A life in the theatre (1939 - )
Alan Ayckbourn has been involved in the work of the Stephen Joseph theatre, Scarborough, variously, in acting, stage management, lighting, sound, prop making, scene painting, direction and writing all his career. He was mentored until 1967 by Stephen Joseph, the man who first encouraged him to write.
Ayckbourn began to write in the late fifties at Joseph's proposal, and by the latter's death in 1967, he already had seven plays under his belt, including 'Relatively Speaking' and 'How the Other Half Lives'. These seven plays, along with most of the 59 he has written to date, were first performed in Scarborough, although more than 25 have transferred to the West End, Royal National Theatre or Royal Shakespeare Company.
Ayckbourn has enjoyed great success with his writing, winning seven London Evening Standard Awards, and being translated into 30 languages. His works have been filmed in English and French. Perhaps because of the 'englishness' of his plays, only 4 have been performed in Broadway, although of these, 2 have won Tony Awards. In 1991, he won the Dramalogue Critics' Award for 'Henceforward...'.
Ayckbourn has also been very successful as a director, directing all of his plays performed in London since 1978, but also others'. He won the 1986 Plays & Plays Director Award for 'A View from the Bridge'. In America, he directed the US premiere of the musical he wrote with Andrew Lloyd Webber, 'By Jeeves', being rated by Time Magazine as one of the best ten plays of that year.
Ayckbourn has been Professor of Contemporary Theatre at Oxford University and is a fellow of the RSA. He holds 6 honorary degrees and an Honorary Fellowship of Bretton Hall and the University of Wales, Cardiff. He has won the Montblanc de la Culture Award for Europe, and holds a CBE. He was knighted in 1997, the first playwright to acheive the accolade since Terence Rattigan.
Ayckbourn is Artistic Director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre, which received its permanent home by Ayckbourn's support in 1996.