Alan Ayckbourn Encyclopaedia: A

Abigail (Sisterly Feelings): Although the play Sisterly Feelings has four possible permutations, only two are generally named - Abigail and Dorcas. It is common when the play is performed without the random elements for either and / or both of these permutations to be presented.

Absent Friends: Alan Ayckbourn's 16th play premiered at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, on 17 June 1974 and opened at the Garrick Theatre, London, on 23 July 1975. It is Alan's first play to be set in real time (elapsed time being the same both for characters and audience) and the plot concerns a tea-party for the recently bereaved Colin organised by 'friends' and acquaintances. However, his acceptance of his situation and his 'fulfilling' short time with his fiancée only serves to highlight and widen rifts in the other relationships.

Absent Friends (concept): Early notes indicate Absent Friends was conceived with an entirely different structure to what was actually written, being based around a dinner party in three or four acts.

Absent Friends (radio): The play was adapted for radio by the BBC World Service and first broadcast in 1977. Very few facts about this adaptation are known, although it was directed by Dickon Reed and featured David Jason as Colin with Miriam Margoyles also in the cast.

Absent Friends (television): The play was adapted for television by the BBC and first broadcast on 29 September 1985 on BBC2. The production was directed by Michael Simpson and featured Tom Courtenay as Colin and Julia McKenzie as Diana.

Absurd Person Singular: Alan Ayckbourn's 12th play premiered at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, on 26 June 1972 and opened at the Criterion Theatre, London on 14 July 1974, The latter production won the Evening Standard Best Comedy Award. The plot is set in three kitchens over three Christmases and charts the relentless social rise of the socially aspiring Hopcrofts at the expense of two other couples.

Absurd Person Singular (abandoned): Alan Ayckbourn famously rewrote Absurd Person Singular after beginning to write it. Traditionally, the playwright noted he wrote 10 pages before realising the original setting of three living rooms was not appropriate. He relocated the play to three kitchens, which also led to a fourth couple, the Potters, becoming off-stage characters. In 2022, the playwright's Archivist, Simon Murgatroyd, found the long-thought lost manuscript in the Ayckbourn Archive at the Borthwick Institute for Archives. It was actually 40 pages in eluding all of Act I and half of Act II, set in the living rooms but not featuring Dick & Lottie Potter. It has next to no dialogue which is featured in the play we know today.

Absurd Person Singular (concept): Absurd Person Singular was originally the title for an entirely different and abandoned play probably intended to be written circa 1972.

Absurd Person Singular (radio): The play was adapted for radio by the BBC and first broadcast on 5 March 1977 on BBC Radio 4. The production was directed by Kay Patrick and featured Christopher Godwin, Judy Parfitt and Stephen Murray. Unusually, Alan Ayckbourn approved additional dialogue by Kay Patrick to be added to Act II to explain the midwest of the otherwise silent Eva.

Absurd Person Singular (television): The play was adapted for television by the BBC and first broadcast on 1 January 1985 on BBC1. It was directed by Michael Simpson and the production featured Michael Gambon, Maureen Lipman, Prunella Scales and Geoffrey Palmer.

According To Taste: One of several unused titles considered for Absent Friends.

Acting: Alan Ayckbourn's professional acting career began at the age of 17 with Donald Wolfit's company at the Edinburgh Festival. His professional stage-acting career ran between 1957 to 1964 and more than 70 productions, ending with the play Two For The Seesaw, acting opposite his future wife Heather Stoney at Rotherham Civic Theatre. He also took to the boards for several performances of How The Other Half Loves at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, in 1969 when an actor slipped a disc. During the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 - when all the UK's theatres were closed - he performed in two audio streams which he recorded at home, playing all the male roles in each, with the world premiere of Anno Domino and a recording of his 1994 play Haunting Julia.

Adaptations: Alan Ayckbourn has adapted the work of four other authors. The plays he has adapted are R.B. Sheridan's A Trip To Scarborough (1982); Will Evans & Valentine's Tons Of Money (1985); Henry Becques' Les Corbeaux (presented as Wolf At The Door, 1989); Ostrovsky's The Forest (1999); Chekhov's Uncle Vanya (presented as Dear Uncle, 2011).

Affairs In A Tent (Intimate Exchanges): One of the eight major permutations of Intimate Exchanges in which Celia and Lionel join forces to cater for a school fair with disastrous results. It has two possible permutations for the final scene comprising A Funeral and A New Woman.

The Agent: 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.

Aimer, Boire et Chanter: The film adaptation of Life Of Riley, directed by Alain Resnais, which premiered in competition at the Berlin Film Festival on 10 February 2014. It won the Silver Bear Albert Bauer prize at the festival for a feature film that opens new perspectives and received its UK premiere at the Cine Lumiere, London, on 26 April 2014. It was also the final film to be made by Resnais prior to his death during 2014.

Alan Ayckbourn: Bibliography, Biography, Playography: A rare pamphlet by Ian Watson published in 1980 offering a brief guide to Alan Ayckbourn's plays and publications.

Alan Ayckbourn - A Casebook: A collection of academic essays on the playwright, edited by Bernard F Dukore and published by Garland Publishing in 1991.

Alan Ayckbourn (Writers and Their Works): A critical examination of Alan Ayckbourn's plays and themes written by one of his regular designers, Michael Holt. Originally published in 1999, a updated second edition was published during 2018.

Alderson, George: Scarborough architect who was responsible for designing the Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round (1976 - 1996).

Allan, Roland: For his first four plays, Alan Ayckbourn used the pseudonym Roland Allen (a combination of his then wife's name and his own - Christine Roland & Alan Ayckbourn). However the programme for his first play, The Square Cat, mis-spelt the name as Roland Allan

Allen, Paul: Alan Ayckbourn's biographer, responsible for the books Alan Ayckbourn: Grinning At The Edge and A Pocket Guide To Alan Ayckbourn's Plays.

Allen, Roland: Pseudonym under which Alan Ayckbourn wrote his first four plays (The Square Cat, Love After All, Dad's Tale & Standing Room Only). A combination of his then wife's name and his own (Christine Roland & Alan Ayckbourn), it was no secret who the playwright actually was as it was reported in both programmes and the press. Alan stopped using the name when he joined the Victoria Theatre as a founding member of the company in 1962.

All Lies: Alan Ayckbourn's 86th full-length play, written in 2021, premiered at The Old Laundry Theatre, Bowness-on-Windermere on 6 May 2022. Set in 1957 and with a cast of three, it charts a new relationship predominantly through letters which is founded on increasingly outrageous lies from both people.

Am I Famous Yet?: An early proposed title for the play Drowning On Dry Land, taken from a documentary on celebrity which Alan Ayckbourn had recently seen, in which a young woman jumped up and down on a field in front of cameras before declaring: 'Am I famous yet?'

Angus, Eric: Composer who - alongside composer Cathy Shostak 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, during July 2014.

Anno Domino: Alan Ayckbourn's 84th play premiered online on 25 May 2020. This marked a first for Alan Ayckbourn as it was premiered as an audio-stream as a result of the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic lockdown which closed all the UK's theatres. The play featured Alan and his wife, Heather Stoney, playing all roles and also marked the first time he directed and acted in one of his own plays. The play follows the fortunes of a family whose relationships are not what they appear.

Another Time, Another Place: An as-yet unproduced play written by Alan Ayckbourn during 2020.

Archivist: Alan Ayckbourn's Archivist is Simon Murgatroyd M.A. who is respiosnbile for maintaining the Ayckbourn Archive and the playwright's official website amongst other responsibilities. His professional website is

Arena: Alan Ayckbourn has been featured twice in the BBC arts documentary series Arena. On 4 February 1976, the programme was dedicated to following the world premiere of his plays Just Between Ourselves from rehearsals to stage. On 17 March 1990, he was featured in the documentary Peggy And Her Playwrights, which examined the life and career of the literary agent Margaret 'Peggy' Ramsay.

Arrivals & Departures: Alan Ayckbourn's 77th play premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, on 6 August 2013. The play centres on two strangers, whose stories are told through flashback, in the midst of a covert operation to capture a terrorist. It received its New York premiere, directed by Alan Ayckbourn, on 29 May 2014 at the 59E59 Theaters as part of the Brits Off Broadway festival.

Arrivées Et Départs: A proposed film adaptation of Arrivals & Departures which the French director Alain Resnais was working on just prior to his death in 2014.

Artistic Director: Alan Ayckbourn was the Artistic Director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, between 1972 and 2009.

A Round Town: A website looking at the cultural contribution theatre in the round, Stephen Joseph and Alan Ayckbourn have made to the town of Scarborough's cultural heritage and history. Created and curated by Alan Ayckbourn's Archivist, Simon Murgatroyd M.A.

As A Sister:
One of several unused titles considered for Sisterly Feelings.

Audio Streams: Alan Ayckbourn has adapted two of his works as audio plays to be streamed, both during the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 when the UK theatres were closed. He debuted the world premiere of Anno Domino during May 2020 and then his 1994 play Haunting Julia during December 2020. He directed, performed and created the sound mix for each play which were made available exclusively for a limited period on the Stephen Joseph Theatre's website. Both plays were produced by Haydonning Ltd.

Awaking Beauty: Alan Ayckbourn's 72nd play premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, on 16 December 2008. It was his third full-length collaboration with the composer Denis King, the play looks at what happened after the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty ended. It is the first Ayckbourn play to carry a specific warning it might not be suitable for children.

Awards: Alan Ayckbourn has, of writing, won more than 35 significant awards for his plays and work in theatre. Amongst them he has won the Special Olivier Award and Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in Theatre. He has won an Olivier for Best Comedy, Molières for Best Comedy as well as Evening Standard Awards for Best Play and Best Comedy. He has also won the Variety Club Playwright of the Year and Lifetime Achievement Awards, the Writers Guild of Great Britain Lifetime Achievement Award, the Montblanc de la Culture Award for Europe; the Lloyds Private Banking Playwright of the Year, the Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence and the Critics' Circle Award for Services to the Arts.

Ayckbourn Alley: In February 1976, the sign at the corner of Broadway and 45th Street, New York, was officially changed for the day to Ayckbourn Alley to mark Alan Ayckbourn's record of having four plays running simultaneously on Broadway (The Norman Conquests and Absurd Person Singular). The actual sign is now owned by Alan Ayckbourn.

Ayckbourn And The Round: A series of week-long events held between 2001 and 2005 at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, offering the participants a chance to go behind-the-scenes on Alan Ayckbourn's productions and be involved in masterclasses with the playwright.

Ayckbourn Archive: The Ayckbourn Archive is held in the Borthwick Institute for Archives at the University Of York. This was Alan Ayckbourn's personal archive until it was acquired for the nation in 2011. Encompassing material from throughout the playwright's life, it is the single largest archival resource relating to Alan Ayckbourn in the world.

Ayckbourn Collection: The Ayckbourn Collection is held by Scarborough Museums & Galleries. It is a small curated collection of items relevant to Alan Ayckbourn, Stephen Joseph and the early history of theatre in the round in Scarborough, curated by the playwright's archivist, Simon Murgatroyd, and donated by the playwright and his archivist in 2023.

Ayckbourn At 50: A souvenir programme produced to mark Alan Ayckbourn's 50th birthday. The programme was ostensibly for the world premiere production of The Revengers' Comedies, but dedicated to a history of Alan Ayckbourn's plays since 1955.

Ayckbourn At 70: A souvenir full-colour A4 programme, written by Alan Ayckbourn's archivist Simon Murgatroyd and produced to tie in with the Ayckbourn At 70 - A Celebration event at the Royal & Derngate in Northampton.

Ayckbourn At 70 - A Celebration: A major event celebrating the 50th anniversary of Alan Ayckbourn's playwriting career and his 70th birthday, which took place at the Royal & Derngate Theatre in Northampton in 2009.

Ayckbourn, Christine (née Roland): See Christine Roland.

Ayckbourn Ensemble: The name given to the Stephen Joseph Theatre's 2014 Ayckbourn UK tour - culminating at the Brits Off Broadway festival in New York - which featured the plays Arrivals & Departures, Time Of My Life and Farcicals.

Ayckbourn, Heather (née Stoney): See Heather Stoney.

Ayckbourn, Horace: Alan Ayckbourn's father. Horace Ayckbourn (1898 - 1957) was a violinist who became deputy leader of the London Symphony Orchestra. Horace was 42 when Alan was born in 1939 - and apparently playing in the pit orchestra at the Lyceum at the time of birth. Although Alan's mother insisted they were married, Alan was born out of wedlock as when she married Alan's step-father, Cecil Pye, she had to divorce her first husband, Neville Monroe, revealing she'd never married Horace.

Ayckbourn In Action: A radio documentary, broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 15 September 2011, examining Alan Ayckbourn's 50th anniversary as a professional theatre director.

Ayckbourn Kids' Music: A CD compilation of incidental music by John Pattison drawn from productions of Alan Ayckbourn's family plays at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round and Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough.

Ayckbourn Music: A CD compilation of incidental music by John Pattison drawn from productions of Alan Ayckbourn's plays at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round and Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough.

Ayckbourn On Song: See Todd On Ayckbourn On Song.

Ayckbourn, Philip: One of Alan Ayckbourn's two sons by Christine Roland.

Ayckbourn Shorts: A specially approved show at the University Of York held on 22 & 23 June 2012. Directed by Tom Wright, it included short plays drawn from the Ayckbourn Archive, held by the university, most of which had rarely been performed before including the premiere performance of Board Game.

Ayckbourn, Steven: One Of Alan Ayckbourn's two sons by Christine Roland.

Ayckbourn Weekends: Two weekend events held in 2010 and 2011 organised by Alan Ayckbourn's Archivist Simon Murgatroyd and featuring discussions with Alan Ayckbourn as well as rare insights into Alan Ayckbourn's early and withdrawn plays; the 2010 event included the first (and only) public reading of the withdrawn 1958 play The Party Game.

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