GamePlan: Quotes by Alan Ayckbourn

"I can't believe that people could base a lifestyle on the millions they think they're worth on an electronic screen, but they do. For every one internet business that succeeds another ten fail. I honestly think that live theatre is the last remaining place where complete strangers can exchange ideas. All the electronic gadgets aimed at bringing us closer together just seem to drive us further apart.
"[Regarding the internet] Why is it when I key in morris dancing I'm introduced to Joan Morris the exotic dancer from Las Vegas? I find myself switching off the computer and looking up the answer in a reference book."
(Northern Echo, 10 May 2001)

"There was another reason for doing this [creating a repertory company]. We now tour so much, so if we can put two plays on one set, we can take the plays on the road for two-week runs and that makes it easier to take shows around the country. I've also been trying to get back to writing for a specific company, in this case seven actors, who will form a micro rep company, and my intention is to take that further. The plan would be to have a cast perform a play in Scarborough, then on tour, and then come back here for the next play....
"It's [
GamePlan] a play with emotional as well as physical trouble, and I'm rather pleased with it because it involves a relationship I have no experience of, because I don't have a daughter or a sister....
"[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)

"I started working on two linked plays in October of last year [2000], but a few days before Christmas, I realised that one of them was horribly wrong. Then I realised that the other just wasn't worth doing at all, and ditched them both. I finished them on Christmas Eve [
GamePlan and FlatSpin]. A brilliant piece of timing on my part because, otherwise, I'd have been in the doghouse with my family. I thought: 'Wow. You're not secure in this process even now'. But my maturity meant I could bin both original plays. I remember pressing the delete key on my computer and thinking: 'Now what have I done?'
"Most of my stuff, if you read the synopses, sounds very dark. I always say to the press office: 'Do stress the jolly side - because I wouldn't want to watch a woman having a nervous breakdown for an entire evening'. But look at the plot of
Some Like it Hot: 'Two musicians witness a vicious mob-killing in a garage and go on the run'. It sounds incredibly sombre - but what the threat does, of course, is set up the comedy. The humour is born out of the thrill. That's how I like my comedy - and, anyway, I don't really describe myself as a 'comic dramatist' anymore. I'm more a dramatist who throws in a few laughs....
"I wanted to get back to a tighter repertory company and, as we're doing a lot more touring, it occurred to me that - if we use the same set - we can get two plays out in the same van, as it were."
(Artscene, June 2001)

"I suppose with
GamePlan I wanted to write about the mother-daughter relationship, about the internet and the way kids know more about computers than their parents. The theme is teenage prostitution. There was this piece in the Times about a girl who was using the internet to sleep all over the country, so there is a serious concern there."
(Scarborough Evening News, 27 June 2001)

"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've always explored weird areas in my comedies. It interested me how the Internet has opened up a whole new world. Inevitably, teenagers get to hear things and go to places that perhaps parents wouldn't be particularly happy about....
"I think comedy and drama are always more effective when they coexist on the stage. I think without that balance its like a meal in which there is no strong meat, just bland vegetables; one offsets the other. I view comedy as a way of bringing an audience to a subject they wouldn't normally go near. The English hate being preached at. If they think you are, they shut their minds, and often their front doors, on you. Comedy is an emotional Optrex because it makes you keep your eyes open to topics that you've already shut your mind to. And there are generally very few forums, these days, where you can go in sit down and see a discussion about the nature of a human being."
(Metro, 15 January 2002)

"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)

"She's [Sorrel] not a child prostitute. She's a girl who honestly believes she can sail through it and it won't touch her. We all do this to a certain extent, I once put my fingers into a live socket aged four and bounced off the walls: my mother was absolutely right! Sorrel is not a prostitute otherwise she would have taken the money and carried on but she doesn't, she's absolutely traumatised....
"It's funny, awful, funny, awful and the two elements themselves create a sort of tension which is both funny and sad at the same time- I think that is good drama. The moment Sorrel collapses in
GamePlan and Kelly holds her and becomes little mother and then out comes Leo who is really rather seedy and embarrassed about what he's done and then he drops dead and then everybody laughs and suddenly the play gets turned on it's head."
(durham21.co.uk, 25 January 2002)

"I certainly do see it as a social play. It's also one of the most autobiographical works I've ever written, in that there's a lot of me in Sorrel. At roughly her age I was confronted with chaos at home and became a bit of a control freak. I remember reducing schoolmasters to tears by a kind of precocious sarcasm. I'm also fascinated by children like Sorrel who live with a manic-depressive mother, because what happens is that the mother usurps the child's right to an emotional life. If your mother is screaming the place down and then laughing maniacally, you tend to become a bit detached. In so far as I care to psychoanalyse myself, that's very much how I was at Sorrel's age. But I'm also saying we don't allow children a childhood any longer: we turn them into mini-adults and potential consumers. We've somehow brushed the magic off things."
(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)

"She [Sorrell] was autobiographical in the sense that when parents are quite emotional and have tempers, the child tends to draw in and think, well one of us has got to become grown up, and often they become grown up a little too early....
"I often tend to start with quite a dark theme, but my natural way is to write quite humorously. In
GamePlan I juxtapose Sorrel having a lark in the bedroom, and the next minute she comes out completely shattered and says, 'I can't do it, I can't do it'. In the best of these two-tone moments, the audience roars, then stops guiltily and abruptly. In the worst, as happened in GamePlan, comedy wins over tragedy: The man comes out of the bedroom, puts some money on the side and goes to the door. Suddenly he drops dead and there's a moment when the audience is stunned and then they start laughing and they just laugh and laugh. It's really not funny, but with the build-up from what is quite a dark and painful moment, it's almost relief, so people laugh. And it brings people back from the interval."
(Ink, May 2004)

"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)

Copyright: Alan Ayckbourn

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