I had no internet access in Scarborough, so you are getting all of these updates in one glorious lump.
Saturday morning I kissed
goodbye and he went off to explore the city while I went into the theatre for my own kind of fun.
We started off the day with the main lecture on Simon's pet topic: unseen Ayckbourn plays. Simon is an absolute treasure, he really made each one of us feel important and welcome, plus he has an infectious passion about the plays.
The lecture focused on 10 plays in 4 categories -
the Early plays (which included Seasons, a short script about time-travel that was probably written when he was 17, and a short skit about a Monopoly token that ends up off the board and in other games, like Cluedo and chess. Elements of that come back in his family play The Boy Who Fell Into a Book.)
the Gray plays (ones which were usually written for a specific purpose, have been performed and are , but not included in the official cannon. The example we heard from these was Dracula, a one-act about the Count visiting a farmhouse where the daughter is a werewolf. Simon jokes that with current media trends, this one is ripe for a revival.)
The Withdrawn plays (4 scripts that were produced at least once but are no longer available to perform and, no, you can't read them.) The main example of these is the original version of Jeeves. Jeeves was a famous disaster. To hear the tales the show ran 5 1/2 hours on opening night and the orchestra walked out after 4 1/2.)
and the Lost Plays (which are not "lost". The scripts exist and can be read in the archives, they have been produced, are acknowledged as cannon, but have not been published for various reasons. These include Simon's least favorite play, which we swore not to reveal. It sounded like a number of participants had seen in production there years ago and it could be a viable script if Sir Alan had time to do rewrites. We also talked about one of his family plays which has become a lost play because he was between publishing contracts when it was written. It brought the talk full circle because it was also about time travel and, as Simon very poignantly described it, asks us to face the questions 'if you could go back in time to prevent a tragedy, would you do it? And then, if you had to go back again and let your loved one die all over again to prevent the apocalypse, could you do it?' I need to get that script when it sees the light of day.
Simon brought in four members of Dick and Lottie, the only amature Ayckbourn troupe in the UK, to perform excerpts from each of the plays discussed. From some of the banter, I would guess they have been coming for at least a year. They made me want to start my own group. Something like the Alaskan Ayckbourn Reading Circle.
They realized Friday night that they had forgotten to include a tour of the theater for us new folks, so we were given the option of cutting lunch short to go on a whirlwind tour. All of the past participants kept telling me how ths Summer School included a tour and watching them change the set.
Last year the Unseen Ayckbourn participants got a real treat. Back in 2006 someone discovered a legitimately lost Ayckbourn play up in a loft. The weekend was scheduled to end Saturday, but at the Q& A someone asked, tongue in cheek, if they could come back the following day and give the play its world-premier reading. Sir Alan agreed and a new tradition was born.
Of course, no one discovered any plays this year (though Simon says they went door to door asking to check peoples' lofts) so Simon dredged up Sir Alan's only teleplay, a short script that was produced for the BBC series Masquerade back in 1974. It aired once and has never been seen again. The BBC told Simon the tape had been destroyed, but after we read it we were told there was a nice surprise. The BBC is doing a documentary on Sir Alan and they somehow dredged up the master tape so we got to see it. It turned out Simon had me read the role Lady Ayckbourn played in the film.
We got a short break after that. I met up with LonelyDumptruck
. Our room was so brutally hot that we went out for a pint before dinner. Simon very graciously arranged for LonelyDumptruck
to come to the dinner at the theater. We started out with a shot of cold soup. I got the blue cheese in fillo, LonelyDumptruck
was supposed to get a smoked haddock cake but there was a bit of plate confusion and he ended up with the same thing. His main course was local pork and potatoes. I got the catch of the day which was two huge pieces of fish and vegetables. We were both supposed to get the cheese plate, but there was more plate confusion and he ended up with the crepes.
After dinner was the show, Ayckbourn's 75th, Neighborhood Watch. After the show came the chatting over wine and then the slow stroll home. But on the way we passed a lovely little pub with a large group standing outside drinking, so we stopped off for a few. I butted into an interesting conversation and, as we chatted more, it became obvious that they worked for the theater. Ladies and gentleman, I had found the techies!
One of them invited us along to the next spot, so we stayed up far, far too late talking and having a marvelous time.
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