Interview: In Britain (May 1980)

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

Playwright In The Round

by William Foster

"The only problem about playing to American audiences is that their humour is rooted in people's neuroses, while English humour is more slapstick."

"In Yorkshire, they take their humour seriously, if you see what I mean."

"I live in a rambling, converted vicarage near the castle ruins, and I really feel quite proprietorial about Scarborough when the summer visitors have departed. When I'm stuck over a particular scene and it doesn't come right, I put on my gumboots and walk along the beach and scream abuse at the seagulls. I can talk to myself without anyone noticing and wondering if I ought to be at large."

"They're tougher up here and more inclined to sit back and say, right, entertain me. Which is good. I can almost hear them say: 'Look, laddie, I paid my £1.85 at the box office, which is a muckle lot of brass, and if it's not funny, I'll sort you out later.' They have a saying up here: 'It's too daft to laugh at', and when I hear that, I know I've overstepped the mark."

"The [Yorshire] people are gritty and down-to-earth, without pretences of any kind. Like their own landscape and scenery, in fact."

"One or two critics get a bit upset by my stuff because they think it pokes fun at the best of human nature. But I'm really showing how sad it is that people can try to be nice and that it sometimes doesn't work. I'm saying that a lot of the worst things that happen in life are the result of well-meaning actions."

"Farce is the most difficult thing of all to write because it has to be a riot from beginning to end."