Fact: Alan Ayckbourn became the
Artistic Director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre (then The Library Theatre)
History: The year
Alan Ayckbourn took on the role of Artistic Director of the Stephen Joseph
Theatre is probably the single most mis-quoted fact about his life and career. It
is variously stated as anywhere between 1969 and 1972 in publications about
the playwright. Yet as far as the records (and Alan Ayckbourn) are
concerned, he became the permanent Artistic Director of the theatre in 1972.
Stephen Joseph died in 1967 leaving a
vacuum at The Library Theatre, Scarborough. In 1966, The Library Theatre had
presented an amateur season but by the time it was realised it was fiscally
viable for the theatre to continue professionally in 1967, Stephen was too
ill to continue as what was then known as the Director Of Productions. This
led to a period when Scarborough Theatre Trust would appoint the Director Of
Productions on an annual basis, generally at the Annual General Meeting held
each December. This led to the appointment of Rodney Wood as Director Of
Productions in 1967 and 1968. In 1969 and 1970, Alan Ayckbourn was asked to
be Director Of Productions but there was absolutely no indication it was a
permanent job and at each AGM, the minutes record the decision was put to a
vote. During both these years, Alan was still working full-time at the BBC
in Leeds as a radio drama producer.
In 1971, Caroline Smith became the Director
Of Productions at The Library Theatre. Alan had left the BBC during the
summer of 1970, but spent much
of the early part of the year in the USA for the American premiere of How
The Other Half Loves and played little part in the Library Theatre's
summer season, aside from directing his new play Time And Time Again.
Alan was then asked to become the Director
Of Productions for the 1972 season. This decision was carried unanimously by
the Scarborough Theatre Trust on 15 January 1972 at the AGM. On 12 November
1972, at a meeting of the Trust it was proposed Alan Ayckbourn become Artistic
Director of the theatre, which was again unanimously carried. This was the
final time the Trust took a vote on the position and from this point the role
can be considered to have become permanent.
Alan was also still Artistic Director during
his sabbatical at the National Theatre. From 1986 - 1988, Alan remained
Artistic Director alongside Robin Herford, who was responsible for the
day-to-day running of the theatre. Alan Ayckbourn was Artistic Director
of the theatre from 1972 to 31 March 2009, when he stepped down from the
role and was succeeded by Chris Monks.
Note: A second frequently mis-reported
fact regarding Alan Ayckbourn's tenure as Artistic Director should be
addressed. Whilst the role of Artistic Director always had a wage
attached to it, at no point between 1972 and 2009 did Alan Ayckbourn
ever draw a wage from the Stephen Joseph Theatre as Artistic Director,
with the money re-invested into the theatre or productions.