Interview: Sunday Times (4 February 1990)

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

In At The Deepe End Again

by Peter Lewis

"I feel at peace there [Scarborough]."

"After 30-something plays you need to hide in the cupboard and jump out and frighten yourself a little. I have to put myself on the line again with each one, to make me nervous. Not to be nervous is a bad sign."

"I don't need to run a theatre, except for the sake of my soul. But I would feel very lost if I just sat around and wrote. Having a company to write for is a terrific help. It gave me the right to fail. I didn't have to keep repeating a formula as I would have had to do if there had been a lot of money riding on it. My plays were staged for years without any after-life in the West End. A lot of them would not have been put on anywhere else. I've had immense freedom to write absolutely what I like, to cast and direct myself, even to do my own sound-effects, which I love. And the buck stops with me. Scarborough allowed me to develop the so-called darker elements in my work."

"A very positive man [
Stephen Joseph] who shouted the virtues of in-the-round as the only sort of theatre there was. It was the livingness of the performance that mattered to him, which is the one thing that the live theatre has to offer that you get nowhere else. It also is a lot cheaper. You need fewer props. He also encouraged writers.".

"My world [growing up] was set, like my plays, in small towns like Uckfield. I saw the basis of a lot of my characters then." He added in parenthesis: "My mother left him when I was 17."

"I'm getting bolder at interweaving the comic and the serious. My characters strobe between them so that people are laughing and stopping, laughing and stopping. There are moments when I can hear an audience turn in its tracks and back again. That's the tension I want to develop. But I still have a great desire to hear them laugh."

"Messages are sneaking in a bit, you know. There was quite a bit of message in
A Small Family Business, about honesty, stealing and so on."