Interview: Manchester Evening News (13 March 1980)

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

Genius Who's Tickled Pink By Success

by Alan Hulme

"I used to write one a week, I just used to sit there hammering away at an old typewriter. It was a jolly good exercise, but my agent told me to stop - there was nowhere to put them."

"I can pretty well predict how popular one of my plays will be," he admits in his shyly confessional manner. " And I predict that
Taking Steps will be very popular. You see, it leaves you nothing much to worry about. Yes, Bedroom Farce will be difficult to follow in terms of popularity. But certain other of my plays do chunter on and I hope Taking Steps will foe in the same bracket. It was very popular here [Scarborough]: you can see the relief in an audience when they realise it isn't going to go bad on then."

"In the West End, I'm a known 'ha, ha, ha' commodity. If you step outside the formula you're in trouble. Ultimately I'd like to tear the middle out of you at the same time as you laugh helplessly."

"I'd like to explore new areas. I'd like to write a thriller, but I think it would have to be the 'clever' sort, like say
Sleuth. And I still think it would be comic - it would be like tying my right hand behind my back if I didn't write comedy."

"The great British Musical is a mythical beast. What I set out to do with
Suburban Strains was widen my scope by introducing music. It's allowed an opening up process. But it will be a job to move it to another theatre. The very intricate designs involve two revolving stages and we can't do it elsewhere with any ease. So it may be a musical which doesn't go into the West End." [1]

"You've got to be a rich man to let them [the plays] go there [the National Theatre] - with so few performances, because they're in rep, the returns are small."

"It would be stupid of me not to realise no one has failed to go out of fashion. And it is getting harder. I have to rope off areas I can no longer write about because I have already written about them. Yet I'm still bursting with ideas. More than ever in fact. At the moment I'm actually having to stop myself writing."