Monthly archives: November 2010

My Last Day @ PP HQ

So, here we are; the end of another busy day at PP HQ and the end of my time as Assistant Producer at Paines Plough. 6 months have whizzed by and boy have Paines Plough been busy: 7 shows, 3 open auditions, 13 come to where i’m froms, 1 TMA award and a zillion company meetings later, it is time to bid the team farewell.

I’ve had the most amazing 6 months at Paines Plough. Having started back in late May as Trainee Producer (through a secondment with Birkbeck University), I am now leaving with assistant producer and producer credits under my belt, and am launching myself out into the world of freelance producing ( Although I’m looking forward to an array of challenging and exciting projects in 2011, I really will miss Paines Plough very much indeed. Many many thanks to all the writers, venues, directors, and actors I have met and worked with during my time at the company, and extra special thanks to everyone at PP HQ – George, James, Tara, Hanna, Jack, Anneliese, Jo, Nick, Claire, Fiona, Mimi, and Tasha – for all the opportunities and fun times.

I’m certainly going to stay in touch with the company and suggest everyone else does too – there is so much exciting stuff happening next year, I can’t wait to see how the company gets on.

Sophie x

ps. this isn’t properly goodbye, as Jack Lowe (Trainee Director) and I are off to India later this week with an exciting programme of Paines Plough work. Keep an eye on the blog for updates. Adieu. x

Sam Holcroft goes to Barrow Castle

Sam Holcroft, one of our commissioned writers, recently embarked on a weeklong retreat to the magnificent Barrow Castle in Bath. Forming part of our new concept in professional playwright development, The Big Room, Sam was given the opportunity to get away and finish work on the new draft of an exciting play. Here’s what Sam had to say upon her return:

I’m now back from Barrow Castle and had such a good week there. I always seem to make progress in isolation!

The little flat is in a turret of the castle and consists of a small sitting room with a writing table and sofa, a kitchenette and shower room, and up the stairs a small bedroom with a second writing desk. It’s very comfortable and there is a sort of Narnia-style secret door leading out onto the roof of the castle with views across the country side. It’s a rare thing to drink coffee on the roof of a castle on a sunny day. Judy and Peter are such lovely hosts and they welcomed me at the dinner table every night. Peter was wildly enthusiastic about an evolution-themed play and sent me home with copies of his books and articles and a great many quotes! Judy is a great cook and a fan of chili, which went down well with me.  She provides homemade soups, bread and cheeses for lunch and all manner of fruit, biscuits and fruit juices, teas and coffees to keep you going throughout the day. You cannot get internet in the flat, but are welcome to use Peter’s study or the dining room where there is wifi. This actually turned out to be a blessing, one less opportunity to procrastinate. I felt very safe even when Judy and Peter went away for the night, and Louis, the castle cat, is more than happy to keep you company.

The play is coming along well, I hope. The week away was an enormous help.

We’re glad the trip was a success Sam (even if we are a little jealous…)

For more on The Big Room, click here.

TINY VOLCANOES Workshops in Zagreb

After a 4:30am wake-up call myself, Sophie, Hanna and Laurence Wilson headed towards Luton airport. After a luke warm coffee and numerous times losing our boarding passes, we hopped on a Whizz Air flight to Zagreb.

4 hours later, Laurence and myself are sitting in a town hall in central Zagreb, awaiting our first workshop at the inaugural nu:write festival. With the strongest coffee we’d ever tasted in one hand and a ‘Borek Mesos’ in the other, we prepared for our “Tiny Volcanoes: Process to Play” workshop.

It was attended by an interesting mix of young  playwrights, actors and producers all very keen to hear Laurence talk about the play and why it is important for today. We discussed the idea of ‘broken Britain’ and how TINY VOLCANOES has adapted and evolved over 2 years of process according to the issues of the day.

We then asked our Croatian collaborators to make a list of social and political issues affecting Croatia. This created a ramp into a lively and eye-opening discussion; potentially the best way to get to the heart of what people are talking about in Croatia.

The following morning we repeated the workshop – and the numbers had doubled. This time we pushed our discussions further and asked the participants to write some treatments for short monologues about the issues they had raised.

Nu:write, in its first year, was very much experimenting with its cycle of workshops. I strongly suspect there’ll be a huge presence on the workshop front next year.

The young Croatian theatre community has a huge amount to say and are passionate and angry. Perhaps the most exciting outcome is that they are angry and want to use new writing theatre as the outlet…I wait in suspense.

TINY VOLCANOES in Zagreb, Croatia

Last weekend, the cast and crew of Laurence Wilson’s TINY VOLCANOES (and some fortunate members of the Paines Plough office) left PP HQ and headed to Croatia for the Nu:Write Theatre Festival in Zagreb. We joined fellow British theatre companies, such as nabokov, Box of Tricks, Tangram, Folded Feather and Tristan Bates Theatre to take part in the inaugural year of this five day festival, which aimed to serve eager Croatian audiences a great mix of high quality British theatre.

Directed by James Grieve, and starring Liverpool based actors Kevin Harvey and Michael Ryan, TINY VOLCANOES explores the notion of broken Britain, exposing the millions of tiny volcanoes bubbling up through our green and pleasant land. Performed in a theatre space in Central Zagreb, the show went down a storm. We had great feedback from some Croatian audience members who interestingly said that the play’s themes translated within their own culture.

“Masterful presentation… great skill, great acting. Just great. More people need to hear this.” Isa

“Really enjoyed it; very well scripted and delivered.” John

Alongside the evening performances, Trainee Director Jack Lowe and Writer Laurence Wilson ran afternoon workshops with students in Zagreb, which explored the play’s issues and encouraged participants to explore their own culture through writing for the stage. For more on the workshops, stay tuned for Jack’s blog…

With bold performances from all of the participating companies over the five days, Tristan Bates Theatre put together the festival finalé, with a selection of their Midnight Matinees in various spaces around the festival centre. Installations, poetry readings, cabaret acts and giant pass the parcel, were just a few of the treats they had in store, and a mass group lighting of paper sky lanterns was a perfect way to finish the festival. Thanks to all the organisers and volunteers at Nu:Write for making it such a successful and enjoyable few days.

For more on the festival, and photos of this year’s events, visit the Nu:Write website and Facebook group.

The November tour of TINY VOLCANOES finishes at The Brewhouse in Taunton this Thursday. Get your tickets here.

Join us at nabokov Arts Club

New writing theatre company, nabokov, are hosting another installment of The nabokov Arts Club at Village Underground this Friday 26th November, and all of us at PP HQ are sure to be there.

The evening promises to ‘blow your creative minds with more artistic delights and late-night folly,’ with a mix of live music, comedy, DJs and more. If you fancy joining us for a drink and a boogie then come on down.

Tickets are £15 and you can buy them here.

For more information visit

The nabokov Arts Club
Friday 26 November 2010, 8pm – 2am
Village Underground, 54 Holywell Lane, London EC2A 3PQ
Over 18s only // Last entry 12am

‘I want to make theatre anyone can go to’

There was a fascinating article in yesterday’s Times with our Associate Playwright and author of Love, Love, Love, Mike Bartlett.

Speaking with Lucy Powell at “Paines Plough’s London digs”, Mike talked about some of the inquisitions Love, Love, Love sets out to make. In pitting the baby-boomers against their children, the play has elicited a gamut of responses that reflect a very specific gap between the two generations.

“The issues facing the current generation are unprecedented: house prices, university fees, pensions, the list goes on. But I think we have to be very careful. One of the characteristics of our generation is blaming other people for our problems so we can sit there and not do anything.

The flip side is that although we have to pay fees, the possibility of going to university – that you’d even get A levels – which we now take for granted, is far greater than it was for our parents. They came from much humbler backgrounds. Rather than blame anyone, it’s more interesting to ask where might we have gone wrong accidentally? Was there something in that ideology (of the 60s) that was misplaced?

That quote ‘if you can’t remember the Sixties you weren’t really there’, I probably first heard it when I was five. It’s been hammered in to our generation again and again. You missed the party. The party was the Sixties. You grew up in the Nineties? Not nearly as good. Your music? It’s all referring to ours, but isn’t as good. For me the response to that is to say: ‘Can we please, now, stop referring back to the past all the time?’ It’s crippling. I want to make theatre anyone can go to, and I want audiences to feel that it’s an event: full-blooded, happening now, properly new.”

In terms more familiar with describing sports crowds, Mike articulated our own observations of the audiences throughout this autumn’s tour of the play which has seen it travel to Plymouth, Manchester and Bath over 7 weeks:

“Some nights the audience are outright laughing with Ken and Sandra at their daughter’s ludicrous accusations. Others, they are totally on Rosie’s side and it reads as a tragedy. The most interesting nights you get different pockets within one audience feeling those things.”

Love, Love, Love closes it’s autumn tour in Bath this Saturday, with two performances at the Ustinov @ Theatre Royal. You can book here.

If you haven’t had a chance to catch the production this time around, check back to this blog on Monday for full listings of our spring 2011 tour.

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE spring 2011 tour dates to be announced on Monday

Daniela Denby-Ashe and John Heffernan

If you haven’t had a chance to see Mike Bartlett’s LOVE, LOVE, LOVE in Plymouth, Manchester or Bath this Autumn, then don’t panic, we’re touring it again in spring 2011.

Dates and venues are to be announced on this blog on Monday, so come back then to find out if we’re visiting a theatre near you.

The current tour of LOVE, LOVE, LOVE finishes at Bath Theatre Royal this Saturday 20th November. Get your tickets here before it ends.

***** The Telegraph
“Mike Bartlett’s bang-on-the-money new play… required viewing.”

**** The Guardian
“Terrific lines and big laughs… Bartlett does the clash of generational world views with a devastating precision.”

**** What’s On Stage
“Compelling performances, cutting dialogue and thought-provoking premise”

TMA Awards


Special Achievement in Regional Theatre

Hasta la vista Manchester


2 weeks have flown by, and tomorrow sees the last of our Manchester Residency events. In the last two weeks we have had great fun holding our Manchester Open Auditions at MMU, have closed our 2010 Come To Where I’m From season on a high with 6 beautiful pieces from Joy Wilkinson, Sarah McDonald Hughes, Phil Davies, Chris Thorpe, Lucinda Cardey and Rory Mullarkey and met some wonderfully talented and driven people at the Come To Where I’m From workshops over the weekend at The Royal Exchange. I also had the great pleasure of meeting members from PANDA at a Creative Conversation session hosted by The Lowry in Salford, including people from Blue Masque, 24:7 Theatre Festival, Manchester International Festival, The Latecomers Theatre, Rocket Theatre Company, North West Playwrights, Monkeywood Theatre and freelance creatives Connor McKee and JonThm. We spent the morning talking about new writing and touring and how Paines Plough are striving to lead the way in both areas even in our current economic climate.

We close our Residency with IN RESPONSE TO… LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. More information on the event is below.

It has been a great 2 weeks – thank you to everyone who has made the effort to come and meet us. Do stay in touch and hopefully see you tomorrow night at The Royal Exchange…




3 writers. 3 responses. 3 brand new short plays.

Friday 5 November, 5:45pm

The Studio, Royal Exchange, Manchester

Mike Barlett’s “bang-on-the-money new play”, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, has been both amusing and provoking audiences in Plymouth and Manchester.

Now it’s time to see how three local writers respond to the text. Having seen the show on opening night in Manchester, Reuben Johnson, Andy Sheridan & Danielle Sibley have written pieces inspired by Bartlett’s show.

Please join us at these staged readings before the evening performance of LOVE, LOVE, LOVE in The Studio at The Royal Exchange on Friday 5 November to see where this journey has taken the writers and their work…

‘In Response’ is a free, non-ticketed event. Seats will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis

Only 80 seats available

Running time: 35 minutes

There will be a 75 minute break between IN RESPONSE and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE

Tiny Volcanoes on Tour!

Tiny Volcanoes

This evening Paines Plough in association with Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse will be presenting Laurence Wilson’s TINY VOLCANOES at the New Greenham Arts Centre, Newbury.

Fusing theatre, comedy, poetry and tub-thumping tunes, two actors play a host of characters in an excoriating inquisition into broken Britain.

For tonight’s performance, book tickets here.

You can view full details about TINY VOLCANOES here.

This week you can also see TINY VOLCANOES on the 4th November at 8pm at the Lincoln Performing Arts Centre, Lincoln (book tickets here) and also on the 5th November at 8pm at the Lakeside Arts Centre, Nottingham (book tickets here).