Monthly archives: April 2011

Homeward bound to Folkestone

Costa Del Folkestone

I’m very excited to be returning to my home town this weekend with Tiny Volcanoes, and the PP gang in tow. We’re all heading for the seaside for bank holiday sun, sea, sand and sandwiches in my back garden.

I spent the first 19 years of my life in Folkestone, during which time there was no theatre at all despite a population of 50,000 people. You had to go to London to see a new play. Infact there wasn’t a whole lot of anything in Folkestone, which, like most port towns, suffered badly from the decline of domestic tourism. Where once the Royal Family regularly holidayed in the grand hotels on Folkestone’s seafront, the advent of cheap flights put the ferry port out of business and eventually the Channel Tunnel bypassed Folkestone altogether.

But an incredible regeneration project led by The Creative Foundation has seen tumbleweed streets transformed with derelict shops reopened as art galleries. The Quarterhouse, a 250 seat theatre, opened a couple of years back offering the town a purpose built venue for theatre, music and comedy, and we’re thrilled that the brilliant team there have invited us to visit.

If you’re in the South-East corner of the country, come on down. There’s loads to see and do in Folkestone and the show won’t let you down. Or even if you’re in London, the new high speed rail link will whisk you to the riviera in 45 minutes from St Pancras.

In case you need any more persuading, here’s my guide to the five best things about Folkestone:

1. The mighty Folkestone Invicta Football Club, recently relegated from the Ryman Premier Division. “Invicta” means undefeated in Latin. Which is ironic. But we’ll be back and will soon be competing for European trophies. Or at least the Kent Senior Cup.

2. The Creative Quarter. The thriving artist’s community, housing studios, galleries and The Quarterhouse where Tiny Volcanoes plays on Monday. Check out the forthcoming Folkestone Triennial too.

3. The South Downs. Rolling hills that meet the sea with dramatic white cliffs and offer stunning views as reward for a climb to the top.

4. Sandgate Esplanade. Miles of beach, seaside bars and views of France. Ok, so technically it’s in Sandgate rather than Folkestone, but there’s no need for pedantry.

5. The Chambers. A subterranean bar serving real ales and continental lagers. Run with conviviality by Chris and his team – the best place to hang out in Folkestone.

Sandgate Esplanade

On the road and review round-up

Hello everyone, we hope you had a lovely relaxing Easter break in the sunshine.

It’s back to work with a vengeance here at PP HQ with lots on the go, not least our two shows currently out on the road.

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE is in Southampton this week at The Nuffield with performances Wednesday to Saturday at 7:30pm.

Lisa Jackson and Ben Addis in LOVE, LOVE, LOVE

Meanwhile, TINY VOLCANOES is in Artrix, Bromsgrove tonight before visiting The Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal tomorrow; Harrogate Theatre on Thursday and Friday; and The Maltings in Berwick-upon-Tweed on Saturday.

Kevin Harvey and Michael Ryan in TINY VOLCANOES

There’s been lots written about both shows in the past couple of weeks so here’s a quick round-up of the news and reviews.

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE was again one of Lyn Gardner’s Theatre Tips in The Guardian on Saturday. After last week’s shows in Ipswich, The East Anglian Daily Times gave its verdict: Sharply satirical…hilarious…the audience at the New Wolsey clearly loved the show“. Blogger Glen Pearce was also in the Ipswich audience and wrote: Once again Paines Plough demonstrates that they are not afraid to bring quality, challenging drama to regional audiences and, in Love, Love, Love, Mike Bartlett confirms his place as one of the country’s most exciting playwrights.

The York Post saw the show the previous week in Leeds and said: The wit is brittle, the dialogue caustic, the adult behaviour almost as selfish as in Noel Coward’s Hay Fever, and depending on your age, you may well take different sides in this zeitgeist generational clash“. Also in Leeds, Culture Vulture blogger Robert A Sharples had a soft spot for Sandra: With the audience left incandescent; I left with a complete crush“.

Looking forward to next week when LOVE, LOVE, LOVE rolls up at Liverpool Playhouse, The Liverpool Echo interviewed our AD James who said: What we’ve found is that families are coming to see the show together and arguing about it at the interval and at the end, and you really feel within an audience different factions supporting different characters in the play.”

And playwright Mike Bartlett revealed his inspiration for the play to The Liverpool Post:I’ve been brought up my whole life being told how amazing the sixties were and how if you can remember it you weren’t really there. I wanted to see which elements were true and important, and which were myth-making and nostalgia.”

Liverpool was, of course, host to the opening performances of TINY VOLCANOES last week at The Everyman.

The Liverpool Post loved it: A devil’s advocate in theatrical form…could be your play of the year.”

There was also a nice review in Liverpool Live, but it’s fair to say The Liverpool Echo wasn’t a fan: It’s a good job Cameron and Clegg weren’t there to see this – or the arts budget would be cut even further.” Ooh er.

Here’s an interview with playwright Laurence Wilson about TINY VOLCANOES.

If you’re anywhere near Southampton, Bromsgrove, Kendal, Harrogate or Berwick-upon-Tweed this week, we’d love to see you at your local theatre and hear what you think of our shows on the road.

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Podcast 6

the innovative New Wolsey, Ipswich

The LOVE, LOVE, LOVE tour continued this week at the innovative New Wolsey, Ipswich

Here’s the sixth in our weekly series of LLL PODCASTS featuring a chat behind the scenes with the happy chappy James Barrett


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 with Lisa Jackson outside the Ipswich town hall!

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

See you in a town near you soon!

An Interview with Laurence Wilson

Laurence Wilson’s TINY VOLCANOES opened to tremendous applause last night at the Liverpool Everyman in preparation for its nationwide tour. We caught up with playwright Laurence Wilson this week to hear all about his wildly provocative new play.

Laurence Wilson

Tell me a bit about Tiny Volcanoes?

Tiny Volcanoes is like nothing I’ve done before.  It’s a political satire sketch show performed by two fantastic actors. We’ve had a bit of trouble with them on the last tour, breaking out of character and bringing their own personal lives onto the stage, which is totally unprofessional but they were forced into the job by the new back to work scheme at the jobcentre. The director’s had a good long chat with them and they’ve promised not to do their dirty washing on stage anymore.

What inspired you to write the play?

The play came from the Nabokov Present:Tense event. Taking a piece of news about the BNP in our case and turning it into a piece of theatre in a short time. James who was artistic director of Nabakov and the director of the piece, became co-artistic director of Paines Plough and asked me to turn it into a full length play. We broadened it out into a full length production and made it about satire of Broken Britain. I really wanted to tackle the many issues Britain faces in these difficult times but do it with as much humour as possible.

What do you feel this production says about modern Britain?

We’re saying that modern Britain is a bit lost. Its identity is under attack or under suspicion, and the politicians haven’t got the answers. We have lost sight of so many important things in the glare of consumerism and the fear of depression. But underneath all that we are a vibrant, essential and bonkers people who need a bit of a kick up the backside.

Do you have any links to any of the venues and will you be visiting any to see the show?

I was born in Hemel Hempstead and moved away when I was two. It’s not too far away from the Watford Palace. The Liverpool Everyman is my spiritual home and has also been the home to several of my plays.

I’m coming to Watford, Liverpool, Harrogate and I’m not sure if I can do any others. We playwrights are ridiculously poor of pocket!

What’s next for you work wise?

My play for young people, Blackberry Trout Face, which won the Brian Way Award last year is touring in the Autumn, culminating in a week at The Unicorn. I’m working on a film script for it and a new play. I’m also about to go on a course hosted by Tutti Frutti to learn how to write a production for tiny people.

Watch our TINY VOLCANOES trailer here.

Read a review in the Liverpool Daily Post.

Click here for tour dates.

Tiny Volcanoes Trailer

We’ve had a brilliant week re-rehearsing TINY VOLCANOES in Liverpool with actors Kevin Harvey and Michael Ryan, and playwright Laurence Wilson who has been bringing the script bang up to date.

Here’s a trailer we filmed yesterday to whet your appetite for the show…

TINY VOLCANOES opens at Liverpool’s Everyman Theatre on Wednesday and Thursday before embarking on a nationwide tour.

Here’s Kevin being filmed for a scene in the show in which he plays Jeremy Vine presenting Panoramarama from the mean streets of Liverpool City Centre. Sound designer Xenia is on the left and that’s AV designer Tim with the camera.

Xenia, Kevin and Tim in Liverpool

Full details of the show and tour here.

Spend an afternoon with Kate Tempest

We didn’t think it possible – but we’re even more excited this week than we were last week about our collaboration with extraordinary British performance poetry and Hip-Hop superstar Kate Tempest.

On Monday, Kate headed off to Barrow Castle - a wonderful writing retreat near Bath – to spend the week in splendid isolation, working on her first draft. While she’s away, we’re getting our daily fix of her sublime rhymes via YouTube.

If you’ve never had the priviledge of seeing or hearing Kate’s work, we’ve put together a mini sampler of videos to whet your apetite. Don’t forget, the play Kate is writing for us will premiere at this year’s Latitude Festival, where we’re producing it in partnership with Birmingham Repertory Theatre and the National Student Drama Festival. Then at the beginning of 2012, it will be on tour nationwide.

Cannibal Kids by Kate Tempest (via YouTube)

Line in the Sand by Kate Tempest (via Apples and Snakes on YouTube)

Sound and Fury by Kate Tempest (via the RSC on YouTube)

Slow Slow by Sound of Rum (via YouTube)

If you like what you hear and want the show to come to your local theatre, student union, university drama society or school theatre then leave us a comment here, email us, phone us, contact us through facebook or DM us on twitter and we’ll do everything we can to oblige. Alternatively sign up to our mailing list from our website homepage, and we’ll let you know when we’ll be local to you. Let us know if you’re heading to Latitude too and we’ll hopefully see you there.

Our trip to NSDF ’11

NSDF '11

NSDF '11

Tara, Jack and I have just returned from a working weekend at the National Student Drama Festival in sunny Scarborough, where we were a few weeks ago with Love, Love, Love.

Each year, student companies from all over the UK enter productions for consideration, from which around ten are selected to feature as part of the week-long festival. In addition to the shows, NSDF Director Holly Kendrick curates an array of workshops, talks, master-classes, discussions and events hosted by professional practitioners.

Alongside theatre luminaries such as Joe Penhall, Donna Munday and Tamara Harvey, Holly asked us to come and talk about how Paines Plough strives to put the playwright at the heart of the creative process, the practicalities of running a touring company and the principles of the director/playwright relationship we espouse.

Scarborough sparkling in the sun

Scarborough sparkling in the sun

In our short time at the festival we saw some great work and met some fantastic young practitioners. Discussion was rife and constructive, with much talk of new developments in devised work, site-specific performance, the belief or otherwise in staying true to a writers’ vision and the increased need for collaboration within the industry. A blog James and I wrote for the Guardian on the latter of these topics has fired up some interesting debate this week (see the comments section).

Playwright, theatre-maker and NSDF selector Chris Thorpe hosting said 'rife' discussion

Playwright, theatre-maker and NSDF selector Chris Thorpe hosting said 'rife' discussion

As well as featuring student productions of PP commissions past – Orphans and After The End (both by Dennis Kelly) – our visit enabled us to talk about our future work; in particular our upcoming collaboration with NSDF and Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company on Kate Tempest‘s first play.

After premiering the show at this year’s Latitude Festival, we’re going to take it on the road. As well as touring to theatres, arts centres and festivals, we want to take the show to the heart of student unions and schools. So we spent some time talking to theatre society reps, teachers and student producers about how and where the production might find a home on student campuses in spring 2012.

Next year’s NSDF will reportedly have an international focus but will continue to place the very best student productions from across the UK at the heart of its programme. For information about how to enter or attend the festival, visit their website. Hopefully, this time next year, we’ll see you there.


Our Trainee Director Jack with "award winning" Scarborough donkey, Simon

Our Trainee Director Jack with "award winning" Scarborough donkey, Simon

If you’re involved in student drama either at school, college or university and you’d be interesting in working with us to bring our World Premiere production of Kate Tempest’s new play to you and your fellow students, Tara would love to hear from you –

TINY VOLCANOES : Day 1 of rehearsals

Welcome to Liverpool

While George, Tara and Jack make their way back from this year’s National Student Drama Festival in Scarborough (blog to follow), James and Hanna are up in Liverpool with the cast and crew of Laurence Wilson’s TINY VOLCANOES for the first day of rehearsals of our 2011 Spring tour.

After a meet and greet with the lovely people at the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse this morning, the brilliant cast, Kevin Harvey and Michael Ryan, who have re-joined the company after our 2010 Autumn tour, got straight back into the swing of things with a hilarious read through of the play.

Kevin Harvey, Michael Ryan and Laurence Wilson read through the script

Rehearsals are off to a cracking start and we can’t wait to see them back on stage.

Writer, Laurence Wilson, talks about the play in today’s Liverpool Echo.

The tour opens at Liverpool Everyman on Wednesday 20th. (Next week!) Get your tickets now.

20 – 21 April Liverpool Everyman
26 April Artrix, Bromsgrove
27 April Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal
28 – 29 April Harrogate Theatre
30 April The Maltings Theatre, Berwick-upon-Tweed
2 May Quarterhouse, Folkestone
3 May Ustinov, Theatre Royal Bath
4 May Colchester Arts Centre
6 May Watford Palace Theatre
7 May Marine Theatre, Lyme Regis
9 May Key Theatre, Peterborough
10 – 11 May Bike Shed Theatre, Exeter
12 May Dartington Arts
13 May Arc Theatre, Wiltshire

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Podcast 5

the towering West Yorkshire Playhouse

The LOVE, LOVE, LOVE tour continued this week at the towering West Yorkshire Playhouse.

Here’s the fifth in our weekly series of LLL PODCASTS featuring a chat behind the scenes with the indisputable king of floppy hair, Mr. Simon Darwen.


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 with the whole team at the Aagrah Restaurant in Leeds!

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

See you in a town near you soon!

We’re off to the NSDF

We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the weather stays glorious this weekend as we’re heading up to Scarborough for this year’s National Student Drama Festival. We hope to see some great work from a number of drama societies and young companies, and as well as this, we’ll also be running a series of workshops:

1.Producing Plays, Developing Writers
Genre: Writing
Ability: Beginner and/or Intermediate and/or experienced

2. If It Didn’t Exist, You’d Have To Invent It
Genre: Producing/Directing/Setting up a theatre company
Ability: Beginner and/or Intermediate and/or experienced

3. The Writer and Director Relationship
Genre: Writing/Directing
Ability: Beginner and/or Intermediate and/or experienced

4. Student Drama Society/Course Paines Plough Speed-dating
Genre: Programming
Ability: Any

For more information about how to get a place on one of our workshops, visit the NSDF website at Hope to see some of you there, stay tuned for updates.