ACT – A Contemporary Theatre is pleased to announce the American premiere of lauded playwright Alan Ayckbourn's Sugar Daddies, directed by Ayckbourn himself, as one of the six mainstage selections in the 2013 Season. ACT Artistic Director Kurt Beattie invited Ayckbourn to direct during a meeting in 2011 in England. The opportunity to collaborate in person is the result of ACT's commitment to and success with Ayckbourn's work, which has engendered a lasting artistic relationship. Sugar Daddies is slated to be produced in September and October, 2013. The play will be staged in ACT's Allen Theatre, as productions in-the-round are Ayckbourn's specialty.
Ayckbourn has been awarded more than 35 of the theatre industry's most prestigious honors and was knighted in 1997 by Queen Elizabeth. He is the recipient of two Tony Awards; indirectly, in 2009, for Best Revival of a Play for his trilogy The Norman Conquests and personally a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010. In 2009 he also received the Laurence Olivier Special Award and was inducted into the Hall of Fame For Achievements in American Theatre.
"We're extremely fortunate that he has freedom to travel now that he is retired from being Artistic Director at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough," says Beattie. "Alan is one of the world's greatest living playwrights. His works have catalogued the struggles of a changing society with compassion, singeing clarity, and a unique comic sensibility that never fails to surprise. True to form, Sugar Daddies is full of both shadows and delight, a wonderfully unpredictable ride for the audience."
Sugar Daddies was written in 2003 and is Ayckbourn's 63rd play. The play features a cast of five characters and is a 'serious comedy' concerning a young woman who finds herself in an unfamiliar and potentially dangerous situation. Ayckbourn notes that it is "…a comedy of dark intentions … about a young female student who comes to the rescue of a pedestrian after he narrowly escapes being run over. He is an elderly man who is in his seventies and he's dressed as Father Christmas because he's delivering presents to the children at the hospital. Basically, it's all about how a close, but platonic, relationship develops between them and how, effectively, he becomes her sugar daddy."
Since 1967 Ayckbourn has directed the world premieres of all his plays and since 1977 and he has directed all but one of the West End premieres of his plays. Since 1961, he has directed more than 300 productions and is considered one of the world's preeminent in-the-round directors. While his stage work has been predominantly in the U.K., he has directed in New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, and Pittsburgh. Seattle marks his West Coast debut in the U.S.
Casting and official dates of the Fall 2013 production will be released at a later date. ACT's 2013 season also includes a coproduction with the 5th Avenue Theatre, the previously announced musical Grey Gardens. Four more mainstage titles will be released in August of 2012 when season tickets become available.
As one of Britain's most performed playwrights, Alan Ayckbourn has, to date, written 76 plays. Almost all received their first performance at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, with more than 35 of his works being subsequently staged in the West End, at The National Theatre or by the Royal Shakespeare Company. Major successes include Relatively Speaking, How the Other Half Loves, Absurd Person Singular, Bedroom Farce, A Chorus of Disapproval, A Small Family Business, Henceforward…, Comic Potential, Things We Do For Love and House & Garden.
Recent revivals include Matthew Warchus' 2009 hit production of The Norman Conquests seen at the Old Vic and then on Broadway; a highly acclaimed staging in 2010 by The National Theatre of his 1980 play Season's Greetings and this year an equally successful Absent Friends directed by Jeremy Herrin at the West End's Harold Pinter Theatre. In the fall, Trevor Nunn will direct A Chorus of Disapproval for the West End. Although Ayckbourn stepped down as Artistic Director of the Stephen Joseph in 2009, a post he held for 37 years, he continues to guest direct there; this season he has directed a 40th anniversary production of Absurd Person Singular to be joined in late July by his 76th play, Surprises. Part of the Cultural Olympiad this will later be seen at Chichester's Minerva Theatre.
His plays have been translated into 35 languages, won numerous awards nationally and internationally, have been performed worldwide on stage and television, and been filmed in French and English. In recent years, he has been inducted into American Theatre's Hall of Fame, received the 2010 Critics' Circle Award for Services to the Arts and became the first British playwright to receive both Olivier and Tony Special Lifetime Achievement Awards. He was knighted in 1997 for services to the theatre.