Private Fears In Public Places: An Interview With Alan Ayckbourn


Alan Ayckbourn’s Thoughts On The Film
Alan Ayckbourn has always had a high regard for Alain Resnais from the moment when Alan first met the French director at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round in 1989 and it transpired Alain Resnais was a fan of the playwright’s work. Resnais successfully adapted Alan’s epic play Intimate Exchanges into the two films Smoking / No Smoking and Alan has frequently repeated Alain’s view that Alan makes movies for the stage whereas Alain makes plays for the movies. Of all the filmed adaptations of Alan Ayckbourn’s plays, it can be strongly argued that Coeurs and Smoking / No Smoking are by far and away the strongest and the most faithful; that even where they may deviate from the plays, the movies always carry the spirit of the play and are faithful to the playwright’s intentions.
On the UK DVD release of Private Fears In Public Places, Alan Ayckbourn is interviewed and briefly talks about the film and his thoughts on it and Alain Resnais.


“I was immediately taken by the snow storm which I thought was typically him [Alain Resnais]. There was no snow-storm on stage obviously.... When the camera came in on that long track through to the first apartment, we started right at the beginning of the play and give or take the odd line, the scene was very much as it was. And then he did another dissolve through the snow into the following scene and it just unravelled in that way. Scene followed scene and to the best of my memory there weren't any scenes out of order but it became an incredibly French experience, none the less.

He’s a great director and will inevitable take a script that’s laid out quite geometrically, which he respected I think, and try to observe and put his own stamp on it. So I was partly walking my own path but I was in another world. The French world. I love the moment in the film, which is not in the stage play, obviously, when their hands meet at the table and they’re suddenly outside in the snow. It’s most peculiar and it takes you absolutely by surprise. But he works in a terribly theatrical way

I think the thing about Alain is he knows why something’s there. He may question why it’s there, but he acknowledges it’s there for a purpose. So if he does remove something, it’s always in order to make something in his version a little clearer; never to just get it moving. His pacing of the film is very similar and I think Alain also uses his camera work specifically to tell the story. Although we both get quite oblique occasionally, we are in the end narrative merchants….

One loves to see one’s work through other people's eyes, but only when they’re eyes that have a genuine affection for the work.”

Copyright: Alan Ayckbourn

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