34 Facts About Alan Ayckbourn


Sir Alan Ayckbourn was born on 12 April 1939 and is a prolific British playwright and director.

FactSnippet No. 930,159

Alan Ayckbourn has written and produced as of 2021, more than eighty full-length plays in Scarborough and London and was, between 1972 and 2009, the artistic director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, where all but four of his plays have received their first performance.

FactSnippet No. 930,160

Alan Ayckbourn's plays have won numerous awards, including seven London Evening Standard Awards.

FactSnippet No. 930,161

Alan Ayckbourn's mother Irene Worley was a writer of short stories who published under the name "Mary James".

FactSnippet No. 930,162

Alan Ayckbourn's father, Horace Ayckbourn, was an orchestral violinist and was the lead violinist at the London Symphony Orchestra.

FactSnippet No. 930,163

Alan Ayckbourn wrote his first play at Wisborough Lodge when he was about 10.

FactSnippet No. 930,164

Alan Ayckbourn attended Haileybury and Imperial Service College, in the village of Hertford Heath, and whilst there toured Europe and America with the school's Shakespeare company.

FactSnippet No. 930,165

Alan Ayckbourn's career was briefly interrupted when he was called for National Service.

FactSnippet No. 930,166

Alan Ayckbourn was swiftly discharged, officially on medical grounds, but it is suggested that a doctor who noticed his reluctance to join the Armed Forces deliberately failed the medical as a favour.

FactSnippet No. 930,167

In 1957, Alan Ayckbourn married Christine Roland, another member of the Library Theatre company, and indeed Alan Ayckbourn's first two plays were written jointly with her under the pseudonym of "Roland Allen".

FactSnippet No. 930,168

Alan Ayckbourn said that his relationship with Roland became easy once they agreed their marriage was over.

FactSnippet No. 930,169

One side-effect of the timing is that, as Alan Ayckbourn was awarded a knighthood a few months before the divorce, both his first and second wife were entitled to take the title of Lady Alan Ayckbourn.

FactSnippet No. 930,170

Alan Ayckbourn continues to write and direct his own work at the theatre.

FactSnippet No. 930,171

Since Alan Ayckbourn's plays started becoming established in the West End, interviewers have raised the question of whether his work is autobiographical.

FactSnippet No. 930,172

Alan Ayckbourn has frequently said he sees aspects of himself in all his characters.

FactSnippet No. 930,173

In Paul Allen's biography, Alan Ayckbourn is briefly compared to Dafydd and Guy in A Chorus of Disapproval .

FactSnippet No. 930,174

Alan Ayckbourn joined Wolfit on tour to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe as an acting assistant stage manager for three weeks, with his first role on the professional stage being various parts in The Strong are Lonely by Fritz Hochwalder.

FactSnippet No. 930,175

In 1957, Alan Ayckbourn was employed by the director Stephen Joseph at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, the predecessor to the modern Stephen Joseph Theatre.

FactSnippet No. 930,176

Alan Ayckbourn left the Stoke company in 1964, officially to commit his time to the London production of Mr Whatnot, but reportedly because was having trouble working with the artistic director, Peter Cheeseman.

FactSnippet No. 930,177

Alan Ayckbourn's earliest plays were written and produced at a time when the Scarborough Library theatre, like most regional theatres, regularly commissioned work from their own actors to keep costs down .

FactSnippet No. 930,178

Alan Ayckbourn's fortunes began to revive in 1963 with Mr Whatnot, again premiering at the Victoria Theatre.

FactSnippet No. 930,179

Alan Ayckbourn used the pseudonym Peter Caulfield because he was under exclusive contract to the BBC at the time.

FactSnippet No. 930,180

Alan Ayckbourn received the CBE in 1987 and was knighted in the 1997 New Year Honours.

FactSnippet No. 930,181

Alan Ayckbourn continues to write for the Stephen Joseph Theatre on invitation of his successor as artistic director, Chris Monks, with the first new play under this arrangement, My Wonderful Day, performed in October 2009.

FactSnippet No. 930,182

Many of Alan Ayckbourn's plays have had their New York premiere at 59E59 Theaters as part of their annual Brits Off Broadway Festitval including Private Fears in Public Places, Intimate Exchanges, My Wonderful Day and Neighbourhood Watch among others.

FactSnippet No. 930,183

Alan Ayckbourn began directing at the Scarborough Library Theatre in 1961, with a production of Gaslight by Patrick Hamilton.

FactSnippet No. 930,184

Alan Ayckbourn directed five other plays that year and the following year in Scarborough, and after transferring to the Victoria Theatre, directed a further six plays in 1963.

FactSnippet No. 930,185

Alan Ayckbourn was offered this position in 1969 and 1970, succeeding Rodney Wood, but he handed the position over to Caroline Smith in 1971 .

FactSnippet No. 930,186

Alan Ayckbourn became Director of Productions again in 1972, and this time, on 12 November that same year, he was made the permanent artistic director of the theatre.

FactSnippet No. 930,187

In mid-1986, Alan Ayckbourn accepted an invitation to work as a visiting director for two years at the National Theatre in London, form his own company, and perform a play in each of the three auditoria provided at least one was a new play of his own.

FactSnippet No. 930,188

Alan Ayckbourn announced in 1999 that he would step back from directing the work of other playwrights, to concentrate on his own plays, the last one being Rob Shearman's Knights in Plastic Armour in 1999; the exception being in 2002 when he directed the world premiere of Tim Firth's The Safari Party.

FactSnippet No. 930,189

In 2002, following a dispute over the Duchess Theatre's handling of Damsels in Distress, Alan Ayckbourn sharply criticised both this and the West End's treatment of theatre in general, in particular their casting of celebrities.

FactSnippet No. 930,190

Alan Ayckbourn announced in June 2007 that he would retire as artistic director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre after the 2008 season.

FactSnippet No. 930,191

In July 2014, Alan Ayckbourn directed a musical adaptation of The Boy Who Fell into A Book, with musical adaptation and lyrics by Paul James and music by Eric Angus and Cathy Shostak.

FactSnippet No. 930,192