Alan Ayckbourn: Archived Press Releases

This page contains archived press releases relating to previous significant news on Alan Ayckbourn, productions and associated events. Current press releases can be found here.
If you have an enquiry regarding Alan Ayckbourn or his plays, please contact Simon Murgatroyd at

Alan Ayckbourn: Director Emeritus

Sir Alan Ayckbourn has been appointed Director Emeritus of the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, recognising his long association with the company.
It marks the first time such an appointment has been made by the Stephen Joseph Theatre and recognises Sir Alan's many achievements with the SJT as well as his commitment to the stage and regional theatre.
The accolade was announced on 20 April 2018 at the SJT and Sir Alan admitted it was something he was very proud to receive.
“I’m delighted to accept the title of Director Emeritus of the SJT - even though I had to ask what ‘Emeritus’ meant!”
Director Emeritus is an honorary accolade which denotes the perpetual status of an individual who has moved an organisation to new heights. In this case, it recognises Sir Alan's more than six decades work with the company and his many contributions and achievements.
Artistic Director Paul Robinson said it right to recognise the achievements of Sir Alan and his long-standing and ongoing relationship with the SJT.
"It is my pleasure to announce that Alans has been appointed Director Emeritus. On one level it recognises the huge debt the Stephen Joseph Theatre owed him, a debt of sixty years and counting of distinguished service. It is not just about the past. It also serves as to recognise that the relationship with the theatre is closer than ever, thriving in fact. We are looking forward to working with Alan in ever new and exciting ways in the future.:"
Sir Alan Ayckbourn joined what was then the Library Theatre in Scarborough in 1957 as an acting stage manager. His first play,
The Square Cat, premiered there in 1959 and he began directing professionally with the company in 1961. Following the death of the company's founder and Alan's most influential mentor, Stephen Joseph, in 1967, he was appointed the Artistic Director off the company in 1972. He retired from the role in 2009 after 37 years guiding the company.
During his time as Artistic Director, he was responsible for the move of the company to the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round at Westwood and, in 1996, moving the company to its first permanent and present home, the Stephen Joseph Theatre. Of his 82 plays (as of 2018), 78 have been premiered with the company where he continues to premiere and direct his work.

Updated on 19 May 2018.

For One Night Only, An Unseen Ayckbourn Comes To Halifax

An exclusive opportunity to see an Alan Ayckbourn play unperformed for more than 50 years is taking place at The Square Chapel, Halifax, in July.

The world famous, Scarborough-based playwright, who is celebrating both his 80th birthday and the 60th anniversary of his playwriting debut this year, has given permission to Huddersfield-based Dick & Lottie to stage his fourth play
Standing Room Only for one performance only.

The play was premiered at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, in 1961 and was last performed in 1966, since then it has been withdrawn and never been published or performed. Dick & Lottie will be giving a rehearsed reading on Thursday 4 July with a professional company for this exclusive performance in Halifax.

The evening will be introduced by the playwright’s own Archivist, Simon Murgatroyd, who is also patron of Dick & Lottie and delighted to be participating in this unique event.

“In Sir Alan’s anniversary year, this is going to be one of the must-see events for Ayckbourn fans. Standing Room Only is a fascinating play which shows early signs of the playwright’s promise and I’m thrilled to be participating in the first - and probably only - performance during my lifetime.”

Standing Room Only is a comedy set in the then far future of 1997 with the country having been locked in a perpetual traffic gridlock for decades. On a stranded double-decker bus on Shaftesbury Avenue, a family must contend with a mysterious stranger and the prospect of an illegal pregnancy.

Dick & Lottie is the UK’s only theatre company exclusively dedicated to the plays of Alan Ayckbourn and is based at the Lawerence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield. The company has produced almost 40 works by Alan Ayckbourn since being formed in 2004 and has even performed for the playwright at his home in Scarborough.

Following the success and warm reception of their recent productions at The Square Chapel since 2018, the company decided to mount this special event in Halifax. Although Alan himself has no connections to Halifax, between 1965 and 1970 he lived in nearby Adel whilst working a Radio Drama Producer for the BBC in Leeds.

Standing Room Only can be seen on Thursday 4 July at The Square Chapel, Halifax, at 8pm. Tickets are priced at £12 (£10 concessions) and can be booked by calling the box office on 01422 349422 or visiting the website

Note to editors: Both Alan Ayckbourn’s Archivist, Simon Murgatroyd, and John Cotgrave, Artistic Director of Dick & Lottie, are available for interviews regarding this event. Please contact Simon Murgatroyd on 07473 499686 or at: for enquiries.

Posted on 18 January 2019

Faber Publishes Sixth Volume Of Alan Ayckbourn's Plays With A New York Twist

New York casts an influence over the sixth volume of Alan Ayckbourn's collected plays, which will be published by Faber in August.
Alan Ayckbourn: Plays 6 is released on 2 August and collects five of the playwright's plays including his most recent success A Brief History Of Women (2017) alongside Time Of My Life (1992), Neighbourhood Watch (2011), Arrivals & Departures (2013) and Hero's Welcome (2015).
Each of the plays has been a critical success in New York with their premiere productions in the city directed by Alan Ayckbourn at the annual
Brits Off Broadway festival at the 59E59 Theaters between 2011 and 2018 featuring the original company from his home theatre, the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough.
A Brief History Of Women was seen in May 2018 at the 59E59 Theatres and garnered acclaim from the New York Times' critic Ben Brantley who noted: "Mr. Ayckbourn’s enduring and infectious affection for theater permeates every scene." The production broke attendance records at the 59E59 and continues a hugely successful affiliation between Alan Ayckbourn, the Stephen Joseph Theatre and the 59E59 Theaters which began in 2005.
The other plays within the collection also received critical and popular acclaim during their transfers to New York and
Neighbourhood Watch and Arrivals & Departures are considered two of the playwright's finest work of this decade; Neighbourhood Watch is currently proving to be immensely popular and is the most produced Ayckbourn play by amateur companies in the UK over the past year.
This is the sixth volume of Alan Ayckbourn's plays to be published by Faber since 1998 and it will be published in softback on 2 August and as a digital ebook on 23 August. Running to 512 pages, it will be priced at £18.99 for the softback and £17.99 for the ebook.

Posted on 14 June 2018

Alan Ayckbourn’s A Brief History of Women triumphs in New York

Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre company has returned from New York after a triumphant and record-breaking run with Alan Ayckbourn’s A Brief History of Women, which wowed audiences and critics alike.
The show, which was first seen at the Stephen Joseph Theatre during summer 2017, was part of the annual
Brits Off Broadway festival organised by 59e59 Theaters. It was seen at the theatre - located at 59 East 59th Street - throughout May, attracting nearly 6,300 theatre-goers, a record for an SJT production in New York: the company has been part of the prestigious festival on six previous occasions since 2005.
And the show was a hit with the reviewers, too, taking the prestigious ‘Critics’ Pick’ slot in The New York Times, and receiving praise from leading critic Terry Teachout of The Wall Street Journal, who said: “The play contains a brief speech so charged with the truth of a lifetime’s experience that it took my breath away… beautifully wrought and unexpectedly poignant… It’s by turns madly funny and touching enough to draw tears.”
Brian Beirne, Managing Director of 59E59 Theaters, said: “59E59 Theaters has had the pleasure of hosting the Stephen Joseph Theatre on multiple occasions during its annual celebration of the best of contemporary British theater in New York City, Brits Off Broadway. Their productions are often the highlight of the season and the members of their acting ensemble are beloved by our audiences.”
Stephen Freeman, Chief Executive of the Stephen Joseph Theatre, said: “I’m delighted that
A Brief History of Women has done so well in New York - in fact we smashed our box office targets! Taking a play to New York enables us to fly the flag for Scarborough stateside. People are often surprised when they hear about us transferring a show for a month’s run off Broadway and there aren’t many other theatres across the North doing the same. Taking a production there not only makes a financial contribution to the theatre, but it also raises the profile of our work internationally. The success of this latest show builds on strong links with our New York partners and we are already in discussion with them about a return visit. Each year we receive many international visitors to the SJT and that benefits the tourist economy of Scarborough. This latest venture has strengthened our reputation and international relationships which demonstrates the vital role we play in showcasing the region and as a key player in the local economy.”
American audiences saw the original Scarborough production of
A Brief History of Women with cast members Russell Dixon, Antony Eden, Frances Marshall, Laura Matthews, Laurence Pears and Louise Shuttleworth. The show was written and directed by Alan Ayckbourn, with set and costume design by Kevin Jenkins and lighting design by Jason Taylor.

Updated on 1 June 2018.

Alan Ayckbourn's The Divide To Premiere At The Edinburgh International Festival & The Old Vic

Alan Ayckbourn is to make his Edinburgh International Festival debut with a world premiere staging of a radical departure from anything he has previously created.
The Edinburgh International Festival and The Old Vic are co-producing
The Divide by Alan Ayckbourn, a tale for our own turbulent times that unflinchingly examines a dystopian society of brutal repression, forbidden love and seething insurrection which marks a significant departure from the playwright's previous work.
Previously only seen in a single fund-raising reading at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Alan was unsure it would ever be performed and is delighted that not only will it be staged in an ambitious two-part production but that it will also mark his debut at the Edinburgh International Festival.
"This is a real surprise. I wrote
The Divide under very extraordinary circumstances and, as a result, I said - at it’s only public reading - that this is something you’re probably not going to see again," said Alan.
"I just wanted to write something I couldn’t even see myself directing. I just let my mind go into free fall. I think it shows enormous courage and touching faith in
The Divide, that director Annabel Bolton and The Old Vic have picked it up and run with it. God help her! I think its a very brave thing to do and I’m looking forward to seeing what she and her team create."
A century from now, England is recovering from a great disease. Contact between men and women is fatal. They live on separate sides of the Divide. Men wear white as a mark of their purity. Women - still infected - wear black as a sign of their guilt and sin. Gay relationships are the norm; heterosexuality is a perversion.
Brother and sister Elihu and Soween grow up in post-catastrophic Sarum, slowly learning the ways of the misogynistic, bullying society around them. But when Elihu falls for the daughter of two radical mothers, he risks not only fatal disease, but also inciting a bloody revolution.
Drawing on a vast repository of diary and journal entries, newspaper articles, transcripts and council minutes, Ayckbourn’s epic dystopian fantasy brings together forbidden love, brutal repression and insurrection in a richly imagined work that looks back to George Orwell, Margaret Atwood, Aldous Huxley and even Nigel Kneale’s Quatermass.
The Divide will feature Clare Burt, Sophie Melville, Sian Thomas and Finty Williams alongside Jake Davies, Erin Doherty, Thusitha Jayasundera, Richard Katz, Clare Lawrence Moody, Weruche Opia, Martin Quinn and Letty Thomas.
The production's creative team includes: Annabel Bolton (director); Laura Hopkins (designer); Christopher Nightingale (composer); Will Stuart (MD); David Plater (lighting); Bobby Aitken (sound); Ash J Woodward (video).
The Divide marks the first time an Ayckbourn work has been presented as part of the Festival, Alan actually began his professional theatre career at the Edinburgh International Festival in 1956, as an acting stage manager for Sir Donald Wolfit’s production of Fritz Hochwälder’s The Strong Are Lonely.
Following its premier at the Edinburgh International Festival from 8 - 20 August 2017,
The Divide will transfer to The Old Vic as part of its biennial celebrations from 1 - 10 February, 2018.

Updated on 27 October 2017.

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