour produced by Stephen Joseph Theatre
By Jeeves (Revival)
1 February:
Landor Theatre, London
Snake In The Grass (London premiere)
14 February: The Print Room, London
Drowning On Dry Land (London premiere)
23 February: Jermyn Street Theatre, London
Communicating Doors (Tour)
5 May: UK tour produced by Stephen Joseph Theatre
Haunting Julia (London premiere)
27 May: Riverside Studios, London
Season's Greetings (Tour)
12 September: UK tour produced by Bill Kenwright
Neighbourhood Watch (New York premiere)
30 November: 59E59 Theaters, New York

Professional Directing

Neighbourhood Watch
59E59 Theaters, New York
Neighbourhood Watch
Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough
Dear Uncle
Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough
Life Of Riley
UK tour
Communicating Doors
UK tour


"I think like writing that probably the less you do the better - not in terms of frequency but in terms of when you’re in the rehearsal room. In that, having said that it depends on selecting the little you do do. It’s the same as writing. I think the plays are getting slightly less wordy, which I think is probably because I’ve become slightly more particular about the selection of the word and when people chose not to speak."
(Official Website interview, 17 May 2011)

"Audiences also relate to the characters. They recognise themselves - and if they don't immediately recognise themselves, they certainly know somebody like them. I've often heard people in the audience say 'That's just like my uncle Dave'. If people recognise things, they empathise, and if they empathise, they tend to enjoy them."
(Bristol Evening Post, 26 May 2011)

“The stock answer when people ask which is the favourite of my plays is the new one, because that’s the one I’m really excited about. It’s a mountain I’ve yet to climb."
(Yorkshire Post, 1 August 2011)

"Everything that happens to you plays into your work. Bits of me are in my characters."
(Radio Times, 6 September 2011)

"Every time you think, I have invented something outrageous, something comes along and you think, 'That is even more outrageous than any play.' Fact is outstripping fiction faster than fiction can keep up."
(The Stage, 8 September 2011)

"I was born into the theatre. I’ve been a lighting designer, a
director, an assistant stage manager, the theatre’s in my blood."
(The Oxford Student, 25 November 2011)

"I spent my life in the cinema when I was young, films were my passion. Laurel and Hardy and the silent era of cinema is a tremendous influence."
(The Oxford Student, 25 November 2011)

“My feeling about children’s theatre is open it up in their heads - and spare them the special effects. Some of the plays have been quite trailblazing for me - and in fact they’ve informed my adult work quite interestingly. The elements of fantasy and sci-fi that crept into my adult plays came as a direct result of the shows for kids.”
(Daily Telegraph, 7 December 2011)

"I'm very much against extremism, political or religious, or anything that actually closes the door on other people, so there's no leeway for discussion."
(Theater Mania, 8 December 2011)

"The ideas are coming quite fast at the moment - probably alarmingly fast. Maybe my brain has gone into acceleration mode before shutting down, I don't know!"
(Theater Mania, 8 December 2011)

"My mother was a storyteller. My father whistled off with another woman so I was left with my mother for my most formative years. My first memories of her were sitting at the kitchen table with one of those huge, old-fashioned typewriters, banging away all day with this clanking noise, typing out short stories for a lot of women's magazines. Later, she married a bank manager - very sensible of her - educated me and was still earning more than him. Of course, if she had been a pastry cook, I would probably be a pastry cook. I emulated her. I thought all mothers sat at the kitchen table and wrote stories, so I started sitting under the table to start with, with my own little typewriter banging away. I wrote terrible, slam-bang action stories. Then I realised a sort of aptitude for dialogue began to develop and a fascination for theatre. I think, from the very earliest of times, I've been a writer. I thought at one stage I wanted to be a journalist with a press tag stuck in my hatband, running around saying, 'Give us the story, ma'am.' Then I realised it really wasn't all that glamorous, so I became a playwright."
(Playbill, 28 December 2011)

"My plays always just teeter along a razor blade, really, of tragedy and comedy. Hopefully, people are uncertain when quite to laugh. I like it that way, if you can draw the two strands together. The best theatre to me is that tension between laughter and sadness. I stopped calling my plays comedies years ago. They are 'A Play By.' They're neither 'A Drama By' nor 'A Tragedy By' nor 'A Comedy By.' If you say 'A Hilarious Comedy By' and it's not, then they'll sue you if they don't laugh."
(Playbill, 28 December 2011)

"I was standing in the middle of the Radio City Music Hall stage [to receive his lifetime achievement Tony], feeling rather vulnerable and alone, when suddenly the whole place lit up. There were people piled high, clapping, then standing. I thought, 'this is like the Roman Colosseum'. I was so moved that I stumbled out my speech, turned around, quite choked up, and because I'm not too stable, nearly fell over on the turn upstage to get the award."
(The Guardian, 28 December 2011)

"In the past, it took a matter of two or three days to write a play. Mind you, that’s just the physical, writing-it-down process. There’s months before that, up to a year in fact, when the initial idea germinates and grows in my head - nothing much written gets down - until all the key factors are in place, more or less, plot - characters, overall narrative shape, place or places where it’s set, and time frame. Then comes the dialogue over a few days."

"Most of my characters are based on me, I think, or elements of me. It’s inevitable as a writer if you’re trying to write honestly and truthfully that you’re bound to include bits of oneself. Male or female, young and old. Recently, I was conscious of getting very close to writing a young version of me - though I did disguise it by making the character a nine year old, black schoolgirl!"

"I have this phobia, which probably goes back to my childhood, I still have to go to bed with a tidy script. Often I write until I’m knackered and then I stop and just do a tidy, which of course on a computer is so easy as it reformats and takes out the mistakes. It’s much, much easier. In the old days, I would trawl back through several pages of typing and possibly blot things out with Tip-ex or at the long- hand stage, most of my scripts were covered in arrows! Move that line back there - it isn’t what you say, but the order you say it in!"
All research for this page by Simon Murgatroyd and copyright of Haydonning Ltd. Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.