Lewes Little Theatre to celebrate 80th birthday with Ayckbourn plays

Philip Ayckbourn, Chris Weber-Brown of the LLT and the prolific playwright Alan Ayckbourn
By Rose Lock

A double bill of plays by Alan Acykbourn and his son Philip Ayckbourn will launch the 80th season at Lewes Little Theatre later this year.

The prolific Ayckbourn senior has written more than 80 plays, and is well known for his social dramas and experimental style.

Both Ayckbourn and the Lewes Little Theatre will turn 80 this year, so to celebrate the LLT is opening its 2019 season with two Ayckbourn plays.

Philip Ayckbourn, who lives in Lewes and is very supportive of the LLT, followed in his father’s footsteps by training as an actor, and later turned to writing and directing.

His latest play, Loving Androids, entertained audiences at the LLT last week, and his father paid the theatre a visit to see his son’s work.

Alan said it was ‘invigorating’ to have a son who is also a playwright: “To know there’s someone else in the family going through the same problems is rather nice.”

Both playwrights are committed to local theatre and the amateur theatre world.

Alan said: “I think it’s important because they’ve got a freedom that we as professionals don’t have.

“They have the choice of doing work that they really want to do without the huge financial constrictions.”

In praise of the LLT, Philip said: ‘It’s a community, for people to take part in and give back to, and it’s word of mouth that gets people coming back. It’s a reciprocal thing.”

Different facets of human nature

Tony Bannister, artistic director at LLT, is proud to be launching its 80th season in September.

He said: “We’ve been doing Alan Ayckbourn for over 20 years in the theatre.

“So we’re opening with a kind of mini Ayckbourn festival, starting with Haunting Julia and then Psychic Connections.”

The reason for selecting this pair of plays by father and son was the thematic connection between the two.

Mr Bannister explained: “They’re very different plays but they both examine ways in which people who have suffered bereavement find closure.

“What interests me about Ayckbourne, and ‘Ayckbourne Two’ now as well is that he’s regarded as allegedly a writer of humour.

“I’ve always seen his plays as actually quite dark. I’m fascinated by the way he examines the different facets of human nature and how we interact with each other.”

Tony is excited for the opportunity to do something unique: two generations of Ayckbourn in a season. “It doesn’t appear to have been done very often. Hopefully people will want to come and see both.”

Lewes Little Theatre’s 80th season will start in September 2019 with Haunting Julia by Alan Ayckbourn, followed by Psychic Connections by Philip Ayckbourn.

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