Monthly archives: September 2010

More great reviews for our 2010 programme of work

We’re coming to the end of another exciting and very busy week at Paines Plough, and as we start to dig out our winter coats and cosy socks, must keep reminding ourselves that even though it’s getting chilly, the cold won’t slow us down! There’s loads going on right now, and we’ve also had some wonderful reviews for two of the productions in our 2010 programme, FLY ME TO THE MOON by Marie Jones and GOOD WITH PEOPLE by David Harrower.

Check out what The Stage said here about FLY ME TO THE MOON:

Oran Mor and Paines Plough asked Marie Jones, writer of FLY ME TO THE MOON some questions:

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

45, 95, 125,……doesn’t matter how many minutes, none of its hard if you have a good story.

Should every play come with a complimentary pie and pint?

Not sure, I suppose it depends on the venue….I was in the Belfast Opera House last night and the majority of the women had vodka secreted in their handbags….there is a certain excitement in sneaking your drink into a place you’re not supposed to sneak drink into and not paying a fortune at the bar…although, can’t see anybody wanting to sneak a pie out of their handbag

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

Blank Page is very scary…..my family know when i am about to write a new piece, the house is spotless and I   cook them really nice meals and take the dog walks…I know they know that  I am putting off the inevitable, but    they don’t want the pampering to stop, so they say nowt….As soon as I tackle the scary page, the house goes    to hell,  they eat whatever they find in the cupboard and the dog lies in a corner getting fat…I know my priorities.

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

They’re human too.

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

 He only said that when he was inventing the light bulb…That’s pretty hot work…I’d be sweating too.

Take a look at Joyce Macmillan’s review about David Harrower’s GOOD WITH PEOPLE:

“For a truly elegant, powerful and purposeful drama about the impact of violence on everyday life, there’s only one place to be this week; and that’s at the lunchtime Play, Pie, Pint show at Oran Mor, which this week premieres a brilliant new 50-minute play by David Harrower…In this terrific short duologue – performed with electrifying power by Blythe Duff and Andrew Scott-Ramsey – Harrower first acknowledges the connection between violence and sex, making the air between the two characters crackle with more erotic tension than I’ve seen on a Scottish stage in years…In this last of five autumn co-productions between A Play, A Pie and A Pint and Paines Plough, George Perrin directs with impressive grace and flair…And the whole experience comes as a sharp reminder of how, in the years since Scottish devolution, playwrights based in Scotland have tended to leave the specifics of Scottish life to the politicians, and to paint on a wider canvas; and of what rich dividends it can pay, when they focus once again on the pain, the potential, and the deep, deep resonances of the society on their doorstep.” ****Joyce Macmillan, The Scotsman

“Harrower’s dialogue is crisp, economic, and loaded with meaning…Duff and Scott-Ramsay both turn in riveting performances brimming with sexual chemistry and charged danger.”  **** The Herald

Send yourself to Coventry

According to Lyn Gardner’s theatre tips, Coventry is the place to be this week, and I’ll be heading there myself on Saturday for another yummy installment of A PLAY, A PIE AND A PINT.

FLY ME TO THE MOON by Marie Jones opens at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry on Thursday 30th. Check out this lovely review of the play in The Stage.

Also mentioned in Lyn’s theatre tips this week is ESTATE WALLS at Oval House Theatre, by one of our associate companies Inner City Theatre. We all saw it last week and it’s absolutely brilliant, so get your tickets before it ends on the 9th October!

We’re a bit lonely at PP HQ now as the cast of LOVE, LOVE, LOVE have left our rehearsal room and gone to Plymouth to finish rehearsing before the show opens at the Drum Theatre on the 7th.

To quote a text from Simon Darwen, ‘Missing the PP crew too…not the stairs though!Looking forward to you coming down.The rehearsal spaces are incredible and the place is lovely and sunny.xxx’

Rub it in guys!

The empty rehearsal room

Good With People by David Harrower

The pie-d piper was getting careless...

Myself and the Good With People company are coming to the end of a rewardingly exhaustive two weeks in Glasgow during which David’s rich, complex and resounding play has gradually and gently revealed itself.

The play is set in Helensburgh, a town which sits at the mouth of Gareloch, about an hour outside Glasgow, home to around 20,000 residents, Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Hill House and Britain’s nuclear submarine base, Faslane. The play brings Evan Bold back to the town in which he grew up and that Helen Hughes has always called home.

Evan We used to boast it was so deep U-boats got lost in it. It was the deepest stretch of water anywhere in Britain. Nuclear subs could pass over each other and not know the other’s there, it was so deep.

Helen We used to boast about that too when we were kids.

Evan And then?

Helen Then?

Evan When you stopped boasting.

Over the course of their encounter, Evan and Helen begin to connect more than perhaps they ever thought was possible. During rehearsals we’ve been listening a lot to a song that resonated with David when he was writing the play – Young Waters by June Tabor.

The play runs this week at Oran Mor before touring to Live Theatre Newcastle, The Traverse Theatre Edinburgh, The Belgrade Theatre Coventry and Bewleys Cafe Theatre Dublin.

When not working hard at 5 Sanda Street, I’ve enjoyed reacquainting myself with the West End of Glasgow, drinking Brew Dog’s Punk IPA over tabletennis at the trendy Hillhead Bookclub, taking in movies at the exquisite Grovesenor Cinema and spending a fortune in the Alladins cave of fine food, beer and wine that is Peckhams.

Beer heaven.

“If you can remember the sixties you weren’t really there”

Hello there from PPHQ!

We’re mid-way through week 3 of rehearsals for ‘Love,Love,Love’ by Mike Bartlett.

From working out the huge depth to Mike’s script and plotting the copious amounts of alcohol and cigarettes consumed by our two leads to singing along to our favourite 60’s and 90’s bands, we’re really starting to hit the travelator.

Mike Bartlett’s play traverses three time periods 1967, 1990 and 2011 and is proving a hugely rewarding challenge to capture these three moments in time.

James Grieve has been working closely on picking out the moments, motifs and ideas which appear in all three periods and the cast are reinventing each time we run through sections.

From hair styles to home furnishings, Lucy Osborne has been meeting Mike’s play head on with a beautiful and dynamic design and we’re starting to see the fruits of this exciting collaboration between Paines Plough and the Drumb Theatre Plymouth.

This really is turning out to be not only a hugely entertaining look at 1967, 1990 and tomorrow but is also flagging up one of the most important issues which will affect us all – the ageing baby boomer generation.

Rosie: Look at you… “If you can remember the sixties you weren’t really there.” What a smug f**king little thing to say. You didn’t change the world, you bought it. Privatised it. What did you stand for? Peace? Love? Nothing except being able to do whatever the f**k you want.

It’s impossible to summarize all the important clashes of ideology in this writing. So best just to come and see it and be hit between the eyes by the arguments and issues which affect you. I wonder how many baby boomers read blogs? Please forward accordingly. Seriously.

I’d like to be, down by the sea, in an octopus’s garden – and we are off to Plymouth on Monday for final week of rehearsals so we shall “sea”.

A new time of day

Once again I set off early to Oran Mor to see the fourth of the five plays in the A PLAY, A PIE AND A PINT season, April De Angelis’ CALAIS.

I got on the familiar 0539 train from Euston to ensure I was around for the tech.  I think it is the calmest tech I have ever sat in and they even had time for a dress rehearsal before doors open at 1230.

I was able to sit in on a stagger through of the fifth and final play on the season, David Harrower’s GOOD WITH PEOPLE, which is being directed by our very own George Perrin and performed by Blythe Duff and Andrew Scott-Ramsay.  It is a fascinating piece, where nothing is, as it seems paired up with electric acting.

Meanwhile the three plays that have already opened at Oran Mor are in various places in the UK:   Marie Jones’ FLY ME TO THE MOON opens in Edinburgh tomorrow (in fact Katie Tumelty and Abi McGibbon returned to Glasgow to watch CALAIS so we enjoyed our pies together!)   IN THE PIPELINE opens today at Live Theatre Newcastle and THE UNCERTAINTY FILES company take a well deserved week off, and all three of the actors remaining at home in Glasgow.

Linda McLean’s THE UNCERTAINTY FILES opened to rave reviews this week at Oran Mor.

‎****The Scotsman for Linda McLean’s THE UNCERTAINTY FILES:

Charlotte Gwinner’s production has a severe and brilliant quiet choreography, controlled down to the minutest gesture; and the performances are riveting, mature, eloquent, beautiful, and not only real, but true.

Whilst the company of Marie Jones’ FLY ME TO THE MOON pioneered the first leg of the tour at Live Theatre Newcastle. I went up there to see the first show and brought back a little souvenir for everyone in the office:

We're loving Newcastle Live A PLAY, A PIE AND A PINT Beer Mat

Judging from the show report received today from Stage Manager, Kara Jackson, the Newcastle audience are enjoying it so much that the running time has increased by two minutes due to laughter.

Back at PP HQ LOVE, LOVE, LOVE culminates its second week of rehearsals.  They have it up on its feet after the detailed table work last week and rehearsal props are flying into the room.  The character of Sandra seems to enjoy quite a few cigarettes!

We also had all three of the Creative Team in today to watch rehearsals.  Hartley  (Lighting Designer), recovered from Edinburgh where he runs C venues, and Lucy Osborne (Designer), currently opening THE ALIENS at the Bush Theatre, have a good catch up on the sofa that is on for rehearsal furniture.

Lucy Osborne and Hartkey T A Kemp deep in thought - or are they on facebook?

We, in the office, are very much looking forward to catching a run through next week and we’ll be able to show you some photos soon as Graham Michael is coming in on Friday to take some rehearsal shots.

Wishing you all a lovely weekend – we’re off to see Bryony Lavery’s BEAUTIFUL BURNOUT on Sunday at the Barbican.

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.

Spreading our wings…

Over the last few weeks, fellow colleagues have been jetting off all around the UK. Most of this travel (usually booked by myself or the administrator Hanna) has been related to our current A Play, A Pie and A Pint Season. Now don’t get us wrong, we understand these trips have to be made and we both thoroughly love Aldwych and PP HQ, but sometimes it’s nice to spread your own wings a bit rather than enabling others’, and last week our prayers were answered. We were going to Manchester!

Over the last few months, The Independent Theatre Council (ITC) have been hosting sessions with their members and staff from Arts Council England (ACE) to discuss what is on the horizon in terms of the future of touring. Chaired by Charlotte Jones, Chief Executive of ITC, the session was a great opportunity to meet other touring companies and swap ideas, stories, fears and experiences about theatre life on the road. We also had the opportunity to hear from Barbara Matthews (Director of Theatre, ACE) and Amanda Rigali (Director of Combined Arts and Touring, ACE) about the latest thinking within ACE. With public funding cuts on the horizon, many organisations funded by distributors of public funds like ACE are bracing themselves for a tricky time. Although there were no concrete answers (even ACE do not know themselves what decisions are going to be made by the government), it was still an informative session.

We had the opportunity to ask lots of questions to people who have been in the business for years and we all talked and talked about anything and everything associated with the T-word: international touring, mid-scale touring, rural touring, mutual risk, co-productions, relationships between venues and touring companies, collaboration, and much, much more.

We both came back buzzing with ideas and pleasingly optimistic about the future, and both look forward to spreading our wings further afield by meeting other peers at future meetings…

My First Day As An Intern!

Hello! My name is Mimi Findlay, today I started an internship with Paines Plough. A little about my first day:

As I settled into a grey swivel chair in the Paines Plough office, I contemplated what the last few months of 2010 would bring for me. I didn’t expect to be starting my first task in the Artistic Directors’ office(!), listening to Tara, Hanna, Sophie and Jo belting out their favourite tunes from their favourite musicals. Had I lost my way amongst the mass of commuters that I’d perchance stumbled upon a madhouse rather than the ever-expanding Paines Plough office that I thought I had already visited earlier this year?

Despite every member of the team being slightly insane (=D) and eating all my KP Honey Roasted Peanuts for lunch and almost breaking the coffee machine (whoops!) it’s been an incredibly interesting (yet I get the idea this is a normal day) and plethoric day. I spent a portion of my lunch break chatting to the cast of LOVE, LOVE, LOVE up on the roof (James Barrett, Simon Darwen, Daniela Denby-Ashe, John Heffernan and Rosie Wyatt), and later gazed worryingly upon the budding plant in the office as Tara and Hanna explained to me that if I didn’t assume responsibility for the plant’s life it may not live for very much longer.

I wonder if they know I don’t have green fingers? More worringly, I hope the coffee machine really isn’t broken!

Travelling back in time…

So having been a hive of activity for the past 3 and a half days, the rehearsal room at PP HQ now lies empty as James and his cast have headed off on a research trip…

Through a link with Assistant Director Jack Lowe, the company have taken the afternoon off rehearsals to meet with Mike Liddel-Taylor down on King’s Road. The amazing Mike has had an equally amazing career including writing, model managing, working as a publicist, AND hanging out with The Beatles down on King’s Road in the swinging sixties. All this makes him the perfect person to inform the cast of what it was like to live during the psychedelic summers of love…

But whilst the cats are away, the mice can play and the cast-trip gives us in the office a chance to sneak into the rehearsal room to have a look at what they’ve been up to. We’ve been checking out the research up on the walls and photos of the model box (designed by Lucy Osborne) which has given us a flavour of what’s to come. Keep an eye on the blog for photos…

And we’re not the only ones getting excited about the show. Check out this piece in The Telegraph and this piece on Whatsonstage.com giving more details about the show and the cast!