In His Own Words: Directing

This page contains quotes (listed by year) by Alan Ayckbourn with regard to directing. They are drawn from a variety of sources and it should always be borne in mind these quotes may not necessarily reflect Alan Ayckbourn's current thoughts on a subject.
"I feel the need to direct, very strongly. I write one play a year and if all I did was write I know I'd get very bored." (1977)

"Stephen Joseph gave me some good advice; it was my first play and I said 'Tell me about directing. What do I do?', and he told me that a director's job is to form an atmosphere in which the actors feel free to create." (1978)

"There are actor-directors, but once you've tasted the megalomania of directing, you don't want to go back." (1978)

"There's no fun in writing at all. My first love is directing." (1984)

"I always consider myself as a director who writes rather than a writer who directs, because directing takes up so much of my time." (1988)

"Stephen Joseph gently kicked me into directing. He knew my acting career was on the rocks. And once you've directed you never want to go back into acting." (1995)

“Two things I live for. One is being in a rehearsal room. The other is writing a new play. As soon as a new play comes out there's a terrible moment of post-partum emptiness - and then another idea comes in, sometimes two or three. I just can't imagine being alive without a play in me somewhere.” (2008)

"The rehearsal is the best time, It’s invigorating. My happiest moments are spent with groups of actors that I trust and enjoy the company of, working on a script of mine that I’m excited about and watching it breathe and live and come to live. It’s like the best of all worlds."

"Once I asked Stephen Joseph, 'What’s the secret of directing?' and he said, 'The secret to directing is to create an atmosphere in which other people feel free to create.' That is the most extraordinarily easy answer and the most difficult thing to achieve. Because you get a group of actors who are different, they’re fairly centred a lot of them, and you can persuade them, cajole them, to work together and sometimes they do very willingly and sometimes with great reluctance. It’s most interesting and informative thing for a dramatist and also I think it brings me a lot closer to the psychology of what makes people tick." (2016)

"My first production [Gaslight] which I rehearsed meticulously and was very proud of, but some idiot in it came on at one point and tripped over and all the loose change in his pocket flew out spread all over the stage and the play ground to a halt. The poor actor was so apologetic and he said, ‘I’m so sorry, I lost my footing’ and I said, ‘it’s alright, we picked it up again.’ And afterwards, I said to Stephen Jospeh, ‘did you enjoy the show?’ And he said, ‘no, there was only one exciting moment in it, when he fell over and spilt his change. It was the only spontaneous moment.’ And I said, ‘ah, thank you…’ He was trying to make a point, but he wanted to stress that I’d over-rehearsed it somehow." (2021)
All research for this page by Simon Murgatroyd. All quotes are copyright of Haydonning Ltd and credit should be given to 'Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website' if reproduced.