Kacey Ainsworth: 'I won't be channelling Sigourney Weaver in Holes'

The actor comes to Nottingham for Adam Penford’s new production

Kacey Ainsworth
Kacey Ainsworth
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

Kacey Ainsworth became a household name during her six-year run in EastEnders as Little Mo, winning the National Television Award for Most Popular Actress in 2002. Since leaving the show, her other credits include Grantchester and HolbyBlue, while her stage credits include Calendar Girls and Carrie's War. She now appears as the tyrannical Warden in Adam Penford's new production of Holes, which opens this month at Nottingham Playhouse.

1) Could you explain Holes for anyone who doesn't know the show or the novel?
Holes is about a boy called Stanley who gets sent to Camp Green Lake, a juvenile correction centre in Texas. It is one of the most performed plays in America yet it hadn't been done here. My daughter read it in Year 7 and loved it so much – it's a complex but extremely entertaining story of Stanley's adventures.

2) What drew you to the role of the Warden?
She doesn't cry once in the whole show. Plus I get to be rather sassy.

3) Why do you think it works so well for the stage?
Story first and foremost. The story is surprising and unpredictable so it keeps you guessing until the end.

4) What's been the best part about the rehearsal process?
Getting to work with the cast! They are all so young and I'm learning a lot. Not sure I will ever be a gamer though!

5) Why do you think the book is still so fresh 20 years later?
Universal themes and a strong story will carry a piece through the ages…

6) Have you watched the film version of the novel?
No and nor would I. The Warden is my creation in this production so I won't be channelling Sigourney Weaver.

7) Director Adam Penford has been having a fantastic time in his inaugural season at Nottingham Playhouse, what has he been like to work with?
He's got so much energy…I bet he was one of those kids who just did everything all at once. His energy is infectious and makes the rehearsal room really a lively and fun place to be. You can tell he's got a vision for this piece, helped by if I do say so, a talented cast!

8) What's your earliest acting memory?
I worked from the age of eight so watching John Owen Edwards in the orchestra pit at the Victoria Palace in 1978.

9) What's has been your stage highlight (so far!)?
So many, I've been working for years! But getting cast in Pale Horse by Joe Penhall at the Royal Court when I left Central left me floating around Tufnell Park for a while.

10) What do you consider to be your big break?
Theatre-wise, probably getting my first Shakespearean lead in ETT's The Taming of the Shrew.

11) And on screen?
TV – Little Mo in EastEnders of course, and then for film it was Mike Leigh's Topsy Turvey, a musical film from 1999.

12) You spent six award-winning years working on EastEnders – do you miss the experience?
I miss doing it every day, especially working on something where you know everyone from the crew to the tea lady.

13) Would you go back to the show?
The door is always open!

14) You do both stage and screen work – do you approach them both differently?
Yes totally. They require completely different approaches. At Central I did lots of theatre but it's hard to get screen experience. Both require leaps of faith and a playful attitude. Theatre is "go go go" and TV and film is "'Go!! No, wait, no, go! and go again' and 'plane so stop!'

15) What would you do if you weren't an actor?
I wanted to study law and still may do that.

16) Who are your idols?

17) Do you have any dream roles?
I'd like to play Kath in Entertaining Mr Sloane by Joe Orton.

18) If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would it be?
My mother dying too young.

19) What have you seen recently that you've really enjoyed?
Apart from Wonderland (at Nottingham Playhouse)? Beginning by David Eldridge. I did his play at the Bush years ago, and what was so brilliant was to read dialogue that sounded like people I knew.

20) What do you do in your spare time to unwind?
Seeing all the lovely mummies from school, who make me laugh a lot in a good way!

Holes runs at Nottingham Playhouse from 5 April to 22 April, with previews from now.