Monthly archives: December 2011

Programme 2011 in Pictures

As the last one standing in the PP office at 5pm on the day before Christmas eve I thought I’d say one last goodbye to 2011 with a pictoral journey through Paines Plough’s Programme 2011.

Over the past 12 months more than 24,000 people saw one of 11 new plays by 15 different playwrights in one of 39 different places across the UK. Thank you to everyone who contributed, came, saw, enjoyed and supported – we hope to see you in your local theatre in 2012.

2011 round-up

It’s nearly Christmas, and we’ve reached the end of another fabulous year at Paines Plough.

Programme 2011 is now complete and we’ve had a brilliant time over the year, working with 15 playwrights, and touring 11 productions to 39 places where 24,868 of you have come to see one of our shows. Thank you to everyone who joined us as we made our way around the UK, we hope you’ve enjoyed our shows.

Here’s a quick round-up of Programme 2011:


We started the year with our co-producers Drum Theatre, Plymouth on our spring tour of Mike Bartlett’s LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, which we are delighted won the award for Best New Play at the 2011 Theatre Awards UK last month, and has been shortlisted for Best Regional Production in the upcoming Whatsonstage Awards.

Here are some of the reviews from the tour:

“Bang-on-the-money new play… required viewing.”
★★★★★ The Telegraph

“Devastating precision… peppered with terrific lines and big laughs”
★★★★ The Guardian

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE will return in Programme 2012 in a brand new production at the Royal Court in April. You can book tickets here.

Read the LOVE, LOVE, LOVE blog here.


We then returned to the Liverpool Everyman with our co-production of Laurence Wilson’s TINY VOLCANOES, before taking the show on the road for its second national tour.

Here’s what some of you said about the show:

“Wild and exciting, terribly funny”
Audience member, Trowbridge

“Excellent, thoughtful, great performance, please come back to Folkestone”
Audience member, Folkestone

“Very engaging, challenging and entertaining”
Audience member, Harrogate

Read the TINY VOLCANOES blog here.


In July we hit festival season, and collaborated with Manchester International Festival on THE 8TH by Paul Heaton and Ché Walker, which played for three nights at The Pavilion Theatre and starred Reg E Cathey.

Have a look at some production shots from the show.

Read THE 8TH blog here.


Later in July we braved the rain and took to the muddy fields of the Latitude Festival in Suffolk, where we premiered WASTED by Kate Tempest alongside our co-producers Birmingham Repertory Theatre and The Roundhouse, and our friends at NSDF.

We’re touring WASTED in spring 2012 and will be announcing dates in the new year. Keep an eye on our website for updates, and in the mean time check out our production shots from Latitude here, and watch our online trailer here.

Read the WASTED blog here.


The second half of the year saw us tour three new plays in co-production with Òran Mór in Glasgow, in our A Play, A Pie and A Pint season. We opened the season with DIG by Katie Douglas, which was followed by YOU CANNOT GO FORWARD FROM WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW by David Watson, and JUICY FRUITS by Leo Butler.

Here are some reviews on each of the plays:

“Devastatingly effective”
★★★★ Edinburgh Evening News

“Funny, intelligent, observant”
★★★★ Edinburgh Guide

“Brilliantly witty, acerbic and dark…”
★★★★ The Public Reviews

Read the A PLAY, A PIE AND A PINT blog here.


In October, we opened the first ever Roundabout Season in partnership with Sheffield Theatres. The season consisted of three new plays, performed by an ensemble cast in our prototype Roundabout Auditorium which lived in the Crucible Studio for two months. We opened the season with ONE DAY WHEN WE WERE YOUNG by Nick Payne, followed by LUNGS by Duncan Macmillan and THE SOUND OF HEAVY RAIN by Penelope Skinner.

Here are some Tweets about each of the plays:

@MatthewDPlant: @painesplough @crucibletheatre #OneDayWhenWeWereYoung: stunningly emotive/engaging. Original/ innovative scene changes with costume. BRILL.

@lyngardner: Duncan Macmillan’s Lungs at Sheffield Crucible is fab. Edgy, anxious, very funny, horribly honest and completely now. #stage

@Cory_face: Enjoyed ‘The Sound of Heavy Rain’ by @painesplough + @crucibletheatre brave but silly, consciously stylised and dramatically justified. See!

You can watch a film about The Roundabout Auditorium here, or read more here.

Read the Roundabout blog here.


To close Programme 2011, we staged COME TO WHERE I’M FROM : JERSEY with playwrights Ben Evans, Leon Fleming, Martha MacDonald, Hannah Patterson and Colin Scott performing their own 15 minute pieces inspired by the place they grew up. The event took place at the Jersey Opera House and was part of The Big Room, and organised by the Jersey Arts Trust.

You will soon be able to hear podcasts of the plays on our website. In the mean time, have a listen to some of the podcasts from COME TO WHERE I’M FROM 2010 here.

Read the COME TO WHERE I’M FROM blog here.

So that was the year that was. We’ve had a ball. Bring on 2012.

If you saw any of our shows this year, please post a comment and let us know what you thought.

A week in the life of a…

Well here I am in the Paines Plough office on a work placement opportunity and what a great place it is to be at this time! It’s Friday and the week has gone so quickly.  One quick look at the recent productions shows how prolific the company has been this year, and even though it’s the end of the year there is no break in the pace as I found out on my first day.

Monday morning, 10am and the 4th floor offices are swarming with people already – fortunately for me as the ‘newbie’ it’s the first day of rehearsals for Matt Hartley’s new play, 65 Miles so introductions are needed all around the table in the rehearsal room. Barely had I chosen a choccie biccie and lifted my first cup of tea to my mouth then we were off with the first read through. The beginning of a new production is always an exciting time as the cast read through the script together for the first time and it’s an excellent way for me to come back to working in theatre. I can’t wait to find out about how it develops throughout rehearsals and to staging.

Back in the production office I am working with Claire on preparations for the year ahead and assisting with tour booking, finance administration and fundraising.  Thank goodness the team is very welcoming and open to my many questions!  Going through the less well known territories of fundraising and budget setting with Claire I’m staggering by the amount of research and time needed to make any fundraising application. Some of these tasks were new to me but all will prove very helpful in my next role I’m sure

I suddenly hear Sean talking about blogging and tweeting and he kindly agrees to bring me up to speed with the new techno-socio era. It’s not so difficult and I can certainly see how useful it can be, so soon I’ll be tweeting for England…well perhaps just for the next company I work for!

Besides the friendly atmosphere and busy pace, one of the best things about being in the Paines Plough production office for the week is that my sugar intake has increased (as has my concentration, strangely!). Between choccie biccies and mini chocs there is much talk of Christmas gifts, particularly those of the sweet variety. I don’t want to give the game away, but as a word of caution for anyone visiting the offices, don’t bring any Skittles with you!

Thank you everyone for being so welcoming and supportive, I wish I could stay here longer. Have a very Happy Christmas and best wishes for another successful year.

Rehearsals begin for SIXTY FIVE MILES

We’re four days in to rehearsals on what will be our first production of ‘Programme 2012’ – Matt Hartley’s SIXTY FIVE MILES.

From the rehearsal room here at PP HQ, we’ve spent the majority of the week exploring the world of the play – Sheffield, Chesterfield and Hull in 2005 – as well as establishing what we know of the characters’ back-story: the situation that exists before the play starts. Having read slowly through the play, we now have around 12 pages of information that we know to be true of the characters, the relationships and the situation in the 30 or so years leading up to the beginning of the play’s story. To accompany that, we have about twice as many pages of questions relating to the same time-period that we will need collectively to answer over the next week or so of rehearsals. This process helps us as a company to objectively assess what is known and unknown and, with Matt, to jointly build up a clear shared understanding of the time, places, events, relationships and characters that exist before the play begins.

It’s a method rooted in Stanislavsky’s approach to text that is brilliantly broken down in to rehearsal activities in Katie Mitchell’s new book on theatre directing, The Director’s Craft.

Having the chance to direct this beautiful, funny and tender play is a true privilege. When I worked for Paines Plough as an Assistant Director under Roxana Silbert, I directed a reading of a very early draft of the play. At the time, Matt was a member of Paines Plough and Channel 4’s Future Perfect group. Future Perfect was an annual scheme that ran for four years, attaching 6 playwrights each year to Paines Plough and Channel 4, including Nick Payne (ONE DAY WHEN WE WERE YOUNG), Katie Douglas (DIG), Penelope Skinner (THE SOUND OF HEAVY RAIN), as well as Matt himself. There’s something thrilling about now directing the play, having begun a relationship with it at its inception.

We are co-producing the play with our friends at Hull Truck Theatre as part of their 40th Anniversary Season – a real honour after having worked with Sheffield Theatres this year on Roundabout in the culmination to their own 40th Anniversary Year.

SIXTY FIVE MILES opens at Hull Truck Theatre on Wednesday 1 February 2012. You can book tickets here.

What we’re seeing at the theatre…

It’s been a busy Autumn for Paines Plough, with shows on in Sheffield, Glasgow, Manchester and Coventry simultaneously but despite our team being split all over the country we’ve still managed to catch plenty of theatre all over the shop and the festive period is looking pretty good for our culture calendar too…

James and I caught Tom Wells’ brilliant new play The Kitchen Sink at the Bush on press night.  It’s selling out but the run has been extended til 23rd Dec, so there’s still chance to catch this extraordinary new play.

Claire and Hanna loved April de AngelisJUMPY at the Royal Court, Tara caught Polar Bear’s OLD ME at the Roundhouse and we all went on a PP office social to see OFFICE PARTY at the Pleasance which was an absolute hoot!

We were big fans of Michael Sheen’s HAMLET at the Young Vic, Jez Butterworth’s JERUSALEM (it just gets better…) at the Apollo, BLACKBERRY TROUT FACE by the superb Laurence Wilson (who wrote TINY VOLCANOES which we toured earlier this year), and ONE MAN TWO GUVNORS by Richard Bean at the Adelphi.

We’re very excited about seeing COMEDY OF ERRORS with Lenny Henry and directed by Dominic Cooke at the National, I’m off to see Michael Grandage’s last show at the helm of the Donmar- RICHARD II with Eddie Redmayne at the weekend and James saw Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin’s hit adaptation of MATILDA at the Cambridge Theatre and can still be found humming the songs around the office…

Last week Claire and Tara headed up to Sheffield (quickly becoming our second home) to see the Crucible’s revival of Sondheim’s COMPANY with Daniel Evans and Samantha Spiro which was brilliantly entertaining! And speaking of Sheffield we had a great time there two weeks ago when the whole team got together to see our ROUNDABOUT season; Nick Payne’s ONE DAY WHEN WE WERE YOUNG, Duncan Macmillan’s LUNGS and THE SOUND OF HEAVY RAIN by Penelope Skinner.

So what are we seeing over Christmas? Our panto withdrawal from last year will be soothed by trips to ALADDIN at the Lyric Hammersmith and SLEEPING BEAUTY at Sheffield’s Lyceum. We’ll be at the National next week for Daniel Kitson’s IT’S ALWAYS RIGHT NOW, UNTIL IT’S LATER which I’ve been dying to see since it debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe back in 2010. Claire’s off to see Matthew Bourne’s NUTCRACKER at Sadler’s Wells on Tuesday and Tara will be going to Kurt Weill’s MAGICAL NIGHT at the Royal Opera House later this week. Other treats in store are Reuben Johnson’s THE PROPOSAL produced by exciting young company Fiddy West Productions at Theatre 503, Joe Penhall’s HAUNTED CHILD at the Royal Court and Dawn King’s FOXFINDER at The Finborough.

Wowzer, there’s a whole lot of theatre for you.

What have you been seeing? Any top tips for theatre trips over Christmas?

Matt Hartley’s 65 MILES in Hull

We’re super excited to announce another new show for 2012…

With our friends at Hull Truck we’re co-producing the world premiere of Matt Hartley‘s electrifying and moving new play 65 MILES.

The production will open at Hull Truck on 1 February, directed by George and starring Ian Bleasdale, Craige Els, Becci Gemmell, Alan Morrissey and Katie West.

I don’t even have a photo. Every girl I see could be her. You’d know yer own child if they walked past wouldn’t you?

Sixty Five Miles. The distance between Hull and Sheffield. The distance between a man and the daughter he’s never met.

Pete and Rich are two very different brothers. Reunited after nine years, both are seeking forgiveness. Rich needs to confront ex-girlfriend Lucy, and the shadows of his recent past. Pete’s search is for the one woman in his life he has never known, his daughter.

They soon discover that – even separated by sixty five miles – people never forget.

We’re thrilled to be working with Matt, who wrote for COME TO WHERE I’M FROM last year in Sheffield, and whose blog about last week’s Jersey residency you can read here.

And we welcome a stellar cast to the PP rehearsal room:

L-R Ian Bleasdale, Craige Els, Becci Gemmell, Alan Morrissey, Katie West

George is working with a crack team of creatives with the brilliant Amy Cook designing, lighting by Tim Deiling – who’s previously worked with PP on THE 8TH and our A Play, A Pie and a Pint season – and Ed Lewis on sound.

And we’re thrilled to again be working with Andrew and his brilliant team at Hull Truck after our lovely visit with LOVE, LOVE, LOVE earlier this year.

Full details of the production are here. We can’t wait.

A playwright’s guide to Jersey

Plemont beach, St Ouen, Jersey

Last week we were in glorious Jersey as guests of The Jersey Arts Trust. On Saturday night, five brilliant local writers featured in COME TO WHERE I’M FROM in St Helier – Ben Evans, Leon Fleming, Martha MacDonald, Hannah Patterson and Colin Scott. We asked them to give us an insight into their favourite places on the island, and here they are – a playwright’s guide to Jersey.

The Prince of Wales pub, St Helier:  A proper pub.  One you could quietly expire in and it would be alright. [BE]

Plemont beach, St Ouen: Caves, waves, rock pools – the classic.  Lots of steps down to it though, and there’s no beach at high tide. [BE]

Sark:  Especially Little Sark and La Coupee, the bridge between them. [BE]

Rococo Art and Design – a cute little shop in Liberty Wharf that sells local artists’ work. The closest thing we have to Aladdin’s cave! [MM]

Bean Around the World – the coffee shop to be at if ‘Costa’ is too mainstream. (In Halkett Street). [MM]

Town Park – it’s a park, in town. Could it get any better? Just opened in Bath Street [MM]

St Brelade’s Church, Fisherman’s Chapel & Graveyard – full of inspiring, intersecting histories. [HP]

St Ouen’s 5 mile beach – for a bracing winter walk followed by a slap up breakfast at Big Verns. [HP]

The Jersey Arts Centre – an oasis when I was growing up and my default setting whenever I go back. [HP]

So what are you waiting for? Jump on a plane, go explore.

Vote for LOVE in Whatsonstage Awards

We’re overwhelmed at the news LOVE, LOVE, LOVE has been nominated for Best Regional Production in the Whatsonstage Awards. We were sorry to miss what sounded like a great party on Friday when the shortlists were announced.

The WOS Awards are the only ones voted for entirely by audiences, so it’s the best kind of nomination to get. Thank you so much to everyone who nominated us. We’re thrilled you enjoyed the show and felt passionately about it.

Now then, if you want us to win, we need your vote. Simply click here and click the box marked LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. It’s category 24. You don’t need to vote in all the categories if you don’t want to, but there are loads of other amazing individuals and companies to support.

Vote Love. And please spread the word. Thank you all.

Dispatches from Jersey #3 – Leon Fleming

Woo Whoo! I’ve been asked to write today’s blog and today’s topics will be:

“impenetrable bubbles of life outside time and space, multiple-personality disorders, and the merits of a non-human audience.”

Views from Grosnez

What a week it has been so far. There is something quite incredible about the clarity gained by going somewhere else to write, away from the clutches of daily life and its need to pull your attention away from the work. Being within the same space as other wonderful writers; Hannah, James, Stacey, Ben, Sam, Colin, Robin, Martha, and Matt, to name, well, all of them really, as well as Paines Plough Artistic Directors James and George, could be likened (possibly) to being in the X-Factor house. A buzz of creative energy. Fortunately without an annoying one constantly singing when people just want a bit of peace and quiet. And with the fabulous and eagerly anticipated (by everyone except perhaps the participating writers), COME TO WHERE I’M FROM performance on Saturday at the Jersey Opera House Studio, the X-Factor link is still valid (just) as we have our very own live show.

As one of the “Jersey Five”, invited to spend our days up here in these luxurious surroundings, with these great people and the incredible views of St Aubin’s Bay, I am shocked at how much work I am actually managing to get done. Proof I think of how important it is to be able to remove yourself, for just a little while, from the world and spend time in an impenetrable bubble outside time and space (I knew I’d get it in somewhere) and just write. OK, so it’s not really impenetrable. But it is a space without too many distractions, and I think it’s proving massively beneficial for all of us here.

My only worry is that at some point my urge to read out-loud will overcome me and give away my dark secret. I have a habit of performing my plays to myself, and to my cat when she’s available. I don’t get much more than a strange look and a grumble from her when I stand there reciting my work in a myriad of different voices and accents (which all sound very much like my own), but this is the way I usually write. Is this normal? Some writers are mostly working in their rooms’, so I’m hoping, possibly in vain, that this is a sign that I’m not alone in my habit.

Also, I’m wondering if there are any other kinds of non-human that make a better audience than my cat?

Tomorrow is the last day of the residency, so almost everyone is out for a walk along the coast; it would be a shame to come over here and not see how beautiful and inspiring this island really is.

Sam, James, Matt and Stacey take a cobweb-clearing stroll

As for me, I’m starting to consider how sound-proof the lavatory might be; as I think I might have to give in to my urge to read out-loud. Even without the cat here to give feedback.

Dispatches from Jersey #2 – Matt Hartley

This update is coming to you from the pool house. That’s right, I said it: The Pool house. Three days in I’m still getting my head round it. I won’t bang on about how luxurious and grand the Eulah is because that’s just showing off, but staring round my OBSCENELY large and luxurious room, it’s got me thinking about whether or not the location/ environment we write in affects the way/ what we write.

Matt Hartley (L) and James Graham (R) depicted in graffiti form

The five of us all came with different ideas about how we wanted to use the time at our disposal. For some it was finishing off plays, for others it was redrafting and for a couple of us it was to start something from scratch. I was in the start from scratch category. In the last few days we’ve got good at summarising what our plays are about in as few words as possible. So here is what the group are writing about:

Me: Baby stealing.

Sam: Monkeys.

Stacey: Biotechnology.

James: Gypsies.

Robin: Not sure yet.

I’m fascinated to know if this will have changed by the end of the week.

And this is why:

Looking out of my window I am spoilt for views. The sea, the Eulah’s beautiful grounds, the pool, James and Sam typing away in their respective bay windows, and perhaps it’s for these reasons that I’m finding it hard to get into the mindset of people who steal babies. Perhaps if I was looking out of my window back home, at the fence burglars recently broke when ransacking my house [ if anyone has recently been offered a great deal on a Black 58” frame, 24 gear, 2011 Specialized Allez road bike, please let me know ] I would find it easier to write. Is the tone of my piece changing because I am in luxurious surroundings, am I too relaxed to be writing? I look back at plays of mine from the past and I can’t help but notice how my environment at the time affected the plays: a play about siblings when I was living with my brother, a play about coke fueled city kids when I was working in a trendy bar in Angel.

Have I chosen the right play to write whilst I’m here? I don’t know. Time will tell. One thing I can safely say though, is that it won’t be the same play I thought it would be at the start of this week. I would  love to hear from people about whether they think their writing changes when they are in different environments.  Do you go somewhere different to write a certain type of play than you would to others? Do you have to be in control of your environment? Do plays become funny, tender, tougher, larger, smaller etc when you change where you’re working? All thoughts, queries, advice will be greatly appreciated…

Writers writing (electronically)

Anyway, I must crack on as I have a pool party to plan. That’s right George and I [the other pool house resident] are hosting a pool party on Friday night in true Paines Plough style. So far we have Mojito’s, Hip Hop and bathrobes on our list. Are we missing anything? What makes the ultimate pool party? I would say answers on a postcard but Tweet, @painesplough, instead. Ta.

Pool and pool-house - eat your heart out Fresh Prince