The Sparrow: Frequently Asked Questions

Alan Ayckbourn's Archivist Simon Murgatroyd answers some of the most frequently asked questions about Alan Ayckbourn's The Sparrow.

Why isn't The Sparrow available to be performed? / Why hasn't The Sparrow been published?
Alan Ayckbourn considers his earliest plays to be his first steps as a playwright when he was learning his craft. As a result, he doesn't feel they particularly reflect the quality or standard of writing he would later achieve and do not stand up particularly well due to his inexperience as a writer. As a result, he has rarely allowed any of them to be performed again and has not published the plays. For researchers interested in the early plays, they are available to read at both the British Library and within the Ayckbourn Archive at the University of York.

What does the title of The Sparrow mean, if anything?
The 'sparrow' refers to the central character of Evie within the play, a young woman who - like sparrows - seems rather ordinary and unattractive, but who, in the words of Michael Billington, is "a funny, chirpy, spark lady… who makes up in wit what she lacks in instant sex appeal." In nature, the sparrow is known for its song, but not for its appearance and Evie reflects this.

Has there been any performances of The Sparrow since 1967?
The Sparrow had a three week run at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, in 1967 and has never been revived. It has, however, had a complete reading as part of the Dick & Lottie Ayckbourn Readathon in 2014 to mark the company's tenth anniversary; Dick & Lottie is the only amateur company in the UK dedicated to the plays of Alan Ayckbourn. The playwright gave permission for the company to do a play-reading of The Sparrow with a full company, which took place at the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield. Other than odd scenes having been read during Ayckbourn-related events, there has been no other complete performances of The Sparrow.

All research for this page by Simon Murgatroyd.