Surprises: 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.
  • Surprises was originally conceived to go into repertory with A Small Family Business during the Stephen Joseph Theatre and Chichester Festival Theatre's summer season. However, this idea was dropped prior to Alan Ayckbourn writing the play. As a result, the original concept featured a much larger cast, mirroring the 13 strong company of A Small Family Business.
  • The decision to put Surprises into repertory with Absurd Person Singular was as a result of both the latter's 40th anniversary and it being the Stephen Joseph Theatre's Artistic Director Chris Monks' favourite Ayckbourn play.
  • As originally conceived, the larger cast of Surprises would have included more androids in the plot, including different versions of the same model and identity confusion.
  • Alan Ayckbourn has noted one of his original ideas for Surprises was that it might reflect Confusions in being five loosely connected one act plays. However, prior to writing the play he realised he only had three stories he wanted to tell and wasn't actually interested in returning to the five act structure of Confusions.
  • Like the vast majority of Alan Ayckbourn's plays, Surprises was written for performance in-the-round (and more specifically the Stephen Joseph Theatre). The original production made extensive use of fast-traps for the Hipro (3D holographic projector) with the 'hologram' rising instantly through the floor. For subsequent transfers and tours of this production, the Hipro prop had to be adjusted to allow actors to step into them from off-stage.
Copyright: Simon Murgatroyd. Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.