Interview: What's On (4 September 1986)

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

Ayckbourn In Action


"I used to write very painstakingly in longhand, and in the early years when I was a hardworking actor in regional repertory theatres I worked late during the night and did the feeds for the babies too! The actual writing of a play rarely takes me long - I do it in a very concentrated period a few weeks before the rehearsals actually begin and often I work up to the last minute. That's the way I like to work.

"I
direct the plays at Scarborough and the act of writing and directing is actually a continual one. I used to work in longhand, followed by dictation, now I use a word processor, which might have been invented for a playwright, it is so very useful. It's marvellous for me anyway, I quite like technology when it's being used properly, and you stay firmly in command of the machine. I do like to keep a copy of the play on paper, however, and it is very important for me to be able to see the whole of a page when I am writing."

"I've always
directed my own plays, in fact I am probably more experienced as a director than I am as a playwright [1]; I've done hundreds of plays in my time, five or six a year minimum in Scarborough alone. I've worked extensively with classics and new work, which I particularly like. I started directing my own plays in 1964. I've no wish whatsoever to appear in one of my own plays - in fact no desire to act again ever. I find that acting, especially when you have got into direction, is something that becomes increasingly difficult to do. I would be no more able to be in a play now than fly through the air."

"I am very glad I did act because it has been the most enormous help in giving me insight both as a writer and director as to how actors think and feel. I find it exciting to see what an actor can do with a play of mine, and it is easy to fall in the trap of underestimating what an actor can bring to a speech of three words, as opposed to 35. This new play has been as exciting to work with as any of the others and the actors have stimulated me very much indeed."

Website Notes:
[1] Alan began directing in 1961 at the Library Theatre, Scarborough. He began directing his won work in 1965 with his seventh play,
Relatively Speaking.