Monthly archives:

Latitude: We’re coming for you

19758109679_b2357390a4_z

We can’t quite believe it but apparently it’s that time of year again. It’s time for Latitude. We’re enormously pleased WITH A LITTLE BIT OF LUCK by Sabrina Mahfouz is returning to the site of its debut last year.

This year you can catch us at the Film and Music Arena on Friday 15 July at 8:25pm. We’ll be grooving out to some old school garage and hope you can join us. Full info is here.

As usual there’s loads of other incredible acts on at Latitude including some great theatre here.

Can’t make it to Latitude this year? Don’t worry we’ve got another WITH A LITTLE BIT OF LUCK performance for you. We’re part of a fantastic weekend Latitude are curating outside National Theatre on the South Bank. From 5 -7 August Latitude take over River Stage outside NT. You can wander over anytime but if you want to catch us we’re headlining Saturday night at 9:25pm. We’re going to close the evening with the garage rave it deserves.

Check out all the other amazing River Stage acts here.

Save

The Earth You’re Changing

In January 2014 we hosted a panel discussion at the National Theatre with four of our alumni: actors HARRIET WALTER and FIONA VICTORY, playwright STEPHEN JEFFREYS and director JOHN TIFFANY. Here’s what they had to say about their time at PPHQ…

PP40 book v12 p10-1110

HARRIET WALTER AND FIONA VICTORY – 1970’s.

FV: David Pownall and John Adams and the actor Chris Crooks were out of work and miserable and they were drinking beer at the Paines pub in Bedfordshire. As David Pownall tells it, he said, “Oh stop moaning. I’ll write you a play. You will act in it, you will direct it, and we’ll go to the Edinburgh Festival.” And they did. It was a play called Crates on Barrels and it was about a Greek philosopher —

HW: Socrates.

FV: Yes, Socrates — and it was very good.

HW: Richard III Part Two was my first with Paines Plough, it was quite a large piece involving lots of music, two or three different time zones and George Orwell- pretty ‘Powellian’. David’s imagination was immense. Steven Boxer had had a musical training and a teaching training, and he wrote wonderful music. I was listening to it recently. He was only 23 and he was writing these wonderful complex tunes and –

FV: – and teaching everybody else! People who couldn’t sing, had never sung, couldn’t read music, couldn’t play anything, he somehow managed to give everyone their line and teach them how to do it calmly.

HW: At the time it was very unusual to get a young bunch of actors together at the early stage of a play and evolve it with them with everyone doing the music, and the costumes, and the props, and everything ourselves, then tour it all over the country

FV:— in a small van!

HW: We used to do the fit ups and strike the sets ourselves. A couple of people helped with the lighting, and we used to do the ironing

FV: – and sacking skips and making tea and whatever.

STEPHEN JEFFREYS – 1980’s

By the time I joined, David had stopped writing all the plays himself. It went from being a writer’s company with an apostrophe-s to a writers’ company with an s-apostrophe. There was a wave of new people, David Moat, Elizabeth and, the young Terry Johnson — a mere slip of a lad at the time- and we were all brought in. We were the first people were writing plays that weren’t by David Pownall, and that was rather difficult. You thought, ‘oh I’ve got to write a play that takes place in three different time zones with madrigals and people playing sackbutts and things: I started doing that and it was a complete disaster.

John Adams, the director, commissioned this play from me and it wasn’t going well. He said, “Well, you’ve got to finish it this weekend” and then, “What I’ll do is this: I’ll leave you in my flat, in Leamington Spa, and I’ll just clear off and you’ll finish it by the end of the weekend.” John’s mistake was that he had a priceless collection of malt whiskeys. He came back and found that I’d barely written a word. He said, “You’re trying to write the wrong kind of play. I want you to write your kind of play.” That’s what Paines Plough then did: it successfully mutated from a David P company to a company that could do any kind of new play at all. Somehow, Paines Plough’s always been very good at negotiating those awkward moments of handover.

I came back in the Pip Broughton era. She was — and still is- a wonderful director. Paines Plough had evolved into a matriarchy. We had offices by Warren Street tube station and Ian Rickson and I were the only men in the company. There was Pip and Sue Storr and Vicky Heywood. It was a very, very lively time, because there was a lot of exciting new writing around.

There were two phases under Pip. One consisted of a lot of very political plays about early Thatcherism, set in different parts of the country reflecting local conditions. Then, by around 1986 or so, she’d had enough of that and did another of those big, daring Paines Plough changes. We suddenly became a big company doing big plays. We did a version of GERMINAL. We did my play THE CLINK, another by Nigel Gearing called BERLIN DAYS HOLLYWOOD NIGHTS. Huge plays.

When Pip left Anna Furse took over. She came from a dance background and, for a while, it almost became a performance art company. So Paines Plough was in a constant state of mutation. That’s why it survived.

JOHN TIFFANY – 1990’s

Vicky [Featherstone] couldn’t really get arrested when Paines Plough gave her a job. She’d left the West Yorkshire Playhouse and moved to London, but couldn’t get herself taken seriously as a director of new writing. The Bush gave her a job for a little while — Literary Manager, I think— then she went into TV. She was doing really well, developed Touching Evil and Silent Witness, worked at the BBC and independents, then went for this job at Paines Plough — and the visionary board took a chance on her.

As Stephen says Paines Plough attracts writers. By the time I arrived in 2001, we were really developing a wonderful stable, people like Abi Morgan, Jack Thorne, Sarah [Kane] obviously, Mark Ravenhill was writing a lot for them at the time, Gregory Burke, David Greig, Enda Walsh, Philip Ridley.

We got the Peggy Ramsey award that year, which was —£50,000, wasn’t it? We decided we were just going to commission eight playwrights, and we bullied the Menier Chocolate Factory, which was still in its infancy, into taking all four plays. Philip Ridley wrote this amazing play called Mercury Fur, which was the first one I directed. Ben Whishaw was in it and — we didn’t quite realise at the time— but it was a bloodbath by the end. The Chocolate Factory didn’t have a shower, so some of our hard earned sponsorship money— I shouldn’t admit this — bought the Chocolate Factory its first ever shower. Actors ever since have got Paines Plough to thank…

In 2004, I was in Mexico directing a play over a summer and Vicky called me one morning and went, “Guess what, I’ve been given a new job running the National Theatre of Scotland.” To go from, you know a company like Paines Plough to running —to setting up — a national theatre was amazing. We always said— Neil Murray, who was the producer, he still is, David Greig who was the dramaturg at the time, me and Vicky we said, ‘Well, we’re going to run it like Paines Plough, but with £6 milllion.” Having done what we did at Paines Plough for £120,000 from the Arts Council, we knew what that money could buy. We were determined not to be frivolous or fritter it away.

What James and George have done amazingly is to treat the whole country like it’s a venue, which is so inspiring. The output has doubled or tripled. Vicky and I followed the model of two shows a year and when you look at the volume of work that these two are managing, on not much more money, you look at the list now of things coming through in 2014, it’s incredible. It really is.

One more thing: I’ve been under a delusion for many, many years. I thought Paines Plough meant the plough of Tom Paine, the radical thinker, the surface of the earth you’re changing. Only now do I find out it was thought up in a boozer!

Goodbye from Natalie…

Last month we bid a fond farewell to our wonderful Administrator, Natalie, as she took up an incredible new role as General Manager of Coney. Sobs rang out all over the office this morning as her goodbye blog arrived in our inboxes. Here, in her own words, she has summed up her time with us. Sad as we are, we know it’s not really au revoir, just à bientôt…

IMG_8271

What an incredible two years it’s been. It’s hard to know where to begin and I won’t be able to cover everything that I’d like to. So, I’ll just share some of my fondest memories from my time at Paines Plough in the hope that it’ll highlight how much of an incredible company and inspiring team they are to work for and with.

My very first PP show was Duncan Macmillan’s EVERY BRILLIANT THING. I travelled with Alex Wood our playwright-in-residence at the time, where we found ourselves in the lovely little village of Ledbury at The Market Theatre. It was so close to where my mum lives (out in the regions) that my brother came along. I remember introducing him to both Alex and George and instantaneously thinking, “wow this is really cool, my family can see our work where they are and where I’m from, we travel to them”. Coming from an area with limited access to the arts and a low-income family, I immediately saw how important and impactful touring theatre and new writing was, and knew that I had made it into the right company.

I joined PP as the Admin and Finance Assistant in 2013 through Creative Access, a charity who provide year-long traineeships in the creative industries for people of BAME backgrounds. This marked the beginning of my career in the arts. Without this opportunity, I’d probably be in an industry that I’m not passionate about, struggling to find my way in. Paines Plough were the first theatre organisation to partner with Creative Access, actively addressing lack of diversity in the industry. Unafraid and open – two major qualities that extend way beyond their work.

Watching an intimate dress rehearsal of Andrew Scott in SEA WALL over the bridge in one of the rehearsal studios at The National was a truly unforgettable experience.

NAblog1

I didn’t know what was happening to me when I watched for those 30 minutes, no more than a metre away from him, sucked into his performance and trying really hard to hold floods of tears back. This had never happened to me watching a play before.

Valuable lessons learned:
– I’ll never get left behind in a hotel in Hull after press night again.
– Even though you’ve planned for everyone to meet at the station in good time to catch your train, you’ll always need to run for it #touringPPstyle.
– Pork scratchings vary in taste and texture from region to region. Scottish pubs don’t stock them.
– How to change florescent strip lights and chargers.
– I still can’t do puns…
– Accents, canoeing, ‘being in the lift’ mimes, street dance, the odd prank call and cake really help when you all need a little group pick me up.

NAblog2

COME TO WHERE I’M FROM at the Southbank Centre was a beautiful installation and interactive map designed by Amy Cook, where audiences and passersby could pop in and listen to plays by writers from all over the UK, for free.

NAblog - CTWIF NAblog - CTWIF2 NAblog - CTWIF3

Invitation to interact with the space, watch some of the writers read their plays live and to hang out with a beer in an open space is my kind of art. This was a lovely weekend.

Touring from all corners of the UK from the Isle of Eigg to Ipswich, Liverpool to Lyme Regis and Newport to Nottingham involves a lot of trains…

NAblog - trains

ROUNDABOUT is by far my favourite thing to have been involved in. From its launch in Edinburgh in 2014 to its current Autumn tour, THE HUMAN EAR to LUNGS, Visitor Services to the Street Team, and tea dances in Margate to TORYCORE, the breadth of what Roundabout can do and give is phenomenal.

NAblog - Roundabout NAblog - Roundabout2 NAblog - Torycore

EVERY BRILLIANT THING in New York and my (and Francesca’s) first ever trip to the US! We had a whirlwind of five days in New York during the opening at Barrow Street Theatre last December.

NAblog - EBTNYC NAblog - EBTNYC2

It was very surreal to think how it was only a year before that I was in Ledbury with an audience of 30 to then being Off-Broadway with an American audience of 250! And of course we visited the amazing sights, hung out with Jonny and ate a lot of meat…

NAblog - EBTNYC3

My Paines Plough round-up in numbers:

17 productions

3 Arts Council Annual Reports

1 Big fat 40th anniversary year

2 ROUNDABOUT seasons

2 Edinburghs

2 Latitude festivals

1 Bestival

1 European festival… Wiesbaden

10,220 miles commuted to and from PPHQ by bike

And a lot of miles travelled up and down the country.

And of course there are the people that make all this happen and I’m so privileged to have worked with such a driven and dedicated team. Under the Artistic Directorship of James and George, I’ve constantly been inspired and driven by their vision and resilience. Working with Hanna and Francesca has been like attending free producing workshops everyday, Aysha has shown me how brilliant being a General Manager is and I take from her into what I do now with Coney, Bhavini and Rachel are the two amazing trainees who like me joined PP though Creative Access; all together they are an incredibly strong, fearless and focused team. I’ve also been lucky enough to work with Claire, Tara, Bene, Bernd and Sean. Paines Plough attracts the most amazing people and I’m just happy to have been a part of the family. Thank you for having me.

TeamPP

For now its goodbye from me as I retire to the red cupboard with my digestive biscuit tin, muji pens and a new picture to hang on the wall…

NAblog

Natalie x

Hello from our new Assistant Producer

Hello!

I’m Francesca, the new Assistant Producer at Paines Plough.  I’m only in my third week at PP but WHAT a three weeks it has been.  My feet feel like they quite literally haven’t touched the ground.

                                                                                                                                                                                                             Of course I’ve had some big shoes to fill, but fortunately for me since Hanna has moved up to the much revered role of Producer she’s right here when I need her and fortunately for Hanna that means I’m constantly plying her with a fresh supply of fruit and nuts from the top drawer under my desk. I’ve also been bribing the rest of the office with mango, food seems to go down well here…

Since starting it’s been somewhat of a juggling act – trying to soak up everything I need to know about PP’s brilliant Small Scale Touring programme, whilst also reading the ten plays we’re producing this year, whilst also casting Not The Worst Place by Sam Burns, whilst also introducing myself to the vast PP network, whilst also putting together the Hopelessly Devoted creative team, whilst also helping Launch our 40th year at the NT Shed, whilst also going up to Manchester for our Future of Small Scale Touring Symposium, whilst also writing this blog…you get the picture.

I’ve joined at a particularly busy time, but ultimately an exciting one. The last few weeks have been wonderfully inspiring and have only confirmed what I already knew, that PP is probably one of the most thrilling, passionate and driven companies to be part of right now, and I’m pretty darn lucky to be here with them.

On my final note, our post 40th year launch party took us to Fernandez and Wells for a one off wine and cheese reception – as a big fan of cheese this went down particularly well with me but since we probably won’t be back to F&W for a while feel free to send cheese packages to me at PP HQ  – juggling needs sustenance.

Can’t wait to get going

Chesca x

What we’re seeing at the theatre

We haven’t done one of these in while, so between everyone at PP we’ve made another list of what we’ve all been seeing in the past few weeks. With winter fast approaching, darker days and colder nights, what better place to spend your time than in the theatre.

What we’ve seen:

The Events at the Young Vic, The Same Deep Water As Me at the Donmar Warehouse, Chimerica at the Harold Pinter Theatre, Show 2 at Lyric Hammersmith, Grounded at Traverse Theatre, Fleabag at Soho Theatre, Once at Phoenix Theatre, The Ritual Slaughter of Gorge Mastromas at the Royal Court, Edward II at the National Theatre, Virgin at Watford Palace Theatre, The Empty Quarter at Hampstead, As You Like It at The RSC, People at Birmingham Rep, Bryony Kimmings: Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model at Soho Theatre, Twelfth Night at Park Theatre, Perfect Match at Watford Palace Theatre, The Pride at Trafalgar Studios, The Legend Of Mike Smith by Soweto Kinch at Birmingham Rep, But I don’t like Girls at The Poor School, Othello at the National Theatre, The Herd at The Bush, Beats at Soho Theatre, Titus Andronicus at Arcola Theatre, Too Mortal by Shobana Jeyasingh at St. Pancras Church (Dance Umbrella), The World of Extreme Happiness at The ShedA Real Man’s Guide to Sainthood at Camden People’s Theatre, The Fu Manchu Complex at Oval House.

What will you be seeing in the coming weeks? Send us your suggestions by leaving a comment or tweeting us @painesplough.

Andrew Scott in SEA WALL at NT Shed

Eeeek. This is proper exciting…

Olivier and BAFTA Award winner Andrew Scott will reprise his acclaimed performance in SEA WALL by Simon Stephens for seven performances only at The Shed at The National Theatre.

Yes. That’s right. Book now.

Have you booked? Good. Because this is one you do not want to miss.

“One of the most devastating 30 minutes you are ever likely to experience in the theatre,” reckons Guardian critic Lyn Gardner. “As engaging and devastating a piece of theatre as you’re likely to find,” reckons The Independent’s Alice Jones.

SEA WALL is a story about family, fear and the things that can’t be undone.

Things for Alex are good. He loves his wife, his daughter, his city, his job. But sometimes the force of life can crash against you. Sometimes everything you thought you could always depend on can be taken away.

We are super proud to present the show alongside our friends at The National Theatre and to give you another chance to see this gem of a play. SEA WALL plays for just seven performances in the NT’s awesome temporary venue The Shed, from 25 July to 2 August 2013. Did we mention you should book?

Andrew first performed Simon’s unforgettable story as part of The Broken Space Season at The Bush, for which the play was commissioned. The show was the hit of The Edinbugh Festival in 2009 before a further run at The Bush. Last year, SEA WALL made up one half of our touring production LONDON.

And now, it’s back…

(You have booked, right?)

Roundabout Meet the Ushers: Jon

Following on from Friday’s blog we asked another of our amazing volunteer ushers to share their experiences of the Roundabout Season and give their personal recommendations of which shows to see in the final week …

Name: Jon Barton

How are you finding the Roundabout experience?

I’m having a really great time. I’m a writer myself so its a useful learning experience for me.

What’s your favourite part of the Roundabout Auditorium?

That it’s in the round. It completely changes the dynamic of the productions and really does justice to the writing. Also we don’t have enough in the round theatres in the UK and it’s a breath of fresh air.

Which plays have you seen so far?

I’ve been lucky enough to see all of them.

Which one would you recommend and why?

One Day When We Were Young is probably my favourite but they’re all unique in their own ways. Lungs is a really affective love story and The Sound of Heavy Rain is great fun.

Give us your 140 character review of the play…

Nick Payne has written a compelling love story that lends itself to the intimacy (and theatricality) of the Roundabout space. In a story that spans six decades we meet Leonard and Violet – wartime lovers looking to enjoy their last night together. Leaping forward to the sixties we see the extent of their estrangement, until events draw them together once more in 2002. Clare Lizzimore’s production excels in its execution, mining the writing for every bit of tenderness and inelegance. Exposing set and costume serve a timeless quality to the story and remind us of the advancing years. What stays with you is the quiet power of the triptych and its ability to quietly break your heart.

#RoundaboutLDN

Excitement is building to fever pitch at PPHQ as we gear up for the biggest project we’ve ever undertaken – a season of three extraordinary new plays in our very own portable, in-the-round pop-up theatre.

Yes indeed, The Roundabout Season is nearly upon us. Six weeks showcasing three new plays by Duncan Macmillan, Nick Payne and Penelope Skinner at Shoreditch Town Hall in our beautiful mini 360 degree auditorium.

We’ll be talking about it quite a lot in the coming weeks, as you can imagine, and we hope you’ll come and see the plays and the theatre and be so excited about it all you’lll want to talk about it too.

So we’ve created some hashtags to streamline those Twitter convos:

The Roundabout Season
#RoundaboutLDN

One Day When We Were Young
#OneDayPlay

Lungs
#LungsPlay

The Sound Of Heavy Rain
#HeavyRainPlay

So tweet us up @painesplough and let us know what you think of the plays and our gorgeous little theatre.

You can buy tickets for the shows via the National Theatre website.

Nice one. See you there. We can’t wait.

Variety is the Spice of Life

Variety is the spice of life

We’ve all heard that old saying but nevertheless we are rather keen on it here at Paines Plough.

For our Roundabout Season London this autumn we want to treat you to a mezze plate of new writing. We will be presenting three new plays from three of the UK’s hottest young writers at Shoreditch Town Hall from 19th September – 27th October: One Day When We Were Young by Nick Payne, LUNGS by Duncan Macmillan and The Sound of Heavy Rain by Penelope Skinner.

So whatever your taste in theatre you can find it at the Roundabout – from young love sparked in the embers of WWII (Nick Payne), parenting debates in the queue at IKEA (Duncan Macmillan), to a mystery unfolding at a smokey cabaret bar in Soho (Penelope Skinner).

All three shows will be performed in the unique 360 degree setting of the Roundabout auditorium.

And to help you make your selection, you can choose your theatrical tapas of choice (liking these food puns?) from our spanking new schedule below:

And if you fancy a buffet then we you can catch all three shows in one day on Saturdays and Sundays for only £45 (this offer has limited availability so we recommend booking in advance via the National Theatre’s Box Office line 020 7452 3000).

If you want more information or to book for the Roundabout Season London click here.

 

30 seconds with….Kate O’Flynn

It’s now only a month until the Roundabout Season London gets underway and we are all getting very excited!

Rehearsals for LUNGS by Duncan Macmillan and ONE DAY WHEN WE WERE YOUNG by Nick Payne both kick off next week and with that in mind we asked Kate O’Flynn (starring in LUNGS and THE SOUND OF HEAVY RAIN) to give us an insight into what it is like acting in the round…

Q: Have you worked in the round before?

A: Most of the theatre work I’ve done has been in the round – in fact I don’t think I’ve done anything proscenium arch – and what I love about it is how intensely you can feel whether or not the audience is engaged with the piece; being aware of that really keeps you on your toes.

Q: What surprised you the most about working in and creating work for the ROUNDABOUT auditorium?

1.       A: It was during LUNGS that I was most affected by the space; the production has two actors on a bare stage and that’s it for 90 mins, I think that gave me a heightened sense of the environment we were acting in. There was something about the structure being built out of wood that made it really warm, nonthreatening, and open.

Q: What do you think makes ROUNDABOUT auditorium a different audience experience?

1.       A: There was also a real ‘in it together’ relationship with the audience that you don’t always get in theatre.

If you would like to find out more about The Roundabout Season London or book tickets click here