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HOPELESSLY DEVOTED to touring

Stage Manager Anna looks on as Martina and Amanda do their thing

This week, Kate Tempest’s electrifying new musical HOPELESSLY DEVOTED hits the road on a tour of the West Midlands.

Our co-production with Birmingham Rep finished its run at The Door last Saturday, and now embarks on the annual Sir Barry Jackson tour, named after Birmingham Rep’s founding father, and funded by his eponymous trust to enable one new play per year to tour the West Midlands.

We’re super excited to be working with The Rep on this tour, as it takes in some venues we’ve never toured to before, and also offers students at schools, universities and colleges the opportunity to see the show on their own campuses.

So hello Walsall. Hello Bridgnorth. Hello Worcester. And hello again to old friends in Wolverhampton, Bromsgrove and Coventry.

Full tour dates can be found here.

Let us know what you make of the show y’all.

What we’re seeing at the theatre…

It’s been a busy Autumn for Paines Plough, with shows on in Sheffield, Glasgow, Manchester and Coventry simultaneously but despite our team being split all over the country we’ve still managed to catch plenty of theatre all over the shop and the festive period is looking pretty good for our culture calendar too…

James and I caught Tom Wells’ brilliant new play The Kitchen Sink at the Bush on press night.  It’s selling out but the run has been extended til 23rd Dec, so there’s still chance to catch this extraordinary new play.

Claire and Hanna loved April de AngelisJUMPY at the Royal Court, Tara caught Polar Bear’s OLD ME at the Roundhouse and we all went on a PP office social to see OFFICE PARTY at the Pleasance which was an absolute hoot!

We were big fans of Michael Sheen’s HAMLET at the Young Vic, Jez Butterworth’s JERUSALEM (it just gets better…) at the Apollo, BLACKBERRY TROUT FACE by the superb Laurence Wilson (who wrote TINY VOLCANOES which we toured earlier this year), and ONE MAN TWO GUVNORS by Richard Bean at the Adelphi.

We’re very excited about seeing COMEDY OF ERRORS with Lenny Henry and directed by Dominic Cooke at the National, I’m off to see Michael Grandage’s last show at the helm of the Donmar- RICHARD II with Eddie Redmayne at the weekend and James saw Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin’s hit adaptation of MATILDA at the Cambridge Theatre and can still be found humming the songs around the office…

Last week Claire and Tara headed up to Sheffield (quickly becoming our second home) to see the Crucible’s revival of Sondheim’s COMPANY with Daniel Evans and Samantha Spiro which was brilliantly entertaining! And speaking of Sheffield we had a great time there two weeks ago when the whole team got together to see our ROUNDABOUT season; Nick Payne’s ONE DAY WHEN WE WERE YOUNG, Duncan Macmillan’s LUNGS and THE SOUND OF HEAVY RAIN by Penelope Skinner.

So what are we seeing over Christmas? Our panto withdrawal from last year will be soothed by trips to ALADDIN at the Lyric Hammersmith and SLEEPING BEAUTY at Sheffield’s Lyceum. We’ll be at the National next week for Daniel Kitson’s IT’S ALWAYS RIGHT NOW, UNTIL IT’S LATER which I’ve been dying to see since it debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe back in 2010. Claire’s off to see Matthew Bourne’s NUTCRACKER at Sadler’s Wells on Tuesday and Tara will be going to Kurt Weill’s MAGICAL NIGHT at the Royal Opera House later this week. Other treats in store are Reuben Johnson’s THE PROPOSAL produced by exciting young company Fiddy West Productions at Theatre 503, Joe Penhall’s HAUNTED CHILD at the Royal Court and Dawn King’s FOXFINDER at The Finborough.

Wowzer, there’s a whole lot of theatre for you.

What have you been seeing? Any top tips for theatre trips over Christmas?

A Play, a Cake and a Pint?

Cake is becoming a bit of a theme around here – as he told us yesterday, Sean is adjusting well to life as the PP intern by embracing the abundance of cakes in the office. And two of this year’s three Play, Pie and Pint shows feature cake in a crucial role. Woe betide any diabetics who come to work for Paines Plough.

It seems like only yesterday I saw the first run through of DIG and started to get a sense of what a beautiful and affecting play it was going to be. In fact, it was just over four weeks ago. And one month, 4 cities, and 24 cakes later, it has drawn to a close.

L-R: Stewart Porter, Louise Ludgate and Simon Macallum - the brilliant cast of DIG.

Here’s what the critics from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester and Coventry had to say…

‘This tightly written play is gripping, funny and extremely moving… A thoroughly affecting piece of theatre.’ Edinburgh Guide ★★★★

‘Tight and emotionally-chargedAs it builds to its powerful conclusion, Dig deftly uncovers the emotions which lie hidden beneath the surface of our everyday lives; and the hope which can often be found growing there.’ Edinburgh Spotlight ★★★★

‘It’s a simple idea, but over the resulting 45 minutes a surprisingly large emotional terrain is covered by George Perrin’s production…Douglas’ dialogue is sharply written and well observed…Louise Ludgate’s climatic monologue, a desperate plea to save her marriage, is impossibly affecting’ Exeunt Magazine ★★★★

‘Incredibly gripping…intelligent, compelling and humorous…The script builds to a tender and emotional conclusion, portrayed brilliantly by a talented trio of actors. Overall, Dig was a fantastic experience and it would have been excellent even if I hadn’t had a hot pie and a glass of red wine to keep me company.’ The Student ★★★★

‘Dig is the sort of brash, confident and hard-hitting piece of theatre which makes you sit up. A perfectly crafted short.’ Annals of Edinburgh Stage ★★★★

‘Very moving, very incisive…For a 45 minute long play “Dig” packs a lot of punch.’ Lothian Life ★★★★

‘A small masterpiece…this rich and shattering slice of lunchtime drama’  The Scotsman ★★★★

‘From hilarity to chilling suspense, Katie Douglas’s script controls the atmosphere in the room precisely…This exploration of the emotional effects of an economic climate where job security is a fantasy asks tough questions, and asks them very well.’ Edinburgh Evening News ★★★★

‘The play, the pie and the pint are all thoroughly enjoyable, but best by far is the play – wonderful, deep and satisfying.’ Warwick Courier

If you caught DIG, we’d love to know what you thought of it.

And if you didn’t – there’s still time to grab your pie and pint and settle down in front of either YOU CANNOT GO FORWARD FROM WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW, at the Belgrade Theatre until Friday, or JUICY FRUITS – playing at the Manchester Royal Exchange this week and heading to Coventry next week.

Leo Butler’s brand new play

As we’ve previously revealed, we believe the playwright should be the lead creative artist in the process of making new plays.

So we commission slightly differently to other companies in that we commission playwrights not plays. We identify the writers we love the most, and we commit to putting their play on before they’ve written a word.

This is an extremely exciting and rewarding way of collaborating – always moving towards a concrete production with a date in the diary for the first day of rehearsals, previews and for press night.

But it also poses some challenges, not least because marketing schedules mean brochures with images and copy for plays often have to go to print before the play’s been written. And as we all know, plays develop and morph and sometimes completely transform draft by draft.

Which is what Leo Butler found when he was writing his play for our A Play, A Pie And A Pint season. Initially called ETERNAL SOURCE OF LIGHT, Leo found as he was writing the play that a new and very different play was emerging.

Here’s what Leo has to say about the change of direction and his thrilling new work:

“Working on a new play for Paines Plough has been a highlight of my career so far. For a leading new writing company to commit to producing a play that hasn’t been written yet, demonstrates a level of trust in the playwright that is practically unheard of elsewhere in this country.

There are, of course, challenges to this kind of collaboration, one of which is that the playwright’s first concept of the play develops through the writing process, and that initial idea turns into something very different by the end.  This happens to me always every time I sit down and write a new play, and it has been liberating to have the support of George Perrin and the Paines Plough company, who have encouraged my new discoveries and changes in direction along the way.

Most importantly, I am thrilled to we are offering Juicy Fruits to the A Play, A Pie & A Pint audiences, as it is one that I am particularly proud of.”

And so we’re excited to announce that the brilliant, darkly comic play that Leo has arrived at is actually called JUICY FRUITS and is a very different beast from the one Leo initially imagined. Here’s the lowdown:

JUICY FRUITS
by Leo Butler


Lorna and Nina haven’t seen each other since a drunken wedding reception six years ago.

Whilst Lorna’s been journeying through the urban jungle and reached destination housewife, Nina’s been running wild in the jungles of Borneo.

Reunited over lattes and pastries, their friendship is tested to the limit and the question is asked: does civil exist in civilisation?

JUICY FRUITS is in rehearsals now in Glasgow, directed by George, and starring Denise Hoey, Clare Waugh and Ben Winger. It opens at Òran Mór on Monday 17 October and will subsequently tour to Edinburgh, Manchester and Coventry.

You’re going to love it.

PP Around the UK in 81 days

As we are in rehearsals for 4 plays, with two set to tech and open next week, plus a 5th play to start rehearsals and a 6th to join in four weeks time – it can be difficult to keep track of who is where!

Enter the joy that is the EXCEL spreadsheet.  This paired with our brilliant intern, Amy, results in the glorious schedule below.

Take a peak to see who is rehearsing what, where and when…

Colour coded and everything!

Of course there is also Claire, Hanna and Amy who are our rocks at number 43 Aldwych during these busy periods.

Hello! Let the show begin – I’m ready!

Having worked on a freelance basis over the past 8 years, I was more than excited when I walked into my new full-time position as Production Manager for Paines Plough. Overlooking the BT tower from my desk, it has been a real jump into the cold water – or to be more truthful, a jump into a busy and exciting period here at PP. Preparations for the ROUNDABOUT season are in full swing and the annual A PLAY, A PIE AND A PINT season (touring to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester and Coventry) is just around the corner.

All in all, six new productions in a wide range of spaces and settings need looking after, planning, finalising and delivering before the year comes to an end. So it is no wonder that I am still introducing myself to directors, stage managers, venue contacts and many more creatively involved people. All of whom are passionate about making each performance something special.

In my short time here, I have already had the chance to travel to Coventry, Holloway, Walthamstow and Sheffield. The highlight here is undoubtedly  a rather rushed but successful visit to Primark in a cold and rainy Sheffield. Thanks Tara! And, there is much more to come.

Over the coming weeks I shall be using our national rail network on a regular basis, visiting workshops and venues across the country; meeting all the more folks who help us make our work a success.

Bernd

Where we are this week

Here’s a quick update on where our A PLAY, A PIE AND A PINT shows are this week:

FLY ME TO THE MOON by Marie Jones is at Bewley’s Cafe Theatre in Dublin. Click here for information and booking.

IN THE PIPELINE by Gary Owen is at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry. Click here for information and booking.

THE UNCERTAINTY FILES by Linda McLean is at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh. Click here for information and booking.

CALAIS by April De Angelis is at the Live Theatre in Newcastle. Click here for information and booking.

GOOD WITH PEOPLE by David Harrower is on a break before opening at Live Theatre in Newcastle next week. Click here to read the outstanding ****review in The Guardian.

We’ve been getting fantastic feedback from audiences all over the UK and Ireland for our A PLAY, A PIE AND A PINT plays. Here are a few comments for THE UNCERTAINTY FILES by Linda McLean at the Live Theatre in Newcastle:

“A really thought provoking and engaging piece. Actors really inhabited the myriad characters in such a short time – very telling business with minimal props. Liked the “interview” style and very natural responses highly enjoyable.”  Karen, Lanchester

“Really interesting production. Would like to see it again. Liked the non usual.” Hazel, Newcastle

“I always love coming to the Live & I’m pleased you have new work from Paines Plough coming in – good to see excellent new writing venues joining together – will be keeping an eye out for future work (as always)” Jenny, Newcastle

We’ve also been interviewing the writers of all of our PPP plays. Here are some answers from April De Angelis, writer of CALAIS:

Is 45 minutes and max 3 actors easier or harder than 2 acts and a cast of ten? 

A one act play is definitely less slog than a two acter!

Should every play come with a complimentary pie and pint?

If every play in the universe came with a pie and a pint we’d get bored of the novelty and fatter as a constituency.

What is more scary, contemplating a blank sheet of paper, contemplating a deadline or contemplating the audience at the first performance?

The audience at a first night is the scariest. You can always tear up your writing at the end of the day..

In three words how do you feel about about the critics?

Critiscism ain’t art.

Do you agree with Thomas Edison that “Genius is one per cent inspiration, ninety-nine per cent perspiration?”

Yes, mind you it’s an elusive 1%

Linda McLean gives certain answers to her writing of THE UNCERTAINTY FILES

Is 45 minutes and max 3 actors easier or harder than 2 acts and a cast of ten?

 Just different.  Something i’ve only become aware of in the last couple of years is that limitations are strangely freeing.  If I set my mind the puzzle of what it can’t do, it invariably comes up with some creative way of beating me!  So, for example, with the Uncertainty Files, I made a piece for 3 actors playing 14 characters!

 Should every play come with a complimentary pie and pint?

 I’m keen on variation so I’d like to see a play a pasty and a pint (the south country tour); or a play a pasta and pint (the italian tour); or a play, a pastis and pint (the french tour where we all get maroculous).

 What is more scary, contemplating a blank sheet of paper, contemplating a deadline or contemplating the audience at the first performance?

All three are a challenge in their own way: the blank sheet of paper (or screen) always demands something new, it won’t tolerate same old same old. The deadline, especially when the show is already programmed is at once scary and exciting but with an inflexibility that reminds me of those terrible moments at school when you knew you were going to get the strap and there was nothing you could do except hold out your hand and wince. And the audience because no matter how much confidence i have in a piece I spend that first performance quivering.

In three words how do you feel about about the critics?

Medium rare, please.

Do you agree with Thomas Edison that “Genius is one per cent inspiration, ninety-nine per cent perspiration” ?

I think he was talking about lightbulbs!  I’m more of a fan of Vilfredo Pareto’s 80:20 principle.

Four Stars for FLY ME TO THE MOON

We’ve had fantastic full houses for the opening, second and third performances of our co-production season with Òran Mór – A Play, A Pie and A Pint.

We kicked off this week with Marie Jones’ play FLY ME TO THE MOON which has been met with a raucous crowd clutching pies & pints. The audience was rolling like the sea; some risky moments of farce in the play paid off and many were met with rounds of applause!

This is an extract from Kara Jackson’s (stage manager) show report yesterday….

Comments: A large audience number in today. A spectacular performance and the audience laughed throughout the whole show. There was a round of applause after the wheelchair exit and the huge laughter after ‘Burn the house down’. The added four minutes on running time today was due to the laughs throughout. Great show!!

We’re very proud of our entire creative team and a special congrats to Abigail McGibbon and Katie Tumelty.

Make sure you buy your tickets for the final few days in Glasgow or catch it in Newcastle, Edinburgh, Coventry or Dublin over the next month!

Here’s a snapshot from the Glasgow Evening Times

And here is a fantastic 4 star review from The Scotsman’s chief theatre critic Joyce McMillan.

And there’s more! Here’s a video clip of Fly Me To The Moon with some audience reactions to the opening performance…

From Edinburgh to Glasgow

It was my turn to head up to the Fringe this weekend, and what a brilliant weekend it was. Leaving PP HQ on Friday morning, I was greeted in the afternoon by glorious sunshine in Edinburgh, and made my way straight to the Forest Fringe foyer to see James Baker’s 30 DAYS TO SPACE. An attempt for Baker to realise his childhood dream of becoming an astronaut with a ladder and a very shiny space suit. Over the weekend I saw a number of fantastic solo performances and plays, including I AM WOOF, created and performed by Robert Taylor, WHERE HAVE ALL THE LADIES GONE? created and performed by Victoria Kember, BUNNY, by Jack Thorne, and 10 DATES WITH MAD MARY, by Yasmine Akram. All were uniquely different and thoroughly engaging. I also got to enjoy HOT MESS, by Ella Hickson, and OTHERS, by The Paper Birds, and followed the crowds to the Traverse to see THE AUTHOR by Tim Crouch, PENELOPE, by Enda Walsh, FREEFALL by Michael West and The Corn Exchange Theatre Company Ireland, and SPEECHLESS by Linda Brogan and Polly Teale.

After my busy weekend hotfooting it around the city, on Monday morning I hopped on a train to Glasgow for the first day of rehearsals for Paines Plough/Òran Mór’s A PLAY, A PIE AND A PINT. I joined PP’s James, Tara and Jack, and Artistic Director of Òran Mór, David MacLennan, to meet with the cast and crew of the season’s first play, FLY ME TO THE MOON by Marie Jones. With tea and coffee brewed, and Monday morning pastries on the table, we all gathered to hear the fantastic Abigail McGibbon and Katie Tumelty bring the script to life in the first read through. It was so brilliant to meet the team and see everyone’s excitement. Can’t wait to see the play up on it’s feet.

A PLAY, A PIE AND A PINT will tour to five cities in the UK from 30th August, including Glasgow, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Coventry, and Dublin. If anyone has any suggestions for places to eat, things to do, and where to get the best watermelon martini in each of these places, please do get in touch! We want to hear from you.