Monthly archives: June 2011

Dispatches from New York City

The Big Apple by night

The Big Apple by night

After a tranquil week developing work in the mountain village of Hunter, James and I immediately threw ourselves in to the whirlwind of New York City. We had two fantastic days dashing around town seeing shows and meeting some brilliant and inspiring theatre companies.

We started off by catching up with Annie McRae and Stephen Willems, Literary Managers of Manhattan Theatre Club (MTC) and Manhattan Class Company (MCC) respectively. We have been in touch with both Annie and Stephen for a few years now, and were thrilled to see that their passion, knowledge and championing of British playwrights remains undimmed. We dropped in on Peter Tear and Elizabeth Kleinhans at 59East59 Theaters, where we took Dennis Kelly’s After The End in 2006. Then we had the great honour of attending the opening night of 4,000 MILES by our good friend Amy Herzog. Amy is an incredibly exciting young American playwright – an opinion clearly widely held in New York – who we had the pleasure of meeting at the Orchard Project in 2010. Amy’s play is being produced by the Lincoln Centre at an off-Broadway theatre just off Times Square and received this glowing review from the New York Times.

4000 Miles by Amy Herzog at LCT3

4000 Miles by Amy Herzog at LCT3

Tuesday brought first visits to the extraordinary St.Ann’s Warehouse, the NYC home to Blackwatch and Enda Walsh’s Walworth Farce, and where Susan Feldman and her team are in the process of moving to a new space. From there it was a subway ride back to Manhattan to see Patrick Daly and Mirella Cheeseman in the office of Jean Doumanian, one of the driving forces behind BOOK OF MORMON, which we were incredibly fortunate to see that night. The show came down just in time for us to nip east to one of my favourite places in New York – Bluesmoke.

A fist-full of scripts from Soho Rep

A fist-full of scripts from Soho Rep

Before flying back to Blighty we managed to find time to talk about all things Paines Plough with three more facinating companies; Soho Rep, Atlantic Theater Company and Naked Angels. Raphael from Soho Rep (who used to work at both The Gate and The Bush) talked us through the success of recent productions of Sarah Kane’s BLASTED and Debbie Tucker Green’s BORN BAD at their miniature, 74-seat powerhouse of a theatre. Just up the road we saw Christian Parker, Associate Artistic Director at Atlantic, who later in the summer is producing Simon Stephens‘ long-overdue New York premiere in the shape of BLUEBIRD, starring Simon Russell Beale. Finally we caught up with Alex and Andy at Naked Angels, a company not dissimilar to Paines Plough. Naked Angels produced last year’s Off-Broadway hit THIS WIDE NIGHT by Chloe Moss. One of the things we were excited to talk with them about is their use of podcasts through Naked Radio – an interesting comparison to our own podcasting of Come To Where I’m From last year.

Then there was just enough time to squeeze in a few Brooklyn lagers and a burger from Shakeshack before the flight – they’re good for you, after all.

Brooklyn Lager is good for you

Brooklyn Lager is good for you

Dispatches from Hunter, NY – Part Two

As previously reported, we have just spent seven glorious days in the Catskill Mountains supporting Kate Tempest, Katie Douglas and Che Walker in writing their Paines Plough commissions. By the end of the week, Che and Kate both had exceptional rehearsal drafts, with both plays in production this month. Meanwhile Katie, whose play rehearses in September, completed a brilliant first draft.

Welcome to Hunter

Welcome to Hunter

As well as sunny skies, creek swims and bear hunts, we were treated to a fire-side Kate Tempest gig, with intimate renditions of RENEGADE, LIFE OF A SCRIBE and BEST INTENTIONS. In a Paines Plough exclusive, you can listen to a bootleg recording of Kate performing the three tracks below.

Listen to Part One here: RENEGADE and the first half of LIFE OF A SCRIBE.

Listen to Part Two here: The second half of LIFE OF A SCRIBE and BEST INTENTIONS.

If you like what you hear, you can find out how to buy a copy of Kate’s band’s début album here.

Another terrifying face-to-face encounter with a bear.

Another terrifying face-to-face encounter with a bear.

We were also able to piece together a first go at The 8th, albeit very roughly. We had a copy of Paul’s first draft of the track, over the top of which Reg read Che’s final draft of the script. Here’s a sneak preview of what you can expect when we open the show on 7th July for the Manchester International Festival.

On our final day we ventured out to the one local pub – Mac Gregors – where I was thrilled to learn something I had long suspected was the case, but until now had lacked the necessary evidence to confirm:

Dispatches from Hunter, NY

Hello England, from Hunter NY!

George and I are here at The Orchard Project with Katie Douglas, Kate Tempest and Che Walker. They’ve been working on their respective commissions for Paines Plough against the stunning backdrop of the Catskill Mountains.

Yesterday we held a reading of Kate T’s play. It’s a lyrical firecracker that fizzes through the offices and parks and cafes and parties of South London evoking the sights and sounds and smells and rhythms of inner city life.

Then as Kate headed down to Manhattan for a one-off gig, we welcomed Reg E Cathey to Hunter. Reg is starring in Che’s play THE 8TH which he’s creating with Paul Heaton to premiere in less than a month’s time at The Manchester International Festival.

Reg lives in New York and so has made the 3 hour trip north to spend a couple of days with Che and director George working on the show. Last night, in Hunter’s quaint little cinema, Reg gave a first reading of Che’s darkly soulful sermon.

Meanwhile Katie D has just finished the first draft of her play for our A PLAY, A PIE AND A PINT season in the Autumn. With great excitement, we’re going to read it today.

Che and Katie outside our house on Maine Street, Hunter

One of the great things about The Orchard Project is that you get to meet and see the work of other companies from around the world who are staying here. Yesterday we saw a work-in-progress performance by the multi-award winning New York company The Talking Band.

The Talking Band performing at The Orchard Project

With Kate T heading back from the city, it’s our turn to share some of our work, so tonight we’re going to host an impromptu gig in the cinema featuring extracts of the plays and an exclusive Kate Tempest set. We’ll video some of it to share on the blog.

Aside from work, we’ve mainly been hoping to see a bear. There’s a veritable menagerie living under our beautiful wooden house overlooking Scoharie Creek and Hunter Mountain, including groundhogs, chipmunks and a slightly sinister looking orange snake. But we’re yet to come face-to-face with a grizzly.

A terrifying face-to-face encounter with a bear

In the evenings, it’s camp fires by the creek, cold cans of Milwauke Be(a)st, and stunning light shows courtesy of the fireflies. There can be few better places to create work than here.

The stunning Scoharie Creek

Love is in the air

After an epic 14 weeks touring the UK, the final curtain fell on LOVE, LOVE, LOVE last Saturday night at Oxford Playhouse (well, nearly the final curtain. The show has one more outing at The Galway Arts Festival in July).

It was a fitting place to end the tour as Oxford is playwright Mike Bartlett’s home town, and is mentioned throughout the play as Kenneth and Sandra’s alma mater.

Saturday night was the 71st performance on the current tour. For Simon, James and Rosie who were in the original cast, it was show number 114.

And what a journey it’s been. There were cakes and canine audience members and the renegade LLL-LP.

But best of all was Performance No 52 at Hull Truck Theatre, during which a couple got engaged! Michael was so intoxicated by the show’s loved-up vibe he proposed to Joy and she said yes. Here’s Sarah’s show report from the night:

And here’s a photo of the happy couple after the show:

Joy and Michael after their engagement at Hull Truck

So love really was in the air in Hull.

We’d like to wish Joy and Michael a very happy life together. And we’d like to thank everyone who came to see the show from Scarborough to Southampton to Leicester to Leeds. We have loved performing the show for you and meeting lots of you in the bar afterwards.

We’d also like to thank all the amazing theatres who have welcomed us as their guests and who have made the tour such and exciting and rewarding experience.

And of course we’d like to thank the amazing cast, creative team, stage management, crew and everyone who worked so hard on the show. Oh, and the genius what wrote it.

To Galway!

Rosie, Lisa, James, Simon and Ben - the LLL company

Developing work in the mountains

We’re chuffed to bits that we’re been invited back to the Orchard Project this month.

Undoubtedly one of the best artistic residencies on the planet, The Orchard Project takes place each year in upstate New York, hosted by Ari Edelson and Dean Strober of The Exchange.

For four weeks each June, Ari and Dean bring together a collection of creative artists from across the world in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains, to develop work. On hand are a permanent company of young actors, airy rehearsal rooms, inspiring writing spaces, technical equipment, wholesome food, bottomless coffee, the mountains, the creek and an open-door policy that allows you to watch others in rehearsal. It would sound like a jolly, if it wasn’t hand-on-heart one of the most creatively stimulating weeks of our year.

In June last year we made our first visit to this extraordinary retreat with playwrights Joel Horwood and Laurence Wilson. Amongst the other artists we shared our time with were brilliant young New York playwright Amy Herzog and the quite remarkable Free Theatre of Belarus.

This year we’ve taken three of our commissioned playwrights, all of whose plays we are producing this year: Katie Douglas, Kate Tempest and Che Walker. It’s a chance for the writers to hone their plays with directors, George and James. The opportunity to prepare for a project in such creatively nourishing conditions is a very rare luxury. We are only able to take advantage of this opportunity thanks to the kind invitation of Ari, Dean and their team and the generosity and passion of Jon and NoraLee Sedmak, who are supporting Paines Plough through our playwright development service, The Big Room.

We’ll let you know how we get on and you can judge the results for yourself when the plays open later this year, all as part of Paines Plough’s Programme 2011.

Paines Plough is recruiting a Production Manager

Paines Plough is recruiting a full time Production Manager on a fixed term contract for 7 months from August 2011 – February 2012.

The Production Manager’s role is to oversee the production of Paines Plough’s full programme of work and events in liaison with the creative teams and Paines Plough’s Producer.  They are responsible for delivering the productions in keeping with the artistic brief, safely, on time and within budget and for the associated administrative tasks.  The Production Manager will work closely with the Producer to ensure the smooth running of these processes.

For more information including how to apply,  please visit and download an application pack.

37 years, 103 productions, 261 playwrights

As our General Manager Claire reported last week, we’re redecorating PPHQ at the moment. We’ve been cleaning out cupboards and dusting off old boxes. After the majority of our archive went to the V and A last year, we’ve been pining for the visual record of PP’s rich and illustrious past.

So we were thrilled when we came across a box of old posters stretching back to the 70s. Paines Plough was founded in 1974 by John Adams and David Pownall, as the legend has it, over a pint of Paines bitter in The Plough pub. For 37 years, the company has been commissioning and producing work by generation after generation of extraordinary British playwrights.

There’s a full archive of PP’s past productions on our website, here. We’d love you to leave us a note about any of the plays or productions you remember or that you’ve come across since. You can post a message directly on each production’s page (using Facebook) or leave us a message on this blog.

Some interesting names to search out amongst the 103 PP productions past are Andy Serkis, Trudie Styler, Kathy Burke, Matthew Vaughan, Josie Laurence, James Dreyfus, Terry Johnson, Tony Marchant, Heathcote Williams and Lee Hall.

Paines Plough seeks an Administrative Intern

Paines Plough seeks 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 July 2011
Duration of Placement: 12 weeks
Hours: 10am-6pm, Monday-Friday
Application closing Date: Tuesday 21st June, at 5pm
Interview Date: Tuesday 28th June

For an application pack email or download one here.

London Open Auditions are now open

Paines Plough Open Auditions:
Sunday 19 June 2011
The Actors Centre
1a Tower Street
London, WC2H 9NP
10am – 5pm

Paines Plough is delighted to announce our fourth Open Auditions Session in collaboration with The Actors Centre in London.

Many actors find themselves in the position of needing to be in something to be seen, and needing to be seen to be in something. In response to this often frustrating dilemma, Paines Plough has committed to meeting over 700 actors previously unknown to the company each year, 180 of whom we’ll be seeing on the 19th June.

If you would like to be seen, please do the following:

– Find yourself a partner – we are auditioning people in pairs

– Apply by sending ONE email with BOTH of your names to

– Please put OPEN AUDITIONS @ ACTORS CENTRE in the Subject line and do not send CVs, biogs or headshots

We will email you back by Friday 10th June with an audition time. Once we have confirmed your time, please prepare a 3 minute piece of dialogue in your pair from a play written post 1995. If you weren’t in the first 90 people to apply we’ll keep you on a waiting list and let you know if a slot becomes available.

Please read our Open Auditions FAQs before applying.

Love, Love, Love Podcast 8

The sun is shining at the dazzling Cambridge Arts Theatre.

The LOVE, LOVE, LOVE tour continues this week at the dazzling Cambridge Arts Theatre.

Here’s the eighth in our  series of LLL PODCASTS featuring some thoughts from my role as Assistant Director on the show and Trainee Director for Paines Plough in the  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE PODCAST No.8.

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 in a photo taken by the nomadic James Barrett.

What a beautiful sight from Cambridge!

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

See you in Cambridge or Oxford!