Absurd Person Singular: Archive

The Archive highlights significant documents relating to Absurd Person Singular which are held in Archive by either Alan Ayckbourn, the Ayckbourn Archive at the University of York or The Bob Watson Archive at the Stephen Joseph Theatre. All material is copyright protected and should not be reproduced.

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The Ayckbourn Archive at the University of York holds Alan Ayckbourn’s complete hand-written first draft of Absurd Person Singular. Amongst the notes are these three thumbnail sketches depicting the layout of the set at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, as originally envisioned. (Copyright: Alan Ayckbourn)

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Prior to 1972, there exists no colour photographs of any of the world premiere productions of Alan Ayckbourn’s plays. This is one of four colour photographs held in the Ayckbourn Archive for Absurd Person Singular and shows one of Eva’s suicide attempts in Act II. The photo was taken during an actual performance as you can (just) see the front row audience. (Copyright: Scarborough Theatre Trust)

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Famously, the producers of the original Broadway production of Absurd Person Singular had considerable issues with the play and its structure. They strongly argued - at one point threatening to over-ride the playwright - the play’s second and third acts should be swapped so the play ended on a comic high (despite the fact it would have made no sense as a play!). To this end, they commissioned a survey in which the number of laughs in each act was counted. The resulting report - reprinted above - was produced to show Alan there were fewer laughs in the final act. All this did though was to confirm to Alan the play was working as intended and ending on a dying fall! (Copyright: Alan Ayckbourn)

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Prior to the 1972 season at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, there were no publicity images for any of the productions. Absurd Person Singular was one of the venue’s first productions to gain its own poster image and this is also the first poster image for an Ayckbourn world premiere. (Copyright: Scarborough Theatre Trust)

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This letter from 1973 began Alan Ayckbourn’s association with the National Theatre - and his longstanding friendship with Peter Hall. This letter is held in the Ayckbourn Archive and would eventually lead to Alan’s first NT commission with Bedroom Farce. (Copyright: Peter Hall)

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A publicity shot from the BBC’s 1985 television adaptation of Absurd Person Singular starring (left to right) Nicky Henson, Geoffrey Palmer, Prunella Scales, Michael Gambon, Maureen Lipman & Cheryl Campbell. (Copyright: BBC)

All material on this page is copyright of the respective person(s) / organisation(s) and should not be reproduced without permission of the copyright holder / holding organisation.