Articles by Alan Ayckbourn

This extract from an article on The Boy Who Fell Into A Book was written by Alan Ayckbourn for an unrecorded revival of the play in 2001.

The Boy Who Fell Into A Book

For some time, I'd had an idea about characters overlapping into each other's worlds. I once tried it years ago in a revue sketch. I hoped that switching locations in such a way would help maintain an audience's involvement. So not everyone's interested in thrillers, for example, but they might be interested in chess, or if they're not - don't worry, there'll be another world along in a minute, perhaps with everyone speaking in rhyming couplets. Kids seem to like that.

I also liked the incongruity of a real hard boiled old private eye being forced to tag along with a kid and the slow affection that grows up between them; very often the kid is more knowledgeable about the world they're getting into than the detective is prepared to admit. On one hand, it's like a buddy movie, whilst on the other it can be genuinely scary. Monique and the assassin who's after them should always be very scary.

The play, I hope, also provides another opportunity for children to experience theatricality, this time in terms of changing styles; the way each section restarts stylistically, visually and, of course, verbally. The characters all talk differently and that should be a lot of fun, for the performers and for the children.

The books I chose offered themselves really. Again, they provide opportunities to stage things theatrically and some, although not all, I hope are already familiar to children. Obviously they tend to like the book of ghost stories and most of them have probably touched on Grimm.
Kidnapped is possibly a little advanced but nonetheless it's a story they ought to come across pretty soon - certainly the upper age group. I wanted to have as much contrast as possible.

And, of course, I had to use stories that were way out of copyright or else invent them. If you start using Harry Potter or Roald Dahl, say, you end up getting a blooming great writ!

Finally, in general terms, you must never forgot that child audiences are like adult audiences in that they're much brighter and much quicker than you ever give them credit for. I'd like to think
The Boy Who Fell Into Book doesn't underestimate them.

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