This Is Where We Came In: BackgroundHaving made a commitment to theatre for young people in 1988 with Mr A’s Amazing Maze Plays, Alan Ayckbourn would go on to write six plays for families in four years. This Is Where We Came In was the fourth such play and demonstrates Alan’s growing confidence in the genre and his willingness to challenge his young audience.
The play was originally devised as a two-part Saturday morning entertainment to be performed over consecutive weeks at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round, Scarborough. The circular nature of the piece meant the plays could be seen out of order, but to see part 2 before part 1 arguably gave a slightly bleaker slant on the fate of the Players. The plays were performed by the theatre's current acting company and would utilise whatever set happened to be on stage at that time, hence the rather abstract feel to the locale of the plays. Alan Ayckbourn initially blocked the pieces and Associate Director Malcolm Hebden directed them.
The plays, although only performed over six Saturdays at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round, were a great success for the theatre and attracted very positive reviews. As a result, the decision was made to put both parts together and present them as a whole in the Christmas of 1991 with Alan directing the piece. Again this was very successful, particularly with school parties visiting the theatre. Alan would revive the play again for Christmas 2001 to similar success at the Stephen Joseph Theatre.
Although the play did not transfer to the West End, it has become one of his most popular plays for young people. The relatively simple technical and staging demands of the play and larger cast then previous family plays have also seen it become popular as a performance piece for schools and youth theatres.
While This Is Where We Came In is a family play, it does not patronise its audience. It makes demands of even a young audience to understand what is happening and why. It is also, as critics have noted, not without its appeal for more seasoned theatre-goers. Several writers have noted a hint of Pirandello’s Six Characters In Search Of An Author. To a young audience though, the strong story, allusions to familiar fairy-tales and wit of the piece are reason enough to watch.
The play is often seen as a companion piece to My Very Own Story, which opened in the summer of 1991, having a similar structure to This Is Where We Came In. This Is Where We Came In is published by Samuel French and is also part of the Alan Ayckbourn: Plays 2 collection published by Faber.
Copyright: Simon Murgatroyd. Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.