In His Own Words: Careers

This page contains quotes (listed by year) by Alan Ayckbourn with regard to his careers as actor, Radio Drama Producer and Artistic Director. 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 like the work [Radio Drama Producer for the BBC]. I don't, after all, consider myself exclusively a writer. Working on other people's work for a large part of the day helps me with my own." (1969)

"I have never made any decisions, they have always been made for me. I started out as an actor, and I was incredibly lucky, never out of work. Not that I was that good, but somehow I never wrote a letter or did an audition in my life, it just went from the end of one season to the beginning of another, bonk, bonk, bonk. Entirely due to circumstances and possibly because I never did take any action. I could look back on my life and say I planned it that way, but I didn't plan to be an actor, nor a director, nor a writer. They ran out of writers." (1972)

"The first thing [Donald] Wolfit told me was 'Don't drink and act' and added, 'Go and get a dozen bottles of Guinness and a bottle of gin and get them wrapped up." (1974)

"I got my first taste of being out of work for a few months [following his professional acting debut at the Edinburgh Festival in 1967 with Donald Wolfit] and then I got a job. I was an Acting Stage Manager again at Worthing and then at Leatherhead. And then I went from there to the Oxford Playhouse, and finished up at the Library Theatre in Scarborough, and met that remarkable man Stephen Joseph who was operating at that time the only theatre-in-the-round in England." (1974)

"My first ambition was to be a journalist, but after having divorced my father, my mother eventually and wisely married her local bank manager, and I got a bank scholarship to Haileybury. There I suddenly became interested in acting and the theatre, and at 17 I decided to pack in my schooling. A teacher at the school got me a job at £3 a week with Sir Donald Wolfit's company at the Edinburgh Festival and I was off into a mad world." (1975)

"Imagine a gawky lad being involved with this incredible eccentric, Donald Wolfit. One of my jobs was to fetch his gin and bottles of Guinness." (1975)

"For a time writing was only a means of providing myself with parts. Then I began to realise that other actors were better than me. I assessed my abilities as an actor in time and moved into full-time writing and directing." (1975)

"I acted in most of my early plays, which I don't recommend because you can't blame anyone if it doesn't work. If you're the actor, you can always blame the script. If you're the playwright, you can blame the actors. If you're both, you can't blame anyone but yourself: I'm sorry, it's rotten - and it's my fault." (1976)

"The nice thing about radio is that technically it is the simplest of the technical media. In the radio you can concentrate on the play and the actors - though the difficulty is to get people to play into the microphones instead of playing to each other." (1979)

"I've done every job in the theatre, which was a useful experience, and as an actor I was reasonable if never star worthy or first rate." (1984)

"When Stephen Joseph died in 1967, I effectively took on his mantle, committed to a theatrical alternative to London. Being in charge, I also found myself in a lucky position: I've never had a play turned down because, apart from one or two for Stephen, I've never submitted one to anyone except myself." (1990)

"I'm relieved to get shot of the nuts and bolts of running a theatre, I make no secret of that. I would miss leaving the rehearsal room forever, but I don't think that's going to happen. I'm just going to carry on.... I think, apart from the writing, obviously, I'd like my time as artistic director to be remembered for the new plays we put on. That and the fact I took on Stephen Joseph's work and his dream of performing company theatre in the round. And long may it continue." (2008)

“I started working here again in response to an emergency request from the locals who wanted to see Stephen Joseph’s theatre keep going. Then I was asked to take over as Artistic Director which I did and 40 years later I was still here.” (2013)
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.