Monthly archives: September 2011

Sound and Vision

You join us, dear blog-reader, at a very interesting and exciting moment here at A Play, A Pie and A Pint HQ in Glasgow. We’ve just watched the first run of DIG, which takes to the Òran Mór stage on Monday. Our second play, YOU CANNOT GO FORWARD FROM WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW, is nearing the end of its first week of rehearsals which has been a brilliant period of exploring and playing with the text. And we’re just putting the finishing touches to preparations for ETERNAL SOURCE OF LIGHT, which starts the whole process again, going into rehearsals on Monday. Having taken you through the sounds we heard coming out of the DIG rehearsal room last week, this week we have a whole different kind of sound to deal with.

David Watson’s YOU CANNOT GO FORWARD FROM WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW is a fantastically original and poetic play in which sound is completely essential to the telling of the story. In it, snippets of conversations you might hear variously on talk radio shows, a police radio, across the pub and on your SatNav weave in and out of each other. So who better to talk us through the show than our Sound Designer and Composer, Scott Twynholm:

Scott, can you tell us about YOU CANNOT GO FORWARD FROM WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW from your perspective? I’m excited about being involved as the play is so sound dependant: I get the chance to cut up sound, record actors, re-create everyday sounds in the rehearsal room, we might even get round the piano to write the odd radio jingle.

What particular challenges are there when you’re putting together a show like this? The main challenge will be deciding what will be pre-recorded and what will be performed live. For this play we’re going for the Foley film studio approach of creating as much as possible live. These sounds will be performed by the cast so it’s important they are simple, effective and compliment the dialogue rather than distract. Of course there is the visual aspect which is naturally more theatrical than sound playback.

You’ve worked with us at Paines Plough for two years on Play, Pie and Pint: is this the sound-iest show you’ve had to work on with us? Yes and no. I would say the sound is written into this play to compliment the narrative. It can be just as challenging to compose the music to underscore the drama of a play. Last year I enjoyed writing the music for IN THE PIPELINE, which didn’t have an obvious sound element.

What do you enjoy about designing sound for the theatre? Composing for the theatre gives me great joy in that it differs from writing for film and commercial recordings. There is more variety and human interaction. There is a certain excitement about the live performance. And I enjoy the collaborative process – I enjoy getting out of the studio, working with actors and the creative team to put together a show.

And finally: What’s your favourite play, pie and pint? I don’t really have a favourite anything but I’ve enjoyed these over the past year or so: Medea/Steak/Heineken.

Sounds good to us.

Some of the items currently in the rehearsal room being used for Foley sound effects. Either that or they were having a tense round of Kim's Game.

PP Around the UK in 81 days

As we are in rehearsals for 4 plays, with two set to tech and open next week, plus a 5th play to start rehearsals and a 6th to join in four weeks time – it can be difficult to keep track of who is where!

Enter the joy that is the EXCEL spreadsheet.  This paired with our brilliant intern, Amy, results in the glorious schedule below.

Take a peak to see who is rehearsing what, where and when…

Colour coded and everything!

Of course there is also Claire, Hanna and Amy who are our rocks at number 43 Aldwych during these busy periods.

Welcome to HQ

Paines Plough HQ is a bright and welcoming place to visit now that all of our refurbishment work is compete. The final finishing touches were put in place by the very talented designer Amy Cook, who made these lovely perspex signs for us.

No reason to get lost on the 4th floor again

The colourful signs indicate what happens in each room on the 4th floor, 43 Aldwych and their design is based on the shape of road signs, to reflect the many miles of the UK that Paines Plough travels each year touring our productions. We hope that after a treacherous climb up the many stairs to get here, visitors will at least know where to go while they catch their breath (and where to get a cup of tea).

A Play, A Pie and A Pint: Week 1

Our rehearsal flat: not a bad place to go to work.

I’ve learnt a new word this week.

DREICH: Scottish word, meaning miserable cold gloomy weather.

To be fair, it’s only dreich about three quarters of the time, occasionally there’s some beautiful sunshine bouncing off the autumnal leaves of the Botanical Gardens across from Òran Mór. But more often, it’s dreich.

So inside, at 5 Sanda Street, where it’s warmer and considerably drier than the streets of the West End of Glasgow, we’re cracking on with the serious business of rehearsing DIG.

I say serious business – there’s been an awful lot of laughter coming out of that rehearsal room this week. There have also been some raised voices during particularly intense sections of dialogue; the hurried tapping of writer Katie’s laptop as she tweaks and re-writes scenes; voices discussing the back stories of three characters who are waiting to be fully realised; all interspersed with guffaws and giggles as our wonderful cast get to know the play and the family they’ll be sharing with audiences in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester and Coventry.

Over the weekend they’ll be learning the script and preparing for what promises to be a very busy second week of rehearsals. It’s strange to think that this time next week we’ll be only a couple of days away from the first performance of this year’s A Play, A Pie and A Pint.

I can’t wait.

Apply for an internship with Paines Plough

We’re looking for an enthusiastic and highly organised intern to offer administrative support across our exciting portfolio of work.

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.

For an application pack email or download one from

Placement start date: Tuesday 11th October 2011
Duration of Placement: 11 weeks
Hours: 10am-6pm, Monday-Friday
Application closing Date: Thursday 29th September, at 5pm
Interview Date: Tuesday 4th October

Get Wasted on campus

Calling all students. We want to get you WASTED.

Next year we’re touring Kate Tempest’s exhilarating debut play to student unions across the country. Whether you have a theatre, a studio, a student union bar or club, we want to come to your campus.

All you have to do is get in touch with Hanna on or tweet us @painesplough to let us know you’d like to see the show at your Uni and we’ll take it from there.

Here’s a film trailer for the show to whet your appetite:

We’re planning to tour more shows to Student Unions in the future under a new touring strand. We’ve imaginatively titled it CAMPUS, and we hope to bring at least one new play per year to students everywhere. So get in touch if you want your Uni on our Campus tour list.

One day when we started rehearsals…

Nick’s play is set over a period of sixty years, and in order to try to get a sense of what the two characters would have seen in their lifetime, we spent a day at the Imperial War museum, the National Army museum, and then the V&A. It was invaluable to see the sheer scope of change over time. Colours change as materials change – wood and stone gives way to garish technicolour plastic. Preciousness gives way to cheap commercialism. Over the day we found two particularly contrasting slogans: “To dress extravagantly in war time is worse than bad form it is unpatriotic” – and later “I shop therefore I am”.

After a week in London, we moved rehearsals from Paines Plough’s rehearsal space to Sheffield Crucible. We’re all excited at the prospect of performing ONE DAY WHEN WE WERE YOUNG at Sheffield in the Roundabout space. The rehearsal facilities are excellent, and we’re helped by props and furniture appearing continuously, thanks to our great Stage Management team and designer Lucy Osborne, allowing us to create the hotel room in Bath in the 1940s. We’ve been given a very warm welcome by the theatre, its staff, and artistic director Daniel Evans who kindly took the time to pop his head into our room whilst we were busy experimenting with 1940s period hairstyles for our actors. Everybody in our team is happy in their digs, keen to explore the city, and we’re all looking forward to seeing Sheffield’s production of OTHELLO tomorrow night.

PS challenge is on to find a great cup of strong coffee in the morning… suggestions very welcome for independent coffee shops…

Glasgow here we come!

Ye'll take the high road and I'll take the low road and I'll be in Scotland afore ye...

I’m bidding farewell to Paines Plough HQ on the Aldwych tonight, and will spend tomorrow packing frenziedly, because this weekend George and I are heading to Glasgow to start rehearsals for DIG by Katie Douglas, the first of our A Play, A Pie and A Pint season. James will be joining us in a week’s time when his rehearsals for YOU CANNOT GO FORWARD FROM WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW by David Watson start, and then the week after that George will start all over again with Leo Butler’s ETERNAL SOURCE OF LIGHT – by which time audiences will be tucking into their pies and sipping their pints as they watch DIG at Òran Mór.

It’s a really exciting time – everything is coming together nicely and everyone’s waiting to see what happens in those rehearsal rooms. DIG is set to be a properly Scottish affair; Katie, the writer, is from Kilwinning, our company is made up of three brilliant Scots actors, and the play is set in Glasgow itself. Me and George will obviously have to try to make ourselves more Scottish in order to fit in – for me quite easy as I was born in Dundee, George’ll just have to drink loads of Irn Bru.

Keep checking the blog and Twitter (@painesplough) for updates on our progress, casting news and titbits from rehearsals. And if anyone has any suggestions for cultural activities, places to visit or indeed (especially) great pubs to frequent while we’re up in Glasgow, you know what to do.

Guinness anyone?

Dublin's fair city

As recently reported, team PP spent some time up at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August, where we were lucky enough to see an abundance of brilliant work. You can imagine my delight therefore when last week our joint AD James extended to me an invitation to the ABSOLUT Fringe Festival in Dublin, courtesy of the very lovely people at the Irish Theatre Institute. One week later,  I’m taking two days off from booking our spring tour of Kate Tempest’s WASTED, and boarding an Aer Lingus flight from London Gatwick, to see what Irish theatre has in store. Very excited indeed.

As Ireland’s largest multi-disciplinary arts festival, over 16 days the ABSOLUT Fringe Festival stages up to 525 events in over 40 venues, and is a platform for the best new, emerging Irish arts companies and a showcase for the best contemporary theatre. While I’m there, I’ll have the pleasure of attending the ITI’s Information Toolbox and Show in a Bag initiative, a platform for new small-scale artist led shows which promise to be daring and invigorating.

Historically, PP has enjoyed a great relationship with the Irish, and we’re always on the lookout for new writers to work with, and venues to tour to. You may remember our A Play, A Pie and A Pint season last year toured all five plays to Bewley’s Cafe Theatre, one of the venues at this year’s ABSOLUT Fringe. Artistic Director of Bewley’s, David Horan, directed IN THE PIPELINE by Gary Owen, and Belfast born Marie Jones wrote FLY ME TO THE MOON. We were also thrilled to take Mike Bartlett’s LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to this year’s Galway Arts Festival, and delving into our archive, you’ll see that we have recently produced plays by ace Irish playwrights Enda Walsh, Sebastian Barry and Hilary Fannin.

With a jam-packed schedule of new writing, Information Toolbox and Show in a Bag, I’ll report back fully next week on my Dublin adventure… if I ever make it out of the Guinness Factory, where I have been instructed by James to find time to have a pint. Yes boss!

Baby’s Big Builders Day Out

As we continue to build the ROUNDABOUT auditorium, with Sheffield Theatres, Bernd (Production Manager), and Lucy (Designer) are continually popping in to Factory Settings to see how developments are going.

Today, Factory Settings also had an extra small surprise – Fred, Lucy’s baby.

Fred’s middle name is Kenneth.  A prize goes to the first person who can tell us the recent Paines Plough production that featured a character of the same name?

P.S. In case you don’t know the answers on the link!

Baby on board!