Interview: Scarborough Evening News (9 April 1982)

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

Triumph… Or Disaster

by Lynne Curry

"It [Intimate Exchanges] looks set for something I've wanted to do for a long time and I need lots of space to do it in. The only excuse I can offer is that it's 25 years since I came to Scarborough, so it's my silver anniversary or whatever you want to call it. I had two actors left whom I had worked with for a long time, Robin Herford and Lavinia Bertram. I had a whole summer now to do a play. I was always keen on writing a two-hander, but always refused to do it because the rest of the cast would be out of work. Now I only have two actors. It's not an ordinary two-hander by any means. Sisterly Feelings explored what I hope this play will carry on doing. That was my first attempt at exploring what I call variation in the theatre; at the end of scene one three of them toss a coin and that affects what happens from then on. None of the audience nor the actors know how it's going to carry on. But there were, in fact, only four variations. The problem there was that you went and saw the show twice and saw the lot."

"The theme of the play in most general terms - I hate talking about a thing until I've done it - will be the tiny decisions you make in the morning. Things like shall I take a coat or not. That leads you perhaps to take shelter in a doorway and meet someone and so it goes on. It's all decisions. What I've always thought about live theatre is that it's live in reality. The only thing we can really offer that TV or films can't do is the spontaneity. Obviously this is taking it to the nth degree. Every play is spontaneous and every play will differ from night to night."

Stephen Joseph was a real anarchist. He preached the theory that all theatres should self-destruct after seven years. If we're going to do anything it should be to keep up-ending things. This season I said: 'What are we doing? Getting into a rut.' We have the flexibility in this theatre to throw caution to the winds and take a few risks. We're in the risk-taking business here. Our reputation has been based on people saying we must be mad. The audience will feel, I hope, that we're still on the helter-skelter a bit."