The final 'lost' Alan Ayckbourn play, thought destroyed more than 40 years ago, has been found. Love After All, the playwright's second play, has been found through the efforts of the Stephen Joseph Theatre's Archive and curators from the British Library Department of Manuscripts. The discovery is highly significant as, following several other discoveries during the past year, Ayckbourn's 70 play collection is now complete for the first time.
Simon Murgatroyd, archivist of The Bob Watson Archive at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, said the significant find highlighted the importance of the work of theatre archives. "Many of the early Ayckbourn plays were not kept and were lost, presumed destroyed, leaving significant gaps in the play canon. During the past year, The Bob Watson Archive has made several exciting discoveries but there was never an expectation of finding the final play, Love After All. Now thanks to the efforts of the Theatre Archive Project, the Ayckbourn play canon has been restored."
Love After All was discovered as part of research by the Theatre Archive Project to investigate the archives of the Lord Chamberlain. The play had been listed under Ayckbourn's early pseudonym 'Roland Allen'. The play is loosely based on The Barber Of Seville and features a father trying to marry off his daughter to a rich heir. Despite succeeding in his plot, true love overcomes the setback to prevail in the end.
Jamie Andrews, Head of Modern Literary Manuscripts at the British Library, comments: 'It is thrilling to have uncovered this early playof Alan Ayckbourn, which illustrates the richness of the Lord Chamberlain's archive, and suggests how much more there still remains to be uncovered within the vast collection. We're delighted to have been able to provide a digital copy to complete the collection in Scarborough, and to be able to make the original accessible as part of our wonderful collection of living dramatists' archives at the British Library'.
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1. Love After All premiered at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, in 1959. As with all plays until 1968, it had to be submitted for approval to the Lord Chamberlain's office but no-one believed that copy had been kept
2. The discovery comes on the back of a rewarding year for The Bob Watson Archive following several other discoveries. Alan's fifth play Christmas V Mastermind was returned to the archive after being found in a Scarborough loft, the original scripts for Relatively Speaking and Family Circles were returned by private collectors and the Archive discovered a long-forgotten revue celebrating the Queen's Silver Jubilee hidden away in the back of a filing cabinet.
3. Alan Ayckbourn has written 70 plays since he began playwriting in 1959 and Love After All is one of six of the original eight plays which were never published or performed again. As a result of thisfind, The Bob Watson Archive is the only place in the world to hold a complete collection of all 70 of Alan Ayckbourn's plays alongside his
revues, children's plays and other writing.
4. The pseudonym Roland Allen, derived from Ayckbourn's first name and the surname of his first wife
5. The British Library holds the archives of the Lord Chamberlain, comprising every play submitted to the theatre censor from 1824-1968. The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and
scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation. It
includes: books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Further information is available on the Library's website at www.bl.uk
5. The Theatre Archive project (2003-2008) aims to reinvestigate British theatre history during the period 1945-1968, from the perspectives of both the theatregoer and the practitioner. The Project Team includes staff from the British Library and the University of Sheffield, and the Project is also sponsored by the Arts andHumanities Research Council (AHRC).