The Ayckbourn Archive: Absent Friends

These Archival items and images related to Alan Ayckbourn's popular and award-winning play, Absent Friends, 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.
In-depth details about the play can be found at the
Absent Friends section here.

Visit the in-depth Absent Friends section at Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website.

Absent Friends (1974)

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Title: Notes (1974)
Copyright: Haydonning Ltd
Archive: Borthwick Institute For Archives

Description: Early hand-written notes by Alan Ayckbourn for Absent Friends with ideas for the names of the cast and, possibly a structure for the play or the relationships in a grid form.

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Title: Proposed Titles (1974)
Copyright: Haydonning Ltd
Archive: Borthwick Institute For Archives

Description: Alan Ayckbourn's hand-written notes for Absent Friends with some early alternative titles for the play as well as an early discarded four-act structure - and plot - for the play which explored a dinner party from the differing perspectives of the sexes.

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Title: Structure (1974)
Copyright: Haydonning Ltd
Archive: Borthwick Institute for Archives

Description: More early hand-written notes by Alan Ayckbourn for Absent Friends. These feature a plan of the relationships of the characters as well as a three-act structure for the play which is still based on differing perspectives of a dinner party.

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Title: Programme (1974)
Copyright: Scarborough Theatre Trust
Archive: The Bob Watson Archive

Description: A reproduction of the cover for the world premiere of Absent Friends at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, during 1974. This is the first of Alan Ayckbourn's world premiere to have a programme with a cover image rather than just the generic theatre logo or graphics.

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Title: Tour (1974)
Copyright: Scarborough Theatre Trust
Archive: The Bob Watson Archive

Description: A rare example of an early touring poster for an Ayckbourn play - regular touring of Ayckbourn plays from his home theatre is generally considered to significantly start with his following play, Confusions. However in 1974, the original company presented Absent Friends as part of the Wakefield Metropolitan Festival for just a single night.

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Title: West End Poster (1975)
Copyright: To be confirmed
Archive: Borthwick Institute For Archives

Description: The poster for the West End premiere of Absent Friends at the Garrick Theatre, London, in 1975. The production was directed by Eric Thompson and despite a strong cast, Alan Ayckbourn felt the play did not work when moved into a large, proscenium arch space being better suited to the intimacy of in-the-round.

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Title: Peter Hall (1975)
Copyright: Haydonning Ltd
Archive: Borthwick Institute For Archives

Description: A letter from Alan Ayckbourn to Peter Hall, Artistic Director of the National Theatre regarding Absent Friends. Hall was a great admirer of Alan's work and at this time was hoping to persuade him to write a play for the new home of the National Theatre on London's South Bank.

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Title: Show Report (1982)
Copyright: Scarborough Theatre Trust
Archive: The Bob Watson Archive

Description: In 1982, the Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round toured Absent Friends to the Alley Theatre, Houston (in repertory with Way Upstream). Notably one performance saw the sandwiches feature an unwelcome guest of a cockroach as the show report indicates! This led to polystyrene sandwiches being used for Act 1 in subsequent performances.

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All material within this section is copyright of the respective copyright holder. Please do not reproduce or store any material without the permission of the copyright holder or the institution which holds the relevant material.