In 2014, we’re 40 years old. Happy birthday to us. Life begins at 40, right?
Right. So we’re planning our biggest, boldest, most far-reaching programme of work ever, with more plays touring to more places than even we thought possible.
We’ll be announcing the whole shebang in January, with attendant trumpet fanfare. But in the meantime, there’s a little taster of what to expect below, and some words from illustrious PP alumni.
Where it began… In 1974, while they were all working at The Dukes Theatre, Lancaster, actor Chris Crooks asked playwright David Pownall to write a play for him. John Adams agreed to direct it.
Christened over pints of Paines bitter in The Plough pub Bolnhurst, Paines Plough was registered as company no. 1165130 on 1st April 1974.The company opened Pownall’s play – Crates On Barrels – at 6pm on Wednesday 11 September 1975 at the Lyceum Studio, Edinburgh.
128 productions, eight Artistic Directorships, 42 awards and 40 years later, Paines Plough is now the national theatre of new plays – still doing what it has always done, touring the best new plays to every corner of the UK.
“Back in 1982, after seven years on the road, we passed Paines Plough into other hands. Since then we have watched it grow, change and develop into its present strength and reputation. We feel part of the present company, glad that our aims have lived so long, and especially glad the company is still a stage for new plays.”
John Adams and David Pownall, founders
“It is a true honour to lead Paines Plough in to its fifth decade of touring new plays.
“Talking to our illustrious alumni in the lead up to our 40th anniversary year, it has become clear that Paines Plough is less a company than a movement; generation after generation of the UK’s top directors and playwrights have assembled in our shabby Aldwych offices to conceive some of the most important modern plays before setting off to share them with audiences in every corner of the country.
“That’s exactly what we’ve done since we took over in 2010 – and we hope our 40th anniversary year programme will encapsulate all that is essential about Paines Plough’s contribution to British cultural life.”
With lots more to be announced, our 40th anniversary year will include new plays from playwrights spanning Olivier Award-winner Mike Bartlett and debutant Sam Burns, touring the length and breadth of the country.
The centrepiece of Programme 2014 will be the unveiling of Roundabout, our portable in-the-round auditorium.
A prototype Roundabout was co-produced with Sheffield Theatres in 2011 and played at Shoreditch Town Hall in 2012. Armed with the experience of these two runs, and the generous support of the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, J Paul Getty Jr Charitable Trust, John Ellerman Foundation and Garfield Weston Foundation, the brand new pop-up theatre will form an integral part of future Paines Plough programmes.
“It’s hard to imagine that Paines Plough is 40 years old. Its energy and verve remain so youthful, dynamic and daring. Its work has become a crucial component of the new writing landscape in the UK and long may it thrive.”
Daniel Evans, Artistic Director of Sheffield Theatres
We’ll be resident at the NT Shed for a series of PP Platforms at the start of the 40th anniversary year. Paines Plough alumni – writers, actors and directors – will share their memories and celebrate the crucial part the company has played in their careers to date.
“In 2005 Paines Plough made me their writer in residence and I can honestly say it was the single most important event in my career as a writer. Being a playwright moved from being a dream into being a reality as I got to spend time with people I’d only heard about, people whose books I read and plays I’d seen. I was given the chance to write what I wanted in a place that cared about writing.”
Dennis Kelly, playwright.
On 30 January, in conjunction with the Royal Exchange Manchester and ITC, Paines Plough will host a Small Scale Touring Symposium, inviting leading practitioners, journalists and companies across the UK to share in talks examining current and new aspects of touring theatre.
“For me personally it was a paradigm shift. To discover, encourage and direct the work of some extraordinary writers, to begin to understand audiences, to learn to be part of the landscape of Britain was a privilege and enormous fun. It opened the doors for all my ensuing adventures and for many others too and will always remain thrillingly alive and inspiring in my heart.”
Vicky Featherstone, Artistic Director Royal Court Theatre (Artistic Director of Paines Plough 1997 – 2004)
That’s all you’re getting for now, but stay tuned. Programme 2014 is going to be huuuge.