The Square Cat: Interviews

This section features interviews with Alan Ayckbourn about his first play The Square Cat. Click on the link in the right-hand column below to go to the relevant interview.

This interview with Alan Ayckbourn is a short extract from an extensive interview by Alan Yentob for the BBC'1 documentary, Imagine, broadcast during 2011.

The Square Cat

Interviews with Alan Ayckbourn

The Square Cat (Simon Murgatroyd)
Imagine (Alan Yentob)
Alan Yentob: Moving on in time to 1959, when you wrote The Square Cat, you were already married to Christine Roland?
Alan Ayckbourn:
Yes, Christine and I had one child which arrived inconveniently fast after the wedding, but nonetheless she was very supportive. The first two plays I wrote under our joint names - Roland Allen - because she was very very helpful in helping with the structure, which I was still blundering about with.

The Square Cat came about after a row I had with Stephen Joseph, because I was appearing in a play [Ring Of Roses by David Campton] and I came off complaining about the part. Stephen said, ‘well, if you can write a better play than this, then you’re on.’ And I said, ‘Anybody can write a better play than this. Right, take you on mate.’

So the following summer, I presented him with
The Square Cat. My whole ego was blown to bits because I was writing for myself with a leading role where I displayed talents which I did not have, singing, dancing, all-smiling and of course...

Playing the guitar?
Playing the guitar!

Which you couldn’t play?
No! I got three lessons from a guy in Trafalgar Road. He said, ‘where’s your guitar?” and I said, ‘Haven’t got one!’ He said, ‘Oh, you can borrow mine. When do you need to learn this by?” I said, ‘week on Wednesday…' He said ‘God Almighty. You’re never going to learn anything, but let’s look for the songbook.’ And we came up with If I Gave My Love A Cherry which is one of the most tedious folk songs we ever heard. But at least it was only two chords. Dum, dum. And I said, ‘This man’s a rock and roll singer, he’s playing Dum Dum.’ So I thought I’ll play him as if he’s in a reflective mood! So sometimes I sang it and sometimes I would look up at the control room box, shake my head and the blackout would come.

Interview by Alan Yentob Copyright: BBC. Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.