Alan Ayckbourn, the UK’s most prolific living playwright, premieres his 66th play next week. Drowning on Dry Land opens on 4 May 2004 (previews from 29 April) and continues up to 11 September at Scarborough's Stephen Joseph Theatre, where Ayckbourn has been artistic director since 1971.

In Drowning on Dry Land, Ayckbourn takes a wry look at our modern media-driven society. Charlie is an A-list celebrity, mobbed and adored by thousands, marketed on the back of everything from cereals to sports gear. But no one’s quite sure why he’s famous. And a ruthless TV journalist is looking for a chink in Charlie’s armour.

The new comedy is directed by Ayckbourn and designed by Roger Glossop, with lighting by Mick Hughes, costumes by Christine Wall and original music by David Newton. The cast are Stephen Beckett (from Coronation Street), Adrian McLoughlin, Sarah Moyle, Paul Kemp, Stuart Fox, Melanie Gutteridge and Billie-Claire Wright.

Also in Scarborough this summer is a revival of Neil Simon’s rarely performed 1980 comedy I Ought to Be in Pictures, which runs in SJT’s Round Theatre from 18 May to 3 July 2004 (previews from 13 May) and is directed by associate director Laurie Sansom.

Wannabe actress Libby hitchhikes to Hollywood in the hopes that having a screenwriter father will help her find fame and fortune. Even if he did abandon the family 16 years ago. The cast for I Ought to Be in Pictures are Bill Champion, Julie Hewlett and, making her professional stage debut as Libby, Laura Doddington.

Simon is often considered the US equivalent of Ayckbourn. Having started his career as a gag writer in the 1960s, he has become one of America’s most prolific playwrights, regularly represented on Broadway with comedies such as Brighton Beach Memoirs, Plaza Suite, The Odd Couple and Barefoot in the Park, all of which have also been previously produced in Scarborough.

- by Terri Paddock