Interview: Richmond & Twickenham Times (17 March 1978)

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

The Fastest Pen In The West


"I'm very much the country cousin when I come to London. I tend not to socialise much because most of my year is spent in Scarborough. My own circle of actors don't expect any cabaret turns. I like to be Mr. Average, that's the way you pick up material. One of the nice things about being a playwright is that nobody recognises you. I certainly don't want to be treated as anyone special, otherwise I might start to believe my own publicity."

In many ways, Ayckbourn is like a character from of one of his own plays - seemingly jolly, straightforward and ultra middle class. It turns out that he identifies strongly with several of his characters, especially Reg, the games fanatic in
The Norman Conquests.

"My problem, like his, is getting anyone to play with," he sighed. One of his hobbies is inventing table games, including one about the theatre, which he says takes almost as long to play as it does to produce a real play.

"There was a pageant going on in Scarborough when I wrote it [
Ten Times Table] and some of the organisers haven't spoken to me since. It contains some near libellous portraits. The last word someone said to me as I got on the train to London was: 'Who's playing me?' Committee people are a race apart. I spent a year on committees in Scarborough. It changes your personality, like driving a car. Small men can become very big men and, conversely, important people are reduced to nothing. There are basically three types - the unstoppable talkers, the people who never say anything and my type - the ones who never turn up at all."

"I have an inverted snob view which says that straight plays are written by people not blessed with humour. There's nothing straight drama has that can't be improved with some comedy. Obviously there are certain things I can't write about simply because my style couldn't cope with it."

"Remember it's [writing] a craft and needs a lot of practice. Be generous with your talent. The worst thing is to produce old brown scripts from 1932. Don't be depressed if the first six don't get on. Try and get them produced by amateur societies. People think writing plays is dead easy. You'd be surprised how many people come up to me and say they've been meaning to write a play but just haven't got round to it."