The Divide: Frequently Asked Questions

Alan Ayckbourn's Archivist Simon Murgatroyd's answers some of the most frequently asked questions about Alan Ayckbourn's Consuming Passions. If you have a question about this or any other of Alan Ayckbourn's plays, you can contact the website via the Contact Us page.

What exactly is Alan Ayckbourn's The Divide?
It is a book which has also been described as a 'narrative for voice'. It is a piece of work that tells its story through reportage, diary entries, newspaper cuttings, minutes, first hand reports and other elements. It can be read, given as a rehearsed reading or fully staged - although in the latter case it is not regarded as a play but just a produced reading; for example, the Old Vic's 2017 production used costume, multi-media and music alongside the reading of the story, but was still a staged adaptation of Ayckbourn's prose work presented as a 'narrative for voice'.

What number in the Ayckbourn play canon is The Divide?
The Divide is not considered a play, as a result it does not have a number and is not considered part of Alan Ayckbourn's full-length play canon. It was written in 2015 and within this website is labelled as one of the playwright's 'other works'; it is - more accurately - a book or 'narrative for voice'.

When was it actually premiered on stage?
This depends. It was first publicly performed in a semi-staged reading at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, on 27 September 2015. However, its premier as a staged work is considered to be The Old Vic's production which premiered at the Edinburgh International Festival on 11 August 2017, directed by Annabel Bolton.

What is the difference between the semi-staged reading and the staged work?
The semi-staged reading was brought together over a single weekend at the Stephen Joseph Theatre and featured actors in simple costumes reading The Divide from the script with basic lighting and sound. The staged work has been adapted with both choral and music elements, multi-media, costume and full lighting set over a two part performance. It has been adapted from the original script (initially with a framing device which was later dropped). The staged work is, at it implies, a professional staged production of the work.

Will The Divide be published?
Alan Ayckbourn hopes The Divide will one day be published - as he intended - as a book, allowing the reportage nature of the piece to be seen through the book design.

What led The Old Vic to stage The Divide at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2017?
The original semi-staged reading was seen by Annabel Bolton, an Associate Director at the Old Vic, who had also previously worked at the Stephen Joseph Theatre. Enthusiastic about the piece, she took a copy of the script home with her and presented it and a plan for staging to the Old Vic's Artistic Director, Matthew Warchus, who agreed - along with Alan Ayckbourn's blessing - to let Annabel develop it for the stage.

What was Alan Ayckbourn's connection to the Old Vic's production which premiered at the Edinburgh International Festival?
There is no direct connection other than the playwright gave the director, Annabel Bolton, his blessing and free rein to adapt The Divide for a staged work. He did not adapt the book for the stage, contribute to the production nor direct it. His first experience of this adaptation was when he visited the festival to see the production following its premiere in August 2017. He never expected The Divide to be staged, but was delighted at Annabel's interest and supported her desire to adapt and stage the piece.
Subsequent to the Edinburgh production, Annabel met Alan, who offered advice on streamlining the adaptation into a single part for its West End premiere at The Old Vic in February 2018.

Could it be adapted to other formats?
Yes. It would particularly suit radio, but the piece is flexible enough to be considered for a variety of different media.

All research for this page by Simon Murgatroyd.