Interview: The Sunday News (14 December 1975)

This page reproduces some of Alan Ayckbourn's significant quotes from the interview.

Ayckbourn: Underneath The Darkness, Laughter

by Ruth Hamilton

"The plays are getting darker. There's something underneath the laughter."

"I write all my plays for Scarborough. I never try to think what they'll be like in London or Berlin. It's better to write several plays and get home confidence in your own style before you're discovered by someone. And unless you're getting produced, you're not developing. You just go backward. You need a chance to observe: to see the things you like and don't like, the things you can do better next time. It's like building furniture - you get to know all the joints."

"If you have a road smash [that's British for highway accident], you can look at the road smash and write something tragic. I tend to look at the periphery and see the reaction of people looking on, and their reactions may be funny. People are always trying to behave the way they think other people want them to behave, and of course that is not the way people want them to behave."

"I have a rhythm of about one play a year. The first 11 months are spent sketching - not with notes, but in my head - and the last two weeks, or one, are spent writing. I tend to let it turn over and over, and then, usually close to the first rehearsal, put it down. There's rarely more than a month between the final script and the first night. And yes, I direct all my shows at Scarborough. There is very little change in rehearsal - some cutting and trimming. There may be flaws, but that's it: we do it."

"Theatre is about actors meeting an audience. Ultimately, the audience haven't come to see a director, they haven't come to see a scene designer, they've come to see actors. I quite like people who assume actors make it all up as they go along; that it can't be written down."