Interview: The Press (29 May 2009)

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

This Playful Man

by Charles Hutchinson

How easy is it to remember the landmarks of your life?

Whereas TS Eliot's J Alfred Prufrock measured out his life with coffee spoons, 70-year-old Sir Alan Ayckbourn can do so with his plays, all 72 of them.

In his first production since stepping down after 37 years as artistic director of the
Stephen Joseph Theatre, he is directing How The Other Half Loves at the Scarborough theatre for the first time since its premiere 40 years ago. That 1969 premiere at the Library Theatre was of great significance in Ayckbourn's career: it was the first time he had directed his own work in Scarborough, and he wasn't paid for doing so, although he had the use of general manager Ken Boden's flat for the duration of rehearsals.

"It's quite often been the case since then that I haven't been paid: often I would waive the director's fee when I looked at the budget - though now I'm a freelance and I'm coming in as a guest, I'm getting a fee. Very nice it is, too!" says Sir Alan.

"It was quite difficult to know if I'd got it right, but once you've written one or two, you know you can finish it. There's always the angst over the quality and whether it's good and that still goes on today."

"It's like looking at an old photo of yourself [returning to old plays] and thinking, 'Is that me in those swimming trunks?'. I can't recall why I wrote it or why I wrote that line, but I would be loathe to alter great swathes of it because the guy who wrote it knew what he was doing at the time. So it's strange, it's like it's someone else's play but that someone else is me."