Alan Ayckbourn: Actor

Then… (1960)

Production Details


Opening Night:

David Campton

February 1960

Stephen Joseph
Mr Phythick
Miss Europe
Alan Ayckbourn
Dona Martyn

Quotes & Notes

During 1960, Alan Ayckbourn's career was predominantly concentrated on acting at the Library Theatre, Scarborough. He was part of the acting company in both the summer and winter seasons and his playwriting was limited to one show, Dad's Tale, during the winter season.

Then... was performed as part of David Campton's The Lunatic View - an anthology of four short one act plays. It is not known precisely when Alan Ayckbourn performed in the play as no programme or reviews exist which mention him. However, he definitely performed the role as photographs exist of him rehearsing the play with Stephen Joseph and Dona Martyn. The best guess is Alan performed the play at some point during the 1959 / 1960 touring season with Studio Theatre Ltd.

"Besides writing we [David Campton and Alan Ayckbourn] also performed regularly in each other's plays. It soon became a matter of honour to try and write each other the ultimately unplayable, unrewarding - acting role - preferably as humiliating and physically uncomfortable as possible. We also became adroit at creating for each other unrecognisable or oft repeated cue lines combined with long tortuous speeches with impossible thought changes.
"But I have to concede that David was clearly the winner in all this. My own lame attempts to cause him discomfort by having his character regularly struck with blunt instruments or drenched in water, flour, treacle, soot and other substances (all strictly to further the dramatic action, you understand) was as nothing compared to his own sadistic streak when it came to writing roles for me. Amongst these, a one-armed, one-legged, one-eyed barman who, quite apart from having to stand on one leg for 40 minutes, was also required to dispense rapid drinks one-handedly whilst engaging in quick-fire repartee with the customers (those of them I could actually make out with my restricted vision). Another time I played an entire two hander with a paper bag on my head opposite an actress similarly attired. (A tip: try never to move your head. If you do, the paper tends to crackle and you can't even hear what you're saying, let alone your co-star). I can still taste soggy brown paper to this day (Thanks, David). No wonder my acting career never took off."
(Alan Ayckbourn writing about David Campton in 2001)
All research for this page by Simon Murgatroyd.