Callisto 5 / Callisto#7: Quotes by Alan Ayckbourn

"I had the idea that I'd write a sort of Aliens, slightly mixed with a children's Henceforward... whereby we saw our young hero left alone on Callisto 5. His parents went out and left him when he was aged eight… and he's been left with a mechanical babysitter by his parents to look after him while his parents weren't around. She's still programmed to babysit eight years later. He's grown. It is the Nan 500 from Henceforward.... She's done mad things to insist he goes to bed….
The monster in this play I'm rather pleased with. I'm going to use a lot of video in it - again like
Henceforward... - but much more so because I've decided a good idea would be to have the monster visible only on video. It's only picked up by video recorders. He looks directly at the space where it is: there's nothing there. It never actually appears on stage, but the kid, realising it's in the room with him, has the bright idea of plugging the video into a unit and scouting the room. So what the kids watching the show will get is a boy in an empty room apparently moving probably a dummy video camera around, which will be firing actually into a videotape. Now and then you'll catch a glimpse of the monster on the video screens, which will be all around the room."
(Extract from an interview with Alan Ayckbourn, prior to writing Callisto 5. Published in Bernard Dukore's ‘Alan Ayckbourn – A Casebook’)

"I [re-]wrote it as
Callisto#7 - it's got another character in it. It's written with a little boy in it now - and a little girl. The girl is older. It made it slightly more human. She is now left to look after her little kid brother and he is the one who's going moody and she's doing her best - she's only thirteen - she's trying to keep control while the mother and father are away. But the kid is really giving her a bad time saying, "I don't wanna talk to you. I just want my mother and father." And she's saying, "So do I." And so the computer creates a monster, like it did before, in order to unite them because it sees they're on the verge of having a breakdown. So they create the old solution of having a common enemy. The little boy finds he's helping his sister to fight it and they both learn to have respect for each other. I think it's a better slant on it."
(Extract from an interview with Alan Ayckbourn published in Albert-Reiner Glaap's 'A Guide Tour Through Ayckbourn Country')

"The first version was about a young boy all on his own on a space station and it was dramatically not too exciting. I have added a sister so you get some interaction between them. She's growing up fast and her brother keeps asking her awkward questions to which she doesn't have the answers because the computer won't release the information that she wants. Like biological information, all sorts of things. It just says, 'You're not old enough.'"
(Personal correspondence, 1999)

"I think I write from the adult's perspective. I don’t try to become a child. I try and imagine what I as a child would have enjoyed and what my children would have enjoyed. I think initially I did write consciously for children but I hardly do that now, providing I feel the theme is right for them. I obviously make certain adjustments. I don't write things that I think would not interest them, like sexual politics - particularly for the young ones, you know, that's just baffling. On the whole, I've discovered that children have the same needs from theatre as adults. You just have to be careful how you deal with them. They like to be frightened; they like to be excited, they don't just want to laugh, any more than adults just want to laugh. I think these days I write entirely from my own perspective but just bring out the child in me - it's difficult to explain. The worst thing I could do, which I'm very afraid of, would be to patronise children.... lower myself to them. I think that it is better to write above them than below them, so that they have to reach a little. I think they will do that."
(Personal correspondence, 1999)

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