Birthdays Past, Birthdays Present: Quotes by Alan Ayckbourn

“It's not autobiographical - even though one of the characters and I are celebrating our 80th birthdays! But I hope I’m not like any of the characters in it! The father whose 80th birthday it is, is certainly not like me. He’s a coach driver from Barnsley. He hates everybody - I’m quite fond of a lot of people! It just so happened that birthdays clicked and I thought, we can do that. The trouble is when you’ve written 83 plays, you’re terribly worried about repeating yourself and, although I’ve written lots of plays about birthdays, I think it’s time for me to write another play about birthdays because they are anniversaries and they become important times in people’s lives and they generally, like Christmas, are pretty disastrous. The only funny times are funerals! At least you’re not looking forward to a funeral so the whole thing is what you expect. I’ve been to some weddings and birthday parties that have ended in tears - even a christening once ended in tears! Every time we look forward to something as human beings, we are bound to be disappointed. My maxim in life is, don’t look forward! Never look forward!”
(Stephen Joseph Theatre season launch, 25 February 2019)

"I thought what am I going to write for my 80th [birthday]? I like to pin things on anniversaries and I thought 'why not birthdays?' In the end I wrote this one quite fast in just three or four weeks, which was good because it shows I've still got the old mojo going."
(Yorkshire Post, 23 March 2019)

“I’d already written a play for this season, but I sensed it wasn’t right for the 80th birthday year. I said to Paul [artistic director Paul Robinson], ‘I’m going to do a quick one’, and wrote it in around two weeks, whereas now it usually takes three to four months, even six when I’m thinking it over. Within days, it was there and it was ready, which was exhilarating. These days, I normally have a very, very slow morning and don’t start working before two, then work to six o’clock, but for this one I was doing five or six-hour days and was completely bug eyed by the end - and hoarse because I dictate my words.”
(The Press, 11 April 2019)

“It goes backwards and ‘ravels’, rather than unravels. After the first scene, you have the audience thinking how did we get here? It’s a family seen in reverse, going back through the years. It’s a lighter play when normally now my plays sink into deeper waters."
(The Press, 11 April 2019)

"This one goes backwards actually. It starts today and then follows a family’s series of birthdays. It’s quite interesting writing a play backwards because you want to find out why a guy is like he is. What made him like this. Usually, you follow them linearly forwards. I wrote it backwards. I had every idea where it finished, because you have to know where you’re going, but it's quite interesting writing it in reverse, because you’re planting mysterious clues in the narrative - ‘what on earth are you talking about?’ And then you think, ‘ah that’s what they are talking about.’ So it’s quite fun."
(Sky News, 23 April 2019)

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