How The Other Half Loves: Behind The Scenes

Behind The Scenes offers a glimpse at some rarely known facts regarding the writing of Alan Ayckbourn's plays with material drawn from the Ayckbourn Archive at the University Of York and the playwright's personal archive.
  • Alan Ayckbourn agreed to write the play as part of his acceptance of the seasonal position of Director Of Productions at the Library Theatre in 1969 (a position he would also hold in 1970 before eventually becoming the theatre's Artistic Director in 1972). However due to the parlous state of finances at the venue at the time, he was not paid for the play; instead he was offered free accommodation for the summer.
  • In an American interview for the Broadway premiere of How The Other Half Loves, Alan Ayckbourn suggested the character of Teresa was inspired by his then wife Christine Roland.
  • The play's idea of two overlaid flat (Alan Ayckbourn's first use of a composite set) was in part inspired by Alan's home in 1969. At the time he was living in a block of flats in Leeds and noted how each flat was identically designed and frequently - due to the interior design - different flats had very similar layouts; he apparently wondered whose flat he was in when visiting a neighbour! This led to the idea of overlaying two spaces on the same set. So action can happen simultaneously in two places - even in different times.
  • In her self-titled auto-biography, the actress Elisabeth Sladen - who played Fiona Foster in the original production - tells how one of Mary Featherstone's lines was taken from real life: "I still wasn’t a drinker at the time and so whenever we went out together I’d ask for a tonic water. ‘Just a tonic water, please’ became a bit of a catchphrase for the company, but I didn’t realise how much so until I saw the final draft of How The Other Half Loves and Mrs Featherstone was given my line!"
  • As an interesting footnote, amongst the original production's three assistant stage managers is credited Robert Peck. This is the famed actor (better known as Bob Peck) who would go on to fame on stage and screen. He was an actor with the Library Theatre company that season but did not perform in How The Other Half Loves.
Copyright: Simon Murgatroyd