The Divide: Quotes by Alan Ayckbourn

"I’ve already written the next thing! It’s called The Divide and is something of an experiment. It’s a deliberate attempt to jump away from anything familiar to me. It’s quite worrying at the moment as I’m not too sure what it is. It’s a dialogue based upon two diaries; one of a boy and one of a girl growing up in a weird world. I hope we’ll be able to do a sneak preview of it this year as part of the 60th anniversary events, use a few friendly actors and have a gala reading of it."
(Interview with Simon Murgatroyd, April 2015)

“I wanted to challenge the director in me to write something that was ‘unstageable’.
The Divide could be a radio play, a movie or I’d love to reinvent it as a full production but it’s so big that, as far as I know, this will be a unique one-off, the one occasion anyone will get a chance to see, hear or experience it.* I’ve written it for younger audiences, it’s less Game of Thrones, more social satire. It’s a dystopian fantasy set in a completely reimagined world where men and women live separately.”
(Stephen Joseph Theatre press release, 29 August 2015)

"I set myself into freefall. I wrote something I knew was going to be virtually impossible for me to direct. Budget-wise it was too big, logistically it was impossible: bottomless ponds, whole villages, waterfalls, caves… It was like a novel.'
(The List, 14 July 2017)

"There are two reasons for that [why
The Divide focuses on women]. One was that I was brought up in a single-parent family with a mother who gave me a somewhat biased slant on the world from the woman's point of view. Most of her friends were women and I spent my formative years listening to women talking. The second is when I started writing for the theatre, we were running a company up here and it was a 50–50 split, a genuinely egalitarian company. I strictly limited myself to the women's side of the Divide because it was more interesting. I imagined the other side in little glimpses as male mayhem, with a lot of violence in the streets.'
(The List, 14 July 2017)

“It began by me saying that you have really got to get out of this cosy routine you are in. And I suspect cosy routines. I always try to do something in every play, something to scare myself. But I thought, ‘I think I need a bit more of a scare this year.’ So I wrote ‘waterfall’ and ‘bottomless pool’ and a village full of characters that no theatre I work with could possibly afford.”
(The Times, 22 July 2017)

“One can’t understand a word the younger generation are saying now. They talk in absolute gibberish. But why should one? My parents didn’t understand what I was saying. I wanted something that could talk to them, though. I wanted to make the playing field flat enough to say: ‘These are the rules and we have all got to play by them.’ In this case we make a world in which women are infectious and men are vulnerable and let’s take it from there. And also there is a nice satirical edge in it that inverts everything that is normal. Heterosexuality becomes the abnormality.”

(The Times, 22 July 2017)

* The playwright is referring to
The Divide's initial read-through as part of there Stephen Joseph Theatre's 60th anniversary celebrations in 2015.

Copyright: Alan Ayckbourn.