The Woman in Black: Frequently Asked QuestionsThis page refers solely refers to the world premiere production at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round in 1987. It also answers several questions relating to Alan Ayckbourn and his involvement with the play and how it inspired him to write one of his plays.
The Woman in Black
The Woman in Black was adapted by the playwright Stephen Mallatratt from Susan Hill's novella The Woman in Black.
When and where was The Woman in Black first performed?
The Woman in Black was a first performed at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round, Scarborough, on 11 December 1987. It was performed in the theatre's small, end-stage studio space. It would then be produced in the West End in 1989.
Why is The Woman in Black significant to Scarborough's cultural heritage?
The play was commissioned by and first performed at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round, Scarborough. The novel from which the play was adapted was written by Scarborough-born author, Susan Hill.
I've seen references to the world premiere production taking place in a theatre bar, is this true?
No. The original production was staged in the end-stage studio space at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round - the theatre bar was next door to it, but it certainly wasn't performed in there.
What are the quotes on all the pages of this site?
These are quotes taken from the original manuscript, by Stephen Mallatratt, for the world premiere production of The Woman in Black in Scarborough in 1987.
What is Alan Ayckbourn's connection to The Woman in Black?
Stephen Mallatratt's adaptation of Susan Hill's book, The Woman in Black, premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in December 1987 of which Alan Ayckbourn was the Artistic Director from 1972 to 2009. He also had an uncredited technical role in the world premiere production.
What did Alan Ayckbourn contribute to the world premiere of The Woman in Black in 1987?
In 2022, Alan Ayckbourn publicly admitted for the first time he had been involved in the sound design for the world premiere production of The Woman in Black. The sound is credited to Jackie Staines, who created the vast majority of sound effects for the production. However, Alan recalled that the director Robin Herford said there were difficulties with the famed Eel Marsh crossing sound effects due to the complexity of the sound plot and the limited resources of the theatre. Alan, who had state-of-the-art sound facilities at his home in Scarborough and was responsible for designing the sound-plots for the majority of his own productions, helped create the sound-plot for the section of the play where the sound of the carriage running off the causeway is heard.
What Alan Ayckbourn play did The Woman in Black inspire?
Alan was so impressed by The Woman in Black - he considers it one of the two finest supernatural plays to have been written for the stage - that it inspired him to try his hand at writing a supernatural play. This was Haunting Julia, which premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round, Scarborough, in 1994. Whilst very fond of his play, Alan has always acknowledged it's not quite as an effective supernatural play as The Woman in Black.
"I did not see a young woman…"
All research for this page by Simon Murgatroyd.