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):
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.