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Inside OUT 13

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PRODUCED BY THE DENVER CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS
N ove m b e r D e c e m b e r 2 0 0 9

13 NOV
ABSURD PERSON 13

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SINGULAR 19 SINGULAR
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ABSURD PERSON SINGULAR
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ABSURD PERSON
BY ALAN AYCKBOURN

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THE SPACE THEATRE

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ABSURD PERSON SINGULAR
BY ALAN AYCKBOURN

by alan ayckbourn
THE SPACE THEATRE

directed by Sabin Epstein


the space theatre

YOUR MARRIAGE,
YOUR FRIENDS
AND THE
HOLIDAYS. ON
THE ROCKS.Keith C.
SCHNIP

ABSUR
ABSURD PERSON
Producing Partner Sponsored by
Keith C.
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SINGULAR SINGUL
Box Office 303.893.4100 DENVERCENTER.ORG
ABSURD PERSON SINGULAR
BY ALAN AYCKBOURN
THE SPACE THEATRE

YOUR MARRIAGE,
SEASON MEDIA
SPONSORS SCFD
SPONSORS

YOUR FRIENDS
Use of study guide materials for publication requires permission from the Marketing Department of The Denver Center for the Performing Arts.
2009 Denver Center Theatre Company
InsideOUT Synopsis
MARION: I dont know what it is about Christmas
Douglas Langworthy................................................... Editor
butI know its supposed to be a festive thing and were
Sally Gass............................................... Contributing Writer
all supposed to be enjoying ourselvesI just find myself
David Saphier...................................... Education Contributor
remembering all the dreadful things Ive saidthe dreadful
Tina Risch.................Community Services/Group Sales Manager
things Ive done and all those awful hurtful things I didnt
Jeff Hovorka.............................Director of Media & Marketing
Seth Holt...............................................................Designer
mean. Absurd Person Singular

The play is set in three different kitchens on successive


Christmases. In Act I we see an ambitious tradesman, Sidney
Hopcroft, and his compulsive cleaner wife, Jane, fretfully
entertaining two couples: Geoff, a philandering architect and
his flaky wife Eva plus an upper-crust bank manager Ronald
and his condescending spouse Marion. By the second act the
action has shifted to the architects kitchen where his wife
spends the whole evening vainly trying to commit suicide
though no one notices. Finally, we are in Ronald the bankers
kitchen where he seeks to console his alcoholic wife and the
unemployed architect, Geoff. Only with the arrival of the
now successful Hopcrofts do we see how the social scene
has changed.
Administration 303.893.4000 In this play Ayckbourn writes of the emergence of a culture
of self-interest in which the hard-working small businessman
Box Office 303.893.4100
enjoys a victory over the lazily arrogant professional classes.
denvercenter.org

Special Thanks to our Arts in Education Sponsors

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2009 Denver Center Theatre Company
Alan Ayckbourn:
A Chronology
1939 Born April 12 to Horace, first violinist for the 1962 Becomes founding member and Associate
London Symphony Orchestra, and Irene, a Director of the theatre company of
writer for womens magazines. the theatre company at the Victoria Theatre,
Stoke-on-Trent.
1947 Irene, now divorced, marries Cecil Pye, Childrens play, Xmas v. Mastermind in
a bank manager. Stoke is a disaster.
Standing Room Only in Stoke.
1952 At public school on a Barclays Bank
scholarship, Alan studies journalism. 1963 Mr. Whatnot performed at Stoke.

1954 Leaves school and works with actor-manager 1964 Leaves the Stoke company.
Donald Wolfit. Last performance as an actor.
Mr. Whatnot produced in London
1954-57 Works as a stage manager and actor for to disastrous reviews.
various provincial companies, discovers Joins the BBC in Leeds as radio drama
his talent for technical theatre, especially producer, vowing never to write again.
sound and lighting.
1965 Meet My Father performs in Scarborough.
1957 Joins Stephen Josephs experimental Studio
Theatre Company which emphasizes theatre- 1967 The Sparrow performs at Scarborough.
in-the-round in Scarborough, England. He acts Under new title of Relatively Speaking,
and stage manages. Meet My Father is produced in London
to favorable reviews. It is Ayckbourns first
1958 Writes first play, The Square Cat, under major hit.
pseudonym Roland Allen.
1969 How the Other Half Loves performed in
1959 Marries Christine Roland. Writes Love After Scarborough.
All. This play and The Square Cat Relatively Speaking produced for
performed in Scarborough by the Studio television by BBC.
Theatre Company. Ernies Incredible Illucinations: childrens one
act produced and published in London.
1960 National Service at RAF Cardington, Countdown in Scarborough.
Bedfordshire (is discharged after two
days for medical reasons). 1970 Leaves BBC. Director of Productions at
First child born. Library Theatre in the Round, Scarborough.
Dads Tale (Roland Allen) performed Family Circles in Scarborough.
in Scarborough.
1971 Time and Time Again in Scarborough.
1961 Second child born.
Standing Room Only (Roland Allen) 1972 Absurd Person Singular in Scarborough.
plays in Scarborough. Although a West Time and Time Again in London.
End producer likes the script and plans a
production, the play is never produced 1973 The Norman Conquests in Scarborough.
on a London stage. It consists of three plays, each taking place
simultaneously in different rooms of a country 3
2009 Denver Center Theatre Company
house. Table Manners is in the dining room; 1979 Sisterly Feelings in Scarborough; the first of
Living Together is in the living room and Round Ayckbourns multiple outcome plays.
and Round the Garden in the conservatory. Taking Steps in Scarborough; three
Absurd Person Singular in London. stories of a country house.
Evening Standard Best Comedy Award for Joking Apart in London.
Absurd Person Singular. Joking Apart shares Plays and Players
Award for Best Comedy of 1979.
1974 Absent Friends in Scarborough; As first
serious comedy. 1980 Suburban Strains in Scarborough; full length
Confusions, five interlinked one-act musical, score by Paul Todd.
plays in Scarborough. First Course in Scarborough; review,
Service Not Included, A.s only score by Paul Todd.
screenplay written for the BBC. Second Course in Scarborough; review,
Norman Conquests in London. score by Paul Todd.
Evening Standard Best Play Award and Seasons Greetings in Scarborough.
Plays and Players Best Play Sisterly Feelings, Taking Steps in London.
Award for Norman Conquests. Variety Bedroom Farce produced for television by
Club of Great Britain Playwright of the Year. Granada TV.

1975 Jeeves, musical based on P. G. Wodehouse 1981 Me, Myself, and I in Scarborough; three
characters, score by Andrew Lloyd Webber. revues, score by Paul Todd.
Bedroom Farce, with three beds on stage Way Upstream in Scarborough; A.s most
representing three bedrooms and the couples darkly symbolic play.
that inhabit them, in Scarborough. Making Tracks in Scarborough; a musical,
Absent Friends in London. score by Paul Todd.
Suburban Strains in London.
1976 Scarborough company gets its own theatre
in a converted schoolhouse, named the Steven 1982 Intimate Exchanges in Scarborough; another
Joseph Theatre in the Round. multiple outcome play.
Just Between Ourselves in Scarborough; A Trip to Scarborough in Scarborough.
attracted critics because of writing on Seasons Greetings and Way Upstream
oppression of women in marriage. in London.
Confusions in London.
Time and Time Again produced on 1983 A Cut in the Rates in Scarborough;
television by ATV. a one-act play.
Backnumbers in Scarborough; a revue,
1977 Ten Times Table. score by Paul Todd.
Bedroom Farce and Just Between Incidental Music in Scarborough; a revue,
Ourselves in London. score by Paul Todd.
Norman Conquests produced for It Could Be Any One of Us in Scarborough;
television by Thames TV. spoof of Agatha Christie mysteries.
Evening Standard Best Play Award Making Tracks at Greenwich Theatre.
for Just Between Ourselves.
1984 The Seven Deadly Virtues in Scarborough;
1978 Joking Apart in Scarborough. musical musings on both natural and
Men on Women on Men in Scarborough; supernatural virtues, score by Paul Todd.
unpublished late-night and lunch time revues A Chorus of Disapproval in Scarborough.
with scores by Paul Todd. The Westwoods in Scarborough; two brief
Ten Times Table in London. musical revues, score by Paul Todd.
Just Between Ourselves produced Intimate Exchanges at Greenwich Theatre
for television. and then London.
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2009 Denver Center Theatre Company
1985 Woman in Mind in Scarborough. Absent Friends, Taking Steps premieres in
Boy Meets Girl/Girl Meets Boy in New York.
Scarborough; musical revue, score by
Paul Todd. 1992 Time of My Life in Scarborough.
A Chorus of Disapproval in London. Dreams from a Summer House in
Absurd Person Singular, Absent Friends Scarborough.
produced for BBC television.
1994 Communicating Doors in Scarborough and
1986 Starts two year leave of absence from Gielgud Theatre, London.
Scarborough to act as a Company Director at Haunting Julia in Scarborough.
the National Theatre, London. Musical Jigsaw Play in Scarborough.
Mere Soup Songs in Scarborough; musical
revue, score by Paul Todd. 1995 A Word from our Sponsor in Scarborough.
Mere Soup Songs in London.
Woman in Mind in London. 1997 Things We Do for Love in Scarborough.
Me, Myself, and I in London as late night
entertainment. 1998 Comic Potential in Scarborough.
Evening Standard Best Comedy Award, The Boy Who Fell into a Box in Scarborough.
Olivier Best Comedy Award,
DRAMA Best Comedy Award for 1999 House and Garden in Scarborough and
A Chorus of Disapproval. National Theatre, London.

1987 Henceforward in Scarborough; could be 2000 Virtual Reality in Scarborough.


termed A.s science fiction debut. Whenever in Scarborough.
A Small Family Business at National Theatre,
London; tackles morality of the business 2001 Damsels in Distress in Scarborough.
world. Gameplan in Scarborough.
Seasons Greetings and Way Upstream Flatspin in Scarborough.
produced for BBC television. Roleplay in Scarborough.

1988 Returns to Artistic Directorship of the 2002 Snake in the Grass in Scarborough.
Stephen Joseph Theatre. The Jollies in Scarborough.
Man of the Moment in Scarborough; a play
on fame and morality. Ayckbourn, Alan. The Crafty Art of Playmaking. New York:
Mr. A.s Amazing Maze Plays in Scarborough. Palgrave MacMillan, 2002.
A Small Family Business tours UK and
opens in Londons West End. Nelson, Bob, ed. Study Guide for Absurd Person Singular. Salt
A Chorus of Disapproval produced as Lake City: Pardoe Theatre, Brigham Young University, 1993.
feature film by Michael Winner.
Evening Standard Best Play Award for
A Chorus of Disapproval.
Plays and Players Best Director Award for
Arthur Millers A View from the Bridge.

1989 The Revengers Comedies in Scarborough.


The Inside Outside Slide Show.

1990 Invisible Friends in Scarborough,


childrens play.

1991 The Revengers Comedies in London.


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2009 Denver Center Theatre Company
From Ayckbourns
Preface to the Play
Absurd Person Singularthe title was incidentally far greater comic possibilities than the
originally intended for a play I didnt write and sitting room ever held. For in this particular case,
subsequently, because I rather cared for it, given the obvious offstage action was far more relevant
to the play I did write was first produced in than its onstage counterpart.

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Scarborough in 1972. bsurd Person, then, could be described as
At that time, I remember, I was becoming my first offstage action play. It is also, some
increasingly fascinated by the dramatic possibilities critics observed, a rather weighty comedy.
of offstage action. Not a new device, granted, but Its last scene darkens considerably. I make no
one with plenty of comic potential still waiting to apologies for this. As Ive grown in confidence as
be tapped. Very early on in my career as a dramatist a dramatist (confidence, that is, that I can get most
I discovered that, given the chance, an audiences of the techniques right most of the time), I have
imagination can do far better work than any number also grown in the conviction that I owe it to the
of playwrights words. The offstage character characters Ive created to develop and therefore to a
hinted at but never seen can be dramatically as certain extent know how a play should run.
significant and telling as his onstage counterparts. As a nation, we show a marked preference for
Offstage action is more difficult. Unless care is comedy when it comes to playgoing, as any theatre
taken, if the dramatist chooses to describe rather manager will tell you. At the same time, over a
than show his action, the audience can rapidly large area of the stalls one can detect a faint sense
come to the conclusion that theyre sitting in the of guilt that there is something called enjoyment
wrong auditorium. going on. Should we, people seem to be asking, be

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hus, when I came to write Absurd Person sitting here laughing like this? Its to do with the
and started by setting the action in Jane mistaken belief that because its funny, it cant be
and Sidney Hopcrofts sitting room, I seriouswhich of course isnt true at all. Heavy,
was halfway through the act before I realized no; serious, yes. It would therefore seem unwise to
that I was viewing the evening from totally the compound this guilt feeling by artificially resolving
wrong perspective. Dick and Lottie were indeed the play. In other words, it can be funny, but lets
monstrously overwhelming, hearty and ultimately make it truthful.
very boring, and far better heard occasionally
but not seen. By a simple switch of setting to the Ayckbourn, Alan. Preface to Absurd Person Singular. Garden,
kitchen, the problem was all but solved, adding City, NY: Nelson Doubleday, 1974.

Pre-Thatcher Economics
If you lead a country like Britainyou have to Iron Lady brought.
have a touch of iron about you. Because it was home to the Industrial Revolution,
Margaret Thatcher, on her reputation Britain became enormously wealthy in the 1800s.
as Iron Lady, (Mar. 21, 1986). Even after the destruction of World War I, it
remained the richest country in Europe. As late as

A
bsurd Person Singular was written the beginning of World War II, per capita income in
in 1972, seven years before Margaret Britain was 25% above the rest of Europe.
Thatcher became Prime Minister of Great But World War II had a devastating impact on
Britain, which proved to be an event of profound the British people. They came out of it with a
importance for that country. Only by knowing the deep longing for stability and security. This led to
historical, political and economic circumstances of the establishment of a far-reaching welfare state
pre-Thatcher Britain can we judge the changes the that included nationalization of much of Britains
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2009 Denver Center Theatre Company
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industry. Taxes were raised and the British pound n 1975 Margaret Thatcher was elected leader
was devalued to pay for all the benefits. The British of the Conservative party. She achieved the
Empire had finally come to an end. position by arguing that British decline was not
Although incomes continued to rise, they rose inevitable and that the right policies could control
much more slowly in Britain than in the rest of inflation and restore prosperity. These policies
Europe. By 1978 Britain was among the poorer included tight control of the money supply, tax
nations of the continent. Its productivity, which had rate reductions, privatization of British industry,
once been the best in the world, was down to 69% deregulation and a tougher position toward unions.
of that in the United States. In 1979 Conservatives won control of Parliament,
During the 1950s and 60s, the British people making Mrs. Thatcher prime minister. Just one
became accustomed to the idea that the country month after taking office, the basic rate of taxation
was in decline and that nothing could be done was cut from 33% to 30% and the top rate on
about it. The principal job of Britains leaders, wages went down from 83% to 60%. In subsequent
both Conservative and Labour, was to manage the years, the basic rate was reduced to 25 % and the
decline so that it was not too disruptive. top rate lowered to 40%.

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o keep the system operating required huge Britains nationalized industries were sold
government subsidies paid for with budget off to the general public, making many of them
deficits that were financed by the central shareholders for the first time. The nations
bank. This led to high inflation, and inflation extensive public housing was sold to tenants,
exacerbated problems such as a tax system that making many of them homeowners for the first
pushed almost everyone into tax brackets once time. After a series of bitter encounters, she
reserved for only the wealthy. In 1979 the basic tax was able to reform the unions. The result was a
rate was 33% and the top rate went as high as 98%. rejuvenation of the economy, the restoration of
Press reports were filled with stories about an enterprise culture and the end of discussion
famous Britons deserting the country, managers about British decline. Critics claim her economic
refusing promotions and a growing proliferation policies were divisive socially, that she was harsh
of tax-avoidance schemes. Even company cars or uncaring in her politics, and hostile to the
became pervasive as one of the few ways a person institutions of the British welfare state.
could enjoy tax-free income.
http://www.nationalreview.com/nrof_bartlett/
bartlett200405170929.asp

Themes in Absurd Person Singular


A
yckbourn writes satirically of the manners its transformation into a meritocracy. 3. He says
and mores of the British middle class. Ayckbourn has always mistrusted power because
In this play Sidney Hopcroft aspires to of the abuse it creates and the exploitation of the
the social status of his guests, the Jacksons and underdog.

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the Brewster-Wrights. As Michael Billington n all of Ayckbourns adult plays human
says: The play becomes a surreptitious political desperation keeps appearing, its cause the
comment on the withering decline of the everyday inhumanity of people to one another,
professional classes and the rise of the fly, deft, especially in marriages and families. Sidney is
make-money-quick provincial profiteer. 1. Susan indifferent to Jane; Geoff is purportedly leaving
Rusinko in her essay Upsetting the Balance Eva, and Ronald cant understand women. As
writes materialistic acquisitiveness becomes the we laugh ourselves silly, Ayckbourn sneaks up
context for an examination of suburbia with its on us with some hard truths. As he says: I dont
marital rituals and relationships. 2. think people were meant to live with each other
Michael Holt believes the play traces the for too long. I think a big piece of us dies in a
disintegration of a comfortable social order and marriage.4. 7
2009 Denver Center Theatre Company
The marriages of Geoff and Eva and Jane and 3. Holt, p. 22.
Sidney are fraught. Geoff, a known philanderer, 4. White, p. 55.
is about to leave Eva for another woman; only her Billington, Michael. Alan Ayckbourn. New York: Grove Press,
suicide attempt seems to chasten him. His colossal Inc., 1983.
architectural failure humbles him and forces him to
rely on Evas business expertise. Surprisingly, she Dukore, Bernard F. Alan Ayckbourn: a Casebook. New York:
becomes the dominant partner. Meanwhile, Sidney Garland Publishing, Inc., 1991.
is so busy trying to impress the Brewster-Wrights
(investment banker) and the Jacksons (architect) Rusinko, Susan. Upsetting the Balance of the English Comic
that he pays little attention to Jane even when she Tradition
runs out in the pouring rain to buy tonic water. As
Holt, Michael. Alan Ayckbourn. Plymouth, UK: Northcote
Sidney rises in the business world, he becomes
House Publishers, Ltd., 1999.
more forceful and domineering while Jane parrots
her husbands remarks.
White, Sidney Howard. Alan Ayckbourn. Boston: Twayne
1. Billington, p. 63. Publishers, 1984.
2. Rusinko in Dukore, p. 49.

Ayckbourns Women
EVA: He doesnt even know Im here. As far as mothers. Brenda and Pattie in Seasons Greetings
hes concerned, my existence ended the day he (produced by the DCPA in 2007) are caught up in
married me. Im just an embarrassing smudge on a the responsibilities of child-rearing and do little
marriage license. Absurd Person Singular else.
After 1985, career women begin to appear
In her essay Ayckbourns Women Felicia in Ayckbourns plays. The smallest category
Hardison Londre finds Ayckbourns female of women is those who could be called self-
characters are mostly downtrodden wives and determined, who say what they think and do what
usually trapped in unsatisfactory relationships they want. But we see none of them in this play.
with men. Most of Ayckbourns couples seem
condemned to an endless coexistence built upon Londre, in Dukore, p. 89.
unfulfilled expectations. 1. This is certainly true of
Jane and Sidney, Eva and Geoffrey and Ronald and
Marion.
Other women are defined by their function as

Ayckbourns Men
RONALD: Well, this whole women business, really exhibit neurotic behavior: Eva takes pills, Jane is
I mean, this may sound ridiculous, but Ive never to a compulsive cleaner, and Marion is an alcoholic.
this day really known what most women think about According to Hornby, The new sin is not
anything. Absurd Person Singular deceit, but shallowness, indifference and lack of
imagination, which can be cruel and destructive. 2.
In his essay Ayckbourns Men, Richard Hornby 1. Hornby, p. 107.
writes that the male figures in Ayckbourns plays 2. Hornby, p. 113.
are mostly bland, but underneath are driven and
obsessive such as Sidney. They are ordinary, but Dukore, Bernard F. Alan Ayckbourn: a Casebook. New
obtuse and befuddled, somewhat like Ronald, who York: Garland Publishing Co., 1991.
cant understand why both of his marriages have Hornby, Richard. Ayckbourns Men.
failed. Londre, Felicia Hardison, Ayckbourns
Hornby suggests that All three abuse their Women.

8 wives through indifference. 1. Thus, the wives


2009 Denver Center Theatre Company
Alan Ayckbourn
and Neil Simon
O
ver the course of his career, Alan Both writers have written comedies, musicals
Ayckbourn has often been compared to and childrens plays. But over the course of
Neil Simon. Both are prolific writers of an ongoing career, Ayckbourn has developed
comedy and both focus on middle class characters sophisticated and unique insights into such subjects
that are bound by conventional values. Their as marriage, family life the success ethic, male
characters fail at most things from going through oppression of women, particularly in marriage, and
doorways to relationships. In Simons plays such the penchant for women, particularly wives, to be
bungling seems lovable and harmless; therefore, complicit in their own oppression. 3.
his audiences avoid the implications of their own
failures. In Ayckbourns plays, however, the 1. Cornish and Ketels, p. 2.
consequences of one persons actions in the lives 2. Cornish and Ketels, p. 3.
of others is all too clear. Ayckbourns characters 3. Nelson, p. 5.
provoke nervous laughter that disturbs rather than
confirms audience complacencies. 1. Cornish, Roger and Ketels, Violet. The Plays of the Seventies.
Neil Simon makes audiences feel good about London: Methuen, 1986.
themselves; in Ayckbourn the laughter conceals
the real pain the characters feel. Both writers Nelson, Bob, ed. Study Guide to Absurd Person Singular. Salt
use stock comedic devices such as spilling wine, Lake City, Utah: Pardoe Theatre, Brigham Young University,
locking themselves out of their houses, etc. But 1993.
in Ayckbourn there is a latent sadness in them
because they are shown to be symptoms of
desperation. 2.

Ayckbourn on Ayckbourn
Id like to finish up writing tremendously human Comedies. New York Times, Oct. 11, 1974.
comediesChekhovian comedy in a modern
way. Light comedy must be recognizable to The characters arent necessarily getting nastier,
people in the street. The difficulty is to make it but I do feel theyre getting sadder.
relevant and still funny. Interview with Michael Coveney.
Interview Farceur, Relatively Speaking. Scarborough Fair. Plays and Players, Sept. 1975.
The Guardian, Aug.7, 1970.
[My ambition is] to write a very serious play
Significant Theatre, Serious Theatre, are that makes people laugh all the time, a play in
deadly words. They should all be banished, this which all the laughter comes from words like yes
feeling that unless there is a glum silence in the or no, or even from the pauses between them.
auditorium, nothing meaningful can be happening. Interview with Benedict Nightingale.
I made a vow when I was an actor with nothing AyckbournComic Laureate of Britains Middle
to do except wait for my line on p. 49, that in my Class. New York Times, Mar. 25, 1979.
plays there would be no butlers, waiters or soldiers
with spears. Im on a crusade to try and persuade people that
Interview with Mel Gussow. Ayckbourn, theatre can be fun; but every time I start doing that,
Ex-Actor, Now Plays Singular Writer of some hairy bugger from the left comes in and tells 9
2009 Denver Center Theatre Company
them its instructive, and drives them all out again. writes occasionally. After all, I direct for eleven
Interview with Ian Watson. Conversations, months of the year and write for only one.
1981. Interview with John Russell Taylor.
Scarboroughs Prodigy. Plays and Players. Apr.
It seems to me that the deeper you go into 1987.
a character, the sadder the play must inevitably
become. There are still things to say about the fear and
Interview with Ray Connolly, Ayckbourn, dislike people have for each other and the fact that
with Music. Sunday Times, Feb. 8, 1981. members of each sex are like Martians to the other.
Interviewed by Mark Lawson. A Nation of
Mainly I want to say things about the fear and Shoplifters. The Independent. May 20, 1987.
distrust people have for each other, the fact that

NOV
men and women still dont seem to understand each The trouble with playwriting is that it is beset
other very well. with rules. I always compare it with furniture
THROUGH
Interview with Bryan Appleyard. Still making rather than with any other kind of writing.
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Hoping for Heroes. The Times. Aug. 18, 1982. To create a play you need a great knowledge of
construction.
Farce is a tragedy thats been interrupted. Alan Ayckbourn, Drama, No. 1, 1988.

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Interview with Michael Hickling.

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Absolutely Farcical. Yorkshire Post. May 5, 1984. Trussler, Simon, ed. File on Ayckbourn. London: Methuen
NOV

Drama Book, 1989.


I consider myself a professional director who

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well
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byBY
lisa
LISAkron
WELL

KRON BY LISA KRON


THE RICKETSON THEATRE

directed by
THE RICKETSON THEATRE
Christy Montour-Larson
the ricketson theatre

WHAT HAPPENS
WHEN A PLAY
DOESNT PLAY
BY YOUR RULES?
Sponsored By

WELL WELL
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BY LISA KRON
10 WELL
BY LISA KRON
THE RICKETSON THEATRE

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WELL
Questions
1) Explain how in Absurd Person Singular, Ayckbourn comments on social status and class.

2) How does the comment of changing status and class reflect todays economic climate?
What is the difference in the way Americans and British regard social status?

3) Each act takes place in a different kitchen. What are the similarities and differences of the
physical spaces and how do the people in these spaces interact?

4) When Ayckbourn started writing the play, he set it in the Hopcrofts living room. Why do you
think he switched the location to the kitchen?

5) When Marion praises Janes kitchen and washing machine, is she being sincere or insincere?
What does this reveal about Marions character and social standing?

6) How would you describe the three couples? How would you describe their relationships to each
other and to the other couples?

7) Dick and Lottie Parker, the fourth couple in the play, never appear onstage. Why do we only hear
them and never see them?

8) Why does no one seem to notice Evas suicide attempts in Act Two?

9) Why do the Brewster-Wrights and the Jacksons hide from the Hopcrofts in Act Three?

10) Ayckbourn has said that Laughter in the theatre can be an amazing bridge. It can persuade
people to keep their minds open long after their inherent prejudices have told them to close
them. Describe which serious topics this play treats with humor.

11) How does the title, Absurd Person Singular, relate to the play?

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2009 Denver Center Theatre Company

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