The Michael T. Mooney Archive

Alan Ayckbourn’s Official Website is delighted to announce it is collaborating with one of the world’s largest private collections of Alan Ayckbourn material.
Michael T Mooney, a devotee of Alan Ayckbourn’s plays, has been collecting material relating to Alan Ayckbourn’s entire career for more than two decades and he has given the website access to the extensive collection prior to it becoming part of Alan Ayckbourn's Archive.
Simon Murgatroyd, Administrator for Alan Ayckbourn’s Website and Archivist to the playwright, said he was delighted at the decision to move to the archive to the UK.
“I have known Michael for 15 years and I believe he has amassed one of the most significant private collections of material relating to Alan Ayckbourn in the world. Just opening the first box, there were discoveries relating to productions directed by Alan Ayckbourn of which there are no other records of. It is an extraordinary collection and I’m grateful to have the chance to work with it and share my discoveries on
www.alanayckbourn.net."
Michael, who is based in New Jersey, first encountered Alan Ayckbourn’s plays through the television adaption of
The Norman Conquests in the late 1970s. He went on to direct Ayckbourn plays - including several North American premieres - and has also acted as an Ayckbourn dramaturge for several companies. He has participated in several events involving the playwright in his home-town and has met the playwright on many occasions, most recently with his visit to the 59E59 Theaters in New York with the acclaimed productions of Hero’s Welcome and Confusions.
Of the donation of the archive, Michael said: “I was worried that if something should happen to me all of these items would probably go in a dumpster! After all, there are so few of us who value these things that it would be unlikely that they found a good home. I’ve been looking to divest myself of lots of “things” lately - and donating it all to the Ayckbourn Archive seemed the ideal solution!”
Michael, whose favourite Ayckbourn plays include
The Norman Conquests, Family Circles and Body Language, believes Alan Ayckbourn is a playwright special for many reasons.
“As a person who has been involved in the theatre all his life, I think Alan Ayckbourn is one of the most brilliant playmakers of our time. He challenges the dramatic form and the theatre-going experience, making it exciting to go see a play. He also manages to create real characters in relatable situations - no matter where you live, or what your domestic situation. As a director and playwright myself, I admire his economy of word - sometimes gaining the biggest laugh or tear with a single syllable. Lastly, it is most gratifying to appreciate the breadth of his work - ever changing over the last six decades - the mark of a true genius.”
The collection, which runs into thousands of pieces, includes programmes, flyers, cuttings, posters and other Ayckbourn ephemera covering Alan Ayckbourn’s entire career from his acting days during the late 1950s and early 1960s through his famed playwriting and directing career. It will be called The Michael T. Mooney Archive and, once collated, will eventually be placed within The Ayckbourn Archive at the University Of York with some rarer pieces relating to the playwright's home theatre, the Stephen Joseph Theatre, going into The Bob Watson Archive at the venue.
Of the collection, Michael is hard-pressed to name a favourite item, but thinks is a fan of the very rare - and obscure!
“The best collectibles are the ones that even the Alan Ayckbourn archive didn’t have! I found a rare copy of the long playing record of
Cinderella’s Star Night, a 1982 charity pantomime that featured Ian McKellen reading a poem by Ayckbourn. Another rare find was a handbill from 1975’s Jeeves that billed Betty Marsden as Aunt Dahlia, who was written out of the production prior to opening night! It’s also fun to discover foreign language collectibles.”
Material drawn from The Michael T. Mooney Archive will be added to
www.alanayckbourn.net over the coming months and particularly notable items will be featured in a new regular feature on The Alan Ayckbourn News Blog.