Monthly archives: July 2011

Countdown to Edinburgh

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival begins next week, and we’re all very excited to be heading up to see what theatrical delights are in store.

We’ll be there from 22nd to 28th August, and while we’ll be whizzing around the city trying to see as much as we possibly can fit into our week, we’ll also be running various activities in association with the Edinburgh Festival and the National Student Drama Festival.

Open Auditions

Many actors we talk to find themselves in the frustrating position of needing to be in something to be seen, and needing to be seen to be in something. Our response is to commit to meeting more than 700 actors previously unknown to the company each year.

We’re holding open auditions at C Venues in Edinburgh on Tuesday 23rd and Thursday 25th August. If you are interested in applying, keep an eye on our Twitter and Facebook pages, or please send an email to with ‘AUDITION MAILING LIST’ in the subject header and we’ll add your email address to our open auditions database to keep you in the loop.

Discussions and Special Events – Informal sharing of process

Quiz our team about touring, new writing or running a company in this informal Q&A.
Aug 24: 13:00 (1hr)
Free Ticketed
Click here for booking information.

Calling all students

We’ll also be at the NSDF’s Q&A session at 3pm on Friday 26th, and would love the chance to talk to any student drama groups or societies about WASTED the incredible debut play by performance poet and rapper, Kate Tempest, which we premiered at this year’s Latitude Festival.

We’re touring the show to Student Unions in 2012, so if anyone is interested in coming to have a chat about the play while we’re there, please do drop us an email to


Lastly, we hope to see as much work as we can while we’re there, so if you have any recommendations or want to invite us along to see your show, please email and we’ll do our best to make it along.

What we’ve been seeing at the theatre

Thanks to our jam-packed festival season, we’ve been able to expand our theatrical horizons somewhat this summer. Between us, team PP have been soaking up shows at the Manchester International Festival, Galway Arts Festival, Latitude Festival and the Avignon Festival, as well as staying up to date with the best work on the UK’s theatrical calendar. We’ve got a fantastic line-up of shows to see before the end of the month, when we head up to Edinburgh to tackle that behemoth of theatrical beasts – the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Before we headed off on our various festival adventures, we were thrilled to catch THE ACID TEST by Anya Reiss at the Royal Court, REALISM by Anthony Neilson at Soho, RICHARD III at the Old Vic, DR FAUSTUS at The Globe, LUISE MILLER at the Donmar, ROSENCRANTZ & GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, WHERE’S MY SEAT by Deirdre Kinahan, Jack Thorne and Tom Wells at The Bush,  FIXER by Lydia Adetunji & LITTLE BABY JESUS by Arinze Kene both at Oval House Theatre, MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING at the Wyndhams, BELONGINGS by Morgan Lloyd Malcom at Hampstead Downstairs, BUNNY by Jack Thorne at the Royal Exchange, THE PRIDE by Alexi Kaye Campbell at the Crucible Studio and Spymonkey’s LOVE IN at the Udderbelly.

Whilst in New York James and George managed to catch BOOK OF MORMON and 4,000 MILES by Amy Herzog.

At the Manchester International Festival, during a rather hectic week (of which there is more here), George managed to see Victoria Wood’s THAT DAY WE SANG as well as Bjork’s BIOPHILIA.

Dashing straight to Avignon from Manchester, George was fortunate enough to see what he has since described as one of the best piece of theatre he’s ever seen – a version of HAMLET, entitled AU MOINS J’AURAI LAISSE UN BEAU CADAVRE (AT LEAST I WILL HAVE LEFT A BEAUTIFUL CORPSE) as well as one of the strangest, LA PARANOIA. More on that to follow later this week.

In Galway James and Tara caught Enda Walsh’s astonishing MISTERMAN before dashing off to Latitude to meet up with the rest of the team to open Kate Tempest’s WASTED. Whist at Latitude we saw and loved Joel Horwood’s JEKYLL AND HYDE, the National Theatre of Scotland’s CRUNCH, Fuel’s ELECTRIC HOTEL, nabokov’s FAIRY TALES by Jack Thorne and Arthur Darvill, Whippet Productions‘ THE SPIES IN ROOM 502 by Jonathan Britten, Theatre Uncut’s short plays about the recent government cuts, and The Bush’s production of FLOODED GRAVE by Anthony Weigh, amongst many more. There’s loads about our weekend at Latitude here.

Back in London we’ve been to see THE CHERRY ORCHARD, LONDON ROAD, EMPEROR AND GALILEAN, DOUBLE FEATURE and ONE MAN TWO GUVNORS, all at the National, THE VILLAGE BIKE by Penelope Skinner at the Royal Court, FOR ONCE by Tim Price at Hampstead Downstairs, MIRROR TEETH by Nick Gill at The Finborough and Curious Directive’s YOUR LAST BREATH at The Pleasance.

We’re off to Edinburgh next month so please let us know of your recommendations by posting below or tweeting us @painesplough and we’ll try and add them to our schedule. Once we’re up there we’ll return the favour.

WASTED photos now online

We’ve just uploaded loads of publicity, rehearsal and productions shots of WASTED by Kate Tempest to our Flickr photostream. Check them out:

Production shots

Rehearsal shots

Publicity shots

Big shout out to the briliant photographers who took them – Elyse Marks, Richard Davenport, Gavin Mitchell and our very own Mathy & Fran.

WASTED at Latitude 2011

Latitude Loves Theatre

Latitude Loves Theatre

Damp and debilitated, bruised but buzzing, we returned to PP HQ on Tuesday this week after another epic and brilliant Latitude Festival. No amount of rain and mud could dampen our spirits as we premièred Kate Tempest’s WASTED on Friday and Sunday night.

A WASTED production meeting gets under way in the performer's bar

A WASTED production meeting gets under way in the performer's bar

Our first performance of the show at 11:20pm on Friday was packed to the rafters with many having queued for more than half an hour to get into the tent. There was a real party atmosphere pre-show with an estimated 700-odd punters crammed in to the first ever performance of Kate’s first ever play.

With a smaller but more concentrated line-up in this year’s theatre arena, we were treated to some top notch work. The Lyric Hammersmith teamed up with Peepolykus and Spymonkey to commission Joel Horwood (the writer behind nabokov’s smash musical IT’S ABOUT TIME at last year’s festival) to give us an uproariously and irreverently hilarious take on JEKYLL AND HYDE. nabokov were back with a contemporary twist on CINDERELLA by Jack Thorne and Arthur Darvill that had the capacity crowd up on their feet from the off. We also saw and loved work by Theatre 503, Fuel, Clean Break, the National Theatre of Scotland and Eyebrow Productions, amongst others. And that was just in the theatre tent.

Here’s our team’s top picks of the weekend:

Claire (General Manager):

“This was not only my first Latitude, but my first festival so I was fairly unsure about what to expect from the weekend.  I loved the whole experience, from the diverse and exciting line up, to the soggy camping.  A couple of my favourite performances were INTENSIT I & SOLDIER A in the Poetry Arena and THE NAKED AND FAMOUS in the Word Arena.  I’ll definitely be going back to Latitude again.”

Gathering rain clouds weren't enough to keep us away from the Obelisk Arena

Gathering rain clouds weren't enough to keep us away from the Obelisk Arena

Hanna (Administrator):

“So with torrential rain washing me err ‘clean’ as I ate soggy chips and drank rain-diluted beer, anything under cover in the Theatre Arena (FORWARD THEATRE PROJECT, 1927), the Word Arena (FOALS, JAMES VINCENT MCMORROW, EVERYTHING EVERYTHING), Comedy Arena (DOC BROWN), Cabaret Arena (BOURGEOIS AND MAURICE) and the Poetry Arena (SOLDIER-A AND INTENSI-T, and the amazing KATE TEMPEST) were the highlights of my festival experience. Although I did brave the rain for SEASICK STEVE and Fuel’s ELECTRIC HOTEL, both of which were rather epic. Oh… and I LOVED the impromptu SOUND OF RUM gig beside a random tree on the Saturday night, followed by a dance at the embarrassingly spectacular GUILTY PLEASURES! …and let’s not forget all those infamous car park discos DJ’ed by our very own AD James Grieve until the sun had well and truly risen. Too many highlights to choose… can we do it all again please?!”

Guilty Pleasures rocking out the Comedy Arena after hours

Guilty Pleasures rocking out the Comedy Arena after hours

George (Joint Artistic Director):

“With James assuming directing responsibilities this festival, I had the chance to get around quite a few of the music stages. I really spent a huge amount of time at the Sunrise Arena, enjoying sets by AARON WRIGHT (one of the collaborators on The 8th), FOSTER THE PEOPLE and TROPHY WIFE. JAMES BLAKE’s late night set on the Sunday was astounding”

Natasha (Production Assistant):

“Through the haze of my memory, I remember sheltering from the rain and discovering folk singer JAMES VINCENT MCMORROW; loving DOC BROWN rapping about Britain’s Olympic Dressage hopes in the Comedy tent; gazing at KATE TEMPEST turn the air electric at a midnight poetry reading; melting at David Bradley’s brilliant performance as both brow-beaten husband and shrewish Widow in ON THE HARMFUL EFFECTS OF TOBACCO/CAN CAUSE DEATH; and salivating at The Trailer Beach BBQ, where I had the Best. Hotdog. Ever.”

James (Joint Artistic Director):

“I’m biased, but KATE TEMPEST’s headline gig in the poetry tent on Saturday night was mind-blowingly good. The impromptu SOUND OF RUM set afterwards was a stroke of genius.”

James Blake playing live

James Blake playing live

Tara (Producer):

“I attended latitude for the fifth year in a row, and as always the people, programme and party did not disappoint.  Thursday night kicked off with a blast with nabokov’s reimagining of CINDERELLA; fantastic performances, energising music and witty lyrics plus with bonus of two circus performances representing the realistic meeting of Cinderella and Prince Charming.  Friday afternoon was a real highlight with the sun shining and listening to DEERHUNTER and CARIBOU (Word Arena) and SCHLOMO in the Theatre Tent.”

Chrissy (Trainee Producer):

“What a weekend it was! Well, my first time taking a show to Latitude so how can the highlight be anything other than our own WASTED, the amazing cast and creative team really pulled together to make something magical. I did have some fun too… a few of my highlights were the Lake Stage, Latitude’s new band stage where the SEA OF BEES were a real standout. Dancing all night with the lovely Hanna Streeter to THE FOALS in the Word Arena, an afternoon with SEASICK STEVE at the Obelisk and my first KATE TEMPEST poetry gig. And of course lots of laughing and dancing in the rain and the rising sun.”

Lizzie Watts performing WASTED (not literally)

Lizzie Watts performing WASTED (not literally)

There’s loads more about the journey we took from page to stage with our Latitude production of WASTED here. You can still listen to our Latitude playlist sampler here, featuring many of our team’s recommended bands from the festival. Meanwhile you can read a blog about our love of Latitude on the Guardian website, here. Plus there are loads more photos of our festival weekend on our Flickr page, here. Finally, tell us about your Latitude by leaving us a comment below.

Until next time, Latitude. You’ve left us exhausted, exhilarated, and begging for more.

Associate Director, Stef O’Driscoll in the rehearsal room for WASTED

With the company now excitedly making their way to Suffolk for this year’s Latitude Festival, we caught up with Associate Director, Stef O’Driscoll yesterday in the lead up to the final dress rehearsal of Kate Tempest’s WASTED

“So its tech time and after taping up about 100 boxes with Cai Dyfan, Set designer, I managed to catch 5mins to write this: These last couple of days have seen all the elements come together and with James away in Galway looking after Love Love Love I decided to change the whole play! I jest, not at all, in fact the main focus for the last couple of days has been transferring the play to a bigger space and introducing video projections, soothing tones, big bass lines and boxes… lots of boxes.

It’s been great having Kate in the room, hearing her laughter and I personally cannot wait for Friday Night 11.20pm as this play is exactly what theatre needs!

Giles (Kwake), our composer, is setting up his drum kit and Tom Gibbons, is testing out his sounds, the video projection title page reads Paines Plough, Wasted by Kate Tempest and I already have goose pimples…… and as Angela Anson, our lighting designer, turns off the workers I am left with a final thought, in fact it’s my top festival tip, get yourself to Primark and buy some £9 waterproof trousers I hear the weather man predicts rain!”

The 8th – A retrospective

We’re back from Manchester after an extraordinary seven days at the International Festival, where our much-anticipated World Premier of THE 8TH completed an exclusive 3-performance run.

In case you missed them, here are a few articles about the show, where the idea behind the project is explained in more detail:

“Paul Heaton confesses all”, The Guardian

“Paul Heaton debuts ‘longest pop song ever'”, The Independent

“Paul Heaton’s taking a new direction”, Manchester Evening News

As we reported on Wednesday last week, this show has been unlike anything we have done before. Comprising of a band of four, a string quartet, eight singers and a solo actor, the show sits somewhere between a staged concert and theatricalised gig.

Here are two interviews with Paul Heaton, the driving creative force behind the show, where he talks about how the piece came together – one on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row and one on BBC6 Music.

We had only three days to rehearse the piece, with the majority of the 17-strong ensemble meeting each other for the first time on day 1. I spent the first two days rehearsing with our lead actor, Reg E. Cathey (The Wire’s Norman Wilson from series four), whilst Paul rehearsed with the musicians and singers. On Wednesday last week we had 14 hours to bring the two elements together – Reg’s narrative monologue and Paul’s eight-part soul pop symphony. The next day we had just 9 hours to transfer the entire stage set-up to the venue, sound-check, build a 200-cue lighting plot, technically rehearse and dress rehearse, before the show opened to the public at 8pm.

Thanks to the incredible efforts of the whole team (and in particular our supremo Lighting Designer Tim Deiling), by 7pm we were just about getting there.

Then suddenly, at 7.15pm, with five of the ensemble on stage, the back wall of the auditorium started slowly leaning forward, finally crash landing on to all the instruments just as Reg leaped from the stage to safety.

This piece of truss is supposed to be vertical, not horizontal

This piece of truss is supposed to be vertical, not horizontal

With the paramedics rushing in and the MIF technical team rallying support from across the city, we all agreed – in something of a state of shock – that we’d never known anything like this. It seemed a certainty that despite the adage, the show would not go on.

The MIF team, led by the formiddable Jack Thompson, soon had the truss and cyc wall back upright and firmly secured. But as the band cautiously crept back on stage to examine their crushed equipment, with keyboard-player Christian digging his damaged Korg from beneath a pile of lanterns, we had word that Reg had torn ligaments in his knee as he landed from his life-saving leap and would need an operation. A show 12 months in the making was hanging by a thread.

Then just as we were about to give up hope, THE 8TH was pulled back from the brink of cancellation. Within the space of 19 minutes Reg had resolved that a knee-strap, a few codine and a large bourbon was all he needed to soldier on, Tim re-rigged all the fallen lights from the floor up (effectively inverting his design), and band-member Android Pete (so-called for his incredible range of musical crafts – drums, violin, mandolin…) added crude electronics to his CV as he strategically shoved a piece of shrapnel in to Christian’s key-board to get it working again. Only an hour over-due, the first ever performance of THE 8TH opened to Manchester’s capacity crowd.

Reg E. Cathey performing The 8th (Photo: Joel Chester Fildes)

Reg E. Cathey performing The 8th (Photo: Joel Chester Fildes)

It was a brave performance, full to the brim of adrenaline, that finally brought its audience to their feet. Needless to say, one or two beers were had after the show.

Paul Heaton performing THE 8TH (Photo: Joel Chester Fildes)

Paul Heaton performing THE 8TH (Photo: Joel Chester Fildes)

There are some more photos of the performance on our Flickr page, here.

The team were then back in at the crack of dawn on both Friday and Saturday, desperately working against the clock to try and get the show back to where we needed it to be. Without sheer adrenaline to fuel them, the performances grew in a natural confidence, and by Saturday night we were lifting off.

Here’s what twitter had to say:

We’re all very proud of the show and hope that we can find a way in the coming months to give it a longer and wider life. If you saw it we’d love to know what you thought. We’ll soon have some live audio and video from the performances, so if you don’t live close enough to Manchester to have been able to see it, you can let us know whether you’d like us to try and bring it to a theatre near you one day.

PP’s top tips for Latitude

We’re incredibly fortunate to have been taking work to the Latitude Festival Theatre Arena since its inception in 2006, first with our previous company nabokov (who are also back again this year) and most recently with Paines Plough. After Laurence Wilson’s incendiary TINY VOLCANOES fired up the 2010 festival, we’re back again this year with the debut play by explosive performance poet Kate Tempest. WASTED closes the bill on the Friday and Sunday nights of the festival this weekend.

So in the hope that readers of this blog snapped up tickets in time, we thought we’d offer our very own guide to a great Latitude, from what we can jointly remember of the last five years attending this exceptional festival.

Take risks on the new

Latitude programmers Melvin Benn and Tania Harrison are bold in their programming and have been incredibly astute over the past few years in the way they’ve brought relatively unknown acts to the heart of the festival, only for them to go on and become major stars. This year’s music line-up for example, is perhaps one of the bravest yet. A close listen reveals some incredibly exciting new talent taking prominent spots on big stages. Last week we posted our own top 13 bands not to miss along with samples of their work. You can still listen to it here.

Buy a festival programme

At £10 they’re not cheap, but the official festival programmes are beautifully put together and about the size of a small bible, crammed full of information about all of the acts at the festival. Most importantly, there’s a pull-out timetable at the back. Most venues fill up pretty quickly, so if there’s someone or something you simply refuse to miss out on, then get there a few shows early to be sure of a good seat.

Keep hold of your cup

In a concerted effort to be environmentally friendly, the festival uses renewable plastic pint pots. You put an initial £2 deposit down on them which allows you to keep them at the end if you wish. Every five or so cups features a unique Latitude branding for the enthusiasts out there. Just be careful not to lose your cup – entrepreneurial young things can be spotted scouring the site late on Sunday night for discarded cups, only to make a pretty penny when they return them all.

Hit the poetry tent

Latitude has one of the best collections of performance poets of any live event in the UK, spitting lyrics non-stop, for four solid days. If the words ‘poetry’ and ‘performance’ in quick succession make you think of cravats, foppishness and whimsy then you ain’t seen nothing. With the big laughs of comedy, the lyrical dexterity of verse and the drama of theatre, this lot are like three art-forms in one. Don’t take our word for it – see Kate Tempest, Luke Wright, Joel Stickley, John Osborne or Brigitte Aphrodite live for yourself and we defy you not to become a convert.

Keep your ear to the ground for previously unannounced special appearances

Tania and Melvin have a canny knack of throwing in last minute and wholly exclusive special appearances and events. Our favourites of the past few years have been an alarm-call Sunday lunchtime solo acoustic performance by Thom Yorke and a midnight masked ball in the forest.

Have a playlist ready for your very own car-park disco

With the main festival site closing down around 1am, its certainly worth having a good sequence of tracks on your iPod and finding someone with a decent car stereo. Open the doors, plug, play and dance til the sun comes up over your Volvo.

If there’s anything crucial we’ve missed let us know below. Otherwise, see you tomorrow in a field in Suffolk.

WASTED Trailer

Check out this teaser trailer for WASTED by Kate Tempest, created by Mathy & Fran, who are designing visuals for the show.

WASTED opens at The Latitude Festival this weekend. You can catch it in the Theatre Tent at 11:20pm on Friday 15 July and 8:50pm on Sunday 17 July.

Love from Galway

The stunning Galway Bay

So here we are in beautiful Galway on the West Coast of Ireland for The Galway Arts Festival.

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE opens tonight at The Town Hall Theatre, a lovely two-tiered 393 seat proscenium arch theatre in Galway City. The show runs until Saturday and virtually every ticket has been sold, so we’re looking forward to a great week.

The get-in underway at Galway's Town Hall Theatre

Although there’s not much time to see the city or the rest of the festival with a get-in and rehearsals underway, we were fortunate enough to catch the opening performance of MISTERMAN by Paines Plough alumni Enda Walsh last night, with Cillian Murphy in world-class form on stage. And then we managed a couple of pints of Guinness in the festival club. Just to acclimatise, you understand.

Ben Addis next to a poster of... Ben Addis

Now we’re off to the theatre for tech / dress and then curtain up tonight at 8pm. Wish us luck.

We need you for Festival Fun!

As you know Paines Plough are pitching up at this year’s Latitude Festival on 15 – 17 July.

Will you be there? Will you be in our show?

We are premiering Kate Tempest’s debut play WASTED in the theatre arena, which promises to be a dazzling display of lyricism and an explosion of sights and sounds. We have a fantastic cast of three but need a few more friendly faces to get the party started – and we mean that literally!

Kate’s play explores a day in the lives of three twenty somethings from South London, living life as they should but not as they want; finding solace in their friendship and escape in riotous raves….  Enter YOU stage right/left.

We need you to help us create the best party ever live on stage at Latitude, so if you will be at the festival and want to play a part by simply getting on that stage and dancing like nobody is watching, please contact Chrissy on

Please note we can’t offer you a ticket to the festival, or a fee, but we will give you a glow stick and our eternal gratitude. And you’ll get to rave it up in front of 600 people in a party to end all parties.