This much I know: Aoife Duffin

I’ve been acting since I left school so in a way it’s all I know. I grew up in Castlegregory, Co Kerry. I’m the youngest of five, with two brothers and two sisters.

I don’t get back home as much as I’d like to at the moment but at least you can fly straight to Kerry from London now.

I was an outgoing child. I certainly wasn’t into school-work very much. I was more sporty and rebellious, but not a trouble maker.

When I was 17, I was accepted onto the Bachelor in Acting Studies at Trinity College and moved to Dublin.

My parents are very open-minded and always encouraged us to do whatever we wanted — my dad is a chef, so he was used to moving jobs.

When I auditioned for that course, I’d never even seen a play. Theatre-going hadn’t been part of my life. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I was obviously so naive. But I think they were looking for potential and they saw something in me. The acting course was not like a regular college experience. I was part of a very small class and it could be quite intense.

My only previous experience of acting was thanks to a mime artist who retired to Castlegregory and taught classes in my primary school. I ended up being part of a local mime company when I was 15.

Leaving Kerry at 17 was a big move, the biggest thing I’d ever done and probably the biggest challenge I’ve had to face so far. I found it very hard.

All my friends went to college in Cork so I headed up on my own. I was very lucky as my dad is from Dublin and I was able to stay with an aunt but back then they were the side of the family that I did not know so well. Of course they were lovely and very welcoming but I was homesick.

My worst fault is being over-analytical. Neurotically over-analytical. I don’t think I was born like that. I think acting has brought out that side in me.

I constantly feel the need to see things from different angles. Even when someone does something bad to me I always end up seeing their point of view, which in a way gives me control of the situation, I suppose, but it’s exhausting.

In this business, you never really switch off. I have had other jobs of course - handing out flyers, working for marketing companies. I always take fliers off people in the street now. I did a six month stint in a bar.

I’ve been chipping away at acting for years. Building relationships, getting to know people in the theatre world. Success, getting roles in productions like Moone Boy, didn’t happen overnight. But I have never done a one-woman show on the scale of A Girl is a Half Formed Thing before.

I’m not convinced there is an afterlife but I’m still confined by the usual fears and anxieties of any human.

I sometimes get really nervous before a performance, I think everyone does. I have been close to stage fright, at times when I’m not feeling my best, but when I connect with my rebellious not-giving-a-damn younger self, it gets rid of the nerves.

My biggest fear is being humiliated intellectually. I wasn’t very bookish as a teenager, so I guess I’m afraid of being made to feel stupid.

If I could be someone else for a day, I’d probably choose to be PJ Harvey.

I love music, it is my big thing. I use it as a form of escapism. I listen to a wide variety when I’m out walking, and I like singing.

I’m trying to read more. I have a bit of an inferiority complex about not being well read enough. I’m currently reading The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen.

I don’t think there is any concrete rule book for an actor. My only advice would be exactly what I am telling myself now whenever I go for auditions: to be myself more. That is the one thing that you have that is different from everyone else.

So far life has taught me that I really don’t know anything.

Kerry-born actor Aoife Duffin stars in the award-winning Corn Exchange production of A Girl is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride.

Adapted for the stage and directed by Annie Ryan at the Project Arts Centre, Dublin from Feb 4–14; the MAC, Belfast, February 17-21 and the Mermaid Arts Centre, Bray, February 27 & 28.


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