Frequently Asked Questions: Directing

This page contains FAQs concerning Alan Ayckbourn and his directing career. If there is a question not listed here which you feel should be listed, please contact the website via the Contact Us page.

1) When did Alan Ayckbourn first begin directing?
2) What was the first Ayckbourn play to be directed by Ayckbourn himself?
3) When did Alan start directing the London productions of his work?
4) Has Alan directed work by other authors?
5) When did Alan stop directing work by other authors?
6) Is it true Alan Ayckbourn considers himself a director first and a writer second?

1) When did Alan Ayckbourn first begin directing?
Alan began his directing career in 1961 at the Library Theatre, Scarborough. Like his writing career, Alan was encouraged to take the step into directing by his mentor Stephen Joseph. Alan's first play as a professional director was Gaslight. Full details of Alan Ayckbourn's career as a director can be found here.

2) What was the first Ayckbourn play to be directed by Ayckbourn himself?
The first Ayckbourn play to be solely directed by its author was a revival of Standing Room Only at the Victoria Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent in 1963. The first Ayckbourn play he would solely direct the world premiere of was Mr Whatnot also in 1963 at the Victoria Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent. Prior to both these productions he is credited as the co-director of the world premiere of Christmas V Mastermind with Peter Cheeseman at the same venue in 1962. However, Alan Ayckbourn recalls his involvement as co-director was nominal at best and he does not consider this as one of his directing roles.

3) When did Alan start directing the London productions of his work?
Alan began directing his own work in London with the National Theatre's 1977 production of Bedroom Farce. Although he is credited as co-director with Sir Peter Hall, it is no secret the piece was largely directed by Alan with Sir Peter Hall doing some preparation with the actors before leaving to direct Volpone once Alan had arrived at the National Theatre. The first West End production of his plays to be directed by Alan Ayckbourn was Ten Times Table at the Globe Theatre in 1978.

4) Has Alan directed work by other authors?
Definitely. Alan has directed more than 300 productions since 1961, approximately half of which are plays by other authors. His most famous production as a director is the National Theatre's 1987 production of A View From The Bridge which its author, Arthur Miller, said he considered a definitive production of the play. Another American playwright, Herb Gardner, said he also considered Alan's 1994 production of his play Conversations With My Father (which transferred to London in 1995) as the definitive production.

5) When did Alan stop directing work by other authors?
Alan announced on his 60th birthday in 1999 that he intended to lessen his workload at the Stephen Joseph Theatre by concentrating on his own work. He stopped directing plays by other authors from this point with the sole exception of Tim Firth's The Safari Party which opened at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in 2002 and transferred to the Hampstead Theatre, London, in 2003.

6) Is it true Alan Ayckbourn considers himself a director first and a writer second?
Alan has frequently said he is a director first and a playwright second. Traditionally, Alan spends less then one month a year writing with at least three months (if note more) of the year dedicated to directing. Full details of Alan Ayckbourn's career as a director can be found here.

Copyright: Simon Murgatroyd