Interview: Birmingham Post (26 August 1989)

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

Scenes In A World Of Change

by Terry Grimley

"I think the earlier ones [plays] become themselves and I can say 'Warts and all, you're all right.' I've redirected several of them. Ones that would be difficult to redirect are the more recent ones, even as far back as A Chorus of Disapproval. My favourites remain the current ones. I avoid all productions of my work other than those strongly recommended by people whose judgment I trust. I get very steamed up if I see something I think is bad. It's usually not been the fault of actors but of directors who've decided the whole thing should be done in bin-liners or something."

"I think the middle class is expanding ever more quickly. It's increasingly difficult to find a real aristocrat these days and the working class is certainly diminishing, though there are pockets of working men still proud of it, particularly in Yorkshire. But the biggest changes have been in sexual roles. I was watching an old science-fiction film the other night and the female members of the crew were doing the washing up. You would never dare do that now."

"I wanted to write about the act of creation [in
Henceforward…] and what you sell out in order to achieve it. I realised that for the first time in the history of theatre you could actually show someone creating. Normally it's 'Emily Brontë sits down left and starts Wuthering Heights' - which is pretty boring dramatically. You could have her chewing her pencil, or Beethoven humming the opening chords of the Fifth Symphony to himself. The great thing about sampling is that it is stealing from life. It's like when you've had an enormous row with your wife and you put that in your play. You get this reproachful look which says: 'I thought this was just between the two of us?' You feel like a thief in the night."

"I always say I'll leave Scarborough when it leaves me. We're short of money and we have a tough time in the winter but there's a smashing group of people and it's fun to work here rather than spend an hour being choked to death trying to get to the National," he said. "We get quite a cosmopolitan audience but it's interesting how the further people live away from us the more enthusiastic they are about coming. We've got a party of 30 Japanese flying specially from Tokyo to see my play next week but it's difficult to get people from Malton, a few miles away, to come."