Interview: Sunday Tribune (17 August 1986)

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

Game For A Laugh

by Ciaran Carty

"The human mind is like the human eye. We learn to blink and not concern ourselves with the many horrible things that are happening around us. If we sense we're being got at in a play, we quickly clam up. Although I don't want to get at people, comedy is the way to do it. I've been moved by more comedies than tragedies. Chekhov's in particular. The sadness only hits you afterwards."

"The fact is that nice people don't make good theatre. The most difficult thing to write about are people who are totally happy."

"I strongly believe that writing is a craft and that playwrights don't often write nearly enough early on."

"They're plays that can be achieved in a tiny theatre with a small cast. I find the limits a challenge. That I can't have huge casts works commercially in my favour. Writing happens best under certain preconditions. It never helps if one is given an infinite budget and an infinite number of people."

"I'm intrigued by the use you can make of time on the stage and the way it can be shifted and shaped."

"You should never underestimate an audience. Since the audience occupies the same space as the actors in Scarborough they have to cross the stage to get to their seats. At the interval I noticed that they were subconsciously using the set as the actors had used it. As long as you explain the rule early in a play the audience will imagine what ever you want them to imagine."

"It's quite a change of pace [at the National Theatre]. You have to deliver a play a year in advance so they can get the right cast!" This time his theme is dishonesty.

"It's good to escape all the administrative chores for a while. Not having to dream up a repertoire every season. It's nice to work in other people's theatres where they have all the worries. Let Peter Hall worry instead of me."