Advocates: Stephen Mallatratt

Stephen Mallatratt was a writer and actor who is best known for his stage adaptation of Susan Hill's novel The Woman In Black, which is the second longest running show in the West End and a global phenomenon. He first worked with Alan Ayckbourn as an actor at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, before being encouraged as a writer by Alan. He had numerous works staged by the company - including the world premiere of The Woman In Black, and was both resident writer and Associate Director at the company in Scarborough.


A Chorus Of Approval (1999)
In 1999, the Stephen Joseph Theatre held a special event to mark Alan Ayckbourn's 60th birthday. This was accompanied by a publication including tributes from some of the people he has worked with. This is a complete transcript of the contribution.

"I was an actor in the Scarborough company in the mid-seventies and had begun to be aware that acting was likely to be a diminishing source of satisfaction. and success. Clutching at a straw and with the hubris of youth I looked at Alan’s work and thought "l could do that." So I wrote a play that had half a dozen clear Ayckbourn types in some sort of plot that played havoc with place and time — I don't really remember what. I showed it to Alan - assuming he'd greet it with the fervour and enthusiasm I'd felt while writing it - "A play! How marvellous!"

"Having been on the receiving end of several young actors' first plays I now know his heart must have sunk. But he read it, and his response was "You're a writer if that's what you want to hear.” I'd expected him to say I was the new Chekhov. Then he added - "But learn the rules before you break them." - He ignored the fact that I'd nicked his style and his characters, he made suggestions and encouraged me to do a complete re-write, and then directed the play himself in the '75 summer season. He immediately commissioned a Christmas show from me, followed that with a commission for the main house the following year, and a studio play to go with it.

"With his guidance, I was a writer."
Copyright: Stephen Mallatratt. All research for this page by Simon Murgatroyd, please credit this website if reproduced.