The Karaoke Theatre Company: Behind The ScenesBehind 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.
Copyright: Simon Murgatroyd. Please do not reproduce without the permission of the copyright holder.
- The original idea for The Karaoke Theatre Company goes back to at least 2005 when Alan Ayckbourn had an idea for a piece called The Karaoke Play (and initially The Karaoke Theatre Company was known as The Karaoke Play until the playwright completed the play) incorporating audience interaction and improvisation from the company. However, the idea was dropped when the actor Adrian McLoughlin noted the playwright had said to him: "I woke up in the night in a cold sweat and thought: 'Do I really want the audience on the stage with the actors? No….". But - as with many of his ideas - Alan returned to it a decade later and refined it to something which would work.
- The Karaoke Theatre Company makes two distinct nods to Alan Ayckbourn's plays with an opening mimed tennis match inspired by the tennis match from Mr Whatnot. The gothic horror play is an adaptation of a rarely seen earlier work called Dracula, which was presented as part of the revue What The Devil! at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, in 1975.
- The playwright admits he was heavily inspired by Saki's 1914 short story The Open Window for one of the short plays - The Sister - in The Karaoke Theatre Company.
- This was the first Ayckbourn play to feature the public being actively encouraged to attend rehearsals and to participate in the action. So as to entice them to see the final production, the final scene was not performed and left on a cliff-hanger moment during rehearsals. This was also for a more practical reason, as the final scene involves magic cabinets, which could not be moved into Alan's own rehearsal room and were left in situ at the Stephen Joseph Theatre.
- One of the plays, The Sister, requires that an audience member actually play one of the parts; the play is initially performed in its entirety with a volunteer watching, who then chooses which part they wish to play. It is then re-staged later with the volunteer appropriately costumed and led through the piece by the actor they have replaced, moving them into position and feeding them the lines via a flip-book. Every night, each volunteer was given a Karaoke Theatre Company T-shirt to mark their involvement in the play.