If you’re a huge fan of plays, then the name Sir Alan Ayckbourn might ring more than just a bell. As one of Britain’s loved and admired playwrights, he has the reliability to say that the live entertainment sector will be taking the hardest punch and therefore the slowest to recover in Britain as the pandemic goes on. Unfortunately, theatres with its close proximity environment, they are seen as one of the unsafest places to go for spending time.
Ayckbourn, having done multitudes of work for the live entertainment industry, can’t help but watch as the business side of it crashes down. With his masterful hits such as Chorus of Disapproval, The Norman Conquests, Bedroom Farce and Absurd Person Singular, he was THE man during the 1970s with his genre of mixing comedic relief and sensitivity.
“Theatre is one of the last places that is going to get back to something like normal,” the 81-year-old playwright and director told the Observer this weekend. “It relies precisely on gathering people in one place. That is what it is. A theatre is an intimate space. If you want to catch a germ, then a small theatre built in the round, like the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, the place I’m most associated with, is the perfect place. If you want to have a wonderful theatrical experience, it is a wonderful place for that too, of course.”
In response to Paul Robinson’s appeal, who has taken the title of artistic director at the Scarborough to which Ayckbourn has done so tremendously for 37 years, the playwright has not only made a new upcoming play for audio broadcast but has come back to the world of acting after a whopping 56-year hiatus just so he can appear in a cast beside his wife, Heather Stoney.
However, Ayckbourn still holds little to no hope for live theatre during these trying times saying: “People may have gone back to the theatres quickly after plagues and diseases since the Middle Ages, but they didn’t have Netflix then did they? There was not much else to do.”