Interview: The Press (8 September 2017)

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

Ayckbourn marks 60th anniversary at Stephen Joseph Theatre with premiere of 81st play

by Charles Hutchinson

"The women are quite dominant in the play [
A Brief History Of Women], which is travelling such a long way. So I've put a very long lens on it, shooting it at quite a distance, as opposed to being an extreme close-up like in Absent Friends. It's quite a 'long shot', but it's not a long play, it's about two hours, but you get the feeling of a long play, because it proceeds from the 1920s to the 1980s, and there's an enormous difference between the two." [1]

"We're exploring the huge difference between men and women's positions in the 1920s and 1980s, beginning when some men were appalled by the Suffragette movement; then moving on to the 1940s, when we'd just had the Second World War and the country was still recovering; we were a country devoid of young men and full of damaged women. I was seven in 1946 and that was the first year I have a conscious memory of."

"There are 21 characters in the play, and a lot of the time the actors will be having great fun changing costumes, roles and accents and becoming different people, and I hope the audiences will love that as they loved it in the old days of repertory theatre and that's one of my great theatrical joys."

"I've become interested in the bricks and mortar of what we surround ourselves with, and what we do with them. For the play, I thought, what's going to happen to the house? It starts as a country house in the Twenties, becomes a public school in the Forties, an arts centre in the Sixties and an hotel in the Eighties, and in Kevin Jenkins' design, the house stays essentially the same but he does do some clever things with the scenery, with bits being added and subtracted, but mainly it's the people who change, of course. I won't give too much away, but there's fun to be had moving from room to room. The nice thing about The Round stage is that it asks questions you of as a writer and director, but if you present the story coherently, it provides the answers for you."

"I'm a great believer in the power of adrenaline. When I was acting, the reason I gave up was no longer scared by what I was doing. My over-riding ambition was always to do something different, which was such a pain to the other actors, so going on stage slightly bored was not a good idea, and going on stage without an edge to it didn't feel right. It's the same with writing plays, to have that adrenaline of doing something new. I'm always suspicious of anything becoming routine."

Website Notes:
[1] At the time of writing,
A Brief History Of Women covered the longest span of time - 60 years - within an Ayckbourn play.