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 is drawn from correspondence held in the Ayckbourn Archive. No other details are held in archive.

Tips On Acting Intimate Exchanges

It would be formidable to try and do them all. It took us here a year of playing - rehearsing - playing before we had them all in repertoire.

The problem was to keep them all fresh enough to keep them all going at once. We found ourselves a little in the grip of the painting the Forth Bridge syndrome. No sooner had we got to the end than they’d forgotten the beginning!

The joy is, I hope, to do two or even four, picking them from different strands and giving the audience the widest variety. It also gives you, the actors, more scope. The fun is, in one sense that one character in one play can be a mere walk on. And yet in another version he or she becomes the leading protagonist.

The problem is to define each main character clearly without losing the truth. They are plays that do rely for their impact in our caring about the characters. To do that, obviously, we need to believe in them and worry about their outcome. I have seen the plays wrecked by coarse caricature. Very clever, we say, but so what?

Inevitably (or so I’ve found) because of the enormous change asked of you, you will find one character probably comes naturally to you, another is interesting but a stretch whilst the third seems downright impossible. Do not despair. Again, in my experience, it is this very character that you initially feel least at home with, who gives you the most headaches who turns out to be the one you enjoy playing the most.

In looking for character contrast, apart from the obvious (looks, voice, movement etc.) remember speed. It’s worth remembering that we all have very different deliveries. Celia, rapid perhaps. Rowena languorous. Or some such.

Remember throwaway. Avoid the gags. Trust the situation. Have a ball. I call it a festival of acting. Someone called it an orgy!

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