Articles by Alan Ayckbourn

This article My Wonderful Day was written by Alan Ayckbourn for the introduction to Alan Ayckbourn: Plays 5 in 2011.

Preface to Alan Ayckbourn: Plays 5 (extract)

My Wonderful Day is the story of a child who spends a day off school with her mother, a domestic cleaner. Bound by a promise of good behaviour to write her school essay and practise her French, the intelligent eight year old sits alone, silent and largely unnoticed whilst increasingly frenetic domestic activity occurs around her. A solemn, grown-up child surrounded by adults behaving childishly, recording her ‘wonderful day’ as she sees it.

This play, more than most, can be traced autobiographically to my own experience of early single parent childhood. And although I changed both the sex (and indeed the colour!) to distance myself, I was often as a child in similar situations to my heroine, with my mother, a professional short story writer for women’s magazines, dragging me in tow whilst she wheeled and dealt in Fleet Street editorial offices. Like the fly-on-the-wall child, Winnie Barnstairs, I spent much of my time over-hearing the secrets and indiscretions of adults. Just before I wrote the play and probably, if truth be told, what triggered me to write it, was catching sight of my solemn eight year old grandson on the edge of a boisterous family gathering, behaving in similar fashion.

I prefaced the original play script by stressing the importance of trying to avoid entrusting this crucial central role to a child actress. Quite apart from the demand on their attention span and concentration - she never leaves the stage throughout - there is also a practical consideration; in the event of a heavy professional performance schedule, rules and regulations being as they are, the requirement to find a second young actress to spread the workload. Hard enough finding one prodigious eight year old to fill such a role, but two…

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