Interview: Scarborough Evening News (1985)

This interview was published in the Scarborough Evening News on 5 June 1985.

Ayckbourn Plans For His Two Years Off

After a full day of rehearsals yesterday, playwright and self-confessed workaholic Alan Ayckbourn spoke about the little luxury he was allowing himself - two years off. [1]

But two years off to one man means a completely different thing to the prolific playwright, who runs the
Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round. What he means by it is that instead of working all hours possible to produce seven plays a year, writing two of them, running the theatre as jack-of-all-trades, and worrying about the theatre's finances or lack of them, he is going to forget everything but writing and producing.

For the two-year sabbatical, which begins next June, he intends to write and produce only one play a year at the Stephen Joseph Theatre. In fact, the general theatre-going public will probably not be aware of his absence apart from noting that another director is producing most of the plays. It will be the theatre staff who will feel his absence most acutely.

Mr Ackybourn said: "At the end of last year I thought I was getting rather tired, because I probably do more productions here per year than most artistic directors do. I am also writing quite a lot of them. My maxim is that if things get routine it is time to give it a break. I am responsible for casting, overall policy of the theatre, and selection of the members. We are trying to run a theatre on half budget, which is a fairly pressurised job. I am allowing myself the little luxury of worrying about a play and not administration."

Mr Ayckbourn will return to the theatre in 1988 - just in time to begin fighting closure, since the theatre's lease runs out in 1989. He intends to continue to live in Scarborough, but is not sure where else he will be working. He has put the word about that he is available and is waiting to see what offers are made.

"It would be nice to be guest producer at some other theatre, but nothing has been decided yet," he said.

Website Notes:
[1] On the 3 June 1985, the Scarborough Evening New broke the story that Alan Ayckbourn was to take a two year sabbatical from the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round between 1986 and 1988. At this point, Alan had not confirmed that it would actually be as a Company Director at the National Theatre, which had been in negotiation since 1984.
[2] As noted above, Alan has practically signed on the dotted line to work at the National Theatre for two year by the time the news of the sabbatical broke.

Copyright: Scarborough Evening News. This edited transcription and the end-notes have been compiled and researched by Simon Murgatroyd. Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.