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Last Updated: Monday, 31 July 2006, 11:34 GMT 12:34 UK
Ayckbourn plots return to theatre
Sir Alan Ayckbourn
Sir Alan is one of the world's most successful living playwrights
Playwright Sir Alan Ayckbourn is set to make a return to work after recovering from a stroke.

The 67-year-old will direct his new play, If I Were You, at Scarborough's Stephen Joseph Theatre (SJT), North Yorkshire, in September.

The play, written before Sir Alan's stroke in February, is about the secrets a couple keep from each other and will open in October.

Sir Alan will also resume his role as the theatre's artistic director.

"I'm thrilled to be home at the SJT again and raring to get started rehearsing a brand new play. What more could I ask for?" he said.

Sir Alan has been artistic director of the theatre since 1971. He was knighted in 1997 for his services to theatre.

He has written more than 60 works, including The Norman Conquests trilogy and A Chorus of Disapproval.

His plays have been translated into 30 languages and are performed around the world.

Class commentator

Most of his works have had their first airing at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, where Sir Alan's career began as an 18-year-old actor and continued as a writer and director.

Born in London in 1939, he moved to the Yorkshire town in 1957 where he flourished alongside friend and mentor Stephen Joseph, who pioneered theatre-in-the-round.

Ayckbourn's first major success came with the 1967 play Relatively Speaking, which transferred to the West End and became a turning point in his life.

A keen commentator on the lifestyles of the British middle class, he is also admired for his innovation. Two recent plays, House and Garden, were performed simultaneously in adjacent theatres using the same cast members.

His numerous prizes include a lifetime achievement award from the Writers' Guild of Great Britain and two Tonys.

If I Were You, starring Liza Goddard and John Branwell, will open on 12 October for a four-week run.

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