Dreams From A Summer House: Quotes by Alan Ayckbourn

"They say there is no point coming to a play of mine unless you've had at least one unhappy love affair or experienced unrequited love. But Dreams From A Summer House is really quite silly fun. Compared with Time Of My Life, it's a positive ball."
(Scarborough Evening News, 15 August 1992)

"I have actually been sent three musicals to consider as a director this year. And the trouble with them all is that someone sees
Les Miserables and then goes away and writes 24 more Les Miserables. There's now a kind of 'noise' which is associated with musicals, and completely interchangeable among them all. What I really can't bear is the convention by which people with no prior warning suddenly give vent to a song, and then stop again with equal abruptness. I wanted a play that will be part-sung and part-spoken, but with the singing justified by the action. There will be no numbers as such, but long speeches set to music....
"I've had to wind my optimism up a bit. In this instance, I had a happy idea.
Dreams From a Summer House is very much a fantasy. I've found myself writing in a very dark vein of late - I came across someone after the last play, Time Of My Life, who required a couple of brandies, he was so depressed. So this is very much in a summer mood, a love story with a happy ending. I thought, 'What the hell, this is Scarborough in August'. You can't do Strindberg - well, you can but no-one would come."
(Yorkshire Post, 15 August 1992)

"It was the first time I have done a full-scale collaboration with the new musical director at Scarborough, John Pattison, who had been writing music for my shows. But that was sort of theme music for
Wildest Dreams for instance, for Body Language, Time Of My Life. But Dreams From A Summer House was something we actually wrote together. We went away for a fortnight to Majorca, we stayed in the north there, we took our respective womenfolk and we had a very productive fortnight. We actually got the full basis of the thing down. The plot of it is a re-working, yet again, of the Beauty and the Beast story, of how Beauty flees the Beast from fairyland and arrives in the middle of suburban England, in the middle of Leatherhead. All is placed in the middle of a very smart garden party. The context of the show is that the people from that country can only sing, and they can only understand people when they sing. It is a fantasy story of how the two worlds intertwine. It is very different from a conventional large-scale musical....
"I always have a little trouble, when I am writing musicals, with the moments when people actually start to sing. People sing for a very good reason. In this play they sing, because that is the only way they can be understood. The symbolism of the song is quite interesting. Beauty, as she spends longer on Earth, as it were, suddenly loses her singing voice, and she can no longer sing. And the Beast kidnaps the hero's wife, the hero falls in love with Beauty and they become lovers and it is at that point that she loses her voice. Beast blunders into the garden and abducts the very bad-tempered, shrewish wife, ex-wife of the hero, carts her back to fairyland, chains her up in the dungeon and demands that she sings, but she is tone-deaf. So there is this huge battle between this very strong-willed woman and the Beast, and eventually she tames him, demands that he stops singing, because she hates music. And she sort of threatens to destroy the whole of fairyland by her sort of behaviour. And eventually the trick is worked and they swap back. The wife comes back only to find that she suddenly has a singing voice. Beauty comes back and slowly regains her voice. The Beast is dying, because he has been deprived of Beauty, then slowly comes back to his full former self. I have changed the ending slightly. He says, "If you kiss me, there is a legend that I'll turn into a handsome prince." And she says, "Don't change at all, the beauty that is in you now is all that I demand." So he stays the Beast. Thus it is a real fairy story, but an adult fairy story."
(Extract from an interview with Alan Ayckbourn by Albert-Reiner Glaap from A Guided Tour Through Ayckbourn Country)

"A musical created with John Pattison.
"Out in the summer house Robert, the disillusioned artist, sits drinking alone; from her house in a tree, young Mel watches him, unhappy and in love. In the distance, the sounds of the disastrous garden party being held by her parents, Chrissie and Grayson; and to cap it all, their elder daughter, the ill-tempered Amanda, is due back at any minute from her unsatisfactory honeymoon with luckless Sinclair. But all they need in their lives to put things right is a little music - and perhaps just a touch of summer magic..."
(Alan Ayckbourn's brochure copy for the original production of Dreams From A Summer House)

Dreams From A Summer House (Stephen Joseph Theatre 1992 production programme note)
Just two months ago the composer and writer
Took off on a trip to the Isle of Mallorca
And sat in a room for just less than a fortnight
And worked from near dawn till the gong went for dinner.
We took nothing with us a few scraps of paper, a keyboard, a printer
a simple computer, Recorders and mains leads, an amplified speaker
A whole load of software and two dozen pencils.
We came home exalted with back-ups and printouts,
A warm sense of triumph (though not from the sunshine),
We sat down in Scarboro' to read what we'd written
And several days later rewrote it completely ...
(Alan Ayckbourn's programme note for the original production)

“Not quite the truth, but why spoil a good story, I say.”
(Hand-written - and unreproduced - note amended to Alan’s original memo containing the above programme note)

Copyright: Haydonning Ltd.