The Ayckbourn Archive: Alan Ayckbourn

These images are drawn from Alan Ayckbourn's acting career. Alan first acted whilst studying at Haileybury and it was his initial intention to become a professional actor. His first professional job in theatre was acting in The Strong Are Lonely with Sir Donald Wolfit in 1956. He would go on to professionally act between 1957 and 1964 at various venues, most notably the Library Theatre, Scarborough, and the Victoria Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent.

Alan Ayckbourn: Actor

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Title: Romeo & Juliet (1955)
Photographer: Unknown (© Haydonning Ltd)
Archive: Borthwick Institute for Archives

Description: Alan Ayckbourn in his earliest acting role, aged 16, playing Peter in a production of Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet whilst at Haileybury.

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Title: The Rainmaker (1957)
Photographer: Unknown (© Leatherhead Theatre)
Archive: Leatherhead Theatre Archive

Description: During 1957, Alan worked at the Leatherhead Theatre Club where he played a number of roles alongside his position as Assistant Stage Manager. Here he plays Jim Curry (third from left) in N Richard Nash's The Rainmaker.

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Title: An Inspector Calls (1957)
Photographer: Unknown (© Scarborough Theatre Trust)
Archive: The Bob Watson Archive

Description: During the summer of 1957, Alan joined Stephen Joseph's Library Theatre company in Scarborough as as an Assistant Stage Manager with small acting roles. His first role was Eric Birling in J.B. Priestley's An Inspector Calls.

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Title: Captain Carvallo (1958)
Photographer: Unknown (© Scarborough Theatre Trust)
Archive: The Bob Watson Archive

Description: Alan Ayckbourn acting with his first wife, Christine Roland, as Private Gross in Captain Carvallo by Denis Cannan at the Library Theatre.

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Title: Love & Chance (1958)
Photographer: Unknown (© Scarborough Theatre Trust)
Archive: The Bob Watson Archive

Description: Alan Ayckbourn (centre) as the valet Pasquin in J.W. James' adaptation of Marivaux's Love & Chance at the Library Theatre.

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Title: Easter (1959)
Photographer: Unknown (© Scarborough Theatre Trust)
Archive: The Bob Watson Archive

Description: Alan Ayckbourn received critical acclaim for his role of the teacher, Elis, in the Library Theatre's production of August Strindberg's Easter.

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Title: Alan Ayckbourn (1990)
Photographer: Unknown (© Scarborough Theatre Trust)
Archive: The Bob Watson Archive

Description: Alan Ayckbourn made his playwriting debut in 1959 at the Library Theatre with The Square Cat. Writing himself the lead role of rock-star Jerry Wattis, here he dances with Faynia Jeffery.

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Title: Five Finger Exercise (1960)
Photographer: Unknown (© Scarborough Theatre Trust)
Archive: The Bob Watson Archive

Description: Alan Ayckbourn as Walter Langer in Peter Shaffer's Five Finger Exercise at the Library Theatre.

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Title: Stranger in the Family (1961)
Photographer: Unknown (© Scarborough Theatre Trust)
Archive: The Bob Watson Archive

Description: Alan appeared in a number of world premieres whilst acting at the Library Theatre including Norman Horner's Stranger in the Family playing the role of Toby Hart.

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Title: Little Brother, Little Sister (1961)
Photographer: Unknown (© Scarborough Theatre Trust)
Archive: The Bob Watson Archive

Description: Infamously, Alan and the Library Theatre's first resident writer, David Campton, used to write each other 'challenging' roles. In Little Brother, Little Sister, Alan played a 100-year old, female, cannibalistic cook….

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Title: The Bed Life of a Mad Boy (1961)
Photographer: Unknown (© Scarborough Theatre Trust)
Archive: The Bob Watson Archive

Description: A rare photograph of Alan in rehearsals with his most influential mentor, Stephen Joseph. The play was Stockwell Allen's The Bed Life of a Mad Boy performed at the Library Theatre.

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Title: The Birds & The Well-Wishers (1962)
Photographer: Unknown (© Scarborough Theatre Trust)
Archive: The Bob Watson Archive

Description: In 1962, Alan joined the Victoria Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent, as a founding member. One of his first productions - performed earlier in the year at the Library Theatre - was The Birds & The Well-Wishers by William Norfolk, in which he played Fred.

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Title: Usher (1962)
Photographer: Unknown (© Scarborough Theatre Trust)
Archive: The Bob Watson Archive

Description: Most of the productions Alan appeared in during 1962 were performed at both the Library Theatre and the Victoria Theatre including as the lead in Usher by David Campton, based on Edgar Allan Poe's famed short story.

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Title: The Dumb Waiter (1963)
Photographer: Unknown (© Scarborough Theatre Trust)
Archive: The Bob Watson Archive

Description: In Harold Pinter's directorial debut in 1959, Alan played the role of Stanley in The Birthday Party. He would go on to perform in several more of the playwright's work including playing Ben in The Dumb Waiter opposite Stanley Page at the Victoria Theatre.

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Title: The Rainbow Machine (1963)
Photographer: Unknown (© Scarborough Theatre Trust)
Archive: The Bob Watson Archive

Description: Alan directed the stage premieres of several works by Alan Plater. In The Rainbow Machine, he also played the only role of Jordan at the Victoria Theatre.

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Title: Alan Ayckbourn (1996)
Photographer: Unknown (© Haydonning Ltd)
Archive: Borthwick Institute for Archives

Description: Alan Ayckbourn's final professional acting role was playing Jerry Ryan in William Gibson's Two For The Seesaw in 1964 at Rotherham's Civic Theatre. He played opposite his future second wife, Heather Stoney.

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