Interview: The Times (1 April 2014)

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

Alan Ayckbourn: 'Britain Now Has An Atmosphere Of Cynicism'
by Benedict Nightingale

“She [Alan's mother] went to work in offices and would come home with fistfuls of pencils and paper clips and then a ream of paper, saying no one would miss them. I worried that she’d come up the drive with a desk under her arm. And when we left hotels our luggage brimmed with towels and ashtrays. I’d feel terrible but she’d say, ‘Oh, they charge automatically for these things,’ and I’d say, ‘No they don’t.’”

“I didn’t want to make it [
A Small Family Business] an out-and-out attack on the Tory Government. I’m not David Hare - I’m always looking out from the sofa, not the platform - but I was reflecting the climate at the time.”

“Dramatists are practical people and write what they need to write in order to survive. So if you’ve got five men and women sitting round a table, you write
Absent Friends. Then you get the cups of tea and disintegrating marriages that are my stock in trade.”

“There used to be different categories - comedies, farces, thrillers and, if you were lucky, a serious play, when the lighting went dark, everyone performed very slowly and the audience sat there solemnly and quietly. I was traipsing around at the back doing the props and thinking I’d like to write a comedy that’s very quiet and dark. I got interested in confusing the genres. One day long afterwards a man said to me: ‘I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.’ And I thought: ‘I’ve got there.’”

“I listen to Radio 3 and they say, ‘Here’s music by a contemporary of Mozart called Bogliatore whose Second Symphony was the most popular at the time. He eclipsed Mozart and is now completely forgotten.’ And I think, ‘Here’s an object lesson for us all.’"