Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013's 10 Best Ayckbourn Moments

2013 proved to be a busy year for Alan Ayckbourn - he alone premiered three new plays and directed six new productions!
To mark the year's end, here is my own personal list of best and notable Ayckbourn moments during the past 12 months. I'm sure you'll have your own too.

1) Alan Ayckbourn and Bedroom Farce featuring so prominently in the National Theatre's 50th anniversary celebrations. Congratulations to Penelope Wilton and Nicholas le Provost for demonstrating there's still a place for pilchards in bed!
2) The critically acclaimed West End revival of Relatively Speaking marking the 45th anniversary of its original West End production.
3) Alan Ayckbourn's 76th play Surprises being nominated for the UK Theatre Awards Best New Play.  The play may have divided audiences, but it is always nice to see Alan recognised for his writing.
4) The west coast directional debut of Alan with the north American premiere of Sugar Daddies at the ACT, Seattle - with, according to all reports, an outstanding ensemble cast.
5) His new play Arrivals & Departures at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, gaining a five star review from Libby Purves in The Times (and whose excellent blog TheatreCat can be found here) and demonstrably proving Alan Ayckbourn continues to experiment with form with startling results 77 plays on.
6) Haunting Julia - finally - being released for amateur performance (if only Samuel French would now publish it as an acting edition!). Hint of bias here as Haunting Julia is one of this writer's favourite plays...
7) The publication by Bloomsbury of Stephen Joseph: Theatre Pioneer & Provocateur by Paul Elsam; the first major book to be published about the life and work of Alan Ayckbourn's most significant mentor - and in which there are notable contributions from Alan.
8) The well received and highly ambitious Ayckbourn season at the Eclipse Theatre in Chicago.
9) Neighbourhood Watch being published by Samuel French (and, subsequently, the reduction in emails to www.alanayckbourn.net asking when it would be published!)
And a purely personal one...
10) Having my book Unseen Ayckbourn feature in The Stage's best theatre books of 2013 - oh, and completely relaunching www.alanayckbourn.net in July complete with new look. Thanks for all the support and kind words about it!

Happy New Year to all supporters of this blog and the website. May 2014 be a prosperous year for you all!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Unseen Ayckbourn recommended by The Stage

The Stage has listed the book Unseen Ayckbourn amongst its pick of theatre books of the year.
Unseen Ayckbourn, by Alan Ayckbourn's archivist Simon Murgatroyd, is highlighted in the newspapers' 'best books and CDs of the year' and notes:
"Self-published Unseen Ayckbourn was a fascinating examination of the playwright's rarely seen, withdrawn, lost and (occasionally) altered plays by official archivist Simon Murgatroyd."
The book (which is available from Lulu publishing here) draws on Simon Murgatroyd's years of experience as the playwright's archivist exploring Ayckbourn rarities over more than 55 years.
From his school day writing to his earliest existing play, The Season, to unwritten plays such as Sight Unseen to the present day with unused concepts for Surprises, Unseen Ayckbourn explores a wealth of material relating to withdrawn, unpublished, lost and never seen plays and ideas for plays.
It also includes exclusive extracts from many of the withdrawn plays as well as extensive quotes from Alan Ayckbourn himself about the plays. The book also includes an exclusive conversation with the playwright about his early writing career and a behind the scenes look at the musical Jeeves.
Unseen Ayckbourn is available now and can be ordered online by clicking here.