Alan Ayckbourn Encyclopaedia: S

The Safari Party: A comedy by Tim Firth (one of Alan Ayckbourn's protégés from the Stephen Joseph Theatre) and the final play to be directed by Alan Ayckbourn that the playwright did not write himself. He directed the world premiere of the play initially in Scarborough in 2002 and revived it as the opening production at the refurbished Almeida Theatre, London, during 2003.

Samuel French Ltd: Leading theatrical publisher, based in London, responsible for printing all available playtexts and acting editions of Alan Ayckbourn's plays. Samuel French is now part of the Concord Theatricals group.

Satisfaction Guaranteed: An unused title and concept for a future-set play based around sexual litigation.

Scarborough: Seaside resort in North Yorkshire, England, where Stephen Joseph founded England's first professional theatre-in-the-round company in 1955. In 1957, this company was joined by Alan Ayckbourn, who has been associated with the company and the town ever since. The town is home to the Stephen Joseph Theatre, of which Alan Ayckbourn was Artistic Director between 1972 and 2009, and where Alan Ayckbourn has premiered the majority of his new plays.

Scarborough Library: Home, from 1955 - 1976, of the Library Theatre and the first professional in-the-round company in the UK. The library now holds an important archive of material corresponding to the Library Theatre (of which Alan Ayckbourn became Artistic Director in 1972) as well as other rare material relating to productions at the Library Theatre.

Scarborough Museums & Galleries: Home to The Ayckbourn Collection, a small curated collection of archival items pertaining to Alan Ayckbourn, Stephen Joseph and the early history of theatre in the round in Scarborough donated in perpetuity to the town collection in 2023.

Scarborough Theatre Trust: The company formed in 1962 to continue running the Library Theatre (now the Stephen Joseph Theatre) in Scarborough after Studio Theatre Ltd (the company founded at the Library Theatre) moved to the Victoria Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent. Scarborough Theatre Trust also appointed Alan Ayckbourn as Artistic Director of the company in 1972.

Schooldaze: A concept for a play dating back to 1994 centring around a reunion of an all-girls' school class, who regress into their childhoods and what was apparently a female Lord Of The Flies type scenario.

Screenplays: Despite a passion for cinema and film, Alan Ayckbourn has resisted writing for film or television with the only exception being Service Not Included, which was written for a BBC educational programme. Alan did write a screenplay for Relatively Speaking in the early 1970s, which was never filmed, and did nominal re-writes to Michael Winner's screenplay adaptation of Alan's play A Chorus Of Disapproval, most of which were apparently ignored or dropped.

The Season: An unproduced and unpublished play probably written prior to Alan Ayckbourn's first professional commission in 1959. It is an abstract piece featuring the relationship between The Girl and The Traveller, moving from medieval times though to a post apocalyptic future. The Season is not available to produce nor has it been published.

Season's Greetings: Alan Ayckbourn's 26th play premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round, Scarborough, on 25 September 1980 and opened at the Greenwich Theatre, London, on 28 January 1982; it would transfer to the Apollo Theatre on 29 March 1982 and was also revived at the National Theatre during 2010. A family gathering at Christmas exposes family animosity whilst a guest arouses differing passions.

Season's Greetings (original production): The original production of Season's Greetings at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round, Scarborough, was substantially longer and prominently featured the heard but unseen off-stage character of Harvey's wife, Shirley. When the play was revived in 1981, Alan revised it to shorten the length and excised the character of Shirley.

Season's Greetings (radio - 1985): The play was adapted for radio by BBC Radio and first broadcast on 28 December 1985 on BBC Radio 4. The production was directed by Gordon House. It was also made available commercially on an audio-cassette with Relatively Speaking in 1990.

Season's Greetings (radio - 1999): The play was again adapted for radio by BBC Radio and first broadcast on 26 December 1999 on BBC Radio 4. The production was directed by Polly Thomas and featured a cast which included Geoffrey Palmer, Bill Nighy, John Sessions and Lia Williams. It was also made available commercially on CD and as a digital download in August 2011.

Season's Greetings (television): The play was adapted for television by the BBC and first broadcast on 24 December 1986 on BBC2. The production was directed by Michael Simpson. It is considered a classic example of the British 'television drama' genre by the British Film Institute.

Second Helping: A musical revue by Alan Ayckbourn and Paul Todd premiered in the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round, Scarborough, on 5 August 1980. The revue takes 10 different looks at love through 10 songs. The same season featured an unrelated companion piece, First Course.

Service Not Included: Alan Ayckbourn's only screenplay for television. Service Not Included was broadcast on BBC2 on 20 May 1974 as part of the educational Masquerade series. It was directed by Herbert Wise and follows a waiter at a party, constantly moving in and out of earshot and conversations. The idea and technique would be developed into the smaller scale Between Mouthfuls play, which is part of Confusions.

The 7 Deadly Virtues: A musical revue by Alan Ayckbourn and Paul Todd premiered in the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round, Scarborough, on 12 January 1984. One of the most complex and challenging of the Ayckbourn revues, it features seven unconnected stories told through seven songs in a variety of different musical styles.

The 7 Deadly Virtues (original cast recording): A recording of the original production was published on audio-cassette and made available for the duration of the run from the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round.

Shostak, Cathy: Composer who - alongside composer Eric Angus and lyricist Paul James - adapted Alan Ayckbourn's play The Boy Who Fell Into A Book into a musical, premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, in July 2014.

Show & Tell: Alan Ayckbourn's 90th play which will premiere at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, on 10 September 2024.

Sight Unseen (play): The announced title for Alan Ayckbourn's 26th play in 1980. This was intended to be a whodunit thriller - presumably similar in tone to It Could Be Any One Of Us - but problems with the plot led to Alan abandoning the play a week before rehearsals were due to begin, writing Season's Greetings instead.

Sight Unseen (book): A book written by Simon Murgatroyd to mark Alan Ayckbourn's 70th birthday exploring the author's unwritten, altered, unpublished, unproduced, lost and grey plays as well as other ephemera such as alternative titles and unproduced screenplays. The book was updated and revised as Unseen Ayckbourn in 2013.

The Silver Collection: Original title for the play The Sparrow. The Silver Collection did appear on a season poster before being altered to The Sparrow, which Alan Ayckbourn felt better suited the play.

Sisterly Feelings: Alan Ayckbourn's 23rd play premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round, Scarborough, on 10 January 1979 and opened at the National Theatre, London, on 3 & 4 June 1980. It is the first Ayckbourn play to make use of alternative scenes with alternate versions of the two middle scenes. The choice of which to perform is decided for the first scene by the flip of a coin and by the actor for the second.

Sisterly Feelings And Taking Steps (collection): A play collection published by Chatto & Windus. The volume was later folded into the Joking Apart And Other Plays collection when published in softcover by Penguin.

Sisterly Touches: One of several unused titles considered for Sisterly Feelings.

The SJT - In-Depth: A subsidiary website of Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website dedicated to the history of his home theatre, the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, from 1955 to the present day. It offers a background to the single most important theatre in Alan Ayckbourn's life as well as a comprehensive guide to every production staged by the company.

A Small Family Business: Alan Ayckbourn's 33rd play premiered at the National Theatre, London, on 21 May 1987 and was revived at the same venue in 2014. It was commissioned by the National Theatre and written to cope with the demands of the large Olivier stage; the play being produced while Alan was a Company Director at the theatre. The acclaimed play centres on morality in the modern world and how simple compromises in a business lead from minor misdemeanours to murder. In 2014, it was revived at the National, the first time an Ayckbourn play had been produced twice at the National Theatre, and also streamed as part of NT Live; the first Ayckbourn production to be live-streamed.

A Small Family Business (radio): The play was adapted for radio by Jarvis And Ayres Productions for the BBC and broadcast on 12 April 2009 on BBC Radio 3.

A Small Family Business (live stream): A Small Family Business was the first Ayckbourn play to be live-streamed into cinemas when the National Theatre staged its 2014 revival. The play was streamed as part of NT Live on 12 June 2014.

Small Mercy: A play written by Alan Ayckbourn during 2019 which was intended for production by the Stephen Joseph Theatre. Withdrawn by the playwright and never produced, he later adapted it into the play Father of Invention.

Smoking / No Smoking (film): The César award-winning film adaptation of Intimate Exchanges was directed by Alain Resnais and released in 1982. The play has eight major variations and Resnais adapted six of them into two films; with the film moving between the possible outcomes of specific decisions at the end of each scene. Filmed entirely in a studio, the award-winning film starred Sabine Azéma and Pierre Arditi playing all of the film's nine roles.

Snake In The Grass: Alan Ayckbourn's 61st play premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, on 5 June 2002 and opened in The Print Room, London, on 14 February 2011. A three-hander for women set in a garden, Annabel Chester returns home to her sister after the death of their abusive father only to be confronted by a blackmail plot, which quickly escalates out of hand with grim consequences. The play is considered a companion piece to Alan Ayckbourn's supernatural play Haunting Julia.

Someone Watching: A treatment for a television drama which follows an average man undergoing a mid-life crisis, consumed by guilt about his desire for an affair which never takes place. Described as 'a comedy with soft undertones.'

Sound design: Alan Ayckbourn has always had an interest in the technical side of theatre since his first job in professional theatre as a stage manager (which at that time for small regional theatres included sound and lighting design and operation). He shared a particular interest in sound design with his mentor Stephen Joseph and has throughout his career been actively involved in the sound design for productions he directs.

The South Bank Show: Alan Ayckbourn has been featured twice in the ITV arts documentary series The South Bank Show. Both episodes, The Plain Guide To Guide To Playwriting Parts 1 & 2, featured masterclasses with Alan. They were broadcast on 30 October 1994 and 28 July 1996.

The Sparrow: Alan Ayckbourn's 8th play premiered at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, on 13 July 1967. Ed brings home a rain-sodden Evie, who he has met and is attracted to, only for his flatmate Tony to employ her in a non-existent business as a means of taking revenge on Ed for having a one night stand with his wife Julie. This play has been withdrawn from production by the playwright and has never been published.

The Sporting Gnome: One of several unused titles considered for Time And Time Again.

The Square Cat: Alan Ayckbourn's first play premiered at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, on 30 July 1959. It follows a house-wife's illicit rendezvous - discovered by her husband - with the rock 'n' roll star Jerry Wattis, who is not all he appears to be. Alan wrote the play under the pseudonym Roland Allen, largely to show off his own acting talents. This play has been withdrawn from production by the playwright and has never been published.

Stage Manager: Alan Ayckbourn's first major work in professional theatre was predominantly as a stage manager with occasional small acting roles. In 1956 he joined Connaught Theatre as a voluntary assistant stage manager and when he joined the Library Theatre, Scarborough, in 1957 it was as a stage manager with some acting duties.

Staines, Jackie: Lighting designer who worked extensively with Alan Ayckbourn at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round, Scarborough, between 1988 and 1994. Her book Lighting Techniques For Theatre In The Round features an introduction by Alan Ayckbourn.

Standing Room Only: Alan Ayckbourn's 4th play premiered at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, on 13 July 1961. Set in the future (1997 or 2010 depending on the version) where the nation's roads have become gridlocked, it is set on a double-decker bus and follows the family living on it as they try to cope with an unexpected stranger and an illegal pregnancy. Alan wrote the play under the pseudonym Roland Allen, which has been withdrawn from production by the playwright and has never been published.

Standing Room Only (revised version): Alan Ayckbourn revived Standing Room Only at the Victoria Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent, on 15 April 1963 directing one of his own plays for the first time. The play included an expanded cast and slightly altered plot, although the essential story remains unchanged. The revised version of Standing Room Only has also not been published and has also been withdrawn from production.

Standing Room Only (Television): Standing Room Only was also intended to be adapted for television for the popular Armchair Theatre series. Although this was announced in 1963, the play was never produced for television.

Standing Room Only (West End): Standing Room Only was the first Ayckbourn play to be optioned for the West End. Producer Peter Bridge bought the rights to the play, although it was never produced. The script went through a number of major revisions in a bid to bring it to the stage.

The Star: One of the five inter-linked one-act plays which comprise Alan Ayckbourn's 78th play Roundelay; the order of the plays determined randomly prior to each performance.

Stephen Joseph Theatre: The present home of Stephen Joseph's theatre-in-the-round company, which was formed in 1955. The current venue is based in a 1936 Odeon cinema conversion and features The Round and The McCarthy (end-stage) auditoria. The SJT opened in 1996 with Alan Ayckbourn and Andrew Lloyd Webber's By Jeeves.

Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round: The second home of Stephen Joseph's theatre-in-the-round company. Based on the ground floor of Scarborough's former Westwood County Modern School. Initially seen as a temporary home for the company, Westwood - as it was alternatively known - was used by the company between 1976 and 1996. The dimensions and layout of the round in this venue were reproduced in the company's current home, the Stephen Joseph Theatre.

Stoney, Heather (Lady Ayckbourn): Second wife of Alan Ayckbourn and Personal Assistant to the playwright; a former professional actress who appeared in a number of world premieres of Alan Ayckbourn's plays between 1964 and 1985.

The Story So Far... (Family Circles): The play Family Circles was first produced at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, under the title of The Story So Far....

Strachan, Alan: Pre-eminent director of Alan Ayckbourn's plays and one of only several directors to have staged the West End premiere of an Ayckbourn play with Confusions. He also worked with the playwright directing the recasts of several of Alan Ayckbourn's West End productions. In recent years, he has received acclaimed for reviving plays such as Theatre Royal Bath's revival of How The Other Half Loves (2007) and the West End revivals of Absurd Person Singular (2007) and How The Other Half Loves (2016).

Streaming: Although a number of Alan Ayckbourn's plays have been made available to stream as audio plays or to watch, only three productions have been live-streamed or launched as a streaming event. These are the National Theatre's production of A Small Family Business on 12 June 2014 (NT Live livestream), By Jeeves on 8 May 2020 (The Shows Must Go On! Youtube livestream) and the world premiere of his 84th play Anno Domino on 25 May (Audio live-stream).

Studio Theatre Ltd: The limited company originally formed by Stephen Joseph when he created the first professional theatre-in-the-round acting company at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, in 1955. Studio Theatre Ltd moved to Stoke-on-Trent with the opening of the first professional theatre-in-the-round venue at the Victoria Theatre in 1962, replaced in Scarborough by a new limited company, Scarborough Theatre Trust.

Suburban Strains (1980): Alan Ayckbourn's 25th play premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round, Scarborough, on 18 January 1980 and opened at the Round House, London, on 5 February 1981. It is Alan Ayckbourn's first full-length collaboration with the composer Paul Todd and is a musical following the lives and loves of school-teacher Caroline through intertwined flashback and present day scenes.

Suburban Strains (1981): The success of Suburban Strains led to it being revived in 1981, although several of the songs were altered and the play refined in preparation for a limited run of the production at The Roundhouse, London.

Suburban Strains (abandoned): The original concept for Suburban Strains differed from the final play as Alan Ayckbourn recalls working on the first song with Paul Todd, before abandoning the initial idea and starting the project again from scratch.

Sugar Daddies: Alan Ayckbourn's 63rd play premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, on 23 July 2003. A young woman is rescued from a near miss by 'Father Christmas', a shady father figure who is not all he seems. But does Sasha see Val for what he is or is she blinded by the gifts and attention he lavishes on her?

Sugar Daddies (revised): For its North American premiere at the ACT, Seattle, in 2013, the playwright altered the climax of the play to better reflect how Sasha is changed by her experiences with Val.

Surprises: Alan Alan Ayckbourn's 76th play, premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, on 17 July 2012. It features three intertwined love stories set in a near future where longevity advances have radically increased human lifespans. But what effect does this have on love?

Surprises (concept): Surprises was originally commissioned with the intention of being produced in repertory with Alan Ayckbourn's A Small Family Business. As a result, the cast would have been double the size of the play as written and would have been more expansive. This idea was dropped and Surprises was written sharing the same three-act structure and cast size as Absurd Person Singular, which it ran in repertory with. Discarded ideas included a five-act play with a similar structure to Confusions and multiple models of the same protagonist android, leading to identity confusion.

Sweet Revenge: The American title for the filmed adaptation of The Revengers' Comedies.

Original research for the The Alan Ayckbourn Encyclopaedia section is by Simon Murgatroyd and copyright of the author.