Roundelay: 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.
  • Roundelay was conceived and written as five loosely related one act plays, which could be performed in any order. However, when rehearsals began for the world premiere in August 2014, it was felt the play had an excessive running time despite trims being made to them. For a very brief period, the playwright considered on 20 August completely dropping one of the plays - The Agent - from Roundelay as a solution to the excessive running time; the choice was made as he believed it was the least essential of the five plays. The same evening he changed his mind and decided to just keep all five plays - although it was also briefly considered keeping five plays but only randomly choosing four of them each evening (which would have still left 120 possible permutations and essentially would not have damaged the essence or intent of the idea); however, the playwright instead chose to edit each of the plays to bring them to a shorter running time.
  • During the 2015 tour, concerns about the running time of the play - despite not having been an issue during the original production or an initial in-the-round tour - led the Stephen Joseph Theatre to offer venues the opportunity to present the play as produced and the playwright intended with all five plays each night or to have a shortened production with the audience only choosing four of the five plays prior to the show; mathematically, this still offered the possibility of 120 different permutations each night; this apparently was not done with the approval of the playwright.
  • The play's original title was I.O.U., which was later amended to Order Of Appearance before settling on Roundelay. Unusually, a complete play-script survives for Order Of Appearance, which is substantially different from the play as finally produced.
  • During the original production, a nightly sweepstakes was run by the company in which every member in the company put a pound in the pot having each chosen a unique order of the plays; the order being determined by the random drawing of five balls prior to each performance. If the order of the plays' performance matched any of the actors' choices, they won the sweepstakes and it would start again or the pot would roll over to the next performance.
Copyright: Simon Murgatroyd. Please do not reproduce without the permission of the copyright holder.