Monthly archives: March 2011

Arts Council National Portfolio decisions

We’re pleased to announce that Paines Plough has been invited to join the Arts Council England National Portfolio of arts organisations.

Here’s a statement from James and George:

“We are naturally very pleased to be part of the National Portfolio and are grateful to ACE for its support.

We are mindful of how fortunate we are to be custodians of public subsidy, and we will strive to ensure Paines Plough delivers programmes of work over the next four years that offer audiences everywhere a real return on investment.

Our Programme 2011 will see us touring 11 productions to over 40 towns and cities from Scarborough to Southampton, and we will continue to extend our reach as a truly national theatre of new plays, always with playwrights at the heart of everything we do.

Paines Plough never works alone. In 2010 we co-produced with 17 other companies and collaborated with 16 more. Through these valued relationships, we see first hand the passion, skill, tenacity and entrepreneurialism of the arts industry in Britain.

Now is the time to stick together. Our anger and frustration at the ideological cuts forced upon the arts is tempered by a fervent belief in the resilience of our industry and its capacity to adapt and change. Through greater collaboration and ever more innovative partnerships we can respond positively to the challenging times ahead by continuing to make theatre that is the envy of the world.”

You can read about our NPO application here.

Love-ly photos

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE opens at Live Theatre, Newcastle tonight for two performances only, before heading to The Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough for performances on Friday and Saturday.

Here are a selection of LOVE, LOVE, LOVE production shots as snapped by the brilliant Elyse Marks. You can see the whole set over on our Flickr stream.

LOVE going to Cambridge

Cambridge Arts Theatre

We promised there were more tour dates to come as part of our Programme 2011 and here’s the first…

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE will play the beautiful Cambridge Arts Theatre as part of its Spring tour with shows Wednesday 1 June to Saturday 4 June at 7:45pm and matinees at 2:30pm on both Thursday 2 June and Saturday 4 June.

That extends the LOVE, LOVE, LOVE tour to 14 theatres nationwide and means our Programme 2011 now takes in 34 towns and cities, with lots more tour dates still to be announced.

Further to last week’s blog post about our shows not playing London, here’s another chance for you Londoners to see LOVE, LOVE, LOVE with regular trains from Kings X taking just 40 minutes to reach Cambridge. We just looked on TFL Journey Planner and it takes longer than that to travel from Stratford to Acton on the Central Line, so no excuses Londoners!

We hope to see some of you in Cambridge or elsewhere on the tour.

New plays with no names

Just in case you’re wondering why some of the plays we’ve announced in Programme 2011 don’t have names yet, I thought I’d give a bit of an insight into our commissioning policy.

We want the way we commission playwrights to reflect our belief that the playwright is the lead creative artist in the process of making new plays, and to evidence our commitment to playwrights being at the heart of the company.

So rather than commissioning lots of plays and picking the best, we choose the playwrights we most want to work with and strive to produce everything we commission from them. Increasingly, we make a commitment to produce at the point of commission, as we did with nine of the plays announced in Programme 2011.

What that means of course is that several of the plays we’ve announced haven’t been written yet. Which we think is rather exciting.

We reckon commissioning with the promise of production results in plays of urgency, bravery and bold theatrical expression. We also think that playwrights writing for a production – rather than the chance of a production – have extra engagement with the audiences they are writing for.

When you see our as yet un-named new plays, we hope you’ll agree.

James & George unveil Programme 2011

11 PRODUCTIONS IN 33 PLACES (and counting…)

We’re thrilled to announce our Programme 2011 which sees 11 productions touring to 33 towns and cities across the UK and counting… with more tour dates soon to be announced.

Building on our inaugural year as Joint Artistic Directors – which saw us produce 9 productions in 33 places – our Programme 2011 sees even more shows touring to even more places as we aim to be a truly national theatre of new plays. Our 11 productions this year can be seen everywhere from Liverpool to Lyme Regis, Scarborough to Southampton, Bath to Berwick-Upon-Tweed.

These are tough times for theatre economically, but flourishing times for theatre artistically. Our programme celebrates the very best of British playwrighting in exceptional productions that traverse scales from 700 seat proscenium arch playhouses to arts centres, pubs, and outdoor festivals. The creation of our own portable in-the-round ROUNDABOUT auditorium offers us even greater scope to tour in the future as we strive to ensure everyone, everywhere has access to the very best new plays from the pens of our nation’s world class playwrights.

Programme 2011 kicks off with extended tours for two of last year’s productions. Mike Bartlett’s acclaimed LOVE, LOVE, LOVE visits 13 theatres between now and June on the biggest tour in Paines Plough’s history with 28,000 available seats from Glasgow to Ipswich to Salisbury. TINY VOLCANOES by Laurence Wilson is back on the road in April and May, touring to 15 different theatres nationwide from Folkestone in Kent to Kendal in the Lake District.

We’re very excited about our unique collaboration with Sheffield Theatres in the Autumn – The ROUNDABOUT SEASON. We’re building a portable 150-seat in-the-round auditorium which will host the world premières of three plays – by Nick Payne, Duncan Macmillan and Penelope Skinner – performed by an ensemble of four actors. All three plays will open at the Crucible Studio, Sheffield, before touring nationwide within the Roundabout auditorium, in rep, in Spring 2012.

Nick Payne’s beautiful portrait of a love that spans a century, ONE DAY WHEN WE WERE YOUNG, opens the season, followed by Duncan Macmillan’s extraordinary LUNGS, in which love and morality do ferocious battle. Penelope Skinner will write a new play specifically for the acting ensemble, which promises lashings of her incisive wit and theatrical ingenuity.

The ROUNDABOUT auditorium will enable us to tour new plays to any size space. The auditorium can sit in flexible studio spaces or arts centres, or on the stages of mid to large scale theatres behind the iron, so watch out for us on the road to all sorts of places next year.

In the summer we’ve got two very special productions for you. At the Latitude Festival we’re presenting the debut play from the extraordinary performance poet and rapper Kate Tempest, prior to a national tour of theatres and student unions in 2012 in collaboration with The Birmingham Repertory Theatre and NSDF. At the Manchester International Festival, we’re teaming up with former Housemartins and Beautiful South frontman Paul Heaton and playwright Ché Walker to present a unique live show featuring a star cast of musicians – THE 8TH.

Following last year’s amazing tour, we’re thrilled to be producing three more world premieres under the A PLAY, A PIE AND A PINT banner this Autumn. All three will premiere at Òran Mór in Glasgow before touring nationwide, with shows playing lunchtimes and early evenings.

Katie Douglas and David Watson – two of the most distinctive voices in British theatre – will be joined by a third very special playwright soon to be announced. And of course every audience member gets a free pie and pint with every show.

We’ll be announcing new dates for COME TO WHERE I’M FROM throughout 2011, and don’t forget you can still listen to free podcasts of last year’s COME TO WHERE TO WHERE I’M FROM plays via our website.

We’ll continue to host open auditons across the country; we’ll be taking up residence in theatres nationwide; we continue to run our Associate Company scheme and we’re officially launching our bespoke playwright development resource centre The Big Room, supported by Channel Four and The Fenton Arts Trust.

We hope you like the look of our Programme 2011 and will have a chance to experience some of our work this year. Wherever you are in the UK, Paines Plough is coming to a town near you soon.

Let us know what you think by posting a comment.

James & George

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Podcast 3

The dynamic Curve Theatre, Leicester

The LOVE, LOVE, LOVE tour continues this week at the dynamic Leicester Curve.

If you’re keen for a little snippet of LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, here’s the third in our weekly series of LLL PODCASTS featuring a discussion with Lisa Jackon in the Cafe at the Curve Theatre.


We’ll be bringing you interviews, discussions and audience feedback from across the UK as we bring LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to you, with a new podcast every week.

At each venue we’ll be taking a bit of the 60s out into the towns and cities we’re visiting. See if you can spot the LLL-LP on its journey through the UK – here it is nessling up to the iron gate of Leicester Market.

We’d love some suggestions for where LLL-LP should visit on our other tour dates.

See you in a town near you soon.

Do all roads lead to London?

The bright lights of London

We’ve had a bit of stick from Londoners in the last week for our perceived “anti-London” touring policy, so I wanted to set the record straight, and see what you all think.

When George and I took over Paines Plough just over a year ago we did so with an ambition to reaffirm the company’s historic commitment to touring far and wide. We both grew up outside London and our lack of access to theatre – and new plays particularly – is a big reason why we’re so passionate about getting our work out and about.

Our Programme 2010 saw us tour nine productions to 33 towns and cities across the country, including 14 places Paines Plough had never toured to before. It just so happened that London wasn’t one of those places, and since London doesn’t feature in our forthcoming Programme 2011 either, we’ve raised a few heckles.

In a blog review of LOVE, LOVE, LOVE last week it was reported that we “have a thing for not doing plays in London” which the blogger described as “snobby”.

This popped up on Facebook (though admittedly it might be tongue in cheek):

Donald Ideh
Is this not coming to London? A bit regionalist if you ask me!

And then a debate started on Twitter, an extract from which is below:

Loved @painesplough Love, love, love but hate their anti-London touring policy


I second this.

A rather narrow view! I think it’s good that @painesplough are reminding London-folk there’s a whole country out there.

Sometimes it’s just about making sure Other People get to see good arts nearby!


Am totally with you there. And lets face it, travelling to Watford is no real hardship ;-)

Well given the clusters of poor in London it guarantees our own poor theater lovers are excluded.


Oh come on, are you seriously suggesting Londoners have no other options to see shows?!


as a non londoner I can confirm there is life outside of the M25!

@painesplough is deliberately ignoring the UK’s biggest population center.Bad for plays

So by that logic, all touring to rural places should be scrapped?!

I’m with the OK to avoid London camp. Their raison d’être is to tour

I think touring is fine but xing out London poor. Blog post anyone?

So I wanted to clear a few things up. Firstly, we’re absolutely not anti-London and we don’t have an anti-London touring policy. We will produce work in London in the future and we very much look forward to doing so.

But it is true to say that, particularly in our first year as Artistic Directors, our efforts have been focussed outside the capital.

We’re conscious that huge swathes of the country are underserved by new plays, and Paines Plough is perfectly placed to take work to those places. Our ambition is to bring the best new plays to everyone everywhere, and so we feel the same compulsion to produce in Lyme Regis and Kendal and Aberdour as we do in London. Over time, we’ll produce work in all of those places in pursuit of our ambition to be the national theatre of new plays, it just so happens that we’re visiting Lyme Regis now and London later.

Londoners can always travel to other places to see our shows, as people from all over the UK regularly travel to London to access the plays they want to see.

Last week LOVE, LOVE, LOVE was just 16 minutes from Euston at Watford Palace Theatre. In June it will be at Oxford Playhouse – 40 minutes from Central London on the Oxford tube. It often takes me longer than that to get to accross town to a London theatre. TINY VOLCANOES also plays Watford Palace in April, as well as Folkestone which is 45 minutes from St Pancras by train.

I understand that travel can be cost prohibitive for some people, but it has been ever thus for people outside London, and if Londoners can’t afford to travel to see our shows they at least have the opportunity to see one of the 50 or so plays on every night in their home city.

London audiences have been treated to five Mike Bartlett plays – MY CHILD, CONTRACTIONS and COCK at The Royal Court, ARTEFACTS at The Bush and EARTHQUAKES IN LONDON at the National Theatre. Only one of those plays toured (Artefacts), so most people around the UK have never had a chance to see the work of one of our nation’s leading playwrights. We’re hugely proud that our tour of LOVE, LOVE, LOVE has 28,000 available seats from Glasgow to Scarborough to Southampton, giving audiences in those places their first chance to see Mike’s work.

This coming year will see us produce and tour work in somewhere between 40 and 50 towns and cities across the UK. There is one notable absentee – London. But we think that’s ok.

What do you think? Are we right to focus our efforts out of town, or should we head for the bright lights of the city. Leave a comment and join the debate.

We’re seeking a new Administrative Intern

We’re looking for an enthusiastic and highly organised intern to offer administrative support across our exciting portfolio of work. As the UK’s national theatre of new plays with the playwright always at the heart of everything we do, Paines Plough widely tours world premiere productions and offers bespoke development support to playwrights.

Based in our Central London office, the successful applicant will have the opportunity to gain invaluable experience across all areas of a producing company including casting support, tour planning and marketing as well as performing general office administration tasks.

This is an unpaid, full time, fixed term placement for which applicants need to be over eighteen years old and computer literate. Interns can claim up to £50 per week in travel and subsistence expenses.  Usual office hours are Monday – Friday 10am-6pm although flexibility with these hours may be required at particular times of the year.  Interns are entitled to up to 7.5 days (30 days per year, pro rata) of holiday during their internship plus public holidays and scheduled office closure.

Placement start date: Monday 4th April 2011
Duration of Placement: 12 weeks
Hours: 10am-6pm, Monday-Friday
Application closing date: Wednesday 23rd March 2011, at 6pm
Interview Date:  Monday 28th March 2011

For an application pack visit or email

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Podcast 2

The beautiful Watford Palace Theatre

The LOVE, LOVE, LOVE tour continued this week at the lovely Watford Palace Theatre with packed houses in the 600 capacity theatre.

If you’re keen for a little snippet of LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, here’s the second in our series of LLL PODCASTS featuring the post-show discussion at Watford Palace Theatre with writer Mike Barlett.


We’ll be bringing you interviews, discussions and audience feedback from across the UK as we bring LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to you, with a new podcast every week.

On top of all this, at each venue we’ll be taking a bit of the 60s out into the towns and cities we’re visiting. See if you can spot the LLL-LP on its journey through the UK – here it is with Mr Simon Darwen at Watford football ground.

Mr.Darwen perhaps unsubtley wearing his Luton tour football strip – Watford’s arch enemies apparently!

We’d love some suggestions for where LLL-LP should visit on our other tour dates.

See you in a town near you soon.

Paul Heaton’s The 8th

Hot on the heels of our first exciting announcement of the week, here comes another…

We’re were thrilled to be at the launch of the incredible Manchester International Festival yesterday, where our co-production for the Festival was announced.

We’re working with former Beautiful South and Housemartins frontman Paul Heaton and playwright Che Walker on THE 8TH,  an epic narrative linked song cycle that we’ve co-commissioned and will co-produce with MIF.

Victim of an overdose or recipient of bullet
Just the harvest of the finger or the wrist
It’s the needle or the trigger, the 8th could push or pull it
As long as folk believe that he exists.

Paul is one of Manchester’s greatest songwriters and we’re hugely excited to be working with him to present his new work in a unique live show, with a book by razor sharp wordsmith Che (Been So Long, The Frontline, Lovesong) and direction by our Joint Artistic Director George.

The 8th will feature a cast of performers from across musical genres who all join Paul and his band in the Pavilion Theatre for three very special performances as part of the Manchester International Festival. Stay tuned to the blog for news of those very special guests in the coming months.

Alongside us on the sensational MIF line-up are Bjork, Damon Albarn, Snoop Dogg and a whole lot more. Smokin.

The MIF launch yesterday as captured by Tara's iPhone