Interview: Sydney Morning Herald (14 September 1986)

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

A Master Of Comedy Who Is Now Being Taken Seriously

by Bob Evans

"It's unheard of. I finished it [the new play] in April and I had to submit it to Sir Peter Hall. That was a unique feeling. I have been submitting plays to myself for years and accepting them without a qualm. I was extremely nervous. Of course some people would say it should happen more often. Now I've cast it and it's sitting in a drawer while I sit here twitching, wondering whether I'll still like it when next April comes and we start rehearsing it. I hope to God I do."

"It's [Scarborough] at the end of the railway line, 300 miles (480 kilometres) from London, so we only get occasional visits from the national press. In the West End, the pressure on you to get everybody's money back is so enormous, you can't take the same risks. In Scarborough I can fall off the edge occasionally and not be too frightened. We can always make the books balance somehow."

"My favourite writer is Chekhov and I've been getting into Ibsen recently, but I don't want people to think that I've gone into some sort of black Nordic depression. Most human endeavour, including trying to take your own life, does have its comic side. I'm concerned to let the impact of the deed sour the sugar."

"Everywhere you go there are people with unhappy marriages or people who can't cope with life. The idea that plays in which there is laughter are frivolous and can't be serious comes from this country's strong puritan ethic. Imagine a play without comedy. What an unbearable slog the evening would be."

"Writers never lose their formative years. I'm still writing about people who live in Barclay's bank houses in Sussex. That's where my inner voices are. Most of the characters we create contain varying degrees of our own personalities."