Interview: The Press (7 May 1991)

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

Making The Wildest Of Dreams Come True

by Charles Hutchinson

"I'm fascinated by the minority, but nonetheless quite strong, cult of role-playing games. Theatre in one sense is an example of this."

Indeed so. Ayckbourn should know. Since leaving school, his life has revolved round the greasepaint industry, as stage manager, sound technician, lighting technician, scene painter, prop maker,
actor, writer and director.

"The play's [
WIldest Dreams] about how we all have images of ourselves or what we'd like ourselves to be. At certain stages of our lives we start to analyse what we have done or achieved, or in the case of Wildest Dreams, have failed to achieve. And I suppose it's what would happen, too, if our wildest dreams did come true, which they do, in a funny way, in the play. This in a sense is the re-telling of the old tale that you had three wishes, but when you've had the wish it's never quite what you imagined it to be."

"I am aware of being quite near to being a game player myself on occasions: You devise and write scenarios for plays and characters. Although, I hope I draw from life. A playwright rigs events to a certain extent. You are creating in a rather God-like way a whole micro-universe. One says, rather glibly, at my stage of writing, the characters can much more freely be themselves. They can flow without my particularly manipulating them.

"When you start writing plays, you are forcing them to go through the hoops that you devise because you are still concerned with getting the structure right. But later on, the structure hopefully takes care of itself, and the people are allowed to breathe a bit but nonetheless they are still controlled by parameters that you build into the play".

"The whole battle for me is to make sure I keep moving. There is a fear at this stage, play 43, that your arteries are definitely hardening and you are going to start writing the same play."

"At the moment it is the fantastic that interests me; the fantastic that is not out of our grasp. I mean, I wouldn't to write plays that no longer had a relevance. I do think there is a magic to be explored in the 'what if?'"

"I don't think I'm bitter, but I do find an increasing strain of irony in life, which is almost unbearable at times. Possibly the saddest thing is, as you get older, you rather touchingly believe you'll get wiser, but I'm not actually sure that is right. I think you just get to recognise certain patterns that repeat themselves."

"I rather wish I had the firm opinions of the younger members of the company. It's a nice age to go through. But then you go through a feeling when you don't actually believe in anything. You become a cynic. Then you come back to believing, to re-found beliefs but they are much more general... much more open to listening to other people. I'm always prepared to retract now."