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Roundabout pops up in Edinburgh

Roundabout is our beautiful new pop-up in-the-round theatre.

It’s a completely self-contained 168-seat auditorium that flat packs into a single lorry and can pop up anywhere from theatres to school halls, sports centres to warehouses.

We throw open the doors for the first time on 2 August at Summerhall, as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, with plays by three of the UK’s most exciting playwrights, performed by an ensemble of actors:

Paines Plough presents
LUNGS BY DUNCAN MACMILLAN
In a time of global anxiety, erratic weather and political unrest, a couple want a child but are running out of time. What will be the first to destruct – the planet or their relationship?

Paines Plough presents
THE INITIATE BY ALEXANDRA WOOD
A British couple are seized by Somali pirates. In East London, a Somali taxi-driver decides to rescue them. A thrilling tale of altruism, greed and the search for how to belong.

Paines Plough and Half Moon present
OUR TEACHER’S A TROLL BY DENNIS KELLY
Two terrible twins rule their school until the arrival of a headmaster with scaly skin and a spiky tail. An outrageously entertaining comic caper from the writer of Matilda The Musical.

Plus, the return of…

Paines Plough and Pentabus present
EVERY BRILLIANT THING BY DUNCAN MACMILLAN
You’re six-years-old. Mum’s in hospital. Dad says she’s ‘done something stupid’. You start a list of everything that’s brilliant in the world. Everything worth living for. 1. Ice Cream. 2. Me. 3. Burning Things

At the end of the Festival, Roundabout will head out on its inaugural tour to NewburyMargate, Hackney and Barnsley.

We’ve created Roundabout because we’re passionate about new plays and we want as many people as possible to be able to see them. In the coming years, Roundabout will travel the length and breadth of the UK bringing a the nations’s best playwrights and a thrilling theatrical experience to people’s doorsteps.

We’ve spent four years developing Roundabout, We are hugely grateful to the organisations and individuals whose belief and support have made it possible, including The Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation, J Paul Getty Jnr Charitable Trust, The John Ellerman Foundation, Universal Consolidated Group and Avolites Ltd, and the many of you who have made donations and sent us messages of support. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Roundabout was designed by Lucy Osborne and Emma Chapman in collaboration with Charcoalblue and Howard Eaton.

We can’t wait for you to see it…

Weekly Friday Feature: Blast from the Past

As we’re celebrating 4 decades on the road, we thought it fitting to start a weekly feature revisiting the wonderful people, productions and places that turned PP into what it is today.

So, this week’s Blast from the Past is AFTER THE END by award-winning writer Dennis Kelly.

Thoughts to share? Join in the twitter conversation with @painesplough #ppblastfromthepast

 

Paines Plough turns 40

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

Paines Plough old skool stylee

James and George:

“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.

Our portable pop-up Roundabout 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.

A hello from our new General Manager

Hello,

So it’s already the end of my fourth week at Paines Plough’s HQ as the new General Manager – how time flies in theatre company land.

The past four weeks have been jam packed with budgets, wages, IT conundrums, getting to know the superb Paines Plough team and their extended family, endless mint tea drinking and more importantly my first Paines Plough Press Night/initiation – watching the very wonderful Hopelessly Devoted at Birmingham Rep.

This may sound like a pitch for a sub-standard rom-com movie but after seeing  Paines Plough’s production of Dennis Kelly’s AFTER THE END at the Leicester Haymarket Theatre in 2005 I was smitten with the company and have been a huge fan ever since, so this job is very much a dream come true.

I’m particularly excited to be starting this role as we go into Paines Plough’s 40th year which is looking to be a very special one indeed (Keep an eye on our blog for more news on this soon!) – to have the chance to work and learn from such a talented team and be a pivotal part of the pioneering work Paines Plough produce .

As I am not an award winning playwright let’s finish with a Tim Vine joke:

“I rang my mother the other day and told her I’d spent my life savings on purchasing a small theatre on the outskirts of London.”

“Are you having me on?!” she cried

“Well I can give you an audition, but I can’t promise anything” I replied.

Let the good theatre times roll…

Aysha x

Open Auditions: Favourite Playwright Poll

Huge thanks to everyone who came to our Open Auditions last Wednesday. We had a brilliant day meeting you all. It never ceases to amaze us how much serious talent is out there and how exciting it is to meet other people as excited about new plays and playwrights as us.

First up, the results of our hotly contested Favourite Playwright Poll are in:

1              Jez Butterworth

2=           Simon Stephens, Mike Bartlett, Dennis Kelly

5=           Sarah Kane, Martin McDonagh

7=           Mark Ravenhill, Terry Johnson, James Graham, Philip Ridley, Nick                          Payne, Roy Willliams

As well as finding out who your favourite playwrights were, meeting 180 actors in one day means we got to hear extracts from so many extraordinary plays written in the last fifteen years so here’s the low down on what we saw:

THE WHISKY TASTER by James Graham; IN DOGGERLAND by Tom Morton-Smith; SONGS OF GRACE AND REDEMPTION by John Donnelly; THE PILLOWMAN by Martin McDonagh; PUSH UP by Roland Schimmelpfennig; IN BASILDON and THE KNOT OF THE HEART by David Eldridge; YELLOW MOON by David Greig; CONSTELLATIONS and ONE DAY WHEN WE WERE YOUNG by Nick Payne; AFTER THE END by Dennis Kelly; LIAR by Gregory Burke; AMY’S VIEW by David Hare; THE MELANCHOLY PLAY by Sarah Ruhl; 4000 MILES by Amy Herzog; STEALING SWEETS AND PUNCHING PEOPLE by Phil Porter; THE RIVER and PARLOUR SONG by Jez Butterworth; CHRISTMAS IS MILES AWAY and HOW LOVE IS SPELT by Chloe Moss; DI AND VIV AND ROSE by Amelia Bullmore; REASONS TO BE PRETTY by Neil La Bute; 2ND MAY 1997 by Jack Thorne; STITCHING by Anthony Neilson; BANG BANG BANG by Stella Feehily; PORT, BLUEBIRD and MORNING by Simon Stephens; SHOOT 2 WIN by Tracey Daly, Jo Martin, and Josephine Melville; PRECIOUS LITTLE TALENT by Ella Hickson; THE WESTBRIDGE by Rachel Delahay; COLDER THAN HERE by Laura Wade; WILD WOOD by Matt Hartley; LUNGS by DUNCAN MACMILLAN; THE PEOPLE NEXT DOOR by Henry Adam; THE ACID TEST by Anya Reiss; CHICKEN SHOP by Anna Jordan; THE DICE HOUSE by Paul Lucas; MAD MARGARET’S REVENGE by Leslie Ross; THE MOTHERFUCKER WITH THE HAT by Stephen Adly Giurgis; FOREVER HOUSE by Glen Waldron; LITTLE LIGHT by Alice Birch; SEX WITH A STRANGER by Stefan Golaszewski; EARTHQUAKES IN LONDON, COCK and CONTRACTIONS by Mike Bartlett; JOSEPH K by Tom Basden; TENDER by Abi Morgan; UNAMED by Tom Collinson; THE VILLAGE BIKE and EIGENGRAU by Penelope Skinner; HENNA NIGHTS by Amy Rosenthal; MOGADISHU by Vivienne Franzman; I KNOW HOW I FEEL ABOUT EVE by Colette Kane; THE THINGS GOOD ME DO by Dan Muirden.

So what happens now? We keep a hold of all of your CVs and if we think there’s anything you might be suitable for we’ll invite you in to a casting for a particular PP Show. So watch this space.

Dennis Kelly wins a 2013 Tony Award

PP alumnus Dennis Kelly won the Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical at last night’s 2013 Awards for MATHILDA.

Watch Dennis’ brilliant acceptance speech here.

We worked with Dennis on AFTER THE END and ORPHANS, both of which were directed by ex-PP Artistic Director Roxana Silbert.

Huge congratulations to Dennis from everyone at PP.

Bring us back some Hershey’s Peanut Butter Cups please.

New York, New York

GOOD WITH PEOPLE closed in New York last week after a sell-out run as part of 59 East 59 Theaters’ annual Brits Off Broadway festival which brings together an eclectic mix of (mainly new) work and is one of the only platforms in the city for smaller-scale British productions (alongside the Public Theater’s Under The Radar festival and Carol Tambor’s annual Edinburgh to NYC transfer award).

GOOD WITH PEOPLE is the third show we have presented at Brits Off Broadway since the festival’s inception nearly ten years ago, following Gregory Burke’s THE STRAITS in 2004 and Dennis Kelly’s AFTER THE END in 2006.

Highlights of this year’s festival programme include Rob Drummond’s BULLET CATCH and BULL by PP Associate Playwright Mike Bartlett, which is directed by ONE DAY WHEN WE WERE YOUNG director Clare Lizzimore and produced by our friends at Sheffield Theatres.

In fact, PP has its prints firmly smudged all over New York at the moment.

Ex-Associate Director John Tiffany has two shows running on Broadway, a one-man MACBETH starring Alan Cumming and the critically acclaimed ONCE, which is authored by one-time PP Associate Playwright Enda Walsh and will soon star our brilliant 2012 Research Intern Jo Christie (who James and George first worked with on the 2005 Old Vic New Voices 24 Hour Plays). Meanwhile Dennis Kelly’s version of Matilda has just opened to triumphant reviews.

Needless to say, it’s a fantastic city to present theatre in, and in which to spend a few days. So while most of team PP were opening JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS in Watford, it was left to Joint Artistic George along with creative team Ben Stones and Tim Deiling to forage the city on our behalf in search of the finest sights, theatre and burgers the Big Apple has to offer.

Their favourite show by far was Amy Herzog’s BELLEVILLE at New York Theatre Workshop. We first met Amy at the Orchard Project in Hunter, up-state New York. We were out there with Laurence Wilson and Joel Horwood, developing work. Amy was there working on several plays, including 4,000 Miles which – after a sell-out run on Broadway – has just opened in the UK at the Ustinov in Bath. Directed by Artistic Director designate of Northampton Royal and Derngate Theatres James Dacre, the British production transfers to West London’s Print Room next month. Without doubt Amy is a major new voice in American playwriting and, along with writers like Annie Baker and Katori Hall, now finally has a well-deserved UK premiere. Trust us when we say you don’t want to miss it.

Sadly we didn’t manage to see Annie’s play THE FLICK which, alongside BELLEVILLE, was the talk of the town.

Meanwhile, ‘Best Burger’ goes to (drumroll) the Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridian hotel. Thanks to Stacey Sampson (@OurStace) for the recommendation. It’s a low-fi, in-and-out little hideaway, nestled secretly (but for an illuminated neon picture of a burger) behind a plush red curtain in the marble opulence of the hotel foyer. Simple ingredients executed to perfection for a great price in an great atmosphere, served with plastic beakers of Sam Adams. Surely that’s what a New York burger is all about.

We also tried: the 5 Napkin burger thanks to Louise Miles-Crust (@loumilcru), whose twist on the classic cheese-burger was to include a smothering of aioli; the classic burger at PJ Clarkes, which was a pale version of what it once was; Corner Bistro’s cheese burger which hit the spot in a hurry; Shake Shack’s special which ran in a close second; and finally the burger at the Standard Hotel Bar and Grill, which designer Ben gave a big five stars to but which we ultimately marked down on price.

The Highline was the tourist attraction of choice amongst the team. A rail-road that has been converted in to a city park that runs about 20 blocks on the lower west side it offers an unparalleled perspective on the city and a great place to catch respite from the bustle four stories below.

And bar-of-the-week, for entertainment value alone, has to be Marie’s Crisis in the West Village, where the entire bar gather around a piano to sing show-tunes together late in to the night.

I want to wake up in a city,

That doesn’t sleep,

To find I’m king of the hill,

Head of the list,

Cream of the crop

At the top of the heap.

New York, New York.

[GOOD WITH PEOPLE featured as part of Brits Off Broadway with the kind and generous support of Creative Scotland and Made In Scotland.]

Top tips for a week Off-Broadway

We’ve landed in the big apple to open our next production of Programme 2013 – David Harrower’s GOOD WITH PEOPLE.

The last time we had a show stateside was in summer 2006 when we transferred AFTER THE END by Dennis Kelly here to 59 East 59 Theaters.

We’ve been back a few times since then, mainly to visit the Orchard Project in upstate New York and to catch up on shows here in the city, but it’s never quite the same as having your own show Off-Broadway.

So for the rest of this week our AD George, Designer Ben Stones and Lighting Designer Tim Deiling will be squeezing the best out of the city around their tech week. Their interests include theatre, burgers and dive bars.

Top tips anyone?

Open Auditions: Stephens and Kelly are your faves

Huge thanks to everyone who came to our Open Auditions yesterday. We had a ball meeting you all. It never ceases to amaze us how much talent and passion there is out there. It was a really inspiring day.

To everyone who came along, please stay in touch. Keep us informed about your work and let us know whenever you’re in something we can come and see – we’ll do our best to make it along. And of course, if we liked what you did yesterday, we’ll keep you in mind for future castings.

We loved seeing extracts of plays ranging from those we know well to some we’d never heard of. One of the joys of Open Auditions days is being reminded of plays we’d not seen or read for years, or compiling reading lists of plays we’d not come across before. So we went scampering off to re-read Pyranees, and hit Amazon for a fix of Morris Panych.

The usual suspects were popular – David Greig, Mike Bartlett, Penelope Skinner, Moira Buffini, Simon Stephens, Mark Ravenhill, Nina Raine – and it was also great to hear some extracts we’d not seen before at Open Auditions from Anthony Weigh and Ella Hickson, amongst many others.

During the day we conducted a completely unscientific and completely subjective straw poll… “Who’s your favourite playwright”? It was hotly contested, partisan and impressively diverse.

But we can reveal… drum roll, speeches at the ready… that your joint favourite playwrights on total votes cast are… Simon Stephens and Dennis Kelly.

Closely on their coat tails were Caryl Churchill, Jez Butterworth, Mike Bartlett, sarah Kane, Philip Ridley, Abi Morgan, Laura Wade, David Eldridge, Moira Buffini, Lee Hall, Martin McDonagh, Alecky Blythe, Mark Ravenhill, David Greig and Lucy Prebble – all carding multiple votes.

And in the interests of sharing, all these great writers got a nod too: Dawn King, Tim Crouch, Anthony Minghella, Ché Walker, Joel Horwood, Alexi Kaye Campbell, Stephen Sondheim, Timberlake Wertenbaker, Nicola McCartney, Ella Hickson, Anya Reiss, Michael Wynne, Nick Payne, Joanna Murray-Smith, April De Angelis, Marina Carr, Duncan Macmillan, Luke Barnes, Jacob Richmond, Martin Lynch, Alice Birch, David Mamet, Shelagh Stephenson, Leo Butler, Peter Moffatt, Steve Thompson, Nick Dear, Robert Holman, Anthony Weigh, Bruce Norris, Steven Bloomer, Mikhail Bulgakov, Hayley Squires, Cat Jones and Neil LaBute.

Roundabout throughout history

With our Roundabout Season at Shoreditch Town Hall coming to a close last weekend, and our prototype auditorium taking its bow, we’re getting super excited about the future as we move to the next phase of fundraising and planning in pursuit of creating our dream theatre – a fully self-contained portable, demountable Roundabout Auditorium.

We’ll write a blog about our plans for Roundabout Phase 3 soon. But first, the past.

Over the last few weeks we’ve often been asked what inspired us to build The Roundabout Auditorium, and what it is about theatre-in-the-round that excites us.

We ran some workshops we ran for The Actor’s Guild, and we were energised by the enthusiasm the space engendered in the actors. Some common themes emerged, so we wanted to write about the reasons why we think the round is the most exciting theatrical configuration of all.

And we wanted to write about the history of in-the-round and touring auditoria. Sitting in a circle to listen is ingrained in us. From cavemen sitting around campfires telling stories, to forming story circles in Primary School. It’s part of who we are. A cornerstone of our human society.

Storytelling was developed into theatre by a guy called Thespis, who has lent his name to thespians ever since. He toured around in a cart from which he performed monologues in open spaces where audiences would gather to watch. So touring existed long before building based theatre. The first theatre structure built in Athens employed temporary wooden seating surrounding a stage in a market square. Sounds familiar!

An artist's impression of The Odeon Of Pericles - the first indoor in-the-round theatre.

The first documented indoor theatre is The Odeon Of Pericles, which dates from 440BC. It was a square, but with seating on all four walls and a performance area in the centre. In 300BC The Theatre Of Dionysus was built from stone cut into a hillside with seating in a horseshoe shape around the stage, and became the predominant model for theatre architecture for the ensuing 500 years across the Greco-Roman world.

Fast forward to the Middle Ages and across the English Channel to dear old Blighty where, in the Middle Ages, a penchant for morality plays started a trend for in-the-round auditoria in market squares, visited by touring players in pageant wagons.

Gradually, across the world, as technology advanced and sets became more ornate, theatre became more of a spectacle and less of a communal, social, experience. Along came the proscenium arch, and stage lighting to illuminate the players and keep the audience in the dark. Then came cinema, and television. For our culture and our entertainment, we all sat and faced the same way. We became end-on.

So in a digital age, sitting in a circle seems almost radical. No-one is told to sit still and face front. It’s a communal experience, a social experience, a democratic experience. Everyone is involved. Even if you turn the house lights out, you can still see the people opposite you.

Here at PP we’re attracted to plays that are innately theatrical, that embrace theatre as a unique art form. You can’t watch a film in the round, or TV. You can’t watch a stand-up gig in the round without the stand-up getting very dizzy. You can’t (generally) watch a gig in the round (unless you’re plaanning to see the new Keane tour). In-the-round is innately theatrical.

And it seems to us to be the most exhilarating way to make theatre. Stripped bare, exposed. There’s no fourth wall, the actors and the audience inhabit the same space. As the playwright Simon Stephens says, “There is no theatrical architecture that challenges or interrogates what it is to be a human being more than theatre in-the-round.” And that seems true of both the work on stage and the audience around it, because the audience are inescapably *in* the action, not just observing it.

We’ve always been attracted to working in-the-round. Our joint AD James, and Roundabout Auditorium designer Lucy Osborne, first worked together on ARTEFACTS by Mike Bartlett at the old Bush theatre in 2008. Faced with the famous old steep-banked L-shaped auditorium, they ripped out the seats and for the first time in its history, put The Bush in-the-round; then reconfigured theatres around the country and in New York when Artefacts went on tour. Our other joint AD George grew up in Manchester on a staple diet of in-the-round theatre at the 800-seat Royal Exchange, where no single seat is further than 10 metres from centre stage.

The Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester

But George is amongst the lucky ones. Despite theatre in-the-round having undergone a renaissance since Stephen Joseph founded the temporary space the Vic in Stoke and built the UK’s first permanent in-the-round space in 1955 in Scarborough, there are only six purpose-built in-the-round theatres in the country today. So very few people have had the opportunity to experience theatre in this exciting way. Alongside Manchester and The Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough there’s The Octagon in Bolton, The New Vic in Stoke, The Orange Tree in Richmond and The Cockpit in Marylebone.

One of the most exciting aspects of creating Roundabout was the prospect of giving people the chance to see theatre in-the-round for the first time, even though the configuration is as old as theatre itself. Forget the IMAX. Theatre in-the-round is the original and best 3D experience, no silly glasses required.

Alongside the ancient traditions of touring in-the-round, there have also been more contemporary stimuli. Founding Artistic Director of the Royal Exchange Michael Elliot, when explaining the rationale behind the construction of the in-the-round theatre within a much larger hall, spoke of a belief that theatre buildings should have obsolescence built in to them. So after the Arndale bombing left The Royal Exchange homeless in 1996, they built a replica of their theatre and toured it. The RSC did the same with a portable structure that popped up around the UK. Later The RSC built the RoundYard in The Roundhouse, and last year a replica of their Stratford home in Manhattan. For the past seven years, Paines Plough has been producing work at the Latitude Festival in pop-up structures, one year in-the-round. The pop-up seems to have its own energy, its own excitement. And we’re not the only ones who think so. Check out Kneehigh’s wonderful nomadic pop-up tent The Asylum, modern in its conception but rooted in the idea of circus, troubadour and folk traditions. Or Chichester Festival Theatre’s Theatre-On-The-Fly. We can’t wait for The National Theatre’s new pop-up The Shed, opening in Spring 2013.

Kneehigh's awesome The Asylum

We were inspired by productions too. For The Royal Court’s 2009 production of COCK by Mike Bartlett, director James MacDonald and designer Miriam Beuther created a cock-fighting arena in The Jerwood Theatre Upstairs. With the play stipulating no set and no props be used in the production, the energy created in the miniature round was thrilling. This was theatre as sport.

And as inveterate sports fans, we’ve been inspired by all manner of sporting arena, from the Colosseum in Rome with its steeped banks and vomitories housing lions, to the Nou Camp in Barcelona. Our most dramatic sports are all performed in the round. The best stadia are designed like cauldrons, with all the heat on the field of play. The pitch at the Nou Camp is below ground level, so the stadium looks modest from the outside, but when the crowd enters from street level to find themselves on the rim of a gigantic bowl, the affect is breathtaking (which is why you enter the Roundabout from the top, and look down on the stage).

The Colosseum - both theatre and sporting arena.

Theatre in-the-round demands combatative playing, attack, sport. We reckon these are really positive dramatic qualities. Actors often talk about what a character is “doing” to another in any given moment. The technique of actioning attributes physically active verbs to each line of a text – to slap, to punch, to jab. Like boxing. Theresa Heskins, expert Artistic Director of Stoke’s New Vic says “keep things moving; the round loves action, words are action and the pause is the enemy.” Dennis Kelly talks of lines as weapons.

We love the round, and the kind of work the round demands. That and our desire to find new ways to tour work to as many places around the UK as possible all combined to form the idea for The Roundabout Auditorium. The auditorium will pop-up across the country anywhere from existing theatres to school halls and village halls, community and sports centres, warehouses and even parks. In it we’ll present work especially created for the round, to give people everywhere the chance to experience – in many cases for the first time – this most ancient and thrilling of theatrical configurations.

Lucy Osborne's design for The Roundabout Auditorium