Ayckbourn Chronology: 2014

Notable Events

During 2014, Alan Ayckbourn…

celebrated his 75th birthday.

directed Roundelay at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, a play with five inter-related acts whose order of appearance is determined randomly by the audience just prior to performance. There are 120 possible permutations of the play.

saw French film auteur Alain Resnais's adaptation of Life Of Riley (Aimer, Boire et Chanter) open in competition at the Berlin Film Festival on 10 February, shortly before Resnais's death on 1 March.

saw the National Theatre revive A Small Family Business; which had its world premiere at the venue in 1987. It is directed by Adam Penford and becomes the first Ayckbourn play to be live-streamed to cinemas around the world.

directed the musical adaptation of his play The Boy Who Fell Into A Book at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, with lyrics by Paul James and music by Cathy Shostak and Eric Angus.

directed The Ayckbourn Ensemble (Arrivals & Departures, Time Of My Life and Farcicals) which toured from the Stephen Joseph Theatre to the Brits Off Broadway Festival at 59E59 Theaters, New York. Arrivals & Departures is named by Time magazine as one of its top ten shows of 2014.

saw Paul Allen's biography, Alan Ayckbourn: Grinning At The Edge, published as an ebook by Methuen.

had Woman In Mind with Lesley Sharp playing Susan broadcast by BBC Radio.

saw the 1977 television adaptation of The Norman Conquests re-released on DVD in the UK.

is featured in BBC Radio 4’s Front Row Christmas Day special, which is devoted to his life and work. An episode of the BBC Documentary Profile is also dedicated to his career in theatre in April.

World Premieres

9 September: Stephen Joseph Theatre
The Boy Who Fell Into A Book (Musical)
23 July: Stephen Joseph Theatre

Notable Ayckbourn Productions

A Small Family Business (Revival)
8 April: The Olivier, National Theatre
Things We Do For Love (Revival)
16 April: Bath Theatre Royal
Arrivals & Departures (New York premiere)
29 May: 59E59 Theaters, New York
Time Of My Life (New York premiere)
6 June: 59E59 Theaters, New York
Farcicals (New York premiere)
7 June: 59E59 Theaters, New York

Arrivals & Departures; Time Of My Life; Farcicals (Tour)
22 January: UK tour produced by Stephen Joseph Theatre

Professional Directing

Arrivals & Departures
595E59 Theaters, New York & UK tour
Chloë With Love (Farcicals)
595E59 Theaters, New York & UK tour
The Kidderminster Affair (Farcicals)
595E59 Theaters, New York & UK tour
Time Of My Life
595E59 Theaters, New York & UK tour
Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough
The Boy Who Fell Into A Book (musical)
Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough

Plays In Other Media

Woman In Mind
Radio: 11 January, BBC Radio 4

Life Of Riley
Film: 10 February, world premiere
A Small Family Business
Streaming: 12 June, NT Live


“When I was young and experimental I was determined to break the rules and make my voice heard through a welter of indifference, because you need to get their attention - ‘hey, I’m young and I’ve got something to say in a new way!’ Nowadays I have the same passion but with confidence in what I do because I know how to do it. I’ve traded reactionary for technical because now I have the ability. It’s a bit like painting; I now know how to fill the canvas instead of flailing about with a paintbrush.”
(Oxford Times, 30 January 2014)

Stephen Joseph once said before you break all the rules you should find out what they are, because there are certain structural rules; a play needs a beginning, a middle, and an end, so do it properly. I’m currently more interested in finding a new way into a play and the most interesting way to tell a story.”
(Oxford Times, 30 January 2014)

“Fortunately I have two strings to my bow -
director and writer - and they feed each other. When I don’t do either of those I’m taciturn and mope around until someone says ‘for goodness sake find him something to do.'”
(Oxford Times, 30 January 2014)

"The longer you live the more you observe and the more you can discern patterns in human behaviour. They say history repeats itself. If it does, then it's because as a species we tend to make the same mistakes over and over again. Our improvement overall is very gradual. As individuals there's a tendency to do so, too, both in our social and personal attitudes as well as in our personal lives. If there is a God looking down, He must be getting dreadfully bored by now sitting through the same old movie again and again."
(Yorkshire Ridings, 3 February 2014)

"I'm someone who needs to wake up knowing there's something I really want to do today. Otherwise I just lie in bed trying to think of something I would like to do. Fortunately, too, my greatest enjoyment comes through my work and the people it brings me in contact with."
(Yorkshire Ridings, 3 February 2014)

"The old saying goes, you don’t have to know anything to be an actor, you just have to be a good faker. All this research that goes on is a dead end really."
(Cherwell, 7 March 2014)

"I describe traditional farce like this: you start with the actors walking on the floor. In the second act, they start to walk up the walls, and by the end of the evening, they’re walking on the ceiling. If you can pull that trick off and it’s only at the end, when the actors fall down, that the audience think, how the hell did they end up there, then that’s farce. Comedy is more sly. I like modestly to think I invented the blend of darkness and light in single sentences and single speeches."
(Cherwell, 7 March 2014)

"I don't think that I've ever been a political writer, but I think I've been a social writer. I am interested in the world around me although I generally write about the domestic, so it's more the Jane Austen model of managing to reflect her times without having too much on the Napoleonic wars."
(The Guardian, 24 March 2014)

"The first time an audience doesn't laugh or cry where they were supposed to, you call them idiots. But when a second and third audience also misses it then you realise it might be something to do with the play."
(The Guardian, 24 March 2014)

"I think I had the wit to realise what I had here in Scarborough was not second-best because it was away from the centre of things, but it was the best for me: I could write and direct the plays I wanted to."
(The Guardian, 24 March 2014)

“My work is about men’s inhumanity to women, women’s inhumanity to men and the physical world’s inhumanity to us all.”
(The Times, 1 April 2014)

“I listen to Radio 3 and they say, ‘Here’s music by a contemporary of Mozart called Bogliatore whose Second Symphony was the most popular at the time. He eclipsed Mozart and is now completely forgotten.’ And I think, ‘Here’s an object lesson for us all.’"
(The Times, 1 April 2014)

"I typed the last five plays with one finger, and the finger's absolutely wrecked as a result. My movement's rubbish. My knees are shot. I can walk distances but only on the flat, and the left arm is really not fully cooperative. But I'm coping. As long as I can write."
(BBC, 12 June 2014)

"My literary manager at Scarborough once said to me, 'Everybody in the world writes a play. Most of them are terrible.'"
(Daily Telegraph, 9 July 2014)

"I’ve been down to London to meet five arts ministers in my life - Labour ones, Conservative ones. And they all said the same thing. 'How are we going to make the theatre really work, Alan?' I said, 'Just put a bit more money into it.' They said, 'Yes, apart from that.' You can see them thinking, he’s got no solution. As long as theatre is not votes it’s always going to be that way."
(Daily Telegraph, 9 July 2014)

“Theatre is human and with the kind I work in - in the round plays - there are two groups of people, the actors and the audience, all present and all communicating. That coming together is the thing that I find to be magical, still."
(Cumbria Live, 29 October 2014)

"I think love creates an amnesty for normal civilised behaviour really in that you can do things in the name of love that would you never do in the name of anything else; including betraying friends, lying and cheating. In some cases, even becoming physically aggressive. It’s like the animal in us is released. I’ve seen the results of people in various throes of a passionate relationship and it is like you take leave of your sanity really. It is quite extraordinary. I’m always amazed that some of the worst behaviour is propagated by people who are in love. I think we often save the best of ourselves, but also the worst of ourselves for the ones we fall in love with."

"I believe theatre has a serious purpose but its seriousness is essentially to tell the truth about us as human beings. Theatre is, in my view, at its very best when it deals with individuals and at its worst and least effective when it tries to confront general issues, thus reducing the protagonists to one-dimensional mouthpieces for dogma."

"Nowadays, one of the interests for me as a writer is to surprise and intrigue the audience through the way you tell the story, as much as the story itself."

"All stories, I believe, have been told before. The art is in the re-telling."
All research for this page by Simon Murgatroyd and copyright of Haydonning Ltd. Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.