The Norman Conquests: Facts

The Norman Conquests

Play Number: 13 - 15
World Premieres
Table Manners: 18 June 1973
Living Together: 25 June 1973
Round And Round The Garden: 2 July 1973
Venue: Library Theatre, Scarborough

Premiere Staging: In-the-round

Published: Samuel French
Other Media: Television; Radio

Cast: 3m / 3f
Run Time: Approx. 2hrs per play

Note: The plays were originally not produced under the title of The Norman Conquests. The play titles were also originally Fancy Meeting You, Make Yourself At Home and Round And Round The Garden.
  • The Norman Conquests is Alan Ayckbourn's first trilogy and consists of plays 13 - 15. It is his only trilogy to features the same characters and to tell a single story.
  • The world premieres were held at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, on 18 June (Table Manners), 25 June (Living Together) and 2 July (Round And Round The Garden).
  • The London premieres were held at the Greenwich Theatre on 9 May (Table Manners), 21 May (Living Together) & 6 June (Round And Round The Garden). The success of the plays led them to transfer to the Globe Theatre in the West End later that year.
  • The Norman Conquests was written as the result of a facetious reply to a journalist in 1972 when Alan Ayckbourn was asked what his follow up to Absurd Person Singular would be. He replied, not altogether seriously, 'a trilogy' which was then published as fact the following year.
  • The plays were originally produced in Scarborough at the Library Theatre in June 1973 as Fancy Meeting You, Make Yourself At Home and Round And Round The Garden and there was no mention of the title The Norman Conquests. The final titles of Table Manners, Living Together and Round And Round The Garden under the overall title of The Norman Conquests only came with the London premiere of the plays at the Greenwich Theatre in May 1974.
  • The first play to enter rehearsals was Table Manners and this accounts for Norman's late entry into this piece. The actor playing Norman, Christopher Godwin, was unavailable for the first week of rehearsals so Alan wrote Table Manners to accommodate for his absence.
  • A common reported factual error presumes that actors from the 1974 West End production - Felicity Kendall and Penelope Keith - were poached from television's The Good Life for the show. It was actually the other way round with the writers behind the popular sitcom inspired by the play and securing a third of the cast for the television show which began in 1975.
  • The West End production was directed by Eric Thompson - who would also direct the Broadway production - and won the Evening Standard Award for Best Play.
  • The first time the entire trilogy was performed in a single day was on 29 June 1974 at the Greenwich Theatre; although this has become common practise ever since 1974, there was not a trilogy day during its world premiere run at the Library Theatre in 1973.
  • The Norman Conquests won the Evening Standard and the Play & Players Awards for Best Play. This marked the first time that Alan had won the prestigious Evening Standard Award for Best Play rather than Best Comedy. When the Old Vic's 2008 revival of the play transferred to New York in 2009, it would win the Tony for Best Revival; the first Ayckbourn play to win a Tony Award.
  • In 1975, Alan Ayckbourn held the record for the most plays being performed in the West End with five productions; this was as a result of the concurrent productions of The Norman Conquests trilogy alongside Absurd Person Singular and Absent Friends.
  • The Norman Conquests was published in hardback by Chatto & Windus in 1975, marking the first mass-market publication of an Ayckbourn play. This remains one of the most collectible published editions of Alan Ayckbourn's plays. The trilogy has never been out of print since
  • The trilogy was filmed in 1977 with Tom Conti as Norman and was incredibly popular in both the UK and the USA. The UK broadcast marked the first time that six hours of prime-time viewing had apparently ever been dedicated to a living playwright. It has also been adapted for the radio twice and as an audiobook.
  • It is the only play by Alan Ayckbourn to have been released on video cassette, DVD, digital download / streaming, audio cassette, CD and as a digital audio download!
  • The Old Vic's acclaimed 2008 revival of the trilogy saw the venue transformed into an in-the-round space and would transfer to Broadway, where it became the first Ayckbourn play to receive a Tony Award.
  • In 1999, as part of its NT2000 celebrations, the National Theatre named The Norman Conquests as one of the 100 most significant plays of the 20th century.
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