Interview: Time Of My Life (2008)

This interview was published in the programme for a production of Time Of My Life at Westport County Playhouse in 2008.

Interviewer: J B Priestley credits J W Dunne's theory of time as a major influence in his work - Dunne's theories in turn have influenced Huxley and T S Eliot - have you also been influenced by Dunne or is your reference to Priestley (as an influence on your work in Time of My Life) structural as opposed to theoretical?
Alan Ayckbourn: Certainly not theoretical. I observed Priestley's experiments with time in plays like Time And The Conways, I Have Been Here Before etc. but of course time is only one of the elements at the disposal of a dramatist - how you use it is intensely personal and relies on self-experimentation to find out how best it works for you.

In many ways Time of My Life appears to be composite / mosaic of marriage - is your intent to demonstrate the 'stages' of marriage?
No, my intention was to perceive a single moment in life - in this case where the characters are apparently very happy. I then proceed to look at that moment through the eyes of the three pairs of protagonists. One pair remaining for two hours in the present; one pair proceeding two years into the future and one pair receding two months into the past. We are then able to perceive that moment from their different viewpoints.

How do you feel your background as an actor-director-professor has influenced the direction your work has taken (or your vision)?
Not as a professor (I don't know what professors do actually) but as an actor / director quite a lot in that the physicality of theatre intrigues me. I'm not much of a one for theory.

"Time is just one colour in a playwright's palette" - what else comprises your palette?
Place, character, structure, dialogue, what you include and, more importantly, what you leave out.

Do you have your own theory of time? (for instance Dunne postulates that past-present-future all happen simultaneously but human beings experience this in a linear form)?
I believe the past is unalterable; the future is fluid but the most important place to be is the present which few of us manage. We are either looking forward in hope or back with regret.

As an admitted restaurant eavesdropper: are there other admissions to share that have led to plays?
In my head I record all my relationships. Most of them I conveniently forget about, only to be amazed when I am reminded by those involved that they have resurfaced in plays.

Copyright: Alan Ayckbourn. Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.