Interview: Yorkshire Arts Magazine (May 1981)

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

Ayckbourn In Round

"The advantage of this theatre [the Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round] is that the man who started it [
Stephen Joseph] was totally uncompromising and always did new work."

"Agents and authors think that all plays here are an automatic ticket to the West End but that's an unnatural expectation. As I've proven - my name should in theory be able to fill a theatre - a play of mine can only last there three months. Add Penelope Keith though and it lasts for a year. It's a case of add stars and stir!"

"My plays are written for here [Scarborough]; they become distorted by the star system."

"Because we are a company theatre [the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round] - they're fewer of them around today - we don't look for inexperienced or for very old actors. The average age of people in the company is mid-30 and I think that's important."

"Most writers like the pressure of not having long to write something for a given slot; there's something immediate about it. The excitement about writing a play is getting it on stage. The initial bit of boringly typing out pages has to be done but it's only the beginning."

"Stephen Joseph had a strong emphasis on the practical and an understanding of the technicalities. He helped me enormously on the craft side."

Does he give them any criteria to work to?

"I give the minimum of restrictions [to new writers]. I describe the audience ('half of Scarborough was educated in this building') and that we are in the middle of holiday time and say the everything's got to have an entertainment content in it plus a bit more because otherwise it would drive the company up the wall!"

"I love the theatre - TV no. There's no second chance on television and anyway my plays don't work on television. I like plays to grow in performance like mature Cheddar cheese."

"Although writing has eclipsed my directing I still think of myself as primarily a director. It's not purely altruistic. I find directing the most enjoyable and as a writer I'm best equipped to deal with new work - I like doing it for my direction and the more I can spread the word about new work to people in the audience the better."