Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Ask The Archivist: Number of plays

Ask The Archivist is a regular feature allowing you to put your Alan Ayckbourn related questions to the playwright's archivist Simon Murgatroyd.
If you have a question regarding any aspect of Alan's work, email it to: ayckbourn@gmail.com (labelled Ask The Archivist) and we'll publish any interesting questions.

Question: The Evening Standard's recent review of Neighbourhood Watch implied there was uncertainty regarding how many plays Alan Ayckbourn has written. Is this the case?

Answer: No, there's absolutely no uncertainty. Neighbourhood Watch is undoubtedly Alan Ayckbourn's 75th play - and has always been advertised as such - with his soon to be premiered Surprises being, unsurprisingly, his 76th play.

The Neighbourhood Watch world
premiere programme with the 75th
play embossed on the cover.
In fact when Neighbourhood Watch was premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre last year, the programme cover made it very clear just which play number it was as it celebrated both Alan's 75th full-length play and the 300th new play commissioned at the SJT since it opened in 1955.

There was actually a point in history when there was confusion about how many plays Alan had written, but that was in the period between the mid '70s and mid '80s. At the time, Alan Ayckbourn and Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Jeeves was not considered one of his full length plays (whether this was because it was a musical or because he was trying to forget the infamous flop musical is not known). As a result reviews and articles from this period tend to incorrectly refer to how many plays he's written. This is most significant with Season's Greetings, which was promoted as his 25th play but which we now consider to be his 26th. This was corrected by the the late '80s.

There was also a brief period in 1999, when it debated whether House & Garden was one or two plays (it's two plays), but other than that, there's been very little doubt about how many plays Alan has written and had produced.

You can see a definite list of Alan Ayckbourn's full length plays (and all his other writing) at his website in the Plays section.

To submit your question to Ask The Archivist, email Simon Murgatroyd at: ayckbourn@gmail.com labelled Ask The Archivist.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ayckbourn Plays For Amateurs

Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website receives frequent requests about which Ayckbourn plays are available for performance by amateur groups.
Although there is a page with full details of availability (click here), today's blog lists offers a comprehensive list for all currently available plays.*
Performing rights for the majority of these plays are held by Samuel French Ltd (exceptions listed below) and licenses, permissions and further details about producing the plays can be found via their website.
As of April 2012, the following full-length Alan Ayckbourn plays are available to perform (listed alphabetically and with cast breakdown).

Absent Friends (3m / 3f)
Absurd Person Singular (3m / 3f)
Awaking Beauty (5m / 5f)
Bedroom Farce (4m / 4 f)
Body Language (5m / 3f)
The Boy Who Fell Into A Book (3m / 3f)
By Jeeves (7m / 3f) **
Callisto 5 (2m / 1 f)
The Champion Of Paribanou (7m / 3f)
A Chorus Of Disapproval (7m / 6f)
Comic Potential (7m / 7f)
Communicating Doors (3m / 3f)
Confusions (3m / 2f)
Dreams From A Summer House (4m / 4f)
Drowning On Dry Land (4m / 3f)
Family Circles (4m / 4f)
FlatSpin (4m / 4f)
GamePlan (4m / 4f)
Henceforward... (2m / 3f)
House & Garden (6m / 8f)
How The Other Half Loves (3m / 3f)
If I Were You (3m / 2f)
Improbable Fiction (3m / 4f)
Intimate Exchanges (1m / 1f)
Invisible Friends (4m / 3f)
It Could Be Any One Of Us (3m / 3f)
Joking Apart (4m / 4f)
The Jollies (4m / 4f)
Just Between Ourselves (2m / 3f)
Life & Beth (3m / 3f)
Life Of Riley (3m / 3f) **
Man Of The Moment (5m / 5f + 7 non speaking)
Miss Yesterday (3m / 4f) **
Mr A's Amazing Maze Plays (4m / 2f + 2 narrators)
Mr Whatnot (4m / 3f)
My Sister Sadie (3m / 4f)
My Very Own Story (7m / 6f)
My Wonderful Day (2m / 4f)
The Norman Conquests (3m / 3f)
Orvin - Champion Of Champions (15m / 7f plus others)
Private Fears In Public Places (4m / 3f)
Relatively Speaking (2m / 2f)
The Revengers' Comedies (7m / 7f)
RolePlay (3m / 4f)
Season's Greetings (5m / 4f)
Sisterly Feelings (7m / 4f)
A Small Family Business ( 7m / 6f)
Snake In The Grass (3f)
Suburban Strains (4m / 3f)
Sugar Daddies (2m / 3f)
Taking Steps (4m / 2f)
Ten Times Table (6m / 4f)
Things We Do For Love (2m / 2f)
This Is Where We Came In (5m / 4f)
Time And Time Again (3m / 2f)
Time Of My Life (4m / 3f)
Way Upstream (3m / 4f)
Whenever (5m / 4f)
Wildest Dreams (4m / 4f)
Woman In Mind (5m / 3f)
A Word From Our Sponsor (4m / 5f)

* Certain plays may be withdrawn for limited periods due to forthcoming or current major professional productions.
** Life Of Riley and Miss Yesterday are available to perform but licenses and permissions should be obtained from Alan's agents Cassarotto Ramsay; By Jeeves is now available and permissions should be applied to from the Really Useful Company.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ask The Archivist: Neighbourhood Watch

Ask The Archivist is a regular feature allowing you to put your Alan Ayckbourn related questions to the playwright's archivist Simon Murgatroyd.
If you have a question regarding any aspect of Alan's work, email it to: ayckbourn@gmail.com (labelled Ask The Archivist) and we'll publish any interesting questions.

Question: Where will Alan Ayckbourn's Neighbourhood Watch be going after the Tricycle Theatre? / Will Neighbourhood Watch be transferring to the West End? / Where can I see Neighbourhood Watch?

Answer: Ever since Libby Purvis's exceptional review of Alan Ayckbourn's Neighbourhood Watch in The Times last week, this has become the single most asked question of the website in recent memory.

The answer is you only have until 5 May to see Neighbourhood Watch at the Tricycle Theatre in London. After that the company's UK tour closes with Alan Ayckbourn turning his focus to his new play Surprises and his revival of Absurd Person Singular.

There are no further immediate plans for Neighbourhood Watch, which is somewhat understandable since the same company will, by the time the play finishes at the Tricycle, have performed it more than 200 times with very few breaks since September 2011. The production has gone from Scarborough to New York to London stopping at Bowness-on-Windemere, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Guildford, Cambridge, Richmond, Bath, Cheltenham, Eastbourne, Watford, Oxford and Windsor along the way.

You can find out more about the play Neighbourhood Watch at Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website here.

To submit your question to Ask The Archivist, email Simon Murgatroyd at: ayckbourn@gmail.com labelled Ask The Archivist.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Ask The Archivist: 13 April 2012

Ask The Archivist is a regular feature allowing you to put your Alan Ayckbourn related questions to the playwright's archivist Simon Murgatroyd.
If you have a question regarding any aspect of Alan's work, email it to: ayckbourn@gmail.com (labelled Ask The Archivist) and we'll publish any interesting questions.

Question: With this summer's revival of Absurd Person Singular at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Alan Ayckbourn will have directed the play in all three homes of the Stephen Joseph Theatre company. Are there any other plays he's directed in all three venues?

Answer: To put this into context, what is now the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough was originally based at The Library Theatre (1955 - 1976); the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round (1976 - 1996) and moved to its present home, the Stephen Joseph Theatre, in 1996.

Alan directed the world premiere of Absurd Person Singular at the Library Theatre in 1972 and a revival at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round in 1989. This summer he will direct it again at the Stephen Joseph Theatre.

As of 2012, Alan has only directed one other play in all three venues: he directed the world premiere of Time And Time Again in 1971 at the Library Theatre before reviving it at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round in 1986 before directing it at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in 2005.

Absurd Person Singular is also significant in being the only play Alan has directed in all three Scarborough venues and the West End as the 1989 revival of the play transferred to the Whitehall Theatre in 1990 with Alan directing.

You can find out more about the play Absurd Person Singular at Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website here.

To submit your question to Ask The Archivist, email Simon Murgatroyd at: ayckbourn@gmail.com labelled Ask The Archivist.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Ask The Archivist: 4 April 2012

Ask The Archivist is a regular feature allowing you to put your Alan Ayckbourn related questions to the playwright's archivist Simon Murgatroyd. 
If you have a question regarding any aspect of Alan's work, email it to: ayckbourn@gmail.com (labelled Ask The Archivist) and we'll publish any interesting questions.  

A slight change of format this week. Some of the most frequently asked questions to alanayckbourn.net over the years have concerned amateur productions of Alan's plays. Here we've collected some of the most asked questions (with thanks to Samuel French's website for their comprehensive answers to several of these questions which have been reproduced here).

Can changes be made to Alan Ayckbourn's scripts for amateur performance?
No changes of any kind may be made to a script without the permission of the author. This condition of every performing license is also repeated in the published edition of his plays which states: 'the integrity of the authors' work will be preserved.'
This includes - but is not limited to - changing the sex of characters, cutting 'bad' language, adding material, altering the setting (be it time or place) or adding characters written as unseen / offstage.

If you feel particularly strongly about an alteration, contact the licensing agent (generally Samuel French Ltd) and if a persuasive case if presented this may be forwarded to the author or author's agent, but there is no guarantee an alteration will even be considered let alone approved.


Why do certain previously available plays become unavailable for performance?
When a play is produced professionally, the amateur rights are often restricted or withdrawn completely until the professional contract has expired. This is a standard licensing procedure in order to protect box office income.

While it may be argued that an amateur production would not harm or infringe on a professional production, it is generally standard practice to restrict amateur rights and this clause is generally guaranteed in professional contracts and requested by professional producers.

Why isn't a new play published / made available for amateur performance sooner?
Most Ayckbourn plays are published and made available for amateur performance within two to three years of the original performance. This is to allow the initial professional stage life of a play to be fully exploited. In the case of most of Alan Ayckbourn's new plays in recent memory, the initial production is followed by a tour which covers the better part of a year. As a result, it will frequently be 12 months before a new play is made available even for general professional production.

Are unpublished works available for production?
In certain cases, some plays have not been published - such as many of the revues and plays for children - and which are available for production. In these cases, enquiries should be made to Alan Ayckbourn's agent.

Certain works such as the early plays (anything written before 1963) or specific plays (for example: The Sparrow, Jeeves, Virtual Reality) are not available for production.


Can we record our production?
No. The performance license for Alan Ayckbourn's plays is only for live performance which excludes the recording of the play.
The only exception - if agreed by the licensing agent - is if the recording is for an archival purpose and is not being shown publicly or distributed to anyone outside the performance company.

Ou production is raising money for charity. Can we get a royalty waiver or reduction?

Unfortunately, no. Royalties represent authors' income and it isn't fair to ask them to support other people's fundraising in the form of lost royalties.

Do we have to pay royalties if we don't charge for admission?

Yes. Legally a production must be licensed if it is witnessed by the general public, regardless of whether or not a charge is being made to them. Also performances before audiences reduce the earning potential of a play for which the author must be compensated in the form of royalty fees.

To submit your question to Ask The Archivist, email Simon Murgatroyd at: ayckbourn@gmail.com labelled Ask The Archivist.