A Chorus Of Disapproval: Quotes by Alan Ayckbourn

"I liked the idea of an amateur society as it gives a very good cross-section of every level of society. They are doing The Beggar's Opera, which is usually full of rather romantic pimps, prostitutes and highwaymen but here we can see their modern equivalent as property developers, builders and bored housewives. It follows a man who is recently widowed and goes to the society for companionship. By being utterly placid about everything he has a mercurial rise towards riches and fame and having half the women in the society."
(The Standard, 26 July 1985)

"Amateur dramatic societies always have a very interesting class structure. They're a mixture of a lonely hearts' club and a forum for frustrated would-be professionals....
"Guy is an absorbent. Instead of having a central character who is a dynamo driving everyone on, I've always been interested in having a vacuum, a giant slate that everyone scribbles on. I'm interested in people who aren't in control of their career. I've never been in control of mine. A lot of my obsessions are to do with the fact I've never taken a serious decision in my life."
(The Times, 27 July 1985)

"[Dafydd] is based on a lot of directors. He's quite a small man really, but directors exercise a lot of power, which like all power can be abused. If they could only realise they hold actors in the palm of their hand."
(Richmond And Twickenham Comet, 14 August 1986)

"
A Chorus of Disapproval, first done in Scarborough, was built as an expanding play: we did it with about 12 or 13 people. I originally wanted to use The Vagabond King, but there were copyright difficulties. I love The Beggar's Opera, anyway. I'm very conscious that the theatre is at least 50 per cent visual. I like the round for a lot of reasons; but yes, on the whole a proscenium makes life a little easier."
(The Stage, 25 August 1988)

"[I] always wanted to involve music in a play, to mirror a small-town group in action and then a friend told me amateur shows he had directed were rife with politics, sexual and otherwise. Also originally, I was going to base it round Frimmel's
The Vagabond King which I thought I could have a lot of fun with but the composer's family got wind of the possibility that I was not going to treat the work with as much respect they would have liked and they turned me down. I was then pressing a deadline and one of the things I needed quickly was a musical that was out of copyright so I didn't have trouble with the author's estate. I had been very fond of The Beggar's Opera for years and of course it's always better to work with something you love rather than something you intend to send up a bit and when I got to The Beggar's Opera it made perfect sense. It all fitted, the hero, the anti-hero, the newcomer, the cynical ending, so the whole thing made wonderful sense....
"It was quite an eye-opener [Alan invited the directors of local amateur drama societies to audition actors with him sitting in]. Although you hear nightmare stories occasionally, most professional auditions are pretty civilised affairs. I was sitting there watching this woman director, who I suppose became a prototype for Dafydd. She was absolutely brutal. A woman started singing and the director said almost at once, 'Don't go on. You have no voice. You're out of tune and it's a horrible noise'. As the singer ran out on the verge of tears, I said to the woman director, 'That was a big blunt,' and she said 'Well, you've got to tell 'em or they just come back again'. I got a bit of that in Dafydd, plus, as a kid, I hung around a few societies and there are always men or women in the centre of things who are its passionate driving force."
(East Anglian Daily Times, April 1996)

"The play focuses on the small town corruption underneath all the theatricals. The politics that go on in a small operatic society are far greater and they are much tougher on each other. In
A Chorus Of Disapproval there is a version of a secret society, not to mention the stuff on stage and in the rehearsal room."
(Scarborough Evening News, 14 July 2004)

"We've had a mixed reaction to
A Chorus Of Disapproval - but one's used to it these days. Half the critics wanting you to keep to the old formulae and the others demanding radical change. I think you just have to keep going regardless of this. I am rather pleased with Chorus. I'm rather more thrilled with it than many others I've written, of late."
(Personal correspondence, 6 May, 1984)

“I don’t think you miss much that much by not knowing
The Beggar’s Opera. So long as one gathers it’s about thieves, prostitutes, pimps, highwaymen and so on. Of course, John Gay does have this quite remarkable finish to the play (certainly for the period) where the whole tragic ending is interrupted and Macheath who is about to be hanged, is saved ‘at the stroke of the author’s pen’. It is obviously a conceit that appealed to me very much and I’ve tried to reflect it in my own narrative.”
(Personal correspondence)

"Another happy show for me that seemed to ring bells with a lot of audience. Because, of course, just about everyone has been in a show at some time in their lives. Russ Dixon had a ball creating Dafydd ap Llewellyn, the demonic producer and by including a number of marvellous songs from
The Beggar’s Opera, I could hardly go wrong."
(‘Ayckbourn At 50’ souvenir programme)

Copyright: Alan Ayckbourn