Monthly archives:

Chris Riddell appointed Children’s Laureate

There was a collective ‘woop!’ at PP Towers yesterday as Chris Riddell was appointed the next Children’s Laureate taking over from Malorie Blackman until 2017.

Chris drew the image for our children’s show Our Teacher’s A Troll by Dennis Kelly:

OUR TEACHER'S A TROLL by Dennis Kelly (Credit: Chris Riddell)

OUR TEACHER’S A TROLL by Dennis Kelly (Credit: Chris Riddell)

You can read all about Chris’ appointment here and have a gander at some of his other work here.

For more information about OUR TEACHER’S A TROLL and to book tickets visit the Southbank Centre website here.

Roundabout in Brighton

Roundabout is back, and heading for Brighton.

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We’re thrilled to be part of a top class line-up at The Brighton Festival this May. Roundabout will pop-up in the beautiful Regency Square over-looking the sea, and host three weeks of unmissable theatre.

Fresh from its hugely acclaimed Off-Broadway run, EVERY BRILLIANT THING by Duncan Macmillan with Jonny Donahoe is back on home soil for seven performances in Brighton. It’s joined by Duncan Macmillan’s award-winning, much loved LUNGS which returns to the Roundabout Rep alongside Alexandra Wood’s Scotsman Fringe First Award winning THE INITIATE and Dennis Kelly’s wickedly funny OUR TEACHER’S A TROLL for children 7+ and their accompanying trolls.

Four in a row

The Festival runs from 2 – 24 May, and full details of the line-up curated by guest director Ali Smith can be found on the festival website.

We’ll be announcing more tour dates for Roundabout very soon, so stay tuned. Wherever you are we’ll be popping up near you soon.

Meantime… fish and chips, penny arcades and a world class arts festival line-up by the beach? Yes please.

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?