Alan Ayckbourn's Archivist

Celebrating Alan Ayckbourn's Absurd Person Singular at 50

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have any questions about Absurd Person Singular or this website that aren't covered below, please email Simon Murgatroyd via the Contact page.

Can I view the 'abandoned draft' and other pages?
Yes, the 'abandoned draft' and handwritten first draft of Absurd Person Singular are held in the Ayckbourn Archive in the Borthwick Institute for Archives at the University of York. The archive is accessible to the public and details on visiting the archive can be found here.

The rehearsal, production and West End manuscripts are currently held by the playwright and are expected to be integrated into the Ayckbourn Archive at the Borthwick Institute for Archives during 2023, when they too will be available to read onsite.

Will the 'abandoned draft' or the cut material ever be released for performance?
No, none of the material discovered during the research into Absurd Person Singular will ever be made available for performance by the playwright. This material is supplementary and illustrates the journey to the acclaimed and award-winning play, which is available to produce and perform.

Will the newly discovered 'abandoned draft' pages be published?
No, the playwright has no plans to publish the 'abandoned draft' or any of other material held in the Ayckbourn Archive relating to Absurd Person Singular. All the pages are exclusively available to view onsite at the Borthwick Institute for Archives.

Why has Alan Ayckbourn frequently mentioned Dick and Lottie Potter were a fourth couple in his original idea, when the 'abandoned draft' suggests otherwise?
We don't know and the playwright doesn't remember. Dick and Lottie are not mentioned as an on-stage couple in either the concept notes or the 'abandoned draft'. Plausibly, the playwright intended them to be onstage at some point when conceiving the play but had already decided against incorporating them when he wrote the 'abandoned draft.' We shall never know.

Why did Alan Ayckbourn tell a different story about his initial draft of the play?
We'll never know the answer to this either, but the likely answer is that he forgot or misremembered. What has to be remembered is Alan's writing process at this time began with months of thinking about a play before setting down in a condensed period of less than a week. We know he spent less than two nights on the initial draft before abandoning it, immediately writing the actually play, then moving straight into rehearsals for it. During the writing process, he was rehearsing another play during the day, running his theatre and then writing at night. It's not difficult to think that having abandoned and moved on from the initial draft so quickly and with so much happening, he either forgot or misremembered what he had written. At some point there's no doubt he considered the Potters would be on-stage characters and probably just mis-remembered writing them into the play initially, rather than realising he had abandoned them at an earlier point in the process; all of this was of no importance to him anyway. So while he mentions the abandoned draft, it's more of an aside in the story about the journey of Absurd Person Singular rather than a factual recall.

Where can I find out more about Absurd Person Singular?
Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website has an in-depth section dedicated to Absurd Person Singular exploring its history alongside interviews with the playwright, articles about the play, archival images as well as reviews and production history details. The section can be found by clicking here.

Where can I find out more about the Borthwick Institute for Archives and the Ayckbourn Archive?
To find out more about the Borthwick Institute for Archives - including how to visit it - and the Ayckbourn Archive, you can visit the Institute's website by clicking here.

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