Articles by Alan Ayckbourn

These notes about A Chorus Of Disapproval were written by Alan Ayckbourn in 1990 in response to correspondence regarding the staging of the play.

Staging A Chorus Of Disapproval

Regarding the staging of A Chorus Of Disapproval - it's difficult to know where to start…

What it's not intended to be is a "send up" of Amateur Operatics. I think Dafydd's production is probably over-ambitious (but then he has pretensions towards The Profession), but they should all be trying their best. As with most amateur societies, there are the good the bad and the hide-them-wherever-you-can-her-husband's-lent -us-half-the-props.
Essentially, remember it's the story of the honest man amongst rogues. I always feel that if Jesus came back today there would shortly be a Sunday Tabloid article about him, linking him to Mafia crime. The point is, villains always assume that honest people are just better and cleverer villains than themselves. Most of the characters spend the play trying to figure Guy's angle.

Guy's greatest failing is his complete inability to say no to anyone or anything. He hates to hurt peoples' feelings. As a result, he should never be played knowingly.

The Beggar's Opera, of course, mirrors the play rather closely. What is sometimes misunderstood at the end is the way the actual play's ending changes to mirror the original John Gay play. Gay's ending is blatantly cynical. "You want a happy ending, there you are, you've got it." Guy, like MacHeath, is reprieved - thanks to the stroke of an author's pen.

Keep the production moving. It's long, especially the first half. It needs pace and very swift scene changes.

Don't be afraid of the play's occasional darknesses of texture. And please don't feel the need to lighten them. A number of my plays have sunshine and shadows. This is one. There are some-deeply unpleasant people in this play. The Hubbards and the Huntley-Pikes are quite appalling. Even Hannah is not as nice as she first appears. She's a professional victim. I feel deeply sorry for my women characters but often they do, in-truth, get the husbands they deserve!

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