Student Heading to Renowned Drama School

April 29, 2009 - News Release

University of Guelph student Nigel Gough has been accepted into the world-renowned master's program at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, England.

The school is one of the colleges of the University of London and has maintained a reputation for the finest theatre arts training in the world for more than a century. Its prominent alumni include Laurence Olivier, Judi Dench, Harold Pinter, Vanessa Redgrave and Natasha Richardson.

A drama major, Gough took part in a rigorous 12-hour audition process in New York City and received offers into both the advanced performance master’s program and the music theatre master’s program at Central School.

Although the school holds auditions in many different locations, New York was the closest option for Gough. Funds were tight, so he booked a seat on the Megabus ($1 each way between Toronto and New York but not the plushest or quickest form of travel.

A hostel was all his limited budget could afford, but Gough admits it might not have been the best choice for the night before an important audition. “The hostel was right in Times Square, but the crowd that inhabited the space was not conducive to my sleeping schedule, and it only got worse when somebody saw a mouse in the next room.”

He finally fell asleep just before morning, missed his wake-up call, didn’t have time to shower and ran all the way to the audition site. "I arrived slightly dishevelled but completely determined."

For the music theatre program, he had to sing two contrasting songs, do two contrasting monologues, do a movement workshop and take direction all in front of the other auditioning hopefuls. This was followed by a question-and-answer period with the school’s principal, some faculty and graduates.

“The studio was having rehearsals for Chicago on one side of us and auditions for Billy Elliott on the other, so you really had to stay focused,” he said.

For the advanced practice in performing, Gough had to work with two other people to create a series of improvised performances on different themes. “We got very creative. We blindfolded the faculty and did heavy breathing around them. We worked with what was available to us and created stages out of tables and chairs, and we drummed on the recycling bins. It was great.”

He was also unexpectedly asked to present an individual non-verbal piece of theatre and improvised a performance piece combining movement, sound and rhythm. In addition, he completed an in-depth interview.

A month later, he learned he’d been accepted into both programs. He said he feels extremely honoured and has yet to decide which offer to accept.

Gough said his love of performing began when he was a preschooler and his grandmother took care of him. “She always encouraged me. I’d be dancing on the steps, doing monologues and she’d cheer me on.”

After attending the Etobicoke School for the Arts and Inglenook Community School, an alternative high school in Toronto, he worked with the Kensington Youth Theatre and Employment Skills program, which involves students and street youth in creating theatre.

“It was an amazing transformative experience,” he said. “That’s when I truly fell in love with theatre and understood its full potential.”

Gough brought that love for theatre to U of G, where he said he’s been able to try on many different theatrical hats and to work with faculty who have helped him grow as an artist and academic. “I gained an appreciation for all the roles that go into making theatre work, which I believe has prepared me for whatever the future may hold.”

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338,; or Barry Gunn, Ext. 56982,

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1