Interview: Times Educational Supplement (13 February 1987)

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

A View From Waterloo Bridge

by Lynne Truss

"Directing tragedy has a lot in common with directing farce. When we did Tons Of Money we had to meet the audience on the floor, gently leading them up the wall and then leave them standing on the ceiling. If you're doing your job well, they shouldn't notice until it's time to get down again. It's the same with A View from the Bridge: the emotional level is big - and the British are terribly embarrassed by emotions - so you have to make a journey from Normality to Big without leaving them behind."

"I've had to guide the actors quite sternly through it [
A View From The Bridge]. That's partly because it's so tightly written, so precise. Points have to be made very carefully. With a big play, with a King Lear, you get plenty of shots at the same point; you're bound to hit the audience sooner or later. This play is so dense you could miss them altogether if you don't get every little thing to work. Each scene condenses a whole course of action, so you have to get the pitch and the tempo exactly right. We found at first that people were rushing into heavy emotions at the beginning of each scene. A lot of the rehearsals have been to do with coming in lightly."

"We've found a lot of humour right through the play. And it's absolutely essential: if the tone stays the same the play doesn't go anywhere. The play has its own specific gravity, which can't be detracted from. But you have to approach it with a certain lightness. It's interesting, because it's the reverse of doing a comedy, where you don't laugh much at all in rehearsals: you're busy trying to make the humour truthful. With
A View from the Bridge we've been having a very good time. It reminds me of seeing Michael Hordern once when he was rehearsing Lear with Jonathan Miller. I asked him how it was going, and he said, 'I've no idea, but I'm having a hell of a lot of laughs!'"

"I put away my dramatist's head when I'm directing other people's plays. Except I suppose I pick things up from them. I mean, I don't think, 'ah, this is a good bit of dramatic construction, I must remember that when I write my next play'. But Miller is a consummate craftsman, and I have great respect for him. Living inside Eddie for a few months, instead of one of my own characters, I hope I've learned a bit; grown a bit."