Interview: The Press (14 September 2015)

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

Alan Ayckbourn's 79th play opens at Stephen Joseph Theatre with a story of a hero's return, murder, council corruption and marital misery

by Charles Hutchinson

Hero’s Welcome is about the prodigal son, Murray, coming back to his home town. He’s one of my anti-heroes really, a squaddie who has got all the good qualities that I like although he got trapped in his early days by the machinations of sexual politics and ran away at the altar. It explores the male rivalry between Murray and an old friend, Brad, who is fiercely competitive and will go to any lengths to win.”

"I love characters that surprise you. I tell the actors they should go on a journey but don't tell us that journey; don't anticipate your own development as a character."

"Alpha men like to challenge each other; there's that desperation to top each other's funny stories, for example, where no-one laughs at the end because they're primed for their own. I don't want to generalise about male rivalry, but the men don't come out of it well in this play, though the women at least show some strength and determination, but on the way you think, 'good god, I fear for her'."

"I don't think I've worked us out, because people are inconsistent, so they constantly surprise. I never tire of examining the human psyche; I'm an instinctive psychologist. I don't want to know about people in advance; I first want to see them and observe them, and hopefully audiences will recognise someone in my plays, though they won't recognise themselves. As Jonathan Swift says, satire is a mirror in which you can see everyone's face but your own."

"It's another element of theatre that audiences enjoy, seeing actors in different roles. But if you do surprise them in a play, you have to surprise them gently or they'll think, 'it's not for me', but the audiences here have been so loyal, as I've thrown so much at them: murder, bad language, quite a lot of sex, a bit of nudity..."

Website Notes:
[1] 'A bit of nudity' refers to the climatic scene of
Way Upstream where the two protagonists briefly disrobe before jumping into the 'river'.