Haunting Julia: Quotes by Alan Ayckbourn

“Joe is a father whose fault is, I suppose, over zealous for his daughter; it could be any child and it's that great parental problem of how close you get, how protective you get, how much do you choose to stifle one you're so fond of. That's Joe’s tragedy really. His over-protective love. He and his wife Dolly produce / make in Joe's words, this child who comes from ‘God knows where’ who creates music that neither he nor Dolly can appreciate or understand and they can only sit and marvel. They are like the protectors of something they never even asked for....
"I can't imagine writing music, that's why I really went for music in the play because I don't know how people think of music; I think it’s all sort of magic. When people come up to me and say I don't know how you write your plays - well they're perfectly simple when you compare with people who write music....
“A lot of what Ken says comes from me. He does say at one point that most of us don't listen very much. When we are apparently listening to each other, what we're actually doing early on in the conversation, if at all, is thinking what we're going to say next and waiting for a gap to put it in so there's much less communication than we imagine we're having with each other. What he says is if you want to tune to other levels you've actually got to not just stop transmitting but switch over to receive mode, as he calls it, which means actually listening to the silence of the universe and listening to the other voices and listening to what's happening around you.”
(Kaleidoscope, 1994)

"I feel that it's a play that didn't really get an airing. It got lost in the scramble for
Communicating Doors. I'd written it, funnily enough, for the new theatre [the Stephen Joseph Theatre] and the McCarthy [the end stage auditorium). I think it's an end stage play and it's a lot better as an end stage play.
"I noticed it was very popular with young people and I put it down to the fact it deals with a father / daughter relationship or a children and parent relationship. It seemed to touch a nerve."
(Scarborough Evening News, 18 October 1998)

"It's a psychological ghost story. I am more known for looking at
How The Other Half Loves and all that, but they're all pretty dark plays in between. What puzzles me is how comedy and tragedy ever got separated. I believe that at one stage they belonged in bed together, and now they've just got out and wandered off in different directions, and I've just been trying to unite them. With Haunting Julia it started out as a ghost story and as I usually do I started to get rather more interested in the people. There is this little girl who by age six is writing music apparently effortlessly, and the press are nicknaming her 'Little Miss Mozart'. Her parents are very ordinary people, the father is a fencing supplier, and they simply don't know how to deal with all of this. When she finally does commit suicide at 19, the father can't handle it. He can't understand why this has happened. He is a very opinionated man and in his book has done everything right. He won't accept that and begins to look for suspects and brings in a psychic chap in order to try and contact her. It's really about parents and how to cope! In that sense I hope it touches everyone, either who's had a child or has been a child. Everyone has grievances about how their parents interfere too much in their lives or that they don't give a damn. I'm really trying to look at it from both points of view."
(Warwick Boar, 16 February 1999)

"It is an odd one. I never know quite where the idea comes from but I'd got quite interested in writing a ghost story - and, of course,
The Woman in Black came out of Scarborough. I remember coming back and seeing that when I had been on a sabbatical at the National. I thought it was terrific but I didn't think I could write anything quite like it. Completely separately, as always happens with me, I had another idea which began to chime with the ghost story. I was particularly interested in writing about parents and children - the difficulty of being a parent and establishing the necessary balance of distance and closeness. Children complain that their parents smother them but as every parent knows, there's a tendency to crowd them because the more you love them, the more you crowd them. A third idea - which is always the one that really gets me going - was the nature of genius and particularly musical genius which visits children very young. I imagined a musical genius coming to a family that don't know to handle it. And with suicide, which is what this is about, what you leave very often is people who question themselves for rest of their lives over whether they could have seen it coming. They go back over every conversation, every non-conversation. It's such a terrible thing. So the father looks for another explanation... It's an unusual play for me in that it's an all-male cast. But having said that, the women in the play are very strong offstage presences"
(Birmingham Post, 27 February 1999)

"
Haunting Julia, a play for three men, has a father in it whose daughter, a brilliant music student, has committed suicide. With the nature of suicide it is often very hard for people close to the victim to accept that they are not responsible in some way. What did I do that was wrong? Why did she kill herself? Was it me to blame as a father? Could I have stopped it? Could her mother and I have done something? It's a ghost you carry with you and the play is about that."
(Personal correspondence, 2003)

Copyright: Alan Ayckbourn.