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Thursday, 24 October, 2002, 13:25 GMT 14:25 UK
Ayckbourn threatens London 'boycott'
Alan Ayckbourn
Sir Alan is angry at the number of US stars in London plays
Playwright Sir Alan Ayckbourn has warned he may boycott the theatre in London's West End because of its "obsession" with hiring Hollywood stars.

He said he was "furious" with the way producers had treated his latest work, a trilogy, and said he was considering never staging a play in the West End again.

Britain's most prolific writer singled out Madonna, who recently starred in David Williamson's Up For Grabs, for his harshest criticism.

Sir Alan said she was inaudible and "would have performed a better public service if she had been treated as a work of art".

Madonna
Madonna's performance was criticised
"You might as well have put her on stage eating a plate of spaghetti and put a rope round her chair instead of putting her in a theatre where she wasn't at home and was struggling," he said.

Speaking at an Orange Word lecture at the Apollo Theatre, Sir Alan said London theatre was "ossified, lethargic and incapable of producing new work".

In future, he said, he would consider staging his plays only at the National Theatre or in a London fringe venue.

Furious

West End shows have hired such stars as Nicole Kidman, Madonna and Martine McCutcheon in an attempt to boost audience numbers.

"These celebrities can't do it," said Sir Alan.

"They all get ill or lose their voices after 20 minutes and you are left with the understudy. And at least it's a proper understudy."

Sir Alan revealed he was "very disappointed" with changes made to his latest work, a trilogy called Damsels in Distress.


I don't want to be part of it

Sir Alan Ayckbourn
He said the play's commercial producers had "condemned two of the parts to the dustbin".

"If all we are looking for these days is one-shot plays with one big name in it, I don't want to be part of it," he said.

Sir Alan has produced a prolific 63 plays since his first was produced in 1959. Only Shakespeare is performed more often.

See also:

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