Guest actors back for one-off Ayckbourn epic in Scarborough

Alan Ayckbourn, his wife Heather, Terenia Edwards and Velvet Hebditch
Alan Ayckbourn, his wife Heather, Terenia Edwards and Velvet Hebditch

The Stephen Joseph Theatre welcomes back special guest actors who are heading to Scarborough for a world exclusive new work by Alan Ayckbourn – for one day only.

Liza Goddard, Alexandra Mathie, Paul Kemp, Laura Doddington, Ruth Gibson and James Powell, who have collectively appeared in more than 40 productions at the Stephen Joseph, will be reunited with the renowned playwright and director this weekend for an exclusive gala reading of a brand new work, The Divide.

The epic five-part sexual satire is described by Ayckbourn as “a deliberate attempt to jump away from anything familiar to me”. He added: “It’s a dialogue based upon two diaries; one of a boy and one of a girl growing up in a weird world. It’s less Game of Thrones, more social satire. It’s a dystopian fantasy set in a completely reimagined world where men and women live separately.”

On Sunday, audiences at the Stephen Joseph Theatre will be the first and likely the only people to see The Divide brought to life. “It’s so big that, as far as I know, it’s a unique one-off, the one occasion anyone will get a chance to see, hear or experience it,” added Ayckbourn.

Not so long ago, let it not be forgotten, as decreed by The Preacher, Men and Women lived apart on separate sides of the Divide in segregated isolation. The celebrated novelist Soween Clay-Flin recalls this period in our recent history with dramatised readings based on documents of the period, including her own personal diary as a young girl who lived through it and survived to tell the tale.

The Divide also marks a return for former actress Heather Stoney, now Lady Ayckbourn, who appeared regularly with the company throughout the 60s, 70s and 80s.

She will be joined by the cast of Ayckbourn’s Hero’s Welcome and Confusions currently appearing at the SJT, Scarborough’s own Andy Cryer who appeared in The Last Train To Scarborough and Aladdin and budding young actors Sam Tennant in a first professional appearance alongside 10-year old Velvet Hebditch who has previously appeared in Arrivals and Departures. Local actors Katherine Dunn-Mines and Fleur Mould complete the 18-strong cast.

The gala reading starts at 3pm on Sunday 27 September at the SJT and is due to finish at 9.30pm to include intervals and a longer supper break.

Limited tickets are remaining on 01723 370541.