Interview: Evening Advertiser (24 February 1990)

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

A most singular playwright, but never absurd

by Stephen Webb

"They [the plays] do tend to arrive by diverse means. Passing a newspaper hoarding can set me off, or overhearing a conversation. With
Absurd Person Singular I wanted to write about one couple's rise and another couple's fall. What made the play suddenly come alive was that, rather than set it in their living rooms, I set it in their kitchens. You can tell more about people from their kitchens.

"The idea for the play came from assorted sources. I'm like a walking tape recorder on record all the time. When I started writing plays in the '60s there was a lighter feel about. If you tried to launch a very silly, empty comedy today, people wouldn't thank you for it. A play has to say something; people are looking for more. That is the instinct and it's been borne out. My plays have got more serious, but I hope the laughter still runs through them."

"I am primarily a
director who writes about one play a year. I get lots of fun from directing. If I just wrote I would miss the contact with other people. Writing in the end is just you and a sheet of paper - and day after day it becomes rather soul destroying. I like working with actors. Directing is a fascinating craft and actors are strong individuals. You form a team and respect each other's working methods. It requires the utmost psychological stealth."

"There are ominous signs that theatre must get its money from sponsorship. We are becoming more reliant on independent sponsors. For me, this is not a very good sign. If these sponsors have put their money in they want to see results."

"Scarborough is as good a place as any to run a theatre. We are becoming quite a tourist attraction. People are booking their holidays around our programmes and if you can combine theatre with a holiday and a paddle, then all the better."

"I go on holiday once a year. I listen to a lot of music. Otherwise I just involve myself in the theatre. As Michael Gambon says, it's better than working. I'm lucky to be pursuing something I love."