Q: How do you go about naming the characters?
A: That’s an interesting question. What do you want to know?
Q: Well, you have a lot of twinned names of characters, like Maurice and Monica and Phil and Penny and Rachel and Rory. And obviously, Nicola and Natalieâ€”and even names that sound alike, like Shirley and Cyril?
A: Is the question, are you saying is it an accident, or do I do it purpose? I always do it on purpose, everything is done on purpose.
Q: Do the actors have a say in the names?
A: They doâ€”up to a point. A part of my art is that I collaborate, so I work with each actor, and I say, “Right, let’s name.” For a while in embryo form the character is going unnamed, and then I say, “Okay, let’s think about it and make a long list of all the names it could be.” We make a list of first names, and then we select, if I’m smart, four, with reference to how they will go with other names. And I also carry a permanent index, a notebook which I have with me at naming sessions of all the names in all of my work. I think it’s got up to something like four hundred and something. Even for the most minor characters. So I can double check and see if I’m going to have the same, or whatever. So it’s never an accident when a name reappears.