Interview: Richmond Herald (22 February 1979)

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

Meeting Mister A

by Judy Miles

"I prefer, like Jane Austen, to stick to what I know. So I won't be writing about dockers. And although I have thought about it, I don't think I'm likely to embark on 'serious' stuff either. My forte is making people laugh. After all there are plenty of playwrights around who know how to make them miserable!"

"Every day, increasingly, we're bombarded with images from the media - images of horrors going on in the world. And the natural reaction is to shut off - go away and do the washing-up - forget about it. The same thing can happen with a play. If you show people too much, too forcibly, the shutter comes down. My aim is to get at people so they don't realise it. At the time they laugh, and then, afterwards, they start thinking…."

"My parents were separated, and she brought me up so I didn't have the image of Daddy, the breadwinner, going out to work. Instead I had Mummy, staying at home to work, bashing away at a typewriter. Little Alan sat in the corner watching her - and inevitably I tried to copy her.

"When I left school, I wanted to be an
actor. Well, I suppose everyone going into the theatre starts out that way - you're just waiting for some nice director to say 'come along and be the new Albert Finney'. You're not really interested in doing any other job - I thought being a director was the most boring thing imaginable!"

"My actors are 200 miles away from London, so they depend on what I write being written for them. I have to steer a practical course - doing what they want, and also giving the audience what it wants. Because I started to write late - initially I was writing parts for myself as an
actor - I have knowledge of many areas: lighting, sound; you could say I know the grammar of the theatre. That's why I've never written for television. It's a totally different craft."