39 Facts About Alan Ayckbourn


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


Alan Ayckbourn has written and produced as of 2023,89 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.


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


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


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


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


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


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.


In 1957, Alan Ayckbourn married Christine Roland, another member of the Library Theatre company.


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


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


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


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


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


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


Alan Ayckbourn joined Wolfit on tour to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe as an acting assistant stage manager for three weeks.


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


In 1962, after thirty-four appearances in plays at the Library Theatre, including four of his own, Alan Ayckbourn moved to Stoke-on-Trent to help set up the Victoria Theatre, where he appeared in a further eighteen plays.


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.


Alan Ayckbourn was left stranded on stage because Heather Stoney was unable to re-appear due to her props not being ready for use.


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.


Alan Ayckbourn's fortunes revived in 1963 with Mr Whatnot, which premiered at the Victoria Theatre.


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


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


Alan Ayckbourn continues to write for the Stephen Joseph Theatre on the invitation of his successor as artistic director, Chris Monks.


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


In 2019, Alan Ayckbourn had published his first novel, The Divide, which had previously been showcased during a reading at the Stephen Joseph Theatre.


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


Alan Ayckbourn was offered the position in 1969 and 1970, succeeding Rodney Wood, but he handed the position over to Caroline Smith in 1971, having spent most that year in the US with How the Other Half Loves.


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


In mid-1986, Alan Ayckbourn accepted an invitation to work as a visiting director for two years at the National Theatre in London, to 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.


Alan Ayckbourn used a stock company that included performers such as Michael Gambon, Polly Adams and Simon Cadell.


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; he made one exception in 2002, when he directed the world premiere of Tim Firth's The Safari Party.


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 and, in particular, their casting of celebrities.


Alan Ayckbourn did allow other West End producers to revive Absurd Person Singular in 2007 and The Norman Conquests in 2008.


Alan Ayckbourn suffered a stroke in February 2006 and returned to work in September; the premiere of his 70th play If I Were You at the Stephen Joseph Theatre came the following month.


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


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.


Alan Ayckbourn sits on the Council of the Society of Authors.