With two shows at Vault Festival in London this year, writer Madeline Gould tells Giverny Masso about her passion for rural touring and creating powerful female characters…
Who is the character in Ladykiller, your one-woman show produced by the Thelmas?
She’s a hotel maid. It’s a job I did for a while and I’ve worked in customer service for most of my life. When you first meet her, she has murdered a guest in the hotel. You don’t see many female characters in theatre who are violent and evil. I didn’t want her to be a murderer because of a traumatic background – to tick the boxes for her as a female villain. Women can have as much of a capacity for evil and violence as men in the same way men have a capacity to nurture and care.
What is Greyscale, your other show at Vault Festival, about?
Greyscale is co-written with Joel Samuels and Anonymous Is a Woman theatre company. It examines the grey area where miscommunication and missing signals cross into sexual harassment. It asks the audience to hear both sides of the story and come to a conclusion themselves. We were both asked to write a monologue from the view of our character, and we weren’t allowed to confer.
Have you done other work with Anonymous Is a Woman?
Yes – on Think of England, a show developed for rural touring. The play is set at a 1920s tea dance and examines gender politics. The rural touring network is such a gorgeous thing and I would urge all creatives to look at it. It can come with a bit of a stigma, but it’s so essential: many people who come to watch have never been to
see a play before.
How did you get into theatre?
My dad would say I’ve always been a writer: I wrote my own version of Macbeth when I was seven. I studied English literature at Newcastle but knew I wanted to work in theatre. At the time, it didn’t occur to me that could mean not being an actor. I was lucky enough to go to LAMDA to study acting. My first play was Boxer, Beetle, a Ned Beauman adaptation. After two years I took myself off Spotlight, left my agent and committed to being a writer.
What has been a challenge for you as a writer?
It’s about allowing myself to wear the badge of writer. I haven’t yet been able to write without having another job, I’ve always had to have something else to pay the bills. It still feels really hard calling myself a professional playwright even though I have two shows on at Vault.
What is next for you?
As everything I have written has been somewhat unconventional, I’d quite like to write a play in three acts with a series of themes. I want to continue challenging myself and I haven’t fully worked out what type of playwright I want to be. I’ve got a couple of things bubbling away at the moment and I’m writing every single day.
Training: BA in English literature, Newcastle University (2007-09); professional acting foundation course, LAMDA (2009-11)
First professional role: FANY at the Arts Theatre, London (2016)
Agent: Curtis Brown