Interview: American Theatre (1990)

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

What Makes Ayckbourn Run?

by Matt Wolf

"I hope my plays hold up in 400 years; that's the real test."

"Most of my characters hate each other."

"That national repression is something I bless and curse at the same time. As a writer, I like the fact that the English saunter in at an oblique angle to everything they say and do to each other. Whether it's love or hatred, they manage for a lot of the time to hide or conceal it - or to show it without being aware that they're showing it."

"I think the time is right for morality plays. In my last few plays, I've taken the audience by the hand and led them down a path a lot of them would not normally have taken."

"I'm alarmed and worried by some of the attitudes that have come out of that philosophy [Thatcherism]. But I think it's wider than her; she bears the title.
Absurd Person Singular, for instance, was a rather cynical piece that said, 'If you stay behind too long, worrying about yourself and other people, the small man who worries only about his own profits overtakes you.' But the disease is permeating the society more deeply now than it was then. When I wrote that play in the '60s, I think we all felt there was a door opening then which was rudely slammed again - a whole sort of optimism which doesn't exist much now."

"As a man said to me once. 'If I'd known what I was watching. I wouldn't have stayed.' He didn't realise until he was halfway-through. 'I think I've rust been insulted.' I took it as a very nice compliment."

"Broadway has a peculiar set of rules and requirements that aren't always what you expect. It's a risk, but I think all my plays are risky there; that's where they appear to be at their most foreign"

"People say. 'What's it like to be 50 and you say, 'Well, it's the same as it is to be 20.' The only thing that changes is people's perception of you."