RolePlay: Quotes by Alan Ayckbourn

"[On why he is drawn to writing women characters] One of the things, I suppose, is that the higher proportion of the audience is made up of women, and they're the ones who'll associate with the characters. Then again, it also works because most men are quite interested in women, or at least interested in the chance to unravel the inexplicable! I always remember being told in the Fifties that the worst thing you could do was write a scene for two women, and there was a great moan at the time from actresses that there were no roles for women. I've always tried to write up the women in my plays. Most of the men in my plays are buttoned up but the women can let rip and shout the house down. Men have to be up against the fates before they let things out and show their feelings. With women, I guess it's like writing for brass rather than woodwind."
(Yorkshire Evening Press, 25 May 2001)

"We used to keep the same cast in the very early days, but permanent companies can be very expensive. It's financially very difficult to work out, but the advantage here is that we have a resident dramatist. I will write for that company and we can ensure that all the actors have a fair crack at the whip. It's quite rare to see it now. I work with at least 30 per cent of new actors every time to keep me fresh. If you get the same group going round and round it can get a little complacent. I don't think that should happen....
"[regarding the premise of
RolePlay] It's quite tense. She [Julie-Anne] is very nervous and wants to get it right. Just before the dinner he [Justin] is in the flat on his own and this woman [Paige] drops down on to his balcony from the flat above, looking like a complete wreck, and says 'please help me.' Paige Petite is the girlfriend of a slightly dodgy boxing promoter who suspected her of having an affair and knocked her about a bit. She finishes up coming to dinner which is a bit difficult....
RolePlay will turn out to be a farce, although it will still say something about how we all play roles and make assumptions about other people's roles."
(Scarborough Evening News, 27 June 2001)

"The interesting thing about it from my point of view is getting back to the company theatre, which I had a dream to do, and have a core of seven actors, four men and three women. Ten days into rehearsals of
FlatSpin, I said to them, 'Listen guys, I'd like to write a third one. I'm really getting excited by this working relationship.' They all looked at me as if I was barmy. Then Bill Champion said after a long pause, 'I think he means it.' Normally the writer initiates, the director picks it up, they cast it and the actors take it from there. But in this case the company has sparked me - although I'm not particularly writing parts for any individual, I guess I'm reacting to the company. I've got an idea and it would be great to show them off a bit more. In the old fashioned sense, it's good theatre - people love seeing actors being different, not necessarily in ginger wigs but just doing another thing....
"It's all set for a slightly over-the-top rather formal evening. The girl, Julie-Anne, is anxious to get things right. Suddenly, another girl slithers down outside on to the balcony. She's in a fair old state, bleeding a bit, bruised and dirty - she says she's in terrible trouble....
"They're all a different genre.
GamePlan is a straight play, really, FlatSpin is Hitchcockian thriller and RolePlay is much more towards a dark farce about the roles we cast ourselves in and are cast in by others."
(Yorkshire Post, 25 August 2001)

"I noticed that in the North there is still a sense of community, certainly Scarborough, but in these Dockland apartments, you have no idea who is next door. It gives a sense of anonymity, which interested me."
(Sunderland Echo, 18 January 2002)

"I suppose the finished result,
RolePlay, was triggered by several things. Obviously, an idea. But also the need to keep creating events: to wake the public up by giving them something different, as we did with House & Garden. And, if I'm honest, I wanted to stay part of that company a bit longer. There comes a point when, as writer or director, you have to walk away, but I wanted to delay the moment."
(The Guardian, 4 September 2002)

[Reacting to the problems with the London production] "[The producers] condemned two of the parts to the dustbin. I was in France when they rang to tell me. I exploded and we haven't talked since. I guess most people don't want to pick the phone up to talk to me now. I'm scary when I explode. I am furious and very disappointed. We have got a wonderful cast of unknowns who have done so well and they have got wonderful reviews and then these producers say 'Oh, it's a difficult to sell a trilogy in the West End now'. It's all a waste."
(Daily Telegraph, 24 October 2002)

"What happened to
Damsels In Distress [in the West End] was a crying shame and the management did not have faith in it. What should have been a joyous event turned out to be rather sad. I have decided that, when appropriate, taking my plays into London is fine but only when they are given the production that I require."
(The Stage, 17 July 2003)

"Looking back today, a year on, I sometimes reflect - are they linked beyond that [the same set and cast]? Are they related in ways I hadn't planned? Does each reflect themes contained in the others? If so, I have to confess, it's all happened on a subconscious level and probably isn't for me to answer. I'm probably the last person to know. Maybe that's up to others like you, the audience, to tell me."
(Extract from the Alan Ayckbourn's introduction to the London production programme)

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