Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ask The Archivist: Biography For Publication

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: admin@alanayckbourn.net (labelled Ask The Archivist) and we'll publish any interesting questions.

Question: This is actually a frequently asked question - where can I find an official biography of Alan Ayckbourn which I can reproduce in a programme for a amateur / professional / school productions of an Ayckbourn play?

Answer: A free to reproduce and regularly updated short biography for Alan Ayckbourn can be found in the Biography section at www.alanayckbourn.net here. This approved piece can be reprinted and reproduced providing it is credited to: 'Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website: www.alanayckbourn.net.'
The Biography section of the website also has a more extensive biography which can also be reproduced providing the author and www.alanayckbourn.net are credited.
The current biography for Alan Ayckbourn can be found below and this is designed specifically for publication in 2013.

Alan Ayckbourn
Writer / Director

2013 marks Alan’s 52nd year as a theatre director and his 54th as a playwright. He has spent his life in theatre, rarely if ever tempted by television or film, which perhaps explains why he continues to be so prolific. To date he has written 77 plays and his work has been translated into over 35 languages, is performed on stage and television throughout the world and has won countless awards.
Major successes include: Relatively Speaking, How the Other Half Loves, Absurd Person Singular, Bedroom Farce, A Chorus of Disapproval and The Norman Conquests. The National Theatre recently revived his 1980 play Season’s Greetings to great acclaim and the past year alone has seen West End productions of Absent Friends and A Chorus Of Disapproval. In 2009, he retired as artistic director of the Stephen Joseph, where almost all his plays have been and continue to be first staged. Holding the post for 37 years, he still feels that perhaps his greatest achievement was the establishment of this company’s first permanent home when the two auditoria complex fashioned from a former Odeon Cinema opened in 1996.
In recent years, he has been inducted into American Theatre’s Hall of Fame, received the 2010 Critics’ Circle Award for Services to the Arts and became the first British playwright to receive both Olivier and Tony Special Lifetime Achievement Awards. He was knighted in 1997 for services to the theatre.

Reproduced with permission from Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website www.alanayckbourn.net.

To submit your question to Ask The Archivist, email Simon Murgatroyd at: admin@alanayckbourn.net  labelled Ask The Archivist.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Ayckbourn Articles: Aspiring Actor

In the run-up to Alan Ayckbourn's 75th birthday in April 2014, a monthly feature reproduces articles by the playwright highlighting his life in theatre through the years.
The first feature last month saw Alan Ayckbourn discussing his first acting job upon leaving school. This month's article looks at the young actor's first major role.

Aspiring Actor
by Alan Ayckbourn

It was the stuff of every young, aspiring actor's dream.
In the late fifties, at the age of 17 or 18 I was at the Connaught Theatre, Worthing, as an (unpaid) assistant stage manager working in all departments but with my hopes always set on small part stage appearances which occasionally cropped up. I knew that, given the right break, my innate star quality would immediately be recognised. Worthing in those days was a weekly rep. The schedule was a punishing one - younger actors today, if you describe it to them, look at you in blank astonishment or shake their heads sadly at the tricks old people's memories can play.
I was working in the scenic workshop when it happened. The current show had opened on the Monday, the next production was already underway when one of the cast had "done a runner". The pressure had finally got to him and he had vanished overnight. I was summoned to the manager's office and offered the part. Could I learn it and be ready to go on that night? Of course, I replied, youthfully unhesitating. Yes, sir! Six long months in show-business and a break at last!
In the event, I got through that Tuesday performance in a shallow trance. My voice, whenever I chanced to remember to speak, appeared to be coming from a deep well. Most of my lines, I seem to recall, were spoken by the leading man, Peter Byrne, who adroitly managed to hold long seamless conversations with himself. I was aware, throughout the show, of continuous, off-putting heavy breathing which I later identified as my own.
At the end of the performance the manager came to me, smiling, shook me by the hand, thanked me and told me that the good news was that a real actor would be arriving for the Wednesday matinee the following day.
I returned to the scene dock, chastened by the harshness of theatrical reality. It was seven years before the message finally sunk in and I finally gave up acting for ever.

Copyright: Alan Ayckbourn. Please do not reproduce this article without the permission of the copyright holder.