The Sparrow: 10 Facts

10 Facts offer an at a glance guide to some of the key information relating to Alan Ayckbourn's plays.
  • The Sparrow is Alan Ayckbourn's 8th play.
  • The world premiere was held at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, on 13 July 1967.
  • It marked the first time Alan Ayckbourn directed one of his own plays in Scarborough.
  • The Sparrow is the last of Alan Ayckbourn's early plays to have been withdrawn. It has not been published and is not available to produce. It is one of six withdrawn plays written in the first 10 years of his playwriting career which he says reflects his first steps as a professional playwright.
  • The play has only been performed professionally once. This was at the Library Theatre Scarborough, where the play was performed for three weeks in repertory; it was financially very successful. A single amateur rehearsed reading by Dick & Lottie theatre company also took place in 2014.
  • The Sparrow was optioned by the producer Peter Bridge with a view to taking the play to London. This production never occurred and various reasons have been offered for this such as not being able to find a suitable cast and, more probable, Peter Bridge actually wanted a play by Alan closer in tone to Relatively Speaking.
  • The Sparrow marks the beginning of an unbroken run to the present day in which Alan Ayckbourn has directed the world premieres of his plays.
  • The play was in a season at the Library Theatre which marked the professional acting debut of John Nettles. He would go on to find considerable fame on stage, screen, most notably in the TV series Bergerac (1981 - 1991) and Midsomer Murders (1997 - 2011).
  • It also starred Robert Powell, who had previously worked with Alan at the BBC. Shortly after the play finished, he would find himself cast in the role of Tobias Wren in the BBC series Doomwatch (1970) which would propel him to fame; although one of his most renowned roles was the lead in the 1977 series Jesus Of Nazareth.
  • One of the reasons given to Alan Ayckbourn by Peter Bridge that the play could not be produced in London was its similarity to the Ann Jellicoe's hit play The Knack. As Alan has subsequently pointed out, the only similarity both plays have in common is a strong female lead - admittedly a rarity at the time, but hardly a major similarity.
Copyright: Simon Murgatroyd. Please do not reproduce without the permission of the copyright holder.