The Champion Of Paribanou: Interviews With Alan Ayckbourn

This section includes interviews with Alan Ayckbourn on The Champion of Paribanou. This interview for Dig! Yorkshire magazine was conducted by Rich Jevons for the 2005 revival of the play at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough.

Dig! Yorkshire (2005)

Interviews with Alan Ayckbourn

Simon Murgatroyd (1997)
How did you get the original idea for The Champion of Paribanou?
It was a Christmas a year before [the premiere in 1996] and I received a glad-bag, anonymous present of booklets including The Magic Carpet from The Arabian Nights. I thought it would make a great Christmas show. I moved a long way away from the original, with something much darker, but it does still have an exotic Arabian feel.

We've heard stories about huge robots appearing in the show... can you tell us what to expect?
Salim, the robot, is like something from (Blade Runner & Alien Director) Ridley Scott, but it's a faulty robot, a bit like the tin man in The Wizard of Oz, a rusty old thing. Now with the new Stephen Joseph Theatre we have under-stage access and fast traps, so this show is very much upgraded from the original production.

How have you managed to write for both children and adults?
I've tried to write it on several levels, with a strong narrative, the key to all plays, so the audience will think, 'I'm not leaving till I know Murganah dies'. Some pantomimes go over children's heads with innuendo, but kids are more serious about the danger to Prince Ahmed and I don't write down to them.

Can you tell us about the montage of cinematic references included in the show?
I spent a lot of my childhood in the cinema, long before television and DVDs. Back then, in the late fifties, every town had three cinemas and my brother and I went all the time. Of course there was a lot of rubbish but also these great exotic stories, like The Crimson Pirate, with swashbuckling and the feeling of reckless heroes. In this show the references are all mixed up, like Star Wars, a cross-reference that the children certainly know.

Would you say the narrative is a battle of good versus evil?
It's a semi- serious variation on the Faust legend which slowly leads to bad but it doesn't say 'Thou shalt not…' more what will happen if you betray yourself. You can't preach but you can give a sense of fairness and justice.

Copyright: Rich Jevons. Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.