This Monday will see the world premiere of Alan Ayckbourn’s latest play, Anno Domino, as an audio stream available from the Stephen Joseph Theatre’s website.
Here Alan Ayckbourn offers a brief introduction to the play and his thoughts on the current state of theatre.
What was the inspiration behind Anno Domino?
Alan Ayckbourn: Inspiration for Anno Domino came from the idea that all relationships ultimately, however resilient they appear to be, are built on sand! And it only takes one couple to break up abruptly, to take us all by surprise, then all of a sudden everyone is suddenly questioning their own unshakeable relationship. A so-called Domino effect, in fact.
How did it feel to be acting again – especially opposite your wife Heather Stoney?
Alan Ayckbourn: Well, I think we were both so busy oiling up rusty skills and blowing dust off ourselves that we both had our heads down to such an extent that we were almost completely unaware there was even someone acting with us! Very unprofessional and not something I encourage in my companies – the watchword for good acting is to LISTEN to each other!
What particular technical challenges did producing Anno Domino as a live-stream pose?
Alan Ayckbourn: Playing scenes with yourself – in Heth’s case several of them! And then for me cutting them together. When you certainly weren’t listening to the other character!
Given the extraordinary circumstances of 2020 and the Covid-19 pandemic, what do you think the future hold for theatre?
Alan Ayckbourn: I think the future of the Theatre hangs in the balance, frankly. But the in my life time it invariably has done as a new challenger emerges to threaten its existence – radio, movies, television, the internet, virtual reality etc, BUT in the end survive it will but as the admirable Bones almost put it, “it will be Theatre, Jim but not as we know it!” *
How has lockdown been for you both?
Alan Ayckbourn: Life is as normal for me. Practically. Maybe when I (don’t) start rehearsals in a couple of weeks, it will hit me. But when I’m writing like I am now, I avoid everybody – except Heth and the cat!
Anno Domino will be available free online from noon on Monday 25 May to noon on 25 June 2020 at the Stephen Joseph Theatre website (www.sjt.uk.com).
* Bones is the nickname of Dr McCoy, the chief medical officer on the Starship Enterprise in the Star Trek television series and movies.