Hero's Welcome: History

Hero's Welcome is Alan Ayckbourn's 79th play and premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, on 8 September 2015.

He began writing the play in October 2014, during the same month he completed the first draft, but the final draft was not completed until December 2014.
Behind The Scenes: Baba's Inspiration
The character of Baba was partially inspired by the playwright's daughter-in-law, who at the time of his first meeting her spoke little English (see
The play marked the first visit to Alan's fictional town of Hadforth, which had previously been mentioned in the plays Confusions and Way Upstream; the boat in the latter is named the Hadforth Bounty. Unlike his better known fictional town of Pendon which is - generally - located near Reading - Hadforth is located in the north of England.

Hero's Welcome centres on a decorated soldier returning from service in a deliberately ambiguous war-zone to the home-town he left 17 years previously. Having left his fiancée - now the town mayor - at the altar before leaving the town, his return stirs up past feelings and rivalries as well as revealing that there is a secret behind the soldier's 'heroism'.

As had been a frequent feature of recent works, the play features a composite set with several locations (Murray's hotel room, Brad's living room & Alice's kitchen) which includes a working model railway loop!
Behind The Scenes: Look North
The play opens with Murray being interviewed by two unseen people. Whilst watching BBC
Look North one evening, Alan realised it would be perfect to have two actual television presenters do the pre-recorded off-stage voices. Look North presenters Harry Gration and Amy Garcia agreed to be involved and recorded their lines at Alan Ayckbourn's home on 5 August 2015.
The playwright has noted Hero's Welcome returns to one of his themes of male competitiveness as seen in the likes of Time & Time Again and is also his third play - following Private Fears In Public Places and Arrivals & Departures - which features a soldier as one of the protagonists.

Reaction to the play was largely positive with particular praise singled out for the professional stage debut of Terenia Edwards as the pivotal figure of Baba, the foreign fiancée of the soldier adjusting to a new life and culture.

A UK tour, in association with the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford, took place from January 2016 with Evelyn Hoskins taking over Terenia Edwards's role of Baba to equal acclaim; the role has been written with Evelyn in mind, but prior commitments meant she could not perform the role in Scarborough. The tour culminated with a six week residency at the 59E59 Theaters in New York as part of the
Brits Off Broadway festival. For the American residency, Charlotte Harwood took over the roles of Kara & Simone from Emma Manton.

Hero's Welcome was made available for production by professionals and amateurs in 2016 and was published by Faber in 2018 as part of the Alan Ayckbourn: Plays 6 collection and as an acting edition by Samuel French during 2019.

Article by Simon Murgatroyd. Copyright: Haydonning Ltd. Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.