Interview: The Independent On Sunday (11 June 1995)

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

Staying Put In Scarboro' Fair

by Robert Butler

"The extraordinary thing about being a stage playwright is that you have no idea what people are talking about when they say they've seen a play of yours. If somebody says: 'I saw your play in Ipswich and I didn't like it,' you say, 'Oh, that's a pity.' But I have no criteria with which to defend it. I have no idea what the director decided to do with it. He may have played it all on step-ladders in the semi-dark."

"To put it crudely, theatre-in-the-round is a people medium. It suits human drama. It's not awfully good at polemical drama, great statements. What you tend to do is get involved very quickly with the individuals. A play like
Just Between Ourselves, which is a tiny, tiny fragment of eyebrow-raising human drama, is very hard to do in a pros. Directly you start to bang it out, the fabric goes on it, it tears."

"I would hate to be ungrateful, and I've had producers like Michael Codron who've served me terribly well, and some of them - plays like
Man of the Moment - have worked very well. But I'm beginning to look at each play on its merits and ask, 'Is this a West End show?'"

"If you say to an author, 'This is our studio theatre. We like it when people come, but we're not really worried if they don't. You don't have to fill it. Don't worry ...' I don't see the point in that. If they can't address anybody with what they're saying, then forget it."

"When you get a good house, it takes on a vibrant personality. I swear to God, it's still vibrating after the audience has gone. You go into the auditorium, and it's hot and slightly steamy, and you get that awful, no, not awful, that wonderful sense that something emotional has occurred, something satisfyingly emotional, even if it's a jolly good cry."