Alan Ayckbourn to step down as artistic director of Scarborough's Stephen Joseph Theatre

Playwright Alan Ayckbourn is to step down as artistic director of Scarborough's Stephen Joseph Theatre after 37 years, it was announced last night.

Playwright Alan Ayckbourn is to step down as artistic director of Scarborough's Stephen Joseph Theatre after 37 years, it was announced last night.

He will quit his post next summer, a spokesperson for the theatre said, but continue to direct his plays at the venue.

One of the most prolific playwrights in British theatre with over 70 plays to his credit - half of them significant hits - Ayckbourn has been artistic director of the North Yorkshire theatre since 1971.

The 68-year-old suffered a stroke in February last year but returned to work five months later, directing his new play If I Were You. He is currently in New York directing an earlier work, Intimate Exchanges.

Sue Truefitt, chairman of the Stephen Joseph Theatre Board, said: "Over the last couple of years, Alan Ayckbourn's day-to-day involvement in the running of the Stephen Joseph Theatre has been decreasing, although his directing work has continued as normal. In the forthcoming season he will be directing Relatively Speaking and A Trip to Scarborough and he is planning for the 2008-09 season.

"Alan intends to continue to direct revivals of his plays at the theatre as well as premiering any of his new work there."

A new artistic director would be found to plan the 2009-10 season, she said.

Staff and agencies

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