Damsels In Distress: Articles

This section contains articles written by Alan Ayckbourn about the Damsels in Distress trilogy of plays. Click on a link in the right hand column to read the other articles in this section.

This article was written by Alan Ayckbourn for the programme for the world premiere of RolePlay at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, during 2001.


It is always very special to be involved with the opening of a new theatre. I have, I am proud to say, opened one or two in my time and possibly (for all I know) closed several more.

By a happy coincidence, last year I wrote one of my 'special events' for the Scarborough summer season, so when the request came asking the SJT to present the opening production at the Gala it all worked out rather nicely.

Damsels in Distress consists of three quite separate plays. They are all linked solely by the fact that they have the same cast of actors and share an identical set. But they can be seen in any order and there is no special requirement to see all three. Though we hope very much that having seen one you'll want to see more.

Of course, in a way there is nothing new about all this. But then what in theatre is ever truly new? Actually, what we have is a good old-fashioned repertory company (recently dubbed "The Magnificent Seven" by Guardian critic Michael Billington), a group sharing equal artistic responsibility and stature, tackling a varied body of work. The attraction of this is that it's less concerned with individual brilliance or solo turns (though each play inevitably produces a few of these) than it is with strength in depth. The company, if you like, is its own star.

Durham marks the second leg of the tour. The plays started way back in April last year and, having played throughout the summer in repertoire, have successfully toured to Bowness, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Bolton. By early next autumn, after a lot more touring, it is currently planned to present the plays with this same company in the West End.

Remember, you saw them here first!

So, on behalf of the The Magnificent Seven - Robert Austin, Saskia Butler, Bill Champion, Tim Faraday, Jacqueline King, Alison Pargeter and Beth Tuckey - not forgetting the fabulous three - Stage Manager Dawn Erica Dyson, DSM Corrie Jamie Cooper and ASM Shane Thom - plus the designers, technicians, administrators and support troops, unseen and often unsung but without whom... it is an honour to be here.

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