Interview: The Sunday Times (4 February 1981)

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

Ayckbourn, With Music

by Ray Connolly

"When the time comes for me to write a new play, I usually take two weeks off from the theatre where I spend most of the year directing. Then I sit down and work right up against the deadline. The play goes straight from the typewriter into rehearsal. Often the first time the actors see the script is when they get it the night before we start rehearsing. Then, after three weeks' rehearsal, we put it on. I would say that 99 per cent of what I have written in the two weeks' writing stays the same. Because I direct the play myself, I can short-circuit much of the writing process, and I'm always anxious to get the actors doing the lines while they are still ringing in my head. I'm a gregarious person and I find the process of writing so lonely that I can't wait to get back to working with other people."

"I have a very catholic taste in music. I like everything from Vivaldi to Genesis. I go about as far as heavy metal. Don't like punk much. Anyway, about two years ago I thought it would be nice to appoint a musical director and we took on Paul Todd. Then eventually we began to work together. I worked out a theme and described the dramatic structure and where the songs ought to go. He then wrote the music and I wrote the lyrics. I believe that is considered the wrong way round, but that's the way we did it. I got the lyric writing bug from working with Andrew Lloyd Webber. It flexes different muscles. There's something mathematical about it which I find fascinating. It also means that I have to spend less time sitting alone writing, because I have to work closely with Paul."

"I am interested in the comedy of recognition. I don't like the banana skin argument. And it seems to me that the deeper you go into a character, the sadder the play must inevitably become."