Alan Ayckbourn Archive Education project

Ayckbourn Project main image

In 2011 the University of York, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Samuel Storey Charitable Trust, the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund and the Friends of the National Libraries, acquired the archive of Sir Alan Ayckbourn, one of the most popular and influential playwrights in the world.

As of 2013, he has written 77 plays (including many for children), many of which he also directed, either at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, where he was Artistic Director for 37 years, or at the National Theatre or the West End.

The Alan Ayckbourn Archive is a goldmine of information not only for Sir Alan as an actor, writer and director but also on late twentieth century theatre and the arts in general.

It contains original scripts, production marketing material (posters, programmes, press releases), and voluminous correspondence, much of which gives detailed insights into the art of playwrighting, acting and directing, as well as into the business of running a successful theatre. A catalogue of the archive will be available shortly.

The Archive Education project ran for sixteen months from December 2011. During that time Tom Wright, the Comedy Outreach Officer, and colleagues from the Borthwick Institute ran over twenty interactive workshops.

Ayckbourn workshop

Over 500 young people from across Yorkshire visited and learned both techniques for performing and writing comedy, and for performing in the round, and how archive material can enrich and inform study of a playwright’s work and the performance of a play and/or character.

The workshops included a behind-the-scenes tour of the Borthwick to demonstrate how we look after the records in our care and the context in which the Ayckbourn Archive is kept, a display of material from the archive, quizzes, and a session in the Department of Theatre, Film and Television where they looked at aspects of performing comedy in a modern setting.

You can find out more by downloading the Resource Pack.

Resource Pack for teachers

Download the Resource Pack

Alan Ayckbourn Resource Pack (PDF  , 37,299kb)

The Resource Pack is designed to provide English, Drama and Performing Arts teachers with lesson plans and detailed background information on Sir Alan’s work and written plays in general.

Based on the successful Ayckbourn days for schools run by director Tom Wright, the pack contains:

  • A virtual tour of the Borthwick archive, looking at the Ayckbourn archive in particular and including details on how material from different periods is preserved.
  • Practical exercises to introduce your students to performing comedy and to improve their acting skills (applicable to any text).
  • Research tips on how to use archive material to enrich student’s performances and understanding of the plays.
  • A huge amount of background detail on Ayckbourn, his process and his plays.
  • An introduction to some of the resources and opportunities available through higher education.

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So, don’t be Absent Friends, join in the fun and live the Life of Riley.

We think you’ll find lots of lovely Surprises and no Confusions.

But, Joking Apart, we hope you’ll see the true Comic Potential of the pack. Enjoy!

Ayckbourn workshop