Interview: Evening Standard (10 March 1991)

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

Play Time With Ayckbourn

by Elisabeth Grice

"For years, I've nervously avoided writing for children. I'm not quite sure why. Perhaps it's because I'm not awfully good with them."

"It [
Christmas V Mastermind] was my last full-length children's play for 26 years. It was also the last of my plays that I appeared in. I played a villain in a dressing gown who pushed a Christmas fairy out of a fifth-floor window, having fastened her wings together with a bulldog clip. One of the few laughs in the show. A woman wrote and said, after watching it, that she was never coming to our theatre again. Ah me."

"I began to think about my own experiences as a child. Not that I saw much theatre. We were taken up to London at Christmas from Greater Suburbia, to places like the Coliseum to see the pantomime. I realised I never remembered the comic bits, but things like Bambi's mother dying and all the grimnesses instead. I thought it might be nice to write something a little bit meatier for children. Besides, why should children come to the theatre only at Christmas?"

"Children are more exacting people to write for and they've affected my adult work, so it's not completely altruistic."

"For about the first week or 10 days [of his writing period], I don't do anything very much. I wander around and read and sharpen pencils, watch telly. I do all the normal things - fix shelves, things like that. I go for walks, moon around."

"Good directors are part psychiatrists, part confessors. I am told a lot of personal things that I hope are always fairly sacred but nonetheless can be recycled, regurgitated. I do hear more about people than if I worked, say, in a building society."

"I have terrible luck on planes. The first time a man died and we had to reroute and land in the middle of Alaska. It was awfully sad. But if you deliver a dead body to Canada you have to fill in a lot of forms. There was a pop group on board who had taken enough stuff to sleep through the journey but woke up with terrible withdrawal symptoms. They were running up and down the plane screaming, desperate for another fix. I thought, 'Oh my God this is like...'"