Monthly archives: February 2012

In praise of…stationery.

Here at PP HQ we’re proper stationery geeks.

This week we’ve happened upon a rather exciting discovery, otherwise known as the Rhodia A4 Meeting Book. Having previously been big fans of the Moleskine (classic) and Muji’s recycled A4 and A5 notepads (retro) we think we might just have been won over by Rhodia’s practicality and funky design. It has separate sections for date, notes and action points with two sides of one detachable page per meeting. Drool.

Check out our gallery below.

Tweet us or post below to tell us about your favourites.

Programme 2011 in numbers

With our full Programme 2012 soon to be announced, we’re busy putting together the Paines Plough annual report for Programme 2011. And being the geeks that we are, we can’t help getting rather excited by the stats…

11 productions
36 places
15 playwrights
22 actors
206 performances
26,544 audience members
91% increase in audience on 2010
10 co-producing partners
31 host theatres
570 actors met through open auditions in Edinburgh, London and Oxford.
114 productions archived on the Paines Plough website, stretching back to 1974
41,878 unique website visits from 131 countries
360% increase in Twitter followers
459 unsolicited scripts read and responded to

Calling all Playwrights

This year’s George Devine Award is now accepting entries.

Past winners have included Penelope Skinner, Nick Payne, Che Walker, Gary Owen, Leo Butler, Enda Walsh and Helen Blakeman.

Good luck!

Write About Love

In celebration of St.Valentines Day, we’ve been collecting the very best ‘lines about love’ from plays written in the past 50 years. Twitter has been ablaze with #linesaboutlove from Simon Stephens, Alan Bennett, James Graham, Patrick Marber and Stephen Sondheim, amongst others.

So, as promised, here are our favourites from your hundreds of suggestions:

joerosswilliams: @painesplough “You pulled my shirt up… You listened to my heart” PENETRATOR (Anthony Neilson) #linesaboutlove

Original Tweet:

SianGoff: @painesplough “I’m so in love I could puke.” (Love&Money, Dennis Kelly) #linesaboutlove

Original Tweet:

camillavalerie_: @painesplough “Anyway I thought I’d pop by. Change the flowers. I don’t know if I’ll get much of a chance to pop back here so, anyway…I love you.” (LUNGS BY DUNCAN MACMILLAN”

Original Tweet:

garethjandrell: @painesplough “Have you ever seen a human heart? It looks like a fist, wrapped in blood” Patrick Marber, Closer #linesaboutlove

Original Tweet:

gabz331: @painesplough “Dearest darling beautiful wonderful thing do u know how much I love adore lust fantasise want need have to have must have love passionately eternally perpetually love u desire u want u?” (Stockholm Bryony Lavery) #linesaboutlove

Original Tweet:

But our undoubted favourite (and yes, it’s all one line) came from @kellizezulka:

@kellizezulka @painesplough #linesaboutlove I love this monologue from Crave by Sarah Kane. A bit long for Twitter; here’s a link:

Original Tweet:

Here is the line reproduced in full, taken from Sarah Kane’s CRAVE:

“And I want to play hide-and-seek and give you my clothes and tell you I like your shoes and sit on the steps while you take a bath and massage your neck and kiss your feet and hold your hand and go for a meal and not mind when you eat my food and meet you at Rudy’s and talk about the day and type your letters and carry your boxes and laugh at your paranoia and give you tapes you don’t listen to and watch great films and watch terrible films and complain about the radio and take pictures of you when you’re sleeping and get up to fetch you coffee and bagels and Danish and go to Florent and drink coffee at midnight and have you steal my cigarettes and never be able to find a match and tell you about the the programme I saw the night before and take you to the eye hospital and not laugh at your jokes and want you in the morning but let you sleep for a while and kiss your back and stroke your skin and tell you how much I love your hair your eyes your lips your neck your breasts your arse your

and sit on the steps smoking till your neighbour comes home and sit on the steps smoking till you come home and worry when you’re late and be amazed when you’re early and give you sunflowers and go to your party and dance till I’m black and be sorry when I’m wrong and happy when you forgive me and look at your photos and wish I’d known you forever and hear your voice in my ear and feel your skin on my skin and get scared when you’re angry and your eye has gone red and the other eye blue and your hair to the left and your face oriental and tell you you’re gorgeous and hug you when you’re anxious and hold you when you hurt and want you when I smell you and offend you when I touch you and whimper when I’m next to you and whimper when I’m not and dribble on your breast and smother you in the night and get cold when you take the blanket and hot when you don’t and melt when you smile and dissolve when you laugh and not understand why you think I’m rejecting you when I’m not rejecting you and wonder how you could think I’d ever reject you and wonder who you are but accept you anyway and tell you about the tree angel enchanted forest boy who flew across the ocean because he loved you and write poems for you and wonder why you don’t believe me and have a feeling so deep I can’t find words for it and want to buy you a kitten I’d get jealous of because it would get more attention than me and keep you in bed when you have to go and cry like a baby when you finally do and get rid of the roaches and buy you presents you don’t want and take them away again and ask you to marry me and you say no again but keep on asking because though you think I don’t mean it I do always have from the first time I asked you and wander the city thinking it’s empty without you and want want you want and think I’m losing myself but know I’m safe with you and tell you the worst of me and try to give you the best of me because you don’t deserve any less and answer your questions when I’d rather not and tell you the truth when I really don’t want to and try to be honest because I know you prefer it and think it’s all over but hang on in for just ten more minutes before you throw me out of your life and forget who I am and try to get closer to you because it’s a beautiful learning to know you and well worth the effort and speak German to you badly and Hebrew to you worse and make love with you at three in the morning and somehow somehow somehow communicate some of the overwhelming undying overpowering unconditional all-encompassing heart-enriching mind-expanding on-going never-ending love I have for you.”

Happy St.Valentines Day.

In praise of…Hull

Along with the SIXTY FIVE MILES company, I have been up in Hull since the beginning of January, rehearsing Matt Hartley’s beautiful play in time for its opening last week. One of the great joys of this job is the chance it offers to travel, getting to know the UK’s many towns, villages and cities along the way.

Despite having lots of friends who came to University here (Matt included), I didn’t know Hull at all before we decamped here for the month. Having spent three years living in Sheffield when at University myself (and a considerable amount of time back in the city for last year’s Sheffield Theatres collaboration, ROUNDABOUT), I’ve noticed certain similarities between these two Northern Giants; the warmth of the people, the positive effect of a large student population, the tension between historic and modern and the important place the theatre plays in the cultural landscape.

So in celebration of our collaboration with Hull Truck Theatre, here are my five favourite things about Hull:

Hull Marina

Whilst it feels slightly disconnected from the centre of town, the Marina is a beautiful new development where I have had the great fortune of living for the past five weeks. On cold, crisp days, with the sun hanging low in the sky, it’s a beautiful area for a head-clearing, pre-rehearsal stroll. Close to the old town and near to the brilliant The Deep (a sub-marium).

Princes’ Avenue

Much like Eccleshall Road in Sheffield, Princes Ave (as it’s known locally) is a residential area packed with independent restaurants, bars, cafes and shops and has been our first choice hang-out on Sundays. We tend to start with a drink at the laid-back Pave, with its choice of around 30 different international beers and live Jazz. Then it’s on to Brimbles for a roast where the informal atmosphere, good wine and well-priced beef and turkey combo goes down a treat. A contingent also enjoyed a great meal at Marrakech one night last week.


For a town that has three different shopping centres, you’d expect to be able to pick up at least one or two choice pieces – not least during the January sales. The St.Stephens Centre in between the theatre and the station is the pick of the bunch, but Katie and Amy managed to dig out a few timeless classics at the two big city-centre charity shops. Needless to say we’re all a little lighter in the pocket but better dressed as a result.

Hull Truck Theatre

For several reasons, Hull Truck Theatre is a jewel in Hull’s cultural crown. The spirit of the theatre’s roots still lives strong in its audience – there is an ownership and investment in the informality of the company’s tradition that permeates the building and its patrons. Clearly the ethos of Mike Bradwell and John Godber of making fiercely entertaining, locally relevant, brand new and deeply personal theatre in a democratic space is cherished by the people of Hull. But now it’s got the added dimension of being complemented by a much bigger theatre, a broader repertory of work (including co-productions with neighbouring theatres, classic work and community projects) and a modern approach to collaboration and touring. Moreover, it does some of the best food in the whole of Hull. The Fish Pie (served with smoked salmon Caesar salad) is one of the best any of us have ever tasted. Craige is officially addicted to the Eggs Benedict, and between us, Ian and I just about drank them dry of locally brewed Wold Gold. A fantastic team of people, both front of house and backstage, only adds to the feeling that Hull Truck is a lovely place to work, eat, drink, watch and play.

The Star and Garter

The rule is that what happens on tour stays on tour, and never has this been truer than when we discovered The Star and Garter. On a Thursday night, the DJ will play whatever you want, there are free shots for every customer between 2 and 3am, and last orders is at 5. There’s enough haze to satisfy any lighting designer, the sound system is suitably deafening, and whilst the Guinness tastes like liquorish, its practically impossible to leave. No photos for this entry I’m afraid – The Star and Garter has to be experienced first hand…

Whilst we hope to have the chance to take the production on tour at a later date, SIXTY FIVE MILES is currently scheduled for a limited run in Hull only. You can book tickets here.

SIXTY FIVE MILES – Tech and Opening Week

Last week was tech week for SIXTY FIVE MILES at Hull Truck Theatre.

Tech Desk

Monday was our final day in the rehearsal room before beginning work in the theatre on Tuesday. In many ways, SIXTY FIVE MILES is a fairly simple show from a technical point of view. There are no major scene changes, relatively few sound and lighting cues (about 25 Sound Cues and about 40 Lighting Cues) and only a few costume changes. But as a result of having pared everything back, the choices myself and the creative team do make are more palpable, and as such, require a huge degree of craft to ensure they support and enhance the action of the play rather than distracting or detracting from it.

Having rigged and focussed lights and speakers as part of the fit-up, lighting designer Tim and Sound Designer/Composer Ed were ready to start trying out previously prepared ideas for in-scene states, music and changes as well as sequences for the transitions between scenes.

Technical rehearsals notoriously tend to feel slow. Unlike the rehearsal room tempo, where changes, ideas and problems can be discussed, rectified and tried out quite quickly, even the smallest of technical alterations take time to action, with many people involved and affected. The actors need the patience of saints, as they are moved around the stage, asked to repeat movements and sections of scenes over and over again, get in and out and in of costume and generally stagnate as we mould the production around and amongst their work.

By Tuesday evening we were ‘topping and tailing’ (running the show but cutting out sections of the action where there are no technical cues) in preparation for our Wednesday afternoon dress rehearsal. But then – as can so often happen – disaster struck, and we lost one of the actors to illness. Conversations took place between myself, Matt, Production Management and Producers Tara and Andrew, and a decision was taken to cancel our first preview performance on Wednesday evening to allow time for recovery. With two productions playing in rep for a further four weeks, we all felt that it was in the best long-term interests of the production that we opened with everyone in health. As such, we had to take the unfortunate but necessary step of cancelling the first preview and reallocating that evening’s audience later in the run.

Thankfully everyone who had booked for Wednesday night were incredibly understanding and, thanks to a little bit of penicillin and a lot of sleep, we were fighting fit again by Thursday night, when the World Premiere production of SIXTY FIVE MILES opened for its first preview.

In my experience, it’s always the case that a production will grow hugely over its first four or five public performances. That’s not to say that if you see an early performance you’ll be seeing an inferior version of the production, but there is a natural merging that takes place between the work in the rehearsal room and the work in the theatre, and that just takes a little bit of time. Over the course of these preview performances we continue to tweak the lighting, the sound, the costume and the staging towards the clearest and most impactful version of the production; even as late as the fourth performance we are considering moving the position of the interval and making changes to where, when and how the actors move around the stage.

If all goes according to plan, the production will continue to grow in strength and depth over the course of the three-week run. The way we have rehearsed the play is designed to enable the actors to repeat every night the work we have prepared and practiced with an increasing degree of accuracy but without it feeling stagnant, whilst leaving room for the performances to grow and develop.

Whilst we hope to have the chance to take the production on tour at a later date, SIXTY FIVE MILES is currently scheduled for a limited run in Hull only. You can book tickets here.

Who’s been in the Writers’ Room?

So, we’ve been delighted to have John Donnelly in our Writers’ Room all this week. John’s work has been on at The Bush, The Royal Court and at Latitude Festival. He also happens to be a very generous man as he gifted us a little bag of java goodness! Thanks John!

No show tonight folks

We’ve very sorry to say that tonight’s opening performance of SIXTY FIVE MILES at Hull Truck has been cancelled due to illness. We apologise for any inconvenience.

We very much hope to be up and running tomorrow.

Like vampires in the dark

It’s tech day, which essentially means we’ve become like vampires, scared to step outside into the light. Tucked away in the darkness of the auditorium, with only the glow of the parcans and 2Ks from the stage, and the red neon glare of the control desk, it’s here that we will feel safe.

Sixty Five Miles, is a play that most theatre’s would put in their studio. It’s perceived as being delicate and intimate. Hull Truck’s main auditorium is colossal. 400 seats. It’s as far from a studio as possible. Amy has created a sweeping, multi level design, that embraces the opportunities the space provides and allows the action of the play to step out of the confines of being a traditional studio piece. The journey between Sheffield and Hull that is central to the play, and the multiple locations that the action unfolds in, are allowed to merge seamlessly into each other, the play now has an epic feel. Tim’s lighting, enhances and compliments this idea, using a palette of colors to stamp strong visual images on the action. Add to this Ed’s delicate yet bruising score, and the play, still retains the subtlety that I hoped for but also has found a bolder, tougher and searing quality.

It’s thrilling to see this. As a young writer I’ve often been convinced that the only plays I will ever have produced are in studios. So it’s great to see the play fighting against this notion. I hope that when we open tomorrow the audiences will feel the same! And I also hope that in years to come, I will get a chance to see plays like James Graham’s ‘Albert Boy’ or DC Moore’s ‘The Empire’ revived in spaces that go against the preconceived image of where such plays should be produced.

I spent three of the best years of my life in Hull. Between 1999 and 2002 I studied at the University, my time was spent living and drinking on Beverly Road, watching Hull City at the old Boothferry Park Stadium, learning and making my first mistakes as an independent adult, and regularly making the trip back along the M62 to my parents home just outside Sheffield. It’s a city that has defined me in many ways, in terms of the choices I’ve made and the people that now occupy my life. It fills me with joy that my first full scale production will be produced by Paines Plough and Hull Truck, it feels like a homecoming.

I started writing Sixty Five Miles in 2006. It wasn’t the first thing I’d written by any means but it was the first thing I was proud of.  I sent an early draft of the play to Paines Plough in order to try and win a place on their Future Perfect scheme. At the time I was doing a job in London, that bored me to tears and writing at night, so I was delighted when I was offered a place on the scheme.

It was whilst on attachment at Paines Plough that I met George Perrin, who was then the trainee director in residence. George, having been to University in Sheffield felt a connection with the play and we worked on developing it together. The play’s had a long and windy journey, hundreds of rewrites, several attempted productions, an award, some fantastic advice and guidance from brilliant friends and actors but it seems right that it has come back to the company and the director it began with.

I hope the journey, from starting this play to getting it staged, gives hope to other writers. Patience and perseverance can often be the most frustrating of qualities to possess, but when they pay off, my oh my they are worth it.

For those of you that make it up to Hull, thank you, and do please pull me aside and have a chat. I’m normally found at the bar with a pint of Guinness.