For this week’s blog, I’ve compiled a list of Christmas present ideas for any Ayckbourn fans out there. If you’re searching for something with an Ayckbourn theme, then read on!
Top of the list has to be Alan Ayckbourn’s debut novel The Divide. This beautifully designed book released by PS Publishing takes place in a dystopian future England which has been decimated by a disease which has made female contact fatal to males. Told through reportage with diaries, memos, book extracts, legal documents amongst others, the book is designed with each page reflecting the original document. It’s a powerfully told story and, as Ayckbourn’s fictional prose debut, it’s really a must for any ayckbourn fan. For the extra special present, a signed and limited edition (100 copies) in slipcase has just been released (click here). It’s also available in hardback and softback from PS Publishing and Amazon for £20
The softcover of this fascinating book edited by Colin Chambers was recently released and is well worth seeking out. Margaret Ramsay – or Peggy as her writers knew her – was the Theatrical Agent of many of the 20th century’s most influential British playwrights such as Alan Ayckbourn, Joe Orton, David Hare, J.B. Priestley and Stephen Poliakoff among others. The book reprints letters between Peggy and her playwrights held in Archive offering an extraordinary insight into her work and relationship with the writers as well as into British theatre. A number of Alan Ayckbourn’s letters are featured in the book which offers an essential insight into a leading figure in British playwriting from between the 1960s and 1980s. The book is available in both softcover and hardcover.
A bit of a personal plug now! There are just three copies left of the limited edition Unseen Ayckbourn: Anniversary Edition released to celebrate Alan Ayckbourn’s 80th birthday and the 60th anniversary of his playwriting debut this year. Signed by the author – Alan Ayckbourn’s Archivist Simon Murgatroyd – and limited to just 50 copies (recorded on the playwright’s official website even!), the book delves into the Ayckbourn Archive to offer an insight into the playwright’s withdrawn, unpublished, unwritten and lost works. From his teenage days to the present, Unseen Ayckbourn also looks at concepts, alternative titles, play variations, discarded ideas and other ephemera. It also includes a new essay celebrating hot playwright’s achievements alongside a complete playlist (well, complete until 2020 and the new play is premiered!). The book is priced at £15 and can be ordered exclusively from the playwright’s website www.alanayckbourn.net.
We really should include some plays by Alan Ayckbourn! This is the latest collected volume of plays published by Faber and is a rather nice collection. It includes A Brief History of Women, Arrivals and Departures, Neighbourhood Watch, Hero’s Welcome and the classic Time and Time Again. The volume includes the most significant of the playwright’s writing this decade, all of which have transferred to New York to acclaim. The collection includes an introduction by the playwright and is available in softcover.
I suppose we should have something to watch, but this never seems to become any easier! Despite the plethora of screen adaptations of Alan’s plays, very few are available to buy – and even fewer to recommend. However, during the Ayckbourn Film Festival at the SJT this autumn, I re-watched Alain Resnais’s Private Fears In Public Places and remembered what a wonderful film and Ayckbourn adaptation it is. This is Alan Ayckbourn’s favourite screen adaptation of his work and it an entrancing film set in a snow-bound Paris amidst the lives of six lonely city dwellers. The French cast is excellent – the film is subtitled – and there is a rather nice interview with Alan Ayckbourn included on the DVD. It’s available through Amazon.
And the rest…
2019 saw a considerable number of Alan’s plays published in acting editions for the first time by Samuel French. So if you’re looking to complete your Ayckbourn play collection, don’t forget you can now get Farcicals, Roundelay, Private Fears In Public Places, Arrivals & Departures, Hero’s Welcomes and Haunting Julia.
For those wanting to know more about Alan Ayckbourn’s life and work, I can recommend Michael Holt’s update of his excellent work Writers & Their Work: Alan Ayckbourn, which is a short but insightful appraisal of the playwright’s long writing career.
Those are my suggestions, you can find more choice at the Ayckbourn Store at www.alanayckbourn.net. Happy hunting for the perfect Christmas present!