The Ayckbourn Archive: A Chorus Of Disapproval

These Archival items and images related to Alan Ayckbourn's popular and award-winning play, A Chorus Of Disapproval, are predominantly drawn from the Ayckbourn Archive at the Borthwick Institute for Archives at the University of York and The Bob Watson Archive at the Stephen Joseph Theatre. Further details about the play can be found in the A Chorus Of Disapproval section of Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website here.

A Chorus Of Disapproval (1984)

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Title: Who Do You Think? (1984)
Copyright: Haydonning Ltd
Archive: Borthwick Institute For Archives

Description: This letter from Alan Ayckbourn to the National Theatre's Artistic Director, Peter Hall, is the earliest known reference to the play which would become A Chorus Of Disapproval. At this point, it's a completely unrelated - and unwritten - play called Who Do You Think? which then becomes A Chorus Of Disapproval, possibly as a result of interest from Peter Hall.

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Title: Who Do You Think? (1984)
Copyright: Haydonning Ltd
Archive: Borthwick Institute For Archives

Description: A later letter from Alan Ayckbourn to Peter Hall about A Chorus Of Disapproval noting how much it has altered since the previous letter and also hinting at some of the notorious issues had with his early ideas for the play.

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Title: Advert (1984)
Copyright: Scarborough Theatre Trust
Archive: The Bob Watson Archive

Description: Alan Ayckbourn's original intention for A Chorus Of Disapproval was to feature 'plants' in the audience, who would - without warning - join in the action. Sadly, acting union Equity put paid to Alan using amateurs in a professional production, but not before auditions were actually held as this copy for the newspaper advert shows.

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Title: Revolve (1984)
Copyright: Scarborough Theatre Trust
Archive: The Bob Watson Archive

Description: A little know fact about A Chorus Of Disapproval is the world premiere at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round was staged on a double-revolve (it has never been staged like this subsequently). This allowed Alan to alter the stage layout quickly and also realise several other effects for the play. Each location had a different state and this is an illustration of the second location in the play.

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Title: World Premiere (1984)
Copyright: Scarborough Theatre Trust
Archive: The Bob Watson Archive

Description: There are relatively few colour production photographs of Alan Ayckbourn's world premiere prior to the 1990s. This is one of several taken for A Chorus Of Disapproval at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round. Sadly most colour photographs from this period appear to have not been professionally taken and the quality is often quite poor.

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Title: Filming (1988)
Copyright: To be confirmed
Archive: Borthwick Institute For Archives

Description: Famously, film director Michael Winner adapted A Chorus Of Disapproval for the big screen in 1988, producing - arguably - the single worst screen adaptation of any Ayckbourn play. Alan, sensing which way the wind was blowing perhaps, showed up for one day of filming in Scarborough - seen her with actress Prunella Scales - before jetting off on holiday. A wise move considering what Winner did to his play.

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Title: Michael Winner (1989)
Copyright: Haydonning Ltd
Archive: Borthwick Institute For Archives

Description: Film director Michael Winner and Alan Ayckbourn soon came to blows when the film of A Chorus Of Disapproval was released in 1989. On several occasions, Winner accused Alan of knocking the adaptation or putting it down. Alan disagreed each time noting that he was just emphasising that the film was different to the play and could never be as good as the play, given it was never intended to a film. Unwritten was the fact Alan really did believe that Winner had butchered the play and completely missed the point of it.

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Title: PALOS (2004)
Photographer: Tony Bartholomew (© Tony Bartholomew)
Archive: The Bob Watson Archive

Description: In 2004, Alan Ayckbourn revived A Chorus of Disapproval at the Stephen Joseph Theatre to great success. Within the programme, several photographs by Tony Bartholomew were featured purporting to show the PALOS company in rehearsal for The Beggar's Opera (obviously taken during rehearsals for A Chorus of Disapproval). This is a complete company shot of the revival in character as PALOS members.

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