PEOPLE, PLACES & THINGS: IN CONVERSATION WITH DENISE GOUGH

May 24, 2016

People, Places & Things is a play about the temptation of escaping reality. It tells the story of Emma, an actress on the brink of tumbling into the abyss of addiction. Starring award-winning actress, Denise Gough and written by Duncan Macmillan, the play saw a transfer to the West End after a sold-out run at the Dorfman and now we’re giving you the opportunity to get your hands on two tickets to see it. People, Places & Things is in the final weeks of its run and ends 18th June.

What’s up for grabs?

- Two tickets to see People, Places & Things at the Wyndham’s Theatre, London
- An overnight stay for two at a four star hotel

Click HERE to enter.

We caught up with Denise to talk about growing up with ten siblings, the role of women in theatre and being kind to others.

UO: You grew up in County Clare, West Ireland with 10 brothers and sisters. Highs and lows?

Growing up with 10 brothers and sisters was all I know so it has all the pros and cons of any other childhood. I guess I could blame my stealing money from my mum’s purse and stuff like that on other family members though so that was a pro at the time. Cons were that any sweets or treats that came into the house lasted about five seconds.

UO: What have you learnt most from your siblings?

I learned how to shout the loudest.

UO: Can you remember your first theatre experience?

I was in Fiddler on the Roof when I was about eight. I had a tiny part and I hated it. I wanted to be at all the rehearsals and on stage all the time. Hanging around in the background annoyed me. Some things never change.

UO: Can you name an experience that’s had a profound effect on your interpretation of Emma?

My interpretation of Emma is based entirely on what was given to me on the page. Duncan has written a true human and so I follow the writing.

UO: How did you refine your portrayal of addiction and recovery for the role?

We all spent a lot of time with addicts and went to lots of meetings and spoke to experts to ensure we were telling the truth. They all feel like we are doing that having all seen the play and I know that having seen addiction very close at hand (who hasn’t?) that we are telling a true story.

UO: What’s your favourite moment in the show?

All of it. I love all of it. The audience reaction throughout and at the end is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced though. Their engagement is really quite profound.

UO: What’s the most important thing you learned while you were trying to make your dream happen?

To be kind to myself.

UO: What would your advice be to someone who is struggling to realise their own dream?

To be kind to yourself.

UO: We love that you picked up your Critics’ Circle Award wearing an ERA T-shirt. How else do you hope to use your influence to further the cause of women in theatre?

I intend to talk about equality and diversity in the arts every chance I get. What’s the point in having any weight in this business if you’re only going to use it for self promotion? How dull. If I’m given an opportunity to affect positive change then it is my responsibility to do that. So I will. All. The. Time.

EQUALITY EQUALITY EQUALITY DIVERSITY DIVERSITY DIVERSITY. See? Easy. Now you publish this and we’ve done something together to keep the conversation going and MAKE IT LOUDER.

UO: What message do you hope People Places Things passes on to recovering addicts or the families of addicts?

I hope it gives them hope. But I also hope that it is clear that recovery is not easy- life is not chocolate box. Reality can be tough so let’s be kinder to each other while we try to navigate it.

UO: You’ve had to keep yourself in great physical fitness to take on the role – what have you been doing to maintain both your physical and mental health?

I’ve been doing my best to eat healthily and rest as much as I can but it’s difficult. I’m very adrenalised all the time so sleeping can be hard but I do the best I can and am very kind to myself. I have to really mostly look after my voice so I make sure I’m warmed up every show. It’s a massive undertaking to do this eight times a week at the emotional level I need to so I accept that I’ll just be knackered til it’s over and then I can look back and feel really proud of myself for still being able to stand up and hold a conversation.