My Wonderful Day: Quotes by Alan Ayckbourn"I've just finished play number 73, Winnie's Wonderful Day*, which I'm directing this autumn for the Stephen Joseph Theatre."
Image magazine, 1 June 2009
"It’s a children’s viewpoint of the adult world. I’ve set it in a house where Winnie’s mother does some cleaning and she’s very pregnant and probably shouldn’t be doing any physical work.
"My theory being that children from a very early age - if they’re the listening sort, which I was - sit and listen and record what they hear and play back what they hear later in life. They are small recording machines, video and audio. I want to tell the story through Winnie’s eyes. It’s rather selective what she sees, adults drift away and you hear them talking in corner but you stay with her.
She’s been set some homework by school and her mother asks her to do that while she’s cleaning. Her homework is an essay called My Wonderful Day and she starts writing and chronicles the day and one realises just how much she’s doing because suddenly the adults behave more and more like children.
"These adults are not child friendly adults, one of them would have liked to have stayed a child. The Man hates children, can't stand them. His wife wants children but is totally unable to cope and her husband hating them is the reason their marriage is cracking up. The friend of the husband has also made an absolute mess of his marriage and has visiting rights for his daughter. Obviously he’s a catastrophic father and he attempts to engage with Winnie, but they all end up pouring out their problems. Winnie just observes, writes and makes us wonder: who are the children? She’s probably the most grown up in the whole play. Her mother is a dreamer and her husband’s left and gone off with a younger woman and she’s trying is trying to make light of what’s happened. They’re of Caribbean origin and she says they’ll go back to the land of sunshine and you think, “C’mon mum get real. You’re living in Hackney.” You can see Winnie thinking this will never happen and that her Mum has to get over this, particularly being pregnant.
"It’s adult dreams and disappointments as seen through a child’s eyes."
Transcript of extracts of an interview between Nick Ahad and Alan Ayckbourn for the Yorkshire Post, 9 October 2009
"It's a first-person narrative. We see it as she [Winnie] sees it. At that age, they draw people aside and ignore others, and then they'll lean back in and say, 'Hello, would you like some soup?', so that's been fun to do.
"I think people forget how quickly children assimilate things around them and take them all in. What Winnie does in My Wonderful Day is chronicle everything around her, and it's cruelly accurate because children are.
"By the age of eight or nine, you're beginning to sort your parents out. Winnie's mother is single now and living in cloud-cuckoo land. The daughter is thinking, 'Come on Mum, sort yourself out'. There is affection there, and you just know that the mother will be run by the child by the time she is 13.
"My son and daughter-in-law call their son 'Little Alan' as he was very similar to the way I was as a young child. That watchfulness and that slightly introverted child, whose behaviour was brought about by not interacting with robust brothers and sisters when you had to fight for your supper. Instead I went off into an invented world where my toy soldiers had long conversations and stories with complex plots. It was the only way you could get a decent answer."
The Press, 16 October 2009
"I’m 73 [plays] on, but I still want to try and push myself into new areas. My Wonderful Day is actually a direct descendant of one we did here [in New York] called Private Fears in Public Places, which is when I started to explore the space between words. What you learn is that you’ve been overwriting for most of your life. If you are determined to write for actors, leave them something to do! I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Harold Pinter started to write shorter plays later in his life. And Beckett. So this is pretty sparse, this script. There’s an awful lot of visual in it. We had an audio-described performance just before we left Scarborough: somebody sitting in the box with a microphone, for people who were blind or partially blind, so they had a blow-by-blow description. And that person worked a damn sight harder than anybody else on the stage. Because they were going: “Now she’s picking up this, now she’s doing that, now he’s doing this, now she’s sitting there, now she’s writing…” By the end of it: “God! I’m exhausted…” [Laughs]
"It’s told from the point of view of a child, so everything she hears, we hear. If she can’t see it, we can’t see it. I wanted the audience to imagine that they were a child in a house of adults, not very child-friendly adults, at that. They’re all awkward or uneasy with children. One of them openly hates them. And the other problem, which I realized as I was writing it, is that I wanted the child, Winnie, to be quite young. Young enough that the adults would misread her."
Time Out (New York), 18 November 2009
"It's about what we learn by being invited to be Winnie. We look at ourselves through the eyes of a child. I'd like to think we learn more about the adults through Winnie's silence than we would is she interacted."
Cambridge Agenda, February 2010
"These days, the more I write, the less I write. My Wonderful Day is quite a short play, but it explores space and silence. It's allowed to freefall, really, and this is something I'm developing very much these days. I want to explore - I know it sounds a bit of a cliché - the silence between the words."
Cambridge Agenda, February 2010
* The title was altered later that month to My Wonderful Day.
Copyright: Alan Ayckbourn