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The Ocean At The End Of The Lane

Tell Us In 10: Penny Layden

Kitty Underwood

By Kitty Underwood First Published 19 April 2022, Last Updated 21 April 2022

In our profile series, Tell Us In 10, we ask cast members and creatives of top London shows to tell us all about themselves in just 10 questions.

This week we hear from Penny Layden, who currently plays Old Mrs Hempstock in The Ocean At The End Of The Lane.

Find out more about Penny in our Tell Us In 10…

1. My route into theatre was…

Via youth theatre groups in my home town, the Dewsbury Collegians and then lots of shows with Dewsbury Arts Group.

2. My West End idol is…

Theatre itself and everyone front and back of house who has worked so tirelessly and with such resilience to get back up and running and keep shows open.

3. My colleagues would describe me as…

An open-hearted, gobby, weepy, Yorkshire woman – or worse!

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane

4. My favourite show present or past (that isn’t one I star in/work on) is…

Very hard to pin down… I loved Gods Are Fallen and All Safety Gone by Greyscale Theatre Co and pretty much anything made by Tim Crouch – he does things with theatre that I feel are challenging and vital, very clever.

5. The career moment I’m most proud of is…

Probably when Ben Power named me ‘the spirit of the Shed’ – I was lucky enough to be in both the opening (Table) and closing (Another World) shows of the temporary space at the National Theatre.

6. The hardest part about my job/role is…

Latterly been trying to avoid Covid! Pre Covid (and coming up again shortly) it’s the “not knowing what’s next” aspect of being freelance.


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7. If I wasn’t an actor, I would be…

An animator or a gardener.

8. Something people don’t know about me is…

I make stop motion animation with my partner, we have a company called Skatedog Films.

9. The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is…

“Muhammad Ali it!” which means, be the best you can be at what you do, fight with your craft.

10. The one thing I wish I could tell my younger self is…

Not knowing doesn’t make you stupid, it makes for opportunities and growth, embrace not knowing, ask the questions, there’s learning everywhere!

You can book now for The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, which is on at the Duke Of York’s Theatre until 14 May.


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