The Boy Who Fell Into A Book: Quotes by Alan Ayckbourn

"I suppose I was interested, at its deepest, pushing books a bit. I was recently reminded - having been a very keen computer games player - that sitting down with a good book is the best virtual reality around. It just totally involves you. In a sense we haven't matched it and I doubt we ever will."
(Scarborough Evening News, 14 October 1998)

"[The play is] very complicated and they [the children] loved that. There's no point writing down to them."
(The Times, 30 March 1999)

"I'd had an idea for some time about characters moving into each other's worlds. I once tried it years ago in a revue sketch. I thought the idea of being able to switch locations in such a way would renew any flagging interest throughout the play. 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 and they'll have a chance to re-engage; every time there's a new set of rules, like everyone speaking in rhyming couplets or for a brief moment, you find you're into
Kidnapped. Kids seem to like that, it's very popular. At the same time, I 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; the way that very often the kid is more knowledgeable about the world they're getting into than the detective is prepared to admit. It's kind of like a buddy movie on one hand, whilst on the other it can be genuinely scary. I mean, the woman should always be very scary and the assassin who's after them.
(Interview, 2001)

The Boy Who Fell Into A Book, my latest play, I just thought it would be interesting to go on a journey through various books on a shelf. I thought up the idea of a boy who falls into the detective story he's reading. He meets up with this fictional private eye, Rockfist Slim, in whose company he tries to get out of the book by working his way back along the bookshelf through his other stories. In a way, it was a classic children's tale as it incorporated a quest or a journey. So it was a journey play, but an unusual journey play because of the travel through weird books. It was nice as it happened to coincide with National Year of Reading. We had children put together their own books and we held a competition linked with the play asking the kids to complete a Rockfist Slim story."
(Personal correspondence, 1999)

"I think I write from the adult's perspective. I don’t try to become a child. I try and imagine what I as a child would have enjoyed and what my children would have enjoyed. I think initially I did write consciously for children but I hardly do that now, providing I feel the theme is right for them. I obviously make certain adjustments. I don't write things that I think would not interest them, like sexual politics - particularly for the young ones, you know, that's just baffling. On the whole, I've discovered that children have the same needs from theatre as adults. You just have to be careful how you deal with them. They like to be frightened; they like to be excited, they don't just want to laugh, any more than adults just want to laugh. I think these days I write entirely from my own perspective but just bring out the child in me - it's difficult to explain. The worst thing I could do, which I'm very afraid of, would be to patronise children.... lower myself to them. I think that it is better to write above them than below them, so that they have to reach a little. I think they will do that."
(Personal correspondence, 1999)

"I wanted to write a play that encompassed a family audience that was not a pantomime. I have never - even as a child - enjoyed pantomime. I wanted to introduce younger children to what it was like to be in a theatre with a narrative play going on and getting involved in the whole emotional spectrum of what a play really did. They [young children] want excitement, to be scared a bit and a story they can get involved with."
(Scarborough Evening News, 10 April 2014)

"It’s a family show - not a children’s show. It’s for anyone who ever secretly read under the bed clothes as a child and who has ever been captivated by a story in a book. In terms of a musical it’s small scale, in that it doesn’t have a cast of hundreds, but I feel with big potential.”
(Stephen Joseph Theatre press release, 2014)

Regarding the musical adaptation of the play: "I think they’ve [Paul James, Cathy Shostak and Eric Angus] caught the spirit of the play very closely; Paul, Cathy and Eric obviously love the piece and, as a director, I’ll happily hitch a ride along with that sort of enthusiasm."
(Stephen Joseph Theatre press release, 2014)

Regarding the musical adaptation of the play: “It’s unusual in that, in a sense, I had nothing to do with it. The lyricist, Paul James, and the composers Cathy Shostak and Eric Angus, contacted me several years ago saying they wanted to do this. They sent me a song and then, a little later on, they sent me another song and I was thinking, ‘this isn’t going to be ready till 2030’! And then last year they contacted me to say they’d finished it. They sent me the script, which I approved and I asked if they’d like to come to Scarborough to play it through for me here. Which they obligingly did and I liked it enough to want to proceed.”
(The Press, 17 July 2014)

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