My Very Own Story: Quotes by Alan Ayckbourn

"[In] My Very Own Story, I'm barely dealing with anything I wouldn't be dealing with in an adult play. The whole thing has become adult plays edited very slightly. They are not really children plays at all; they are family plays. Because I began to see very clearly that what was really fascinating was not a children's audience but an audience in which parents could bring their children. Parents could enjoy the play as well, the children could enjoy the play equally maybe on slightly different levels, occasionally, but generally much the same, but enjoy it in the company of their parents which seemed to me a very positive and a much more satisfying audience for an actor to play to. He was getting all those levels of laughter. Children don't laugh that much in theatre, they watch, they enjoy, they comment occasionally, they empathise tremendously but laughter is something adults do and children just nod like they've seen it and when they do laugh it is not a frightening noise, it has not to do with real laughter at all, I mean, they smile. I've noticed they're rather serious viewers and that is fine. You give them serious work, you give them genuine problems and really, it's me discovering it for myself. Teachers will probably tell me they knew this already, but there are really no dilemmas that children don't appreciate: family problems, dilemmas about honesty and all the things that adults deal with they deal with. The only thing is they get a little bored with the highly complex sexual relationships which puzzle them, I don't think they are disturbed by them, l censor certain things because I think they are had - such as excessive violence - because I think it is something they get so much of and it would be very nice in the theatre somehow to give them alternatives to that. But good and evil - which occupy all traditional plays - I think are very important."
(Excerpt from an interview with Alan Ayckbourn by Albert-Reiner Glaap from ‘A Guided Tour Through Ayckbourn Country’)

"I think I write from the adult's perspective. I don’t try to become a child. I try and imagine what I as a child would have enjoyed and what my children would have enjoyed. I think initially I did write consciously for children but I hardly do that now, providing I feel the theme is right for them. I obviously make certain adjustments. I don't write things that I think would not interest them, like sexual politics - particularly for the young ones, you know, that's just baffling. On the whole, I've discovered that children have the same needs from theatre as adults. You just have to be careful how you deal with them. They like to be frightened; they like to be excited, they don't just want to laugh, any more than adults just want to laugh. I think these days I write entirely from my own perspective but just bring out the child in me - it's difficult to explain. The worst thing I could do, which I'm very afraid of, would be to patronise children.... lower myself to them. I think that it is better to write above them than below them, so that they have to reach a little. I think they will do that."
(Personal correspondence, 1999)

Copyright: Alan Ayckbourn