Interview: Sunday Correspondent (30 September 1990)

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

Ayckbourn Overcomes A Childhood Aversion

by Robert Chalmers

"It's a fascinating theme, sexual jealousy. And
Othello is Shakespeare's most domestic tragedy. Quite often in Shakespeare people are experiencing emotions that most members of a modern audience are never going to get near. I mean the number of people in the immediate Scarborough area who have recently lost a kingdom, say, is relatively limited. So when we watch that happen on stage, we say 'tough'. But actually being overcome with violent, uncontrollable jealousy is something that a lot of us must have come very near."

"I mistrust happy relationships very much. I think a big piece of us dies in marriage. I don't think it's for me."

"I write from my centre. I would be an absolute fraud to try to write about pigeon-fanciers in Barnsley. By the same token I have to say that some of the guys who do that can't half write a bad middle-class character. Stick to what you know."

"I hope I haven't been to the extremes that some of my characters have. But I have been within an inch - certainly when I was younger - of doing things I'm glad I didn't. That moment. You wake up in the middle of the night, for instance, with the kids crying. And there's that moment, just that fraction. You say: 'My God, I'm going to pitch this kid out of the window.' And something governs you. But as I said the other day in rehearsal: 'If anyone here thinks that people like Iago are farfetched, forget it.' I sometimes think I'm within an inch of him. I mean that."

"When I first started I was a very light, jolly dramatist. Some people wish I still was. There has always been a dark undercurrent in my work, but it is less easy to conceal when you have girls dying on lavatory seats at the end of plays, with multiple drug symptoms. There does seem to be a movement to take me more seriously now, but the trouble is, once you get taken seriously you start getting an awful lot of books written about you. And not many people come and see you. I'd rather have the people and lose the books. I've always worked on Clint Eastwood's principle. I don't know if it's original but it's a good line, 'Take the work seriously, but never yourself'."