Lesson 5
Man of the Moment
About the playwright





Alan Ayckbourn was born on 12 April, 1939 to Irene Maud Worley (better known as ‘Lolly’ and who also wrote under the pen-name of Mary James) and Horace Ayckbourn in Hampstead. Alan attended school at Wisborough Lodge and then Haileybury. Alan’s professional career began as an acting stage manager (a stage manager who also acted) and actor with Donald Wolfit’s company with a three week engagement at the Edinburgh Festival. Alan’s early career saw him work as an acting stage manager at the Connaught Theatre (Worthing), the Thorndike Theatre (Leatherhead), the Oxford Playhouse and the Library Theatre (Scarborough). He joined the latter in 19
  57. Alan’s acting career ran from 1956 to 1964 and encompassed more than 50 different roles ? the majority performed in-theround. Alan’s playwriting career began in 1959 with The Square Cat (having confronted Stephen Joseph about his role in David Campton’s Ring Of Roses). As of 2009, Alan has written 72 full-length plays.

  7. Alan married his first wife Christine Roland in 1957; together they had two sons Steven and Philip. Alan’s second marriage was to Heather Stoney in 19
  8. Alan’s first production as director was Gaslight at the Library Theatre in 19
  61. Since then he has directed more than 250 productions in the UK and abroad, including the London premieres of 32 of his plays in the West End.
  9. In 1962, Alan moved with the Studio Theatre Company to the Victoria Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent, as Associate Director. He both directed and acted there, as well as premiering two new plays, before leaving the company in 19
  10. From 1964 to 1970, Alan worked as a drama producer for BBC Radio in Leeds.
  11. Alan’s first major West End success was Relatively Speaking in 1967; as of 2009, 38 of Alan’s plays have been produced in the West End or the National Theatre (this does not include major fringe productions).

  12. Alan Ayckbourn became the Artistic Director (Director of Productions) of the Library Theatre, Scarborough, in 19
  72. He stepped down from the position (of what is now the Stephen Joseph Theatre) in January 20
  13. In 1974, Alan held the record for having the most plays running simultaneously in the West End with Living Together, Table Manners, Round And Round The Garden, Absurd Person Singular and Absent Friends. Only Andrew Lloyd Webber since has had more productions running concurrently.
  14. The Variety Club named Alan Playwright of the Year in 1974; between 1973 and 2009, Alan has received more than 25 major theatre awards including an Olivier Special Award in 20
  15. In 1976 Alan wrote his first play intended for endstage performance (Bedroom Farce); although he is primarily associated with the Round, he has written five plays intended for the end-stage: Bedroom Farce, A Small Family Business, Haunting Julia, Things We Do For Love and Virtual Reality. (For the record Jeeves and House were also first performed in the end-stage, but were not specifically written for end-stage performance)

  16. In 1976, Alan and the Library Theatre company moved to the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round (based at the old Boys’ Grammar School). In 1996, he would again move the company to the Stephen Joseph Theatre (based at a former Odeon cinema).
  17. From 1986 to 1988, Alan was invited by Sir Peter Hall to form his own company at the National Theatre. He directed A Small Family Business, A View From The Bridge, Tons Of Money and ‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore.
  18. In 1992, Alan was appointed Cameron Macintosh Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theatre, at the University of Oxford.
  19. Alan was awarded a CBE (Companion of the Order of the British Empire) in 19
  87. Ten years later to the day, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II ‘for services to the theatre.’
  20. Fatuous fact: Alan Ayckbourn has been said to be the most performed living playwright in the world. There is no plausible way either to prove or disprove this. But he is undoubtedly very, very popular.
Major successes include Absurd Person Singular (19
  75), The Norman Conquests trilogy (19
  73), Bedroom Farce (19
  75), Just Between Ourselves (19
  76), A Chorus of Disapproval (19
  84), Woman in Mind (19
  85), A Small Family Business (19
  87), Man Of The Moment (19
  88) and House & Garden (19
  99). His plays have won numerous awards, including seven London Evening Standard Awards. They have been translated into over 35 languages and are performed on stage and television throughout the world. Plays by Ayckbourn have also been filmed for cinema and television in English, French, Polish, German and Dutch among others. Ten of his plays have been staged on Broadway, attracting two Tony nominations. In 1991, he received a Dramalogue Critics Award for his play Henceforward... (19
  87). Alan Ayckbourn received the CBE in 1987 and was knighted in 19
Alan in front of the Library Theatre, Scarborough
About the play: Man of the Moment
World Premiere Premiere: 10 August 1988 Venue: Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round, Scarborough Staging: Round Director: Alan Ayckbourn Design: Michael Holt Lighting: Mick Thomas Music: Paul Todd Cast: Jill Rillington (Lynette Edwards) Trudy (Lesley Meade) Kenny Collins (Simon Chandler) Ruy (Daniel Collings) Douglas Beechey (Jon Strickland) Vic Parks (Peter Laird) Sharon Griffin (Shirley-Anne Selby) Marta (Doreen Andrew) Ashley Barnes (Peter Forbes) David (Adam Godley)
Vic Parks is the man of the moment; a celebrity criminal who having spent nine years in jail for a botched bank robbery, has written his autobiography and is now a bona fide television celebrity. Now living in a villa, complete with swimming pool, in Spain, he has agreed to appear on the TV show Their Paths Crossed. The host Jill Rillington intends to bring together, 17 years on, Vic with Douglas Beechey ? the unassuming clerk who foiled the robbery. Jill hopes to exploit the irony that although Douglas had a brief 15 minutes of fame and married his true love ? incidentally maimed during the raid ? the man who has found true success and celebrity is the villain. Expecting jealousy, envy and bitterness from Douglas, Jill instead finds a profoundly accepting man who has no regrets about his life and is actually a fan of Vic’s TV show. His only wish being that his moment of fame had lasted a little longer.
Douglas is the epitome of good while Vic, despite appearances, is unchanged and brutalises ? predominantly verbally, but we are left in doubt it could be physical ? his wife, servant and nanny. Where there should be fireworks between the two men, Jill finds Douglas impressed by the villa and quite happy to sit and talk with Vic. Unable to even goad Douglas into saying anything interesting, she realises she has nothing for a TV show which is on the verge of cancellation. Jill films the ‘first meeting’ of Vic and Douglas, despite their bring together for hours before, ruthlessly ignoring the fact a servant could bee drowning in order to get her shot ? for what it is worth.
Jill’s prayers are answered unexpectedly with Vic’s bullying of the nanny. Driven to her limit and goaded by Vic, she attempts suicide. Vic’s wife Trudy, who has made a human connection with Douglas, intervenes and begins to struggle with Vic. Douglas comes upon the scene and ? as 17 years earlier ? takes action. He lunges at Vic, who falls into the pool and is drowned, largely as a result of the nanny standing on top of him. The trio agree to call it an accident. Ironically, Jill does not see this and fails to recognise the immense story it is. The action abruptly stops, the characters are recast and the audience become aware this is a TV reconstruction with Vic dying by tragic accident and Jill re-writing history to mark the death of a living legend, knowing full well her career has been reprieved by the death of Vic which she intends to manipulate for her own ends. The play ends with the floor manager counting down the audience to applaud, making them implicitly complicit in the lie.
The inspiration of the play
Here was the inspiration for Man Of The Moment, which also fulfilled Alan’s desire to tackle the issue of good and evil and to see whether he could write two convincing and equally interesting characters who epitomised both sides of the moral balance. The play is also about Alan’s scepticism of the media and the direction television is going. It deals with how the media manipulates its audiences and how certain people can manipulate the media or allow themselves to be shaped by the media to create often undeserved fame and celebrity.
Language points
Title: Man of the Moment of the moment: (of a person, a job, an issue, etc.) famous, important and talked about a lot now. 此刻的, 目前的,红极一时的 She is the fashion designer of the moment. 她是当今最 炙手可热的时装设计师。 Presently, SHARON returns from the swimming pool, carrying an armful of the children’s toys. (para.
  1) presently: adv. used to show that sth. Happened after a short time, soon. 不久 Presently, the door opened again and three men stepped out. 过了一会儿,门又开了,三个男子走了出去。
It’s bad enough on a man, it’s obscene on a woman, don’t you agree? (
Offensive or repulsive to the senses; offensive to accepted standards of decency or modesty
Still, we’re working on you, aren’t we, Sharon? (para.
  24) to try continuously to influence sb. or persuade them to do sth. 不断努力去影响某人或说服某人做某事 In spite of this, we are trying to help you lose weight, aren’t we? (para.
  24) We are slowing melting you down= we’re trying to help you lose some pounds bit by bit.
Look, I really don’t think you should go on tormenting this girl simply because ? (para.
Torment n.(名词) Great physical pain or mental anguish. 折磨:极大的身体上的 痛苦或精神上的烦恼 A source of harassment, annoyance, or pain. 使人痛苦的东西: 骚扰,烦恼或痛苦的来源 The torture inflicted on prisoners under interrogation. 刑罚: 在审问过程中对犯人施用的折磨 v.tr.(及物动词) To cause to undergo great physical pain or mental anguish. 折磨:使承受巨大的肉体痛苦或精神痛苦 To agitate or upset greatly.极大地烦恼或使烦乱 To annoy, pester, or harass.惹怒,骚扰或纠缠
(undaunted): - simply because she’s a shade overweight. (
  27) very slightly not afraid of continuing to try to do sth. in spite of difficulties or danger 毫不畏惧的 Undaunted by the enormity of the task, they began rebuilding the village Compound words over-表示“在...上面, 优越”之义 n. Overweight overbridge overburden v. Oversleep overact overbuild adj. Overbrilliant overcareful
TRUDY looks at the men and appears to sum up the scene. (para.
  28) sum up: to form a judgment or opinion about sb. or sth. 判断,估计 Pat summed up the situation at a glance. 帕特只瞧了 一眼就知道事情是怎么回事了。 It comes of being surrounded by people who nod at him all day at work. (para.) come of: to happen as a result of sth. 结果 come of doing That’s what comes of not practicing ? you’ve forgotten everything.
You really don’t bear any resentment for what he did? (para.
  38) bear:vt. To have a particular feeling, esp. a bad feeling 怀有(某种感情,尤其是消极情感) She bears a grudge against him. 她对他心怀怨恨。 resentment: a feeling of anger because sth. has happened that you think is unfair 怨恨,忿恨 resent v. resentful adj. She was generally very nice and polite, but, so far as romance went, I think I was definitely at the bottom of the reserves as far as she was concerned. (para.
  39) she was generally very nice and polite, but when it comes to love, I was the last person to win her heart.

  1. To keep back, as for future use or for a special purpose. 保留,收藏:保 留,如用 于将来使用或某一特殊的目的
  2. To set or cause to be set apart for a particular person or use. 存下:把或 使…分 离开来专门留给某人或某用途
  3. To keep or secure for oneself; retain:保留,保有:为自己保留;保持: I reserve the right to disagree. 我保留持不同意见的权利 n. Abbr. res.(名词)缩写 res.
  1. Something kept back or saved for future use or a special purpose. 储备物,收藏:留存下来供将来使用或用于某一特殊目的的东西
  2. The act of reserving. 保留:保留的行为
  3. The keeping of one's feelings, thoughts, or affairs to oneself. 自我克制: 把感受、想法或事情全留给自己
  4. Self-restraint in expression; reticence: 保守;慎言:在表达上的自我约束;沉默寡言: “One feels it everywhere, a quality of reserve, something held back”(Rollene W. Saal) “你到处感到一种拘谨感,受到拘束”(罗里尼W.萨尔)

  5. Lack of enthusiasm; skeptical caution. 矜持,拘谨:缺少热情;带有怀疑的谨慎
  6. An amount of capital held back from investment in order to meet probable or possible demands. 储备金;资本准备金:从投资中留存下来的,为了应付可能发生的需要的一部 分资金
  7. A reservation of public land: 保留地:公共土地的保留: a forest reserve.自然森林保护区
  8. An amount of a mineral, fossil fuel, or other r



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