Monthly archives: October 2011

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE wins Best New Play

We were delighted to accept the Best New Play Award at last night’s re-branded TMA Theatre Awards on behalf of our Associate Playwright Mike Bartlett.

The newly-christened ‘Theatre Awards UK‘ honoured Mike’s play LOVE, LOVE, LOVE with the award following our 2010 co-production with the Drum Theatre Plymouth and 2011 National UK tour.

Other award-winners included our Roundabout co-producing partners Sheffield Theatres who scooped Best Supporting Performance and Best Design. There’s full coverage of the awards in Playbill, Variety, The Stage, Whatsonstage, Spoonfed and The Arts Desk.

Mike is out of the country at the moment so we can’t report how he feels about winning the award but we think he’ll be happy. We made sure his champagne didn’t go to waste.

So huge congratulations to Mike and thank you to everyone who came to see the show for your support.

Forward Theatre Project- Scratch My City

Here at Forward Theatre Project we are gearing up for our third scratch night, Scratch My City which is going to be at the Soho Theatre on Sunday 30th October. Our scratch nights started about a year ago now, a few months after we had been made anassociate company of Paines Plough. Paines Plough were a great support in helping us create a formula for our scratch nights – being a collective of 25 theatre directors,writers and designers, we were concerned with how the scratch nights could be used to help us build relationships within the collective, but also not always become a writer-led event. After a few trial and errors, and mentorship from George and James about how Scratch My City could develop, each time we are feeling happier about, finding the winning formula. One thing has remained constant with Scratch My City, and that is that it has always been a ‘venture into cross-region collaboration.’ One of FTP’s main aims is to create a community amongst peers and to build relationships between peers from all around the UK. With so many exciting emerging theatre companies working all around the country, we decided that Scratch My City would always involve a collaboration with another emerging theatre company who were based somewhere else in the UK.

 This time, we are really excited to be working with Left Luggage Theatre who are a designer-led company from Newcastle. Left Luggage have inspired us to do a designer-led scratch night for our next Scratch My City. After many a discussion with Left Luggage, FTP designers and FTP artists, we settled on exploring the idea of reversing the traditional theatre-making process. Typically, designers are given a play text to work on – in this text there will be certain things that the designer has to adhere to, for instance, if it is a play set in a cottage in Devon in the 1980s, this is already stipulated for them before they begin their design. So what we have decided to do is explore beginning the process with the design. Our design team are currently reading ‘Sorry Tales’ by Mick Jackson – a collection of macabre and idiosyncratic short stories that they are going to use to fuel a design concept or idea. These four design ideas are then being given to each of our four scratch groups (director-writer teams) who will then create a short piece of theatre which adheres to, inspires and uses one of these designs. The clearest example I can offer is one designer who gave the example of being interested in creating a visual time restriction on stage. He said he might give a group the design of several guillotines hanging in the space which all fall down at different times, and by the time the last one has fallen, the piece should be over. Eek…what are we letting ourselves in for?!

It is a complete experiment for us, but we are excited to see what may come out of it and we have a great line up of artists involved including directors Ellen McDougall, Jacqui Honess-Martin and Derek Bond, writers Ben Ellis, Alison Carr, Frazer Flintham and Gabriel Bisset-Smith and of course our wonderful Left Luggage Design team Verity Quinn, Anna Harding and Alison Garner.
One of the things we aim for in our scratch nights is high-quality production values. So all performances are off-book and as rehearsed as possible before the big day. This means the classic scenario of all groups trying to scramble around for rehesarsal space, casting through our casting director Fran Bradley and pulling everything together. It is at times like these that we are reminded of how valuable Paines Plough is as a support to the company. Not only because of the guidance and support they offer in terms of creatively developing the project but also practical support. Access to a central London rehearsal space with a toilet and a kettle is a god-send! As SMC is currently unfunded, being able to offer casts a nice and accessible space to rehearse is so much better than dragging them all the way to your living room in Balham!

Without Paines Plough’s generous support I think the scratch nights would not attract the same high quality artists or productions. The associate company status has also proved of great personal benefit to me over the past few months too. Sometimes I can tell myself that sitting at my laptop on my bed is working and productive, but some times (and this might not be helped by the fact that my bedroom is literally a bed-in-aroom) it just isn’t. Being able to bring my laptop and work at a desk space in an office environment has literally saved my work soul and means I am so much more productive. Also, excitingly, we have just been given our first grant from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation to produce a project at York Theatre Royal next year (woop woop!) So over the next 6 months the whole company will be leaning on Paines Plough for more support as we prepare for this launching and running.

So, back to Scratch My City – we are getting ready to launch this Thursday night with all the teams coming together with their design packs and pairings and getting ready for a ‘on your marks, get set, go!’ scenario. It will be something new. It will be untested. Untried. A bit of an adventure. I cannot wait.

See you there, Soho Theatre cabaret space Sunday 30th October 7.45pm,

Artistic Director

Forward Theatre Project

Stuff we’re excited about

We might be producing six shows at the moment, but we’re still getting out and about to see as much of other people’s stuff as possible.

So here’s our occasional round-up of what we’re seeing at the theatre and other things we’re excited about. Please post a comment and let us know what you’re up to, and if there’s any excitement we’ve missed.

We’re heading en masse for Battersea Arts Centre next Friday and Saturday nights where the legendary nabokov Arts Club hosts its Halloween extravaganza Festival Of The Dead. As ever the line-up is amazing with new theatre from Polly Stenham and Tangled Feet and Curious Directive plus music from The Mystery Jets and Tin Roots and comedy from the very funny Radio One star Tom Deacon. Alongside a smorgasbord of other artists making magic in the midst of a big fat party. Come and join us – we’ll be the ones bouncing on the dancefloor – it’s going to be massive.

Fresh (ish) from The nabokov Arts Club we’re heading for the final 24 Hour performance of The Bush’s amazing 66 BOOKS. Our AD James directed one – A NOBODY by Laura Dockrill – and we’re really excited to see work by top notch playwrights like Nick Payne, Jack Thorne, James Graham, Sam Burns, Elinor Cook, Tom Wells, Enda Walsh… the list is frankly lip-licking.

We’re looking forward to a whole host more theatrical delights in the coming weeks. Former PP Artistic Director Vicky Featherstone once again teams up with Abi Morgan on The National Theatre Of Scotland’s 27. The pair first collaborated on PP hits Splendour and Tiny Dynamite. The latter was a co-production with Frantic Assembly, who are also working with Abi and The Theatre Royal, Plymouth on LOVESONG. We can’t wait to catch both. Our friends at Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse are co-producing Lizzie Nunnery’s brilliant new play THE SWALLOWING DARK with Theatre 503 so we’re excited about that. We’ve seen Jack Thorne’s BUNNY before, but we’re going again to Soho Theatre because it’s truly stunning. And we’re well up for Forward Theatre Project’s SCRATCH MY CITY at the same venue.

We’re also looking forward to… JUMPY and BANG, BANG, BANG at The Royal Court, and the Bush’s forthcoming THE KITCHEN SINK by the endlessly talented Tom Wells. And we’ll be at SKANE at Hampstead and Ben Musgrave’s HIS TEETH at Only Connect and TERROR 2011 and lots of other things too.

And of course, we literally cannot wait for Mike Bartlett’s 13 at The National Theatre. You can also catch Mike’s seminal EARTHQUAKES IN LONDON at Richmond Theatre this week.

So see you at the theatre sometime we hope. Tell us what we’re missing – post a comment.

You Cannot Go Forward From Where You Are Right Now impresses in Edinburgh

It’s been a busy week for A Play, A Pie and A Pint. On Monday we introduced Leo Butler’s JUICY FRUITS to the audience at Oran Mor in Glasgow, Tuesday saw YOU CANNOT GO FORWARD FROM WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW‘s first performance at the Traverse in Edinburgh, and on Wednesday, DIG rolled into the Manchester Royal Exchange.

Katie Douglas’s DIG goes from strength to strength, with each city it visits falling for it. It’s been particularly great today to see people tweeting comments to the Royal Exchange, saying how much they loved the show and encouraging others to go and experience the laughter and tears that the play provokes too. Brenda, Tommy and Dean will be at the Belgrade Theatre next week – Coventry, you’re in for a treat.

With the traffic so bad she was worried she wouldn't get to the Traverse in time to get her Scotch pie...

Meanwhile, YOU CANNOT GO FORWARD FROM WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW has also made rather a good impression on its Edinburgh audiences. Here’s what they’re saying:

‘a clever and imaginative piece of short theatre…well worth setting the satnav for the Traverse Theatre and catching it’ Edinburgh Spotlight

‘funny, intelligent and observant’ Edinburgh Guide

‘You might expect the writers of the successful A Play A Pie and A Pint lunchtime offerings to have rather modest ambitions… Not so David Watson…Watson’s handling of the fragmentary structure is sure and confident, and his writing is remarkably idiomatic.’ Edinburgh Reporter

We were also delighted to see another 2 minute youtube review, as blogger Eve Nicol filed her report on YOU CANNOT GO FORWARD. We can’t wait to see what she makes of JUICY FRUITS!

If you’ve seen one of the plays, we’d love to know what you thought. You can leave a comment here, tweet us @painesplough or drop us a line on our facebook page.

And if you haven’t seen any of them yet – what are you waiting for?!

DIG racks up the stars

Stuart Porter (Tommy), Louise Ludgate (Brenda) and Simon Macallum (Dean)

The reviews are rolling in for DIG and the critics are suitably wowed by Katie Douglas’s sizzling drama, currently at Edinburgh’s Traverse before touring to Manchester Royal Exchange and The Belgrade, Coventry.

Here’s a snapshot:

“Politicians talk about the need to “get Britain back to work”, but it takes a small masterpiece like this latest play by Katie Douglas to dig below the surface of the words, into the infinite layers of pain that ripple outward from a man abruptly bereft, by forces far beyond his control, of his key role as family provider..this rich and shattering slice of lunchtime drama.”
The Scotsman ★★★★

“Gripping, funny and extremely moving…A thoroughly affecting piece of theatre”
Edinburgh Guide ★★★★

“Tight and emotionally-charged…builds to its powerful conclusion, Dig deftly uncovers the emotions which lie hidden beneath the surface of our everyday lives; and the hope which can often be found growing there.”
Edinburgh Spotlight

“Moving, very incisive…For a 45 minute long play “Dig” packs a lot of punch. The pies are good, too.”
Lothian Life ★★★★

“Devastatingly effective. From hilarity to chilling suspense, Katie Douglas’s script controls the atmosphere in the room precisely.”
Edinburgh Evening News ★★★★

Catch it while you can…

Help us make our dream theatre a reality

For the first time in Paines Plough’s 37 year history, we’re building our own theatre.

In partnership with Sheffield Theatres, we’re creating the UK’s first small-scale in-the-round touring amphitheatre. We’re calling it The Roundabout Auditorium.

Lucy Osborne's design for The Roundabout Auditorium

We think theatre-in-the-round is one of the most exhilarating ways to watch theatre – the original and best 3D experience. As Simon Stephens says: “What I cherish about theatre is that it gives us an insight in to what it is to be a human being – there’s no theatrical architecture that challenges or interrogates what it is to be a human being more than theatre-in-the-round.”

With only five permanently in-the-round theatres in the UK, most people have never had the chance to see work in this most exciting and intimate of environments.

As a new writing touring company our aim is to make the best contemporary plays available to everyone, irrespective of geography, in high quality productions and exciting performance contexts. This is why we came up with the idea of creating The Roundabout Auditorium, and why its ease of portability is key to its success as a revolutionary concept in touring theatre.

Another view of The Roundabout Auditorium

The Roundabout Auditorium is designed by award winning theatre designer Lucy Osborne. It will comprise 150 seats over four tiers offering a thrilling amphitheatre style performance space. Think a mini Colosseum. Or a mini Camp Nou. It will flat pack into a lorry and pop-up anywhere from the stages of main house theatres, to arts centres and studio theatres, eventually touring to village halls, schools, warehouses and parks in every corner of the UK. From Liverpool to Lyme Regis, Taunton to Trowbridge, Harrogate to Harlow – the Roundabout Auditorium will turn up on the doorsteps of audiences everywhere. Its legacy will be years of world-beating plays, performed in a unique and electric setting, in top quality Paines Plough productions by a raft of the most exciting UK playwrights.

Inspirations for Roundabout... Rome's Coliseum and Barcelona's Nou Camp

We believe The Roundabout Auditorium will fundamentally transform the new writing touring landscape in the UK. But we need the help of people who share our passion for new plays, touring and groundbreaking new ideas.

We believe that collaboration makes us better and we want you to join us in making this project a reality. We want The Roundabout Auditorium to be built with the input of people who care as much as we do about the importance of innovating new ways to tour contemporary theatre, and the work that Paines Plough produces. We want every piece of the auditorium to have been supported by someone who cares about the success of this ambitious venture as much as we do.

Here’s a film we made about The Roundabout Auditorium and how you can help make this dream theatre a reality:

Along with Sheffield Theatres, we’re using our Arts Council subsidy to fund the creation of three productions that will premiere in a prototype auditorium in Autumn 2011, written by ace playwrights Nick Payne, Duncan Macmillan and Penelope Skinner. Building a prototype and producing plays within it will provide us with the opportunity to test all elements of the project before building the fully functioning, enduring and tourable version of The Roundabout Auditorium next year.

We need to raise £90,000 to make The Roundabout Auditorium a reality. It might sound like a lot of money, but really it’s a steal for a fully functioning theatre that will last for many years to come. Most new theatres cost millions, and are static in one locality. Roundabout is for everyone.

In the next year alone we plan to present 198 individual performances in the Roundabout Auditorium. That means there will be 29,000 available seats. So the cost of building the auditorium is £3 per potential audience member. And that’s just the first year – we believe the Auditorium will last us a minimum of five years, and more likely a decade. So The Roundabout Auditorium represents real value for money.

The overall £90,000 cost of building the fully tourable and sustainable Roundabout Auditorium is made up of £30,000 in labour costs and £60,000 in materials.  With a project as ambitious as this there are of course many individual elements which make the whole.

Labour: £30,000
Seating: £35,000
Stage: £10,000
Lighting: £5,000
Sound: £5,000
Steps into the space: £3,000
Outside wall / casing: £2,000

TOTAL: £90,000

We are inviting you to play a significant part in helping us deliver this brand new concept in small-scale producing, and leave a lasting legacy to help secure the future of Paines Plough’s small-scale touring programme.

By donating towards the cost of the Roundabout Auditorium, you will enable people nationwide to experience this groundbreaking theatrical concept. As one of the major contributors to the building of the Roundabout Auditorium, we’ll make sure audiences know the crucial part you have played in facilitating their experience.

We hope you’re as excited by Roundabout as we are, and that you’ll consider joining us to help make the project a reality. Without you, it’s just a pipe dream.

You can donate easily, quickly and securely through our online fundraising partners Justgiving by clicking on the button below. If you’re a UK Taxpayer, Justgiving will automatically reclaim Gift Aid, adding 28% to your donation.

Donation Online button

You can even donate via your mobile phone. Simply text PPPP00 followed by the amount you wish to donate to 70070. So, for example, text PPPP00 £10 to 70070 if you wish to donate £10. Find out more about text giving here.

If you’d like to talk to us further about any aspect of Roundabout, we’d be delighted to hear from you. Please contact Claire Simpson on 020 7240 4533 or

With your help, we can make your dream theatre a reality.

Donate to Paines Plough via Justgiving

Paines Plough is run by a small team of dedicated and passionate people, but it is sustained by its audiences and supporters. We rely on the generosity of individuals to ensure we can maintain the company’s unrivalled record of producing the best new plays on tour nationwide.

We’ve teamed up with the UK’s leading online fundraising specialists Justgiving so you can donate to Paines Plough easily, quickly and securely by simply clicking on the button below. If you’re a UK Taxpayer, Justgiving will automatically reclaim Gift Aid, adding 28% to your donation.

Donation Online button

We are currently seeking support to help us build our dream theatre – The Roundabout Auditorium. Any donation, of any size, is hugely appreciated.

You can make a one-off donation, or create a monthly donation.

You can even donate via your mobile phone. Simply text PPPP00 followed by the amount you wish to donate to 70070.

Thanks to Justgiving and Vodafone, Paines Plough will receive 100% of your donation, which will be added to your mobile phone bill.

If you’d like to talk to us further about supporting Paines Plough, we’d be delighted to hear from you. Please contact Claire Simpson on 020 7240 4533 or

Leo Butler’s brand new play

As we’ve previously revealed, we believe the playwright should be the lead creative artist in the process of making new plays.

So we commission slightly differently to other companies in that we commission playwrights not plays. We identify the writers we love the most, and we commit to putting their play on before they’ve written a word.

This is an extremely exciting and rewarding way of collaborating – always moving towards a concrete production with a date in the diary for the first day of rehearsals, previews and for press night.

But it also poses some challenges, not least because marketing schedules mean brochures with images and copy for plays often have to go to print before the play’s been written. And as we all know, plays develop and morph and sometimes completely transform draft by draft.

Which is what Leo Butler found when he was writing his play for our A Play, A Pie And A Pint season. Initially called ETERNAL SOURCE OF LIGHT, Leo found as he was writing the play that a new and very different play was emerging.

Here’s what Leo has to say about the change of direction and his thrilling new work:

“Working on a new play for Paines Plough has been a highlight of my career so far. For a leading new writing company to commit to producing a play that hasn’t been written yet, demonstrates a level of trust in the playwright that is practically unheard of elsewhere in this country.

There are, of course, challenges to this kind of collaboration, one of which is that the playwright’s first concept of the play develops through the writing process, and that initial idea turns into something very different by the end.  This happens to me always every time I sit down and write a new play, and it has been liberating to have the support of George Perrin and the Paines Plough company, who have encouraged my new discoveries and changes in direction along the way.

Most importantly, I am thrilled to we are offering Juicy Fruits to the A Play, A Pie & A Pint audiences, as it is one that I am particularly proud of.”

And so we’re excited to announce that the brilliant, darkly comic play that Leo has arrived at is actually called JUICY FRUITS and is a very different beast from the one Leo initially imagined. Here’s the lowdown:

by Leo Butler

Lorna and Nina haven’t seen each other since a drunken wedding reception six years ago.

Whilst Lorna’s been journeying through the urban jungle and reached destination housewife, Nina’s been running wild in the jungles of Borneo.

Reunited over lattes and pastries, their friendship is tested to the limit and the question is asked: does civil exist in civilisation?

JUICY FRUITS is in rehearsals now in Glasgow, directed by George, and starring Denise Hoey, Clare Waugh and Ben Winger. It opens at Òran Mór on Monday 17 October and will subsequently tour to Edinburgh, Manchester and Coventry.

You’re going to love it.

The reviews are in…

…well, one or two of them. Our production of DIG, the first of our three A Play, A Pie and A Pint shows, opened at Òran Mór on Monday after a busy morning of technical work and dress rehearsal. In people filed, collected their pint, chose their pie, and sat down – knives and forks at the ready – to see what we had made for them.

Dig in performance. Terrible photo...'small masterpiece' of a play.

It’s a funny feeling, watching a play you’ve seen develop from words on a page, to slightly different words on a page, to words coming out of actors’ mouths, to a fully fleshed-out, captivating and moving story. And it’s a very gratifying feeling to watch people around you, encountering it for the first time ever, laughing, gasping and even crying as the lives of the people they’re watching unfold before them.

And then the wait for what the all-important critics think… well, today, we got our first review in from Joyce McMillan of the Scotsman – and she loved it, giving it four stars and calling it ‘a small masterpiece’. That’s what we like to hear! See the full review here:

And as we await the verdicts of our audience-at-large, who can file their reports at in order to win a bottle of malt whisky (can I enter?), we’ve also spotted reviews like this one coming in. Funnily enough I spotted the lady in the video  in the audience this lunchtime – she was wearing a very nice dress – so it’s brilliant to see a response like this so quickly and vividly. Keep em coming!

Did you know we have a rehearsal room for hire?

The Rehearsal Room at PP HQ

When we’re not rehearsing for one of our plays, the rehearsal room at Paines Plough is available to hire for auditions, seminars and meetings.

Located in the heart of the West End of London, we are walking distance from Temple, Charing Cross, Covent Garden and Holborn tube stations, and there are a wealth of cafes and places to eat nearby.

20ft x 15ft space
Carpeted floor
Lots of natural light (no blackout)
Meeting table and chairs available
Tea and coffee making facilities
Separate waiting area

We like to keep the office a-buzz with creativity, so if you are looking for a friendly home to rehearse or meet in, give us a call.

Download information and booking form here, or contact us on 020 7240 4533 /

A friendly home for your next meeting