Intimate Exchanges: Articles

This section features articles by Alan Ayckbourn and other authors. Click on the links in the right-hand column below to go to the relevant interview.

This article by Alan Ayckbourn was written for an unrecorded production of the play during 2016. No other details are held in archive.

Intimate Exchanges: A Brief Memory

When we first produced Intimate Exchanges in its entirety, there were so many variations to cope with that as each version opened and earlier ones re-opened, a large amount of our time was spent in doing ‘bring-back’ rehearsals. Due to the technical complexity, these took the form of full blown dress rehearsals, props wigs, make up, body padding and of course, innumerable costumes as our two actors shape-shifted between one character and the next.

On one particular such afternoon, the theatre management asked if we’d mind if a plumber made a much needed emergency repair backstage to a radiator in the wings during our dress run. Given the current North Sea temperature outside, we readily agreed, on condition that said plumber was VERY, VERY QUIET ABOUT IT!

Whilst I sat out in the auditorium, actors, stage management, technicians, (including our brilliant dresser) proceeded with the rehearsal. I must say, during all this, the plumber was VERY QUIET INDEED!

I went back to see him afterwards to thank him for his tactfully discreet plumbing. He was sitting open mouthed, tool bag untouched, radiator still unfixed.

He had been witness, poor man, to the mayhem of a full blown backstage run of one of the sixteen possible versions of
Intimate Exchanges, as lusty gardeners feverishly transformed themselves into alcoholic headmasters and broad beamed, tweedy matrons shrank as if by magic into reticent village girls, shedding characters, clothing, wigs, props as they criss-crossed past him between entrances.

“What the hell was happening there?” the man asked, clearly not a regular theatre goer.
I explained to him what we’d been doing.

“You mean they were doing a show, like, at the same time? In between all that?”
I said they had been.

“Bugger me! They earn their money, don’t they?”

He’d never said a truer word.

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