Alan Ayckbourn's Golden Rules (2017)

This article was written by Alan Ayckbourn as a result of being asked for advice in talking about how to approach his plays.

Alan Ayckbourn's Golden Rules

1. Less is more.
2. One big laugh is worth five sub-titters.
3. If you do find a new laugh, instinctively mistrust it. If you do decide to keep it, be sure, in order to maintain the dramatic balance to take another one out to compensate.
4. Trust the vehicle to get you there.
5. Ask yourself constantly, is what I'm doing telling the story or am I taking everyone on a diversion from the main journey?
6. Never be tempted to look out of the window and wave. (Isn't this funny, folks?) Sit back and enjoy the journey along with the audience.
7. Never be tempted to get out and push. They'll rarely applaud or thank you for the effort. Never entirely trust an audience either ,they are like dubious strangers lurking outside the school gates offering sweeties if you please them. But resist their wily blandishments. They will never stay to thank you and your innocence will be gone for ever.
8. Remember it is a farce. The definition of farce, in my view, is people taking themselves very seriously throughout an increasingly absurd series of circumstances. People in farces rarely laugh and never see the joke.
9. The best type of laugh is so subtle that every individual in the audience is convinced for a split second that they are the only person to have seen it.
10. The converse of that is the forced or, worst of all, the laugh which is repeated for effect. Less is always more.

Copyright: Alan Ayckbourn. Please do not reproduce without the permission of the copyright holder.