Haunting Julia: Behind The Scenes

Behind The Scenes offers a glimpse at some rarely known facts regarding the writing of Alan Ayckbourn's plays with material drawn from the Ayckbourn Archive at the University Of York and the playwright's personal archive.
  • Haunting Julia is the first - and to date - only play Alan Ayckbourn has written for an all-male cast.
  • Although it is well-known that one of the inspirations for the play was the stage-adaptation of Susan Hill's novel The Woman In Black, another inspiration was the classic 1963 horror film The Haunting. Alan was particularly intrigued by both the ambiguous nature of the piece and also a character who will not remotely accept the possibility of supernatural intervention; the same stance that Andy takes in the play.
  • The play is one of Alan Ayckbourn's few plays written specifically for the end-stage (although it can and has been successfully performed in both thrust and in-the-round productions). It was conceived as the first play to be performed in the end-stage McCarthy auditorium at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough. However, delays in building and the detrimental effects of a Government funding cut to theatres at the time meant Alan wrote the play earlier than he originally intended and produced it at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round.
  • As of writing, Haunting Julia has had the longest gap between the world premiere production and its first London production. The play was first seen in Scarborough in 1994, but it would not be produced in London until 2011; this is despite the fact it was originally intended to transfer straight to London after its world premiere production.

The Trilogy Question
One of the most frequently asked questions regarding Haunting Julia is whether it is part of a trilogy alongside Snake In The Grass and Life And Beth and, if so, is this trilogy called Things That Go Bump?
Fact: Alan Ayckbourn has not written a trilogy called Things That Go Bump, nor has he ever referred to these plays as a trilogy using this title.
The confusion stems from the fact that when the three plays were produced together at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, in 2008, they were promoted under the season title of
Things That Go Bump. This was a marketing campaign created specifically for this season and the title has never since been used in association with the three plays. However, certain media reports and websites inaccurately referred to the plays as the Things That Go Bump trilogy leading to the - incorrect - suggestion that these three plays formed a trilogy such as The Norman Conquests or Damsels In Distress.
While the three plays share similar themes (the supernatural, parents' relationship to their children) and
Life & Beth was written initially with the cast requirements of Haunting Julia and Snake In The Grass in mind, these three plays are not considered to be an actual trilogy. Rather they are three thematically connected plays which can be performed with the same company.
Any website or article which refers to
Haunting Julia, Snake In The Grass and Life & Beth as the Things That Go Bump trilogy is inaccurate.

Copyright: Simon Murgatroyd. Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.