Interview: Yorkshire Post (5 May 1984)

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

Absolutely Farcical

by Michael Hickling

"I still get enough buzz from the theatre. What's kept me fresh is Stephen Joseph's maxim that one should constantly break routines and keep wrong footing actors. I think this is why people have tended to stay here longer because the killer in this job is routine."

"I feel very excited and anticipatory now," he said. "The boat [the play
A Chorus of Disapproval] has been launched but I can still shout encouragement and remedies to the cast who are sailing it. Until tomorrow afternoon I can even turn it round. But what happens after that will be a big anti-climax as usual. It won't really go as I've planned and when it's over I'll drink too much. Next morning I'll feel awful and ask myself why I don't back out of all this."

"I've had offers to run bigger places [than Scarborough], but if I was a full time
director I wouldn't have time to write. And the trouble with running something the size of the National Theatre is that it takes ten miles to stop. I've got a passion that small is inevitably better. A place this size is more efficient and flexible and I'm very fortunate that things are running so smoothly here now."

"Anywhere else you would expect advance booking of some magnitude for a new play of mine. But in Scarborough we do suffer a bit from the 'Oh it's just 'I'm down the road there' attitude. If we surveyed our audience I think we'd find that half come from outlying districts. Scarborough people always have a very good reason for not going out anywhere."

"In general I just feel happier with that background. But I do like living here [Scarborough]. Like other seaside resorts it has got slightly moribund not knowing quite what to do with itself, but where else would I be able to say eight good mornings to people before getting to work?"

"Farce Is a tragedy that's been interrupted. All you do is edit it at the right point. If you let a character's life run on before editing - let's say until he's been married ten years - then as a result you'll have a slightly darker, but I hope truer, picture. I've never had any trouble being funny. I spend most of the time now taking out the jokes not putting them in."

"All I'd say about marriage is, don't feel bad if it doesn't work out. I got married at 19 and at 25 I was a totally different person - so was my wife. We parted amicably. If we'd kept on one of us would be dead. She would have withered away with unhappiness. Now we're in our middle forties we're well adjusted. She's jolly nice to have tea with, but I wouldn't want to marry her anymore. She says I'm very nice now as well. There are marriages where people have never had a cross word at 70, but that's not very interesting in a play. What we want to see in a play is someone having a worse time than us."

"It all gets quicker but it all gets harder. If I do try and honestly improve - and I've got this naive faith that the older I get the better I get - I suppose it's bound to get harder. I've done so much now and been down so many alleys. I've got a lot more plays left and I can see a few more years. But I think another 25 is being awfully optimistic."