Ayckbourn, Alan

Tagged: Author

(1939-    ) UK playwright, active from 1959 with at least eighty plays produced, many of them including fantastic elements, such as Mr A's Amazing Maze Plays (performed 1988; 1989), The Champion of Paribanou (performed 1996; 2000) and The Boy Who Fell into a Book (performed 1998; 2000), both fantasies without sf content. But several dramas are of sf interest, including Henceforward (performed 1987; 1988), set in an oppressive Near Future where a blocked composer uses his personal Robot to reshape his bad life, though his renewed creativity costs the lives of his family; Callisto 5 (performed 1990; 1995) and Callisto #7 (performed 1999), linked plays set on Callisto, one of the Galilean moons of Jupiter, where a station run by an AI is threatened by an Alien who possesses a malfunctioning Robot; Communicating Doors (performed 1994; 1995), a complex Time Travel tale progressing backwards from 2014 to 1974, where the future begins to be changed for the better; Virtual Reality (performed 2000), featuring the Invention of the Viewdow, Virtual Reality windows through which one may step literally into another world; its companion piece Whenever (performed 2000; 2002), a complex Time Travel tale whose protagonists visit a Hitler Wins version of World War Two, witness the End of the World in the far future, en passant encountering Robots and Dystopias and much else; and Surprises (performed 2012; 2012), whose title seems amply justified in the complexly farcical doings, in the Near Future and beyond, of various possibly immortal figures, including an obsequious Android. Some later plays, like Improbable Fiction (performed 2005; 2007), use some sf elements in an essentially absurdist frame, though The Divide (performed 2015; reconfigured version performed 2017), set in a Dystopian Near Future UK after a terrible Disaster has radically reduced the population, resulting in a savagely misogynist tyranny, with women – scapegoated as the reason for the plague – segregated from men, and heterosexual relations rather implausibly forbidden; with its clear play on works like Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale (1985), Ayckbourn here utilizes the SF Megatext in a more orthodox fashion. It has generally been the case that sf underpinnings for Ayckbourn's work are rather casually laid in, and little sf cognition is evident, though neither is there a sense that those underpinnings should be understood as metaphors. [JC]

Alan Ayckbourn

born London: 12 April 1939

died

works (highly selected)

  • Henceforward (London: Samuel French, 1988) [play: first performed 30 July 1987 Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round, Scarborough, North Yorkshire: pb/]
  • Mr A's Amazing Maze Plays (London: Faber and Faber, 1989) [play: first performed 30 November 1988 Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round, Scarborough, North Yorkshire: pb/]
  • Callisto 5 (London: Samuel French, 1995) [play: first performed 12 December 1990 Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round, Scarborough, North Yorkshire: pb/]
  • Communicating Doors (London: Faber and Faber, 1995) [play: first performed 30 July 1987 Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round, Scarborough, North Yorkshire: pb/]
  • The Champion of Paribanou (London: Samuel French, 2000) [play: first performed 30 July 1987 Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round, Scarborough, North Yorkshire: pb/]
  • The Boy Who Fell into a Book (London: Faber and Faber, 2000) [play: first performed 30 July 1987 Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round, Scarborough, North Yorkshire: pb/]
  • Virtual Reality [play: first performed 3 February 2000 Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round, Scarborough, North Yorkshire]
  • Whenever (London: Faber and Faber, 2002) [play: first performed 30 July 1987 Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round, Scarborough, North Yorkshire: pb/]
  • Improbable Fiction (London: Samuel French, 2007) [play: first performed 30 July 1987 Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round, Scarborough, North Yorkshire: pb/]
  • Surprises (London: Faber and Faber, 2012) [play: first performed 30 July 1987 Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round, Scarborough, North Yorkshire: pb/]
  • The Divide [play: first performed 27 September 2015, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, North Yorkshire; reconfigured version performed 8 August 2017, Edinburgh Film Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland]

links

Previous versions of this entry

Website design and build: STEEL

Site ©2011 Gollancz, SFE content ©2011 SFE Ltd.