A FESTIVAL of films based on the plays of Alan Ayckbourn will be screened at Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre next week as part of his 80th birthday celebrations.

French director Alan Resnais’ Smoking and No Smoking, on September 20 and September 21 respectively at 2.45pm, are both based on Ayckbourn’s epic 1982 play Intimate Exchanges, which deals with the consequences of choice and how lives can take very different paths from the smallest to the biggest decision.

The play has eight significantly different plots dependent on the choices made; Resnais’ films adapts six of these plots – three for each film – as we see the five female characters (all played by Sabine Azéma) and the four male characters (all played by Pierre Arditi) recapping what might have happened if they had made or failed to make certain choices.

Private Fears In Public Places, on September 20 at 7.45pm and September 22 at 2.45pm, is Resnais’ second Ayckbourn film adaptation, 13 years on from 1993’s Smoking/No Smoking.

Again starring Sabine Azéma and Pierre Arditi, the story explores themes of alienation and loneliness in the 21st century as it follows the lives and relationships of six loosely linked people in London

Absent Friends, on September 21 at 7.45pm, was one of many plays adapted for the BBC show Theatre Night in 1985, but it was never released commercially, making this an exceptionally rare screening.

A tea party has been arranged for the recently bereaved Colin by “friends” and acquaintances.

However, his acceptance of his situation and his fulfilling time with his fiancée only serve to highlight and widen the rifts in other relationships.

Michael Simpson directs Julia McKenzie, Tom Courtenay, Hywel Bennett, Maureen Lipman, Kate Lock and Dinsdale Landen.

Absurd Person Singular, on September 22 at 7.45pm, was broadcast on BBC1 on New Year’s Day 1985, but has been screened only occasionally in British cinemas. Set in three kitchens over three Christmases, the story charts the relentless rise of the socially aspiring Hopcrofts at the expense of two other couples.

Michael Simpson directs Michael Gambon, Maureen Lipman, Geoffrey Palmer, Prunella Scales, Cheryl Campbell and Nicky Henson.

Tickets cost £7 for each film, with concessions available, or £25 for all five on 01723 370541 or at sjt.uk.com