Big Ideas by the Sea, Ayckbourn In Conversation & Wilfred Owen

Scarborough’s newest festival, Big Ideas by the Sea, launches today and an Ayckbourn premiere is part of it.

Big Ideas by the Sea aims to be the North’s leading environmental and creative festival by 2025. This not-for-profit annual festival will bring leading speakers, thinkers, and creative people from science, the arts, business, technology and the environment to debate the Big Ideas that concern all of us.

As part of its opening weekend, there will be the premiere of a new filmed interview on Saturday 17 July with Alan Ayckbourn, who has made Scarborough his home since the late 1960s and who is closely associated with the town’s Stephen Joseph Theatre.

Sir Alan Ayckbourn In Conversation is an hour-long interview conducted by Dr Paul Elsam at the playwright’s home and sees the playwright cover a variety of issues from his most recent play, The Girl Next Door, back through his long career as writer and director as well as touching on what post-pandemic theatre might look like.

The film will be followed by Theatre Futures: The Creative Producer’s Perspective in which the Stephen Joseph Theatre’s Creative Producer, Amy Fisher, will have a discussion and Q&A on the likely shape of theatre in a changed world.

Sir Alan Ayckbourn In Conversation will be premiered at Scarborough’s Old Parcels Office at Scarborough railway station (at the far end of the car park) on Saturday 17 July at 7.30pm. Tickets are priced at £15 (plus booking fee).

There will also be a chance to livestream the event for £7.50 if you’re unable to visit Scarborough. Further details about the event and bookings can be found on the Big Ideas by the Sea website here.

More information about the festival itself and its wide range of speakers and events can also be found on the website here.

It’s also worth noting that Dr Paul Elsam – who has a notable Ayckbourn connection having written the definitive biography of Alan Ayckbourn’s mentor, Stephen Joseph – has a work on display at Scarborough Railway Station that also launched this week in conjunction with the festival.

The Wilfred Owen in Scarborough project consists of a site-specific art installation at Scarborough’s railway station and features a series of six podcasts. Each of seven large windows at the station reveals a key aspect of the life of war poet Wilfred Owen, who spent half of the last year of his life in Scarborough.

Five arched windows at the end of the main train shed each illustrate an Owen poem written in the town, while two rectangular windows in the entrance hall provide glimpses of the two sides of young Owen, who worked and played here between 1917 and 1918.

A series of six podcasts has been created to accompany the window art installation. The first of these introduces listeners to Owen’s history, and to his secret life in the town, and was recorded on location at the station. Each of the other five podcasts focuses on a specific poem. We explain the imagery used in that poem’s arched window, and reveal fresh insights into Owen’s life and work.

The project is an artistic collaboration between theatre artist / researcher Dr Paul Elsam, landscape artist Kane Cunningham, video artist / archaeologist John Oxley MBE FSA, and graphic designer Ben Cunningham.

The project has been created with funding support from Transpennine Express Community Rail Partnerships Growth Fund. The installation at Scarborough Railway Station will be in place from 14th July 2021 to 6th September 2021.

A video to launch the Wilfred Owen in Scarborough project can be found here.

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