OffWestEnd talks to Gareth Brierley about the genesis of “People Show 145: The Diviners” at the Golden Goose Theatre from 10-28 October

Gareth Brierley is an actor, writer, director, and theatre-maker based in London. He has worked as a Performer/writer for companies like the RSC, People Show, Stans Café, Manchester Royal Exchange, and Forced Entertainment. While working in devised theatre and making his own work, he has written over 80 shows.  As a long-standing member of People Show, he has helped devise many of their performances and was also the director of the company’s first film, The Jossers.

Gareth, how do you feel about performing in a pub theatre?
In the early 2000’s I was performing in the Etcetera Theatre which is a pub theatre in Camden. Downstairs the pub was showing a famous Real Madrid vs Man U game that had a lot of goals. Every time someone scored, an earthquake roar vibrated upstairs into the two-horse show we were performing. The problem was that the show was set on a deserted Island in the middle of Asia,and we were shipwrecked.  So every time there was a roar we looked out into the distance confused at this noise and waved for help. It was the highlight of the night, where the contract with the audience and us changed as we both adjusted to the live events happening around us.

Where does pub theatre fit in the breadth of OffWestEnd theatre and beyond?
There is a beauty to the pub theatre. Simplicity to the playing area, audience size, and what technically and set-wise you can achieve. But this is a fascinating challenge in what can be achieved in these small spaces. In theatre in this country, we have a hierarchy in the theatre or an unsaid career progression. You start with a pub theatre, then move on to a small-scale theatre like BAC or Camden Peoples Theatre and then move on to a tour of arts centres around the country. The middle scale is where you go next – to Rep Theatres from Birmingham to Stockton.  Large scale is maybe the last stop with the National Theatre and then the West End megaliths.

How did your new show evolve?
Working on a new show, “People Show 145: The Diviners” (we’ve been going since 1966), we decided in May this year that we wanted to make a show for a pub theatre. We searched seeing some amazing places and then found the Golden Goose in Camberwell.

There has been a habit in performance in the last couple of decades whereby the normal route is you might do a presentation or scratch night in the first instant. 10 minutes or so where you might show a scene or present an image or idea. The next stage might be R&D; where you show more of the idea to prospective partners and venues. This might lead to more R&D and then eventually a show will happen with a tour and run. This process might take 2 to sometimes 5 years in the making. I am not saying whether this is wrong or right, but we wanted to make something in 4 weeks and then show it to an audience. They might love it or they might run us out of town. But that prospect either way is where the excitement lies.

Where are you now?
So here we are in the last few weeks before a 3 week run at the Golden Goose in October. We made this show from scratch with just the venue as the unquestionable. We have made something we are proud of and that is forever changing and becoming special. A show about AI and what it is to be human. So come along and book your tickets and come for a drink. Maybe the football will be on again, it always is somewhere, and we will not ignore it if we hear that roar.

“People Show 145: The Diviners” is at the Golden Goose Theatre, 10-28 October at 7:30pm each evening (Tuesday-Saturday).  Book your tickets here: