Simon Murgatroyd: Alan Ayckbourn's Archivist & Website AdministratorSimon Murgatroyd is Alan Ayckbourn's Archivist and the administrator and founder of the playwright's official website. He is considered an expert on Alan Ayckbourn and his plays. He is entirely responsible for the website; from writing material to compiling and researching information as well as maintaining the website. For more details information, visit www.simonmurgatroyd.co.uk.
My interest in Alan Ayckbourn's plays began in 1987, when I saw the original production of Henceforward… at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round, Scarborough. In essence, that one play is all to blame!
After graduating from London College Of Dance with a BA(hons) in Dance and Theatre in 1992, I pursued a career as journalist from 1993 to 1999, employed as the arts and features writer for the Scarborough Evening News. In 1995, I became the lead theatre critic at the newspaper and launched a weekly arts supplement.
During that period I was reviewing the world premieres of Alan’s plays and writing numerous features on both Alan and the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round. This work included extensive coverage of the company's move to its present home, the Stephen Joseph Theatre. As a journalist, one of my career high-points was breaking the news that Alan and Andrew Lloyd-Webber's musical By Jeeves was to open the new theatre.
In 1999, I left the Evening News to study for an MA in Theatre And Contemporary Practice specialising in the fantasy influences in Alan Ayckbourn's plays. At the same time, I was employed by the Stephen Joseph Theatre. A year later, Alan Ayckbourn asked me to become the co-ordinator of the Ayckbourn And The Round annual events; a week with Alan and his company which attracted participants from around the world.
In 2001, having completed my MA, I created this website (originally The Alan Ayckbourn Resource Guide, later The Alan Ayckbourn Guide and now just Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website), I continued to co-ordinate the Ayckbourn And The Round events, became the Deputy Box Office Manager at the Stephen Joseph Theatre and began freelance writing and lecturing on Alan Ayckbourn and his plays.
In 2004, the Stephen Joseph Theatre’s Archivist Bob Watson tragically died. Bob was passionate about his voluntary work and I felt this work should not be lost and I offered to take on his job voluntarily. In 2005, this position was made permanent and I took on the role of Alan Ayckbourn and the Stephen Joseph Theatre's Archivist full-time in conjunction with my role as administrator for this website.
In 2009, as a result of Alan Ayckbourn stepping down as the theatre's Artistic Director, I left the Stephen Joseph to become Alan Ayckbourn's Archivist and Website Administrator; although I continue to maintain The Bob Watson Archive for the Stephen Joseph Theatre.
Since then, the majority of my work is for Alan Ayckbourn with a wide remit from working on this website to dealing with general and professional enquiries about Alan Ayckbourn, writing original commissions about the playwright and the plays, organising Ayckbourn-related events and maintaining the Digital Ayckbourn Archive, the single largest digital resource relating to Alan Ayckbourn.
Alan Ayckbourn's Official WebsiteAlan Ayckbourn's Official Website was created in 2001 (and officially recognised in 2002) as a direct response to my experiences studying for my MA in Contemporary Art and Practice. I quickly realised the subject of my dissertation, Alan Ayckbourn, was ill-served by books, academic material and resources. Having graduated, I decided to make use of my extensive research on Alan and began creating the website in my spare time. The aim of which, initially, was to provide an accurate representation of what had been published by and about Alan across various media.
From here, the website began to grow exponentially as it became obvious a single resource – accurate and well-researched – on Alan and his plays would be of benefit to other students and researchers. From the start, it was my wish this resource would be both free to access and freely available. As a result of this, Alan Ayckbourn gave his official approval to the site in 2002. The entire site was re-launched in 2003 and received a complete upgrade in 2006/7 and 2012/13. The website is continually expanding with the aim of creating a single, definitive point of reference on the internet for Alan Ayckbourn.
Articles, Publications & EventsAs Alan Ayckbourn's Archivist, I have written articles and programme notes for a range of professional publications and theatres including Alan Ayckbourn's home theatre, the Stephen Joseph Theatre, as well as for the Old Vic, the West End and other theatres in the UK, USA, Europe and Australia. A guide to how to commission articles as well as some of the commissions received can be found by visiting the Commissions pages.
In 2011, I launched the Stephen Joseph Theatre's quarterly Friends newsletter, the SJT Circular as co-editor and to which I now contribute regularly as a features writer.
I have lectured and given talks on Alan Ayckbourn since graduating from my MA in 2002 (during which I launched and co-ordinated the Arts module for the University Of Hull’s newly created degree in Arts and Humanities for mature students). I have also been the curator for two exhibitions at the Stephen Joseph Theatre: A Round 50 (marking the Stephen Joseph Theatre's 50th anniversary) and Alan Ayckbourn: Seen And Unseen (marking Alan Ayckbourn's final season as Artistic Director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre).
Since 2001, I have been responsible for organising a number of events relating to Alan Ayckbourn starting with the Ayckbourn And The Round events in Scarborough and most recently with the Ayckbourn Weekends at the Stephen Joseph Theatre.
In 2009, I published my first book Sight Unseen: The Unseen Ayckbourn Guide, an authorised guide to Alan Ayckbourn's largely unpublished and unproduced plays which also looked at acknowledged concepts, ideas, alternative titles, variations on the plays and other ephemera. Much of the research is wholly original and has never been published before. This was extensively revised and updated and published as Unseen Ayckbourn in 2013.
If you are interested in commissioning articles about Alan Ayckbourn and / or his plays or wish to discuss any other aspect of this page, please contact me via the Contact Us page.