Last year on my work travels, I found a rare signed book by playwright Alan Ayckbourn and it has inspired me to look more deeply into his writing.
Previously, I knew him as a vague literary figure in my life because someone I know used to work with him in and said he was as decent a man as a man could be.
How did I miss such a great recommend?
He seemed so far away, like from someone from another era, another plain of existence.
Now I am rather hooked on his self-described humour that ‘hovers in the darkness’ and observations of suburban English contemporary life from the last fifty years or so.
He gave theatre an uncomfortable happy medium for the middle classes like no other.
As one of Britain’s most hard-working, popular and prolific playwrights, (he is known as an all-rounder, writing, directing, acting and even doing his own sound on occasion) he has, as of 2023, written and directed 89 full length plays.
His first hit Relatively Speaking opened at the Duke of York’s theatre in 1967. He subsequently went on to have major successes with Absurd Person Singular (1975), A Chorus Of Disapproval (1984) and Private Fears In Public Places (2004), to name hardly any of his theatrical triumphs.
His latest play Constant Companions premieres on the 7th of September as usual in the round at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough.
Conversations With Ayckbourn by Ian Watson is an illuminating book gives a fascinating insight into life and work behind the scenes at the theatre such as working with American Entertainer Phil Silvers.
There are multitudes of handy writing tips on how he works on what motivates him.
As a taster, the chapter called The Business of Writing opens with these words: ‘As soon as I’ve finished a play – once I finished, say, Suburban Strains, I was raring to go on another, keyed up and ready. You get on a tremendous high – I do – from writing, when you think: ‘Wow! I can write for ever!’ Actually, somebody at the back of you says: ‘Oh no you can’t!’
Conversations With Ayckbourn by Ian Watson available from 1981 from Nikki Wordsmith’s bookstore. Dust cover torn ever-so-slightly on the back.
– Hardback – First Edition – Signed
Want more Ayckbourn treats for free? Why not watch Alan revealing the secrets of his trade in this wonderful television show on YouTube: Masterpiece: Alan Ayckbourn – A Plain Man’s Guide to Play Making (1994):
I am a writer from Lancashire.
I spend a lot of my time raising my daughter and hanging out with my family.
I also do my own creative writing and help people who are stuck for words.
That’s it really. Those two things. It’s a nice life.
If you need words, do the write thing, get in touch and hire a writer.