Mr Whatnot (1976)This article was written by Alan Ayckbourn for the programme for his revival of Mr Whatnot at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round, Scarborough, in 1976.
Mr Whatnot was first produced in Stoke-on-Trent at the Victoria Theatre in 1963. We, the original Vic company, had been working there together for over a year since the theatre first opened. It was written to exploit the team-work and playing style that grows from such a close-knit group. Before Stoke many of us had been doing our regular Scarborough summer season and in moving en-bloc, equipment and personnel, as we did it seemed for a time that the Library in Vernon Road had seen the last of the professional company that Stephen Joseph had started in 1955. It was re-started though and several of that original Victoria company have subsequently returned. Of late, there has been a growing feeling of kinship between the two theatres and hopefully, now we are here at Westwood in a home we can more or less call our own, the feeling will strengthen. Stoke did, after all, grow out of Scarborough to become the first permanent Theatre in the Round repertory company in the country.
It seems fitting that this, the only play of mine not written or seen before in Scarborough, should open our own theatre. First, it serves to salute our fellow company in the Midlands. Second, it is intended as a totally trivial, non-meaningful, frivolous entertainment - which seems a very suitable way to celebrate a christening. I know Stephen Joseph would have approved. He once said that in order to avoid artistic stagnation every new theatre that was built should be programmed to self-destruct in seven years. Theatre in the Round at Westwood is programmed to destruct in three, when our lease expires. That may be carrying this maxim to the extreme but, nonetheless, we promise to try, with your help, to make the very most of our time here.
Copyright: Alan Ayckbourn. Please do not reproduce without the permission of the copyright holder.