A Small Family Business: In Brief

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  • A Small Family Business is Alan Ayckbourn's 33rd play.
  • It was commissioned by the National Theatre and was written specifically for the Olivier Theatre.
  • The play was produced while Alan Ayckbourn was on sabbatical from Scarborough and a Company Director at the National Theatre between 1986 and 1988. He directed four plays at the venue during this period: Tons Of Money, A View From The Bridge, 'Tis Pity She's A Whore and A Small Family Business.
  • The world premiere was held in The Olivier at the National Theatre, London, on 21 May 1987. It would be revived at the same venue in April 2014 - it is the only Ayckbourn play to have been produced twice at the National Theatre.
  • The New York premiere was held at the Music Box Theater on 27 April 1992.
  • It is one of only four Ayckbourn plays which have not premiered at Scarborough. The other plays are: Christmas V Mastermind (Stoke-on-Trent), Mr Whatnot (Stoke-on-Trent) and Jeeves (London).
  • A Small Family Business is considered one of Alan Ayckbourn's end-stage plays; plays written specifically for end-stage production (although several of them have gone on to be produced in the round). The other plays are: Bedroom Farce, Haunting Julia, Things We Do For Love and Virtual Reality. Although Jeeves and House were originally performed as end-stage plays, unlike the other plays they were not specifically written for end-stage performance.
  • It is the first Ayckbourn play in which a character is definitely killed on-stage (although there is a death in It Could Be Any One Of Us, this was not added to the play until its revision in 1996).
  • A Small Family Business marked the point at which Alan Ayckbourn stopped writing to the latest possible deadline (generally the day before rehearsals!) having had to submit the play to the National Theatre a year in advance of its production.
  • In 2009, it was adapted for the radio as part of the BBC's celebration of Alan Ayckbourn's 70th birthday. Directed by Martin Jarvis, it featured Alfred Molina in the lead role of Jack McCracken.
  • The National Theatre's 2014 revival was also streamed as part of the NT Live programme on 1,100 screens in 40 countries; it marked the first time an Ayckbourn play had been live-streamed.
  • A Small Family Business won the Evening Standard Award for Best Play in 1987.
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