Interview: Birmingham Post (1 March 1977)

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

Scarborough Fare

by Judith Cook

"People had said to me that I'd set plays everywhere but in the bedroom and I got to think about them and became fascinated by what people do in bedrooms - I don't mean all that ho, ho, risqué stuff, but the curious pastimes people take up. Just asking round my friends produced people who played Scrabble, elaborate quiz games, read all night or even in one instance, passed the time making furniture."

"I'm lucky to have a ready-made theatre in which to work and I can commission myself and then direct myself. Obviously there are dangers inherent in it. It's a big responsibility but equally if you do make mistakes you know very well that you've nobody to blame but yourself, you can blame either the direction or the acting because that's your responsibility too. I don't just direct my own plays; I encourage new playwrights by putting on their work too."

"I feel the need to direct, very strongly. I write one play a year and if all I did was write I know I'd get very bored. I'm not a very disciplined writer. I mean, I'm not one of those people who can get up and start prompt on 8am and write 500 words before lunch. I find it far more difficult than that and it gets worse as you get older and more established. You find yourself trying not to take the easy way out because you've learned so many theatrical tricks. When you don't, people say 'why didn't you do it like you did before?'"

"It's [Scarborough] too big for a village and too small for a city and every summer it totally changes its nature as the holiday-makers flood in - it's the most stimulating, lovely place."

"There is still, though, this belief that if it sounds easy to listen to it's somehow been easy to write, which is totally untrue. Good writing should look easy. It's not like making a chest of drawers where you can see the dovetailing and know it's been made by a craftsman."

"I think almost the biggest gulf in the world in humour is between America and us. If we didn't speak the same language, we'd realise it far more. My plays have been translated into about 18 languages, yet they are more readily understood and found amusing in places like Mexico and even in the Iron Curtain countries than in America. It's a very tough divide. You have to work quite differently with American actors. Much American humour is the one-line crack, which they deliver superbly, whereas my humour builds up out of situations."

"I'll always continue to write for Scarborough. Scarborough gives me the right to fail - and that's very important."