Between The Lines: Background

Between The Lines is classified as one of Alan Ayckbourn's Grey Plays. These are plays which are acknowledged miscellaneous minor pieces by Alan Ayckbourn, which have received limited performance but have never been published, are generally not available for production and are not included in the official canon of Ayckbourn plays.

Between The Lines is actually not an Alan Ayckbourn creation, it is instead a revue by the composer Paul Todd which uses material from previous collaborations between himself and Alan - as a result of this, productions of the revue must not credit Alan Ayckbourn as writer.

Between 1978 and 1986, the composer Paul Todd collaborated with Alan Ayckbourn on 10 revues and two full length musicals as well as composing music for numerous Ayckbourn productions at the
Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round, Scarborough. During this period the pair wrote, at a conservative estimate, at least 100 songs together.

In 1988, Paul was approached to write a musical revue featuring some of the many songs he and Alan had collaborated on. The suggestion was made by Ian Watson (author of
Conversations With Ayckbourn) with the intent that a small scale show could be created to tour around the country. With Paul having agreed to the idea and to write the book around which the various songs would be incorporated, permission to use the songs was then put to Alan Ayckbourn who tentatively agreed.

The project was initially called
Ayckbourn On Song and Paul's idea was the plot would be loosely based around his experience with working with Alan over the years - with actors portraying both Paul and Alan on stage. Alan was not keen on this idea and felt that, at best, he should be an off-stage presence and preferably not featured at all. Subsequently the piece went through at least two substantially different drafts and a re-title to Todd On Ayckbourn On Song - to emphasise the play was from Paul rather than Alan's perspective. Although Ian Watson had all but finalised a 1989 UK tour, difficulties with writing a satisfactory book meant the project fell through and was never performed.

By 1991, Paul had returned to the piece and began to rethink its initial premise and decided to make it a play about two non-specific people working together on a musical. This was then developed into
Between The Lines, a rehearsal room-set backstage story about an actor and actress in a new musical featuring 18 songs.

Todd On Ayckbourn On Song, this musical was produced and premiered at the Etcetera Theatre Club in Camden on 23 April 1992 starring Janie Dee, Simon Green and Stefan Bednarcyzk (all of who would subsequently work with Alan Ayckbourn). It has rarely been performed since then and because of the nature of the revue and Alan not having any direct involvement in it - other than the use of his songs - productions of the revue must contractually and clearly state that Alan is only the lyricist and did not write the revue. This is in part to stop productions incorrectly identifying and promoting it as Alan Ayckbourn's Between The Lines.

Between The Lines has not been published and production enquiries should be directed to Paul Todd's agent Felix de Wolfe.

Article by Simon Murgatroyd. Copyright: Haydonning Ltd. Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.