Snake In The Grass: 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.
  • Snake In The Grass is the first - and to date - only play Alan Ayckbourn has written for an all-female cast. Part of its inspiration was Alan Ayckbourn being asked whether he would write a companion piece for women to his all-male play Haunting Julia.
  • Early correspondence from 2001 indicates Alan originally considered calling the play Grass Widow; a relatively obscure term used to describe a woman who is either divorced or separated from her husband. The actual title of the play was derived from a line in Alan Ayckbourn's play Joking Apart.
  • The play is written to progress from day to night during the course of the play; the play starts in the sunlight and ends deep in the night. It was regarded as a particularly challenging to light for its original production in the round complete with radio controlled lighting for the storm lanterns.
  • Snake In The Grass was originally performed in repertory at the Stephen Joseph Theatre with a revival of his play Joking Apart and as a result of this, Alan wrote the play to share the same set as Joking Apart - hence the plays share a tennis court and a gazebo on stage.

The Trilogy Question
One of the most frequently asked questions regarding Snake In The Grass is whether it is part of a trilogy alongside Haunting Julia 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 officially 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 - wrong - 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 either a trilogy or the Things That Go Bump trilogy is inaccurate.

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