Articles by Alan Ayckbourn

This article about The Norman Conquests was written by Alan Ayckbourn for an unrecorded production in 1974.

The Norman Conquests

The Norman Conquests are three full-length comedies which can, I hope, be enjoyed individually and in no particular order. I have avoided whenever possible referring to them as a trilogy since this generally suggests a continuing sequence in which enjoyment of one essentially depends on knowledge or anticipation of the other two.

Naturally, having said this, any three plays that concern the same six characters must, in some way, be related. In the case of
The Norman Conquests very closely, since each concerns the same characters in the same house over the same weekend - all viewed from a different standpoint. Round and Round the Garden is seen from the garden, Living Together from the living room and Table Manners from the dining room.

Writing a play is always, to some extent, a matter of selecting events that one wishes to show on stage. It is often, say in the case of a one-set play, necessary to reshuffle and manoeuvre events so that what you want to happen can happen where you want it to happen. And there are variations to be done on this. In
Absurd Person Singular, particularly in the first act, I deliberately selected a view from the kitchen rather than the more usual sitting or living room. This device provides much of the scene's comic momentum, since we are placed on the fringe of the action, rather than at the centre of it.

The Norman Conquests, we are always at the fringe of some action and at the centre of something else, depending on which play we're watching. It is my hope that, whichever play one chooses to see first, it can be enjoyed in its own right even if, ultimately, one becomes sufficiently curious to know a little more about the characters and their offstage lives.

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