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Q&A with Ruth Gemmell from the cast of No Place For A Woman

Ruth Gemmell (left) with co-star Emma Paetz - Photo by Andrew Burton
Ruth Gemmell (left) with co-star Emma Paetz – Photo by Andrew Burton

Theatre503 and Small Things Theatre present No Place For A Woman by Cordelia O’Neill, from Wednesday 3rd – Saturday 27th May 2017. Cast includes Ruth Gemmell as Annie and Emma Paetz as Isabella.

The wife of a commandant is throwing a party. She asks her husband for champagne. Instead he brings home a ballet dancer from the camp. An extraordinary story that explores the strength of marital love, the redemptive power of dance, and the survival of two women who live as neighbours – but are worlds apart.

Ruth Gemmell took time out from rehearsals to answer a few questions about the production:

Q: You have performed on screen and stage. How does the experience differ for you – and which do you prefer?
Ruth: Working again in theatre I recognise the luxury of having more time to develop a character – having said that I have no preference and enjoy working in all fields. I think it is the projects that differ for me rather than the medium.

Q: What process do you go through to ‘get into a role’?
Ruth: Each production has its own path to finding its landscape – immersing yourself in the world, history, fiction, life of a character – it’s all valid. The truth of the words are very important to me, and I am very protective of the rehearsal period itself. It should be a space to explore and a place to be able to change your mind. Nothing should be written in stone. I only learn through my mistakes.

Q: What attracted you to be a part of this production?
Ruth: The play, pure and simple; it’s extraordinary.

Q: Can you tell us about No Place For A Woman and the character that you play?
Ruth: For me, the play is about survival. The extraordinary lives of two women, who encounter each other during one of our most heinous periods in recent history. What the women have in common is a passion for ballet. And as the play unfolds we find one man at the centre of their lives. My character, Annie, is the wife of a Concentration Camp Commandant. She has everything – and nothing. She’s complicated, damaged, vulnerable, harsh, ignorant, troubled, disturbed. She will do whatever is necessary to get what she wants.

Q: How are rehearsals going?
Ruth: Good. Frightening. Exhilarating. Exhausting. Good bunch of people.

Q: Why should theatregoers come to see No Place For A Woman?
Ruth: Because it challenges ideas and prejudices. Because we need to learn from the past. And because the very human dilemma regarding love is age old.

Q: What is next for you in 2017?
Ruth: Later in the year I will be reprising my role of Shonagon in Radio Four’s “The Pillow Book” written by the wonderful Robert Forrest. A job I just love going back to.


Small Things Theatre produce new work that delights, fascinates and challenges. Their first play The Stolen Inches was a sellout at Edinburgh 2015. Their regular Night of Small Things provides a platform for emerging artists of all disciplines to showcase their work.

Annie: Ruth Gemmell (Home Fires, ITV; Penny Dreadful, Sky Atlantic)
Isabella: Emma Paetz

Director: Kate Budgen
Writer: Cordelia O’Neill
Designer: Camilla Clark
Movement Director: Lucy Cullingford
Sound Designer: Ella Wahlstrom
Lighting Designer: Sarah Readman
Music and Cello: Elliott Rennie
Dramaturg: Lauretta Barrow
Production Manager: Richard Irvine
Stage Manager: Rachel Darwood,
Producer: Philip Scott-Wallace for Small Things Theatre
Associate Producer: Audrey Thayer

Theatre503 and Small Things Theatre present
No Place For A Woman
by Cordelia O’Neill
Wednesday 3rd – Saturday 27th May, 7.45pm (Wed. & Sat. Matinee, 3pm)


  • Neil Cheesman

    First becoming involved in an online theatre business in 2005 and launching londontheatre1.com in September 2013. Neil writes reviews and news articles, and has interviewed over 150 actors and actresses from the West End, Broadway, film, television, and theatre. Follow Neil on Twitter @LondonTheatre1

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