Christmas Comes Early for Ayckbourn Fans

A very special Ayckbourn treat has been announced for 2023 by the Stephen Joseph Theatre.

A weekend of exclusive Ayckbourn events is taking place in September including an exclusive reading of a previously announced but unseen play, Truth Will Out, and a masterclass with the playwright celebrating the 21st anniversary of the publication of his book, The Crafty Art of Playmaking.

This is alongside the previously announced world premiere of his new play, Constant Companions.

The Crafty Art of Ayckbourn is a special fundraising event with the SJT’s Director Emeritus Alan Ayckbourn from 15 – 17 September 2023.

It will be based around his 2020 play, Truth Will Out, which was announced by the SJT but cancelled due to the pandemic. The weekend will include a rehearsed reading of the show (the first time it’s ever been performed – and rumour has it the author is fancying playing one of the parts himself). More details here.

There will also be a masterclass from Ayckbourn and two of his favourite actors for would-be theatremakers or those just needing a refresher based around his groundbreaking book, The Crafty Art of Playmaking. More details here.

All the events are available to book separately or as part of packages which include exclusive extras including a gala event with the playwright and his company. Full details about the packages can be found on the Truth Will Out and The Crafty Art of Playmaking booking pages at

The weekend also coincides with the world premiere run of Constant Companions – making it a chance to indulge in all things Ayckbourn!

The theatre has also announced its 2023 season which includes a (more or less) Shakespeare, a revival of one of the theatre’s most popular shows of recent years, and, of course, a brand new play by Alan Ayckbourn.

The year kicks off with Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors (more or less) in a new adaptation by Elizabeth Godber and Nick Lane. A co-production with the recently opened Shakespeare North Playthouse in Prescot. The Comedy of Errors (more or less) can be seen from 30 March to 15 April 2023.

It’s followed by a revival of The 39 Steps, which played to packed houses at the SJT in the summer of 2018. Based on John Buchan’s classic novel and Alfred Hitchcock’s film. A co-production with Theatre by the Lake, The 39 Steps can be seen at the SJT from 30 June to 29 July 2023.

Alan Plater’s Blonde Bombshells of 1943, a co-production with the Octagon Bolton and Theatre by the Lake, is the SJT’s third show of the year. Join The Blonde Bombshells, the most glamorous all-girl swing band in the North, as they dodge Hitler’s bombs to put on the performance of their lives. This can be seen from 2 to 26 August 2023.

Constant Companions will be the 89th play from the SJT’s Director Emeritus Alan Ayckbourn. In the not-too-distant future humans have turned to artificial friends for companionship without compromise. Writer and director Ayckbourn weaves together the story of highflying lawyer Lorraine, lonely bachelor Don and technician Winston with characteristic humour and compassion. It can be seen from 7 September to 7 October 2023.

2023’s Christmas treat is a new version of Beauty and the Beast from Nick Lane, directed by Paul Robinson. It can be seen from 1 to 30 December 2023.

Paul Robinson, Artistic Director at the SJT, says: “We’ve got a whole year of great drama and comedy to raise your spirits and make you feel good about life – our programme this year is designed to send you home with a spring in your step!”

Tickets for all the shows go on sale to members of the Circle, the SJT’s membership scheme, from 10am on Wednesday 23 November and on general sale from 10am on Wednesday 30 November. Priced from £10, tickets are available from the box office on 01723 370541 and online at

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