Season's Greetings: Interviews

This section contains interviews with Alan Ayckbourn about his play Season's Greetings. Click on the links in the right-hand column below to go to the relevant article.

This short interview with Alan Ayckbourn was published to coincide with a North American production of Season's Greetings during 2011. No other details are known.

Season's Greetings from the USA

Since Season's Greetings premiered in 1980, have your views of the characters and the conflicts they experience at the Bunker's home changed?
I don't think they have, really. Most of the conflicts between the characters are basic human ones, after all. As years pass, the gifts may grow ever more sophisticated, miraculous and expensive but people, sadly, in general fail to follow suit.

Both Absurd Person Singular and Season's Greetings, set during Christmas Day and Boxing Day, address love and complicated and entangled relationships. Why do these questions and confusions arise during the holiday season?
Christmas time is usually the occasion for families to congregate bringing together people who spend the rest of the year avoiding each other. None of us choose our relatives and there is no special reason other than family duty to like them any more than there would be a houseful of total strangers. Indeed, strangers would in many ways be prerferable. Relatives are often similar enough to irritate and sufficiently different to infuriate us.

Have you seen any productions of Season's Greetings? What have been some of the most unique choices made in these productions?
I haven't seen that many productions other than the two or three I have directed myself. The differences were essentially to do with scenic choice. It's a play set in a hall. By then I'd already set plays in living rooms, kitchens and bedrooms so the hall was the logical next step - I didn't get to bathrooms till later in A Small Family Business. Which leaves the choice of how much of the rest of the house we are able to see down to individual directors and designers. In a recent successful production at London's National Theatre, I suspect on account of the sheer size of the large Lyttelton stage, we got to see most of the house, including an attic bedroom which was to use a current phrase 'too much information' I felt.

Do American audiences relate differently to Season's Greetings that English audiences?
I suspect not, I'm not really the best person to ask. But I think Americans probably have the same mixed feelings towards their nearest, dearest and not so dear as we do in this country!

Do you and, if so, what traditional English holiday festivities do you participate in? Do you attend pantos, for instance?
Like many I celebrate Christmas with my immediate family plus the occasional guest who happens to be stuck in the vicinity. Looking eagerly forward to it beforehand and usually breathing a huge sigh of relief when it's over. No, I never go to pantos. From an early age, I disliked them, ever since I realised they were glorified excuses for adults to palm off old jokes and sometimes patronise young audiences. When I ran the theatre here [the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough], I regularly used to write a play for family audiences though they were proper plays - not really that dissimilar to Season's Greetings, in fact.

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