The Stage


In The Paper

It’s easier to return to directing than writing, says recovering Ayckbourn

Cover, March 22 2007 In this week’s issue of The Stage, you’ll find our special guide to postgraduate training courses, as well as:

  • Susan Elkin examines the rise of the purpose-built theatre in schools
  • Brian Conway gives a punter’s eye view of what it’s like when a West End star is a no-show
  • We preview the National Student Drama Festival
  • Sir Alan Ayckbourn talks about returning to work after his recent stroke
  • Pianist Bobby Crush talks about how he survive the wane of variety by turning to cruise ship work.

Read on for some previews of the inside pages.


The increasing number of schools building on-site theatres can only be a good thing, says Susan Elkin in this week’s Insight:

At St Swithun’s School in Winchester… the £4.5 million, 600-seat theatre has full theatre lighting, sound and communications systems, along with motorised front curtains and cyclorama. It is a very long way from the homespun amateurishness of the old school hall…

Outside the independent sector, few schools can afford to accommodate something which is just a theatre. It usually has to double as a space for music performance, speech days and even as an exam room. “The job of the designer is to negotiate as many compromises as possible,” says [Theatretech designer Mick] Way.

Alan Ayckbourn spread

It’s just a year since Sir Alan Ayckbourn suffered a stroke, but already he’s back in action, directing the complete staging of his Intimate Exchanges series of plays.

I thought just after I’d had the stroke that at least I can write, even if I had to dictate. But funnily enough, the directing side is returning far quicker. Writing, I suddenly realised, is an enormous drain on the resources. I thought, don’t plan to write the new play in a week, which I used to do, leave it a month. I think after a month I’m going to go barmy with it. All those people running around in my head. The reason I wrote them so quickly was to get shot of the characters.

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The best thing that has ever happened to British Theatre is Alan Ayckbourn, the shere modesty of the man and the genius of his plays speaks for itself.

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