So HOPELESSLY DEVOTED  has officially kicked off its Autumn tour and we’re super excited to have some brand new shots of the production and the brilliant cast to show you. Here’s a sneak peek.


To see the full album head to our Flickr.

HOPELESSLY DEVOTED is touring through November. Next up Pegasus Theatre, Oxford.

Photos taken by Richard Lakos


A goodbye from Bene…

It’s 3.30pm on a Friday at PP HQ. And with (literal) buckets of sweet delights in the treat box, event prepping and 30 minutes to go before we set off to celebrate 40 years of PP with an evening of plays at BBC Radio 3, it’s a pretty typical day at HQ. Only with moderately raised levels of panic (mine, mostly) as I attempt to tie up all loose ends and bid farewell to this wonderful company and an excellent group of people… Much easier said than done.

Where do I even begin? 2014 has been an exceptional year for PP, and I am so lucky to have been a part of it all. Before I started, I loved the fact that there was a renowned company that wasn’t afraid to take chances on new writing talent in an industry that was increasingly hard to break into as a new writer. And then the fact that they made it their mission to make sure this new work reached as many people as humanly (or financially) possible sounded even better. I knew I was in for a great ride.

12 productions, 53 places, numerous campaigns, trailers, photoshoots, immeasurable print, endless wifi battles, fall-outs with computers, Press Nights, Guest Nights, Festival nights, International nights and (not enough) Friday-at-Fives later – I can say wholehearted it was all better than I ever expected.

An early highlight for me was one of the first PP shows I saw when I came onboard late last year – Tom Wells’ excellent JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS. It stands up there with some of my favourite pieces of theatre, and I remember the excitement I felt at the thought of working with people who produced work of this calibre. I still feel it now.

…Or maybe it’s the memory of the Christmas Jumpers War we waged against The Bush Theatre


Team PP & the JFG cast.

I reckon we won that one.

The PP 40th Reunion at the Young Vic was a reminder of both the great talent that’s come through the doors at PP as well as the talent PP has helped cultivate in the last 40 years. It set the tone for what would follow in the months to come. There was something almost electric about being amongst a roomful of game-changers and looking ahead to PP’s plans to change the game again with Programme 2014.

And the two people that would lead us into it…

Paines Plough 40th Anniversary Reunion - 15th January 2014

Just to be clear: we’re pointing at them here.

Working for James and George very rarely felt like working for James and George – which is a huge credit to them. I’ve never met two people who were able to inspire and excite and galvanise (…that’s the same thing, isn’t it?) everyone they meet just by their passion and vision alone. The fact that Team PP is made up of only 8 core staff is proof of this. I’m not quite sure how many people realise just how incredibly small the team is, especially for what they’re able to accomplish time and time again. Which leads me to the other exceptional people I got to work alongside – Hanna – our reigning Producing sensei who I learned so much from, Aysha, Francesca, Natalie and Sean: proof that people who work because they absolutely love their jobs actually do exist. Unlike unicorns.

There are so many memories and touring experiences I’ll take with me, too many to list, but quick ones that come to mind:


Team PP before opening NOT THE WORST by Sam Burns

Heading to Mold in Wales and feeling like we just stepped into a Thomas Hardy novel.



Visiting Whaddon on the rural tour of EVERY BRILLIANT THING before most of the world knew it was a brilliant thing.



Arriving for HOPELESSLY DEVOTED’s international debut at the Europa Festival of New Plays

Jetting off to Wiesbaden in Germany and getting to experience theatre from all over Europe. I wasn’t as upset about it all as my face might imply…



Heading to LATITUDE with Hopelessly Devoted and deciding that portaloos might not be the worst things in the world. Second worst? Maybe.



ROUNDABOUT Launch at 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Without a doubt, one of this year’s biggest highlights.


PP’s portable, state-of-the-art pop-up amphitheatre.

Maybe everything that could be said about ROUNDABOUT has probably been said – but what an absolute pleasure to be a part of such a revolutionary concept and breathtaking final product. I truly believe that this is the future of touring theatre – and can’t wait to see what it becomes in the years to come.



Homecoming weekend at the Southbank Centre.

Finishing off my PP experience as the face of COME TO WHERE I’M FROM…I still don’t think anyone’s quite sure how that happened.

In summary – one of the most important things I learned at PP – and what I truly believe is the secret to their success – is too simple a concept to not try out: be nice. Always. It goes a long, long, long way.

What an amazing year; I leave inspired, stimulated and more in love with theatre than I was before. Very excited for what comes next.

Paines Plough – from the bottom of my heart, thank you.


Bene x.

Q & A with HOPELESSLY DEVOTED Director Stef O’Driscoll

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We caught up with HOPELESSLY DEVOTED director Stef O’Driscoll who gave us the scoop on the upcoming third national tour of Kate Tempest’s lyrically explosive tale of love and redemption.

So, it’s the third time round for HOPELESSLY DEVOTED. What is it about this play that connects with you, and why have you wanted to tell this story again and again?

It’s a beautiful, humane, important story about real people – women – who’ve made mistakes in their lives. This play is tragic and raw and it’s beautiful because there’s no sense of anyone playing the victim. These women are aware of their crimes and are in the process of dealing with them and what we actually explore is how you can love another and yourself again – how you can survive with the choices you made in life.

Just to give it some context, can you tell us a little about the play?

So, we follow the story of Chess and her inmate Serena. You get to see what they bring out of each other and how they’re there for one another. When Serena leaves, Chess has to go on her own journey, and music plays a key part in that when she starts a 12 week music rehabilitation course. Another reason why I love this play is the style of music. It’s a ‘musical’ but it’s cool, it’s contemporary, it’s raw – the lyrics are just insane. You really get to the very heart of Chess’ character, her story, her pain, her hopes and dreams and what she’s lived through – everything – through the music in this play.  And that’s exciting. It’s exciting that it’s three female characters – yet another thing that drew me to this. Three very strong female parts for three strong female performers. Have I said the word female enough?

But that’s important, though, isn’t it? It’s been a huge topic of conversation in the industry, of how we need more strong female parts to be written and performed.

Absolutely, and this has it in spades. And another thing that struck me – doing this the third time round – was the idea of children, and a woman’s role within motherhood. The play explores the tragedy that unfolds when kids are taken away from their mothers – for whatever reason – how all these women who can no longer be with their children have to cope. I think there’s a statistic about how it’s estimated that more than 17,240 children were separated from their mothers in 2010 by imprisonment. And I know I keep saying the word ‘humane’ – but what Kate Tempest does is write human beings at their absolute core. She makes any story universal, no matter the scenario – it’s love, betrayal, redemption – it’s all these things that we all feel and we all recognise and that’s why her stories connect with people. That’s why it hits you.

What’s different about the show this time round?

Firstly, we’ve got a completely new cast. I think when you do something again with a completely new cast, the best thing you can do is scrap anything that you’ve done before and try an entirely fresh approach. And each actress we’re working with has approached this from a completely different place. What they’re bringing to it this time round… I feel like it’s tonally different. It goes to a darker place. We’ve got a new team working on it and we’ve been trying to keep ourselves open to new discoveries. I’ve banned saying “when we did it last time” from the rehearsal room. I think it can be really disruptive, actually – and it’s difficult for me because I’ve done it before and I know, in my head, what worked. But to allow it to be fresh and exciting again, for a new journey to be found within this, I need to let go of that.

Any changes to the script?

Kate, like myself, is an absolute perfectionist. So every time we’ve looked at it – and this is the third time now – we’ve asked ourselves “What worked? What didn’t?” You learn so much by getting work out in front of an audience. And that’s the beauty of new writing – the writer is alive, so they can come into a rehearsal, they can make edits. And Kate’s gone and done that. The script is very, very tight – and we’re all very excited about the way the story unravels this time around, from what we’ve learned previously.

What has working on and developing this piece with Kate Tempest been like?

When you get someone with a phenomenal mind, who is equally down to earth, has a good soul and is just so honest with themselves – it’s a dream. It’s a dream come true. I feel like a brilliant creative relationship has been formed because she only strives for perfection and only wants the work to be the best it can be. To reach out to as many people as she can by telling these stories. No matter what form she touches, whether it’s a play, whether it’s a novel, poetry, music  – she has a way with words and I honestly feel like I’m working with today’s Shakespeare. It’s just a gift to be able to work with someone who just simply wants us to be able to connect with each other and understand one another a bit better; to have empathy for our fellow human. And I feel like that’s at the heart of this play. These women are human. They’ve made some mistakes and we should try to understand why it’s happened and what has failed them. Why are these women where they are in the first place? Is there anything we can do to prevent that in future? I think the simple idea of looking after one another a bit better is at the heart of her work .

Any final words?

There’s something really poignant that Kate said after she received letters from some inmates of a men’s prison. One of them wrote – prison isn’t so terrible when you’ve only known badness and lived a life doing bad things. It’s when you’ve experienced the good in the world that prison becomes a nightmare.  Because it’s the good things that you miss, and how you deal with filling that void.


HOPELESSLY DEVOTED opens at Lincoln Performing Arts Centre at 7.30pm tonight, before winging its way to venues nationwide. Catch it.

View the full tour schedule.

View rehearsal snaps.

View the trailer.

Join the conversation online:

#KTHopelesslyDevoted @painesplough  

Introducing the cast for BBC Radio 3 evening of new plays

As you might know, we’re rounding up celebrations of our 40th anniversary by hosting an evening of new plays with BBC Radio 3. The evening will feature short plays by three of the UK’s most exciting writers – all of whom are PP alumni:

– REUNION by Katie Douglas, directed by Sasha Yevtushenko.

– THE SILVER DRILLS by Robin French, directed by George Perrin.

– HAPPINESS by Nick Payne, directed by James Grieve.

It’s the first day of rehearsals at HQ today, and we’re delighted to be welcoming such a super talented cast…


The plays will be recorded in front of a live audience at the BBC this Friday 7 November then broadcast on 21 December 2014, at 10pm.

We hope you’ll be tuning in.

Every Brilliant Thing transfers to New York


1. Ice cream

2. Water fights

3. New York City

4. National Tour

The latest addition to our list of brilliant things is the news that EVERY BRILLIANT THING is off to the Big Apple.

Our co-production with Pentabus of Duncan Macmillan’s hilarious, heart-warming story will open at Barrow Street Theatre in New York on 5 December. It runs until 29 March 2015.

Then from May 2015, EVERY BRILLIANT THING will embark on an extensive UK tour. We’ll announce full details in the New Year, but you can be sure we’ll be touring to a theatre near you.

For now, we’re getting excited about working with the incredible US producing team of Barrow Street Theatre and Jean Doumanian Productions to present the US Premiere of EBT in one of the city’s coolest Off-Broadway theatres.

The show is directed by our very own Joint Artistic Director George Perrin. Jonny Donahoe stars again as our hero who starts a list of everything that’s brilliant in the world, before the list takes on a life of its own, in a show described by The Guardian as “possibly one of the funniest plays you’ll ever see. Full stop.

PP returns to New York following our acclaimed run of David Harrower’s GOOD WITH PEOPLE in 2013, and previous transfers of Gregory Burke’s THE STRAITS in 2004 and Dennis Kelly’s AFTER THE END in 2006.

Fair to say we can’t wait. Here’s the deets:

Every Brilliant Thing
The Barrow Street Theatre, 27 Barrow Street at 7th Avenue South, Greenwich Village.
Previews from 6 December. Opening 14 December to 29 March 2015.
Tuesday-Friday 7:30PM
Saturday-Sunday 2:30PM & 7:30PM
Tickets $20 – $55
www.smarttix.com / +1 212-868-4444

Rehearsal shots – HOPELESSLY DEVOTED

Lyrical fireworks and soulful music drift through the doors at PP HQ with a notable urgency that marks the final week of rehearsals for Kate Tempest’s HOPELESSLY DEVOTED.

And the air at HQ is crackling with excitement as the team prepare for the show’s opening night in Lincoln next Thursday, 6 November 2014 and its third national tour.

To find out when the show will be winging its way to a venue near you, check out the full list of tour dates here.

And to get you geared up, here are a few rehearsal snaps with our new cast below…


Photos: Richard Lakos

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To see the full set, visit our Flickr page. To view the trailer, click here.

Join the conversation online:

#KTHopelesslyDevoted @painesplough


A few weekends ago, we set up shop at Festival Village in the Southbank Centre, ready to unleash 5 years of tales of home by the country’s finest writers. Aside from the installation map, homecoming playlist, postcards, jig-saws, luggage tags, and wall of memories of home, we also ran a map competition over the weekend. Putting your geographical knowledge to the test, whoever named the most places on either the UK or world map, would win a special selection of playtexts.

We’re pleased to announce – from the dozens of entries and (mostly) admirable attempts that were handed in – we have finally selected our winners. Drum roll please…

WINNERS: Lydia Sibly and Alex Potts.

Well done. We’ll get in touch soon and pop your playtext package in the post. (If you’d like to continue testing your knowledge of the UK, we suggest you grab some pals, some drinks and fight it out to the bitterest end in this excellent UK knowledge game…)

Huge thanks to everyone who came along and fully immersed themselves in our special homecoming weekend. We hope you enjoyed the event, and if you’d like more information about the upcoming mobile app, make sure to sign up to our mailing list and you can hear tales of home from wherever you are.

In the meantime, check out these snaps from the event below…

Paines Plough Installation at The Southbank. Come to Where I'm From

Photos: Richard Davenport

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Check-in dots on UK map. Photo: Michael Windsor-Ungureanu

Open Auditions at The Actors Centre, London

Paines Plough Open Auditions in collaboration with The Actors Centre
Thursday 13th November 2014
The Actors Centre, 1A Tower Street, London WC2H 9NP
10am – 5pm


We’re really excited to announce that we’ll be holding our next round of open auditions in collaboration with The Actors Centre, London.

We are looking to meet actors previously unknown to Paines Plough and our next meeting will be held on Thursday 13th November 2014 at The Actors Centre, London. Joint Artistic Directors George Perrin and James Grieve will be joined by a panel of directors and producers from Paines Plough’s core team and its Associate Companies all interested in meeting actors. The panel will see 180 actors (90 pairs), and these slots will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.

If you would like to be seen, please do the following:

– Find yourself a partner – we are auditioning people in pairs.
– Apply by sending ONE email with BOTH of your names to auditions@painesplough.com.
– Please put OPEN AUDITIONS @ THE ACTORS CENTRE in the Subject line.
– Do not send CVs, biogs or headshots as you can bring these with you on the day.
– If you are within the first 90 emails, we will email you back by Monday 3rd November with an audition time.
– If you weren’t in the first 90 people to apply we will keep you on a waiting list and may offer you an audition if a slot becomes available.
– Once we have confirmed your time, please prepare a 3 minute piece of dialogue in your pair from a play written in the last 15 years.

Please note:

– If you have auditioned at our previous Open Auditions, we will not be able to see you this time round.
– We do not accept applications from agents. If you have an agent, you must still apply yourself using your own email address.
– Places are all allocated in advance. You will not be able to request a different time, and we will be unable to see people on a walk-up basis.
– We will retain a waiting list and will notify you if you are on this waiting list.
– If you are allotted a time but for any reason cannot make the appointment please let us know ASAP by emailing office@painesplough.com. If you fail to turn up to your allotted slot without letting us know in advance, you will not be able to audition at future Paines Plough Open Auditions.
– We will not accept any emails sent to any email address other than auditions@painesplough.com.
– Due to the large volume of people we are seeing, we will not be able to offer feedback.
– We are not casting for a particular show at the moment – we just want to meet some new actors so that we can have you in mind for future productions.

Best wishes,

George, James and all at Paines Plough

THE ANGRY BRIGADE final stop: Watford

As we charge into our final week on tour with James Graham’s adrenaline-fuelled  THE ANGRY BRIGADE at Watford Palace Theatre, here’s a sneak peek at what some of the audiences and critics have been saying:


★★★★ The Times – “James Graham has a gimlet eye for newsworthy subjects… What emerges is a world with chilling similarities to our own. Graham’s witty play deserves a London run”

 ★★★★ The Guardian – “An explosive account of idealogical war”

★★★★ The Oxford Times –  “An exciting, well-crafted play… Excellent”

★★★★ Female Arts – “Quick-fire throughout… The cast are a delight to watch… James Graham once again proves he is a master of text”

@Tom_Goodwin: – Fantastic production. Top production, acting, presence and execution. Theatre the way it should be

@director_beth: #TheAngryBrigade by @JamesGraham @painesplough fizzes with anarchic spirit. If you’re in the South West catch it @TRPlymouth

@christiaharris:  HUGE congrats to all involved in #TheAngryBrigade. Blown away by @PatsyFerran. A thoroughly gripping piece & a stellar cast! GO SEE!

@Minilyzer: #TheAngryBrigade freakin’ stormed it @OxfordPlayhouse! But with writing like that & such a strong cast, we couldn’t expect anything less!

THE ANGRY BRIGADE opens tonight at Watford Palace Theatre and plays until Saturday 25 October 2014.

To find out more and book tickets, click here.

Join the conversation online:

#TheAngryBrigade @painesplough @TRPlymouth

The Stage: An Interview with Harry Melling

As THE ANGRY BRIGADE fires into Watford Palace Theatre this week for the last leg of the tour, The Stage caught up with actor Harry Melling.

Read on for the article below.

Harry Melling - Headshot

Harry Melling shot to fame playing Dudley Dursley in the Harry Potter film franchise. However, he has since carved out an impressive stage career, which includes taking his self-penned one-man show, Peddling, from HighTide Festival to New York. He is currently appearing in the touring production of James Graham’s The Angry Brigade

Tell me about your role  in The Angry Brigade.

I play lots of different  people, which is something I’ve never done before. It’s something that terrified me because I liked the idea of hanging on to one person and making sure that story is charted throughout. If you’re playing lots of different people, you’re juggling a lot of different balls. Sometimes, I feel that when you watch that style of acting, you see the skill of the actor as opposed to  the character, so in that respect it’s a very interesting challenge to try to make each character as defined as the others.

You’ve also written your own one-man show. Is writing something you’ve always wanted to do?

I just knew that I had to write this story. It wasn’t necessarily that I wanted to be a writer, but I knew I had to try to tell the story of this kid I met when I was very young. But from that experience I’ve got another idea that I want to do, so it’s just a question of finding the time. It’s something that a lot of my actor friends are doing, and it’s a welcome change of pace. Having that power is the crucial thing. It’s completely yours, and you can make the choices you want because you’re the person at the helm. It’s a very different responsibility to acting, which I like.

Coming from an acting family, did it feel inevitable you would do this?

I grew up watching theatre – that was the thing I loved and I knew I wanted to do it. I got into it very young, and because I’d been introduced to it at such an early age, I kind of latched on to it. I’ve been very lucky really in having access to it so young. I’d like to think that had I not been within the same family that I’d still find it, but who knows?

Has doing film work as  a child actor influenced the way you work now?

It influenced me in terms of watching older people be on set. It confirmed it was something I wanted to do, but it must have influenced me in other ways I can’t tell you how or why. But I always felt very comfortable on stage, and when I was at drama school there was a heavy emphasis on stagecraft, which has been really useful for me.

What made you undertake formal training?

I really wanted to bridge that gap between being a child actor and an actor. I’m not saying drama school is always the way to do that, but it made sense for me. I always wanted to be as good as I could be, and I think drama school teaches you how to fall on your arse, which is exactly what I needed.

You can read the full interview on The Stage site here.

If you haven’t had a chance to catch James Graham’s blazing new play, THE ANGRY BRIGADE kicks off at Watford Palace Theatre from tomorrow, Tuesday 21 October until Saturday 25 October 2014.

(£5 tickets for under 25s available here).


Join in the conversation online:

#TheAngryBrigade @painesplough @TRPlymouth