Season's Greetings: Behind The Scenes

Behind The Scenes offers a glimpse at some rarely known facts regarding the writing of Alan Ayckbourn's plays with material drawn from the Ayckbourn Archive at the University Of York and the playwright's personal archive.
  • Season's Greetings was not actually the play Alan Ayckbourn intended to write. In July 1980, it was announced his next play would be called Sight Unseen, later revealed to be a thriller and bearing no resemblance to Season's Greetings. However, when Alan began writing the play, he had difficulties realising the idea of a random-killer thriller and abandoned Sight Unseen. Instead he wrote at the last minute (delays in writing meant the first performance was pushed back a day) Season's Greetings instead. The only surviving notes for Sight Unseen show the only common thread between the two plays is some of the character's names, Christmas and the setting of a hallway. Further details about Sight Unseen can be found in Alan Ayckbourn's Archivist Simon Murgatroyd's book Unseen Ayckbourn.
  • The world premiere production of Season's Greetings was held at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round, Scarborough, in 1980. Alan Ayckbourn would then revive it for the same venue the following year having revised and refined the play. The biggest differences between the two scripts (which are essentially the same although the revised version is significantly shorter) is a reduced running time, a reduction from three to two acts and the excision of an unseen character. The original play featured Harvey's wife, Shirley, an unseen and unheard character who nonetheless is constantly addressed by all the characters. Alan Ayckbourn felt the presence of Shirley made Harvey seem even more mad than he actually was by virtue of him constantly talking to an off-stage character whose responses were never heard by the audience, leading to the character's excision from the script.
Copyright: Simon Murgatroyd

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