Monthly archives: April 2012

RUNS and STORMS – Love, Love, Love’s last week at the Southbank

A very excited “over and out” from us at London Bridge as we complete our final day between these lovely, draughty Chocolate Factory walls and head to the Royal Court to begin our tech. Next week we will, no doubt, remember fondly its pockets of heat, its scattered red pillars and the Donner und Blitz that framed each afternoon session, as if on cue. I have seen more storms in London during this past week than I have in my whole time living in England. We seem to attract them. Pathetic fallacy? Very possibly.

We discovered that the place is also, possibly, haunted. A ghost passed through our rehearsal room during Act Two on Friday. It rattled the huge stable doors at one end almost off its hinges and then made a sneaky escape through the main door out into the stairway with a move and a shake. It certainly caused a collective shiver. Come to think of it, the front door has been acting quite ghostly during this whole process. Unable to fully close (due to the fact that it self-locks), the door dithers and creaks every 15 minutes causing all three of us behind the desk to turn expectantly towards it, convinced someone is surreptitiously trying to enter. We do this every 15 minutes, without fail. We never learn. I tell you, it’s comedy gold: we’re like three synchronised meerkats.

The goblet saga continues.. the chalice has somehow made its way onstage and thus has become a minor character in the final act (complete with those dastardly wasabi peas). Watch out for it.

“Cheese Thursday” was the major event this week – a regular Royal Court tradition I hadn’t experienced before. And I really do mean ‘experienced’. We were informed by Stage Management and we got excited. It was discussed days in advance. I stressed the need to delegate (the horror of everyone turning up armed only with chutney, loomed in my mind). When the grand day finally arrived, our party of eleven was dismally diminished to only three hard-core cheesists. Their loss of course. Borough Market offered and we gladly accepted and a fantastical feast followed. Apples, grapes, chutney, spek, smelly brie, smoked cheddar, gorgeous stilton, oat cakes and french loaf. Olives were a slight deviation but welcomed by all involved. Needless to say, I went on quite a cheese roller-coaster that afternoon: a glorious cheese high was followed by a cheese low(er) which finally settled into a cheese lull for the rest of the day.

And finally, the Guardian crossword has taken the company by storm. Small victories and huge frustrations are played out over tea breaks. Mr Miles continuously spoils the fun by knowing every answer so we are forced to ban him from taking part and only defer to his vast intellect in emergencies.

We finished the week with two full runs of the play for small audiences of production team members. To see it all together like that for the first time was astounding. If one can watch it in a rehearsal room, with all the sounds of London Bridge zooming through the windows at high speed, and still feel that it is delightful, devastating, captivating and breath-catching, then we’re in for something pretty special indeed.

And to end, an attempt at a (somewhat) cryptic crossword clue:

“Seen three times in red: what a sight for old Peter Jones” (4)


When James and I began our tenure as Artistic Directors of Paines Plough, we did so on a promise to our board, our playwrights, our funders and our audiences that we would find a way of putting on more plays, for longer runs, touring them to more places across the UK, and returning more regularly to the same places than ever before in the company’s illustrious now 38-year history.

So in preparing our first two programmes of work (Programme 2010 and Programme 2011), we focussed our collective energy and resources on producing as many plays as we could, in collaboration with as many partners as possible, touring those productions as widely and for as long as we were able.

Spurred on by the incredible warmth towards the company from across the theatre industry, we were able to produce 9 plays in 2010 and 10 in 2011, touring to more than 30 places each year.

Because we were so firmly fixed on revitalising our touring circuits, partly by chance and partly by design, one of the many places we didn’t end up visiting was London.

Towards the end of last year, we got a bit of stick for ignoring the capital, with some bloggers going as far as calling our touring policy “snobby”. We were a bit surprised by this – after all, there was already a healthy stream of new plays being produced weekly right across the city (unlike many of the places we were touring to, where provision was low to non-existent). Plus, our touring productions were often visiting theatres within easy reach of central London (Watford, Oxford, Cambridge) where we felt confident that those living in zones 1-6 could catch our work.

Looking at these cries from a positive perspective, they seemed to suggest that there was a growing demand for our work across the capital. Fuelled by the huge success of Dennis Kelly’s ORPHANS and Steve Thompson’s ROARING TRADE (both directed by our predecessor Roxana Silbert), people living in and around London were keen to see the work that the rest of the country was getting access to first.

Encouraged by this interest, we have been working hard to make sure that as much of the work we’re producing this year visits the capital as possible. As we put the finishing touches to Programme 2012 (soon to be announced in full), we are pleased to say that four of our upcoming productions can been seen in London. Mike Bartlett’s LOVE, LOVE, LOVE opens next week at the Royal Court Theatre, Sean Buckley’s SMITHEREENS plays the Soho Theatre in June and THE 8TH by Paul Heaton and Che Walker is on the Barbican main stage for one night only in July.

The third production slated for a London transfer is Kate Tempest’s WASTED. Compared with #LoveCubed and #The8th however, #KateTempestWASTED is visiting the city in a slightly different way.

For a while now we’ve been fascinated by the idea of London-wide touring. A circuit of venues we’ve coined NEIGHBOURHOOD, the idea is that rather than transferring to a single city-centre theatre for three weeks, you tour around London doing shorter runs at a wider geographical dispersion of theatre spaces, allowing your audience to see your show in their local ‘neighbourhood’ theatre.

It’s nothing new of course, and not something we thought of first. For many years companies have taken the same piece of work to various homes across London, with the most prominent recent examples being Fuel and Will Adamsdale’s JACKSON’S WAY which played 25 different Greater London theatres and the upcoming MAD ABOUT THE BOY which by the end of its current life will have played The Bush, the Young Vic and the Unicorn. There’s an interesting Guardian Stage blog from Lyn Gardner that touches on it, here. If anything, this idea is a bandwagon we want to jump on and light a fire underneath.

Because nearly everyone (at least everyone we know) lives in Zones 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6. Yet the most popular theatres tend to be in zones 1 and 2. There’s obviously a logic to this, but in the same way you can fall in love with your local pub (and expect beer, food, entertainment and atmosphere to rival – nay, better – any West End drinking hole), why not your local theatre?

As this was a touring circuit completely new to us, we needed a funding partner to help research and pilot the project. Fortunately the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and Royal Victoria Hall Foundation shared our passion for investigating new ways of presenting work in London and – along with some of our other new touring circuits – are invaluably supporting our research on the NEIGHBOURHOOD concept.

So when our Assistant Producer Hanna was booking the tour for WASTED, we decided to try this idea out. We consulted programmers of theatres considered to be located in ‘outer London’, to check this concept wouldn’t cause them problems competing for audiences with other venues. Some said it would, but the majority felt confident that if people didn’t have to travel then why would they. Ultimately we managed to book WASTED in to five ‘NEIGHBOURHOOD’ theatres, to test the concept:

So far it’s working well. We sold out the 200-seater Albany and had a good stab at filling the 600-capacity Watford Palace Theatre. If it works, NEIGHBOURHOOD is something we want to grow in the coming years, sharing our knowledge and contacts with our Associate Companies, and other start-up touring outfits.

As ever, we’ll keep this blog updated with our progress. In the meantime we look forward to seeing North East dwellers at Redbridge Drama Centre next week.

Stephanie about her first month with PP

It seems like you are closing your eyes.
Just for a moment.
Or two.
And time flies by.

This is already my fourth week as the not-so-new-anymore intern at Paines Plough. This is nearly a month and also almost a third of my time with this incredible company which makes me sad already knowing there are just two more left. It felt like I was going through someone else’s things in the first week, trying to find a rhythm and a natural order in the second week, by the third week I found myself very settled in a routine and now in the fourth week I cannot imagine having not been with the Paines Plough family before.

Given the fact that being German I am used to an utterly different theatre system, every day at work has something new for me to discover and learn.

Touring theatre does not exist in Germany to this extent as I suppose this habit got lost in two wars. The fact is that companies toured Shakespeare’s plays to the continent already when the writer himself was still alive. Touring theatre was known at this time but theatre developed differently on the continent than on the island: today it is hardly alive in German speaking countries anymore. But here in the UK touring companies are an institutionalized part of the theatre landscape and I find myself only beginning to understand how the system here works. I have been given a great opportunity.

When I was at the Edinburgh Fringe last summer (I feel like a philistine to admit that it was my first one. Ever.) and later in London, where I have lived now for six months I always stumbled over Paines Plough’s name and their work. I feel very privileged and honoured being in this lucky position and find myself challenged, part of the team and finally working in the British Theatre industry.

Also I not only enjoy climbing up the four floors to the office everyday but also crossing Waterloo Bridge by bike and its incredible view to London’s skyline and landmarks realising every day what a sparkling city I live in now and what a promising future I have working with Paines Plough.

(c) Stephanie Königer


Picture Us Paines-takingly WASTED.

After last week’s Halfway Red Herring, it’s time to let you in on all the goss of not the last one, but two weeks of this rather splendid WASTED tour.

Week Four of the WASTED Five Tour. The Shop Front Theatre in Coventry, the Hat Factory in Luton, Phoenix Arts Centre in Hampshire and the Firestation in Windsor.

Then week Five and we were storming The Albany in Deptford, Arts Centre Washington and the Astor Theatre in Deal.

Whichever theatre we were at, you could count on some pre-show regularities: Harriet hard at work setting everything up, the cast chilling out and running lines, Hanna hard at it between meetings and working on her laptop, and the occasional bromance.

However, as the tour continues, it seems catching forty winks these past two weeks has also become a familiar pre-show preparation..

Halfway through the tour, it seems poignant to moot on various ‘Number One’ best moments: the ‘Number One’ best sandwich ever. Bread, ham. No mucking about. Thanks Tescos. Thanks Hanna; 2. The ‘Number One’ embarrassing moment: heading up to a group of kids straight after a show while still sat in their seats, and engaging them in conversation, before realising this was not the group of kids we’d been asked to chat to. Thanks Hanna; 3. Number One inspiring moment: chatting to the right group of kids and hearing their really incisive and enthusiastic thoughts on the show; 4. ‘Number One’ post- show tipple: Jagerbomb; 5. ‘Number One’ place to stay on the road: Travelodge; 6. Cary having a ‘number one’ in the bushes.

No, this isn’t a Stef O’Driscoll Best Moments, but when we got to Deptford, Kwake Bass was back to perform live with us, which he did from up on the balcony and it sounded amazing. And as we were also performing the show in the Thrust (3 sides) because we had packed out the place! we needed to tech and rehearse the show during the day; and fortunately Stef, Champion A.D, was able to step in. Bernd was also on hand to help with attending to the new space, and along with Harriet and Stef discussing and solving much, it made for a great show. I caught a snap of the empty seats before they quickly filled. The night was massive. Huge standing ovation. Incredible buzz. We came off stage and just wanted to go straight back out. Instead, we headed to the pub where this play is set and where we rehearsed the first day, and enjoyed some down-time.

Before we sign off for this blog, Harriet has also begun bringing her camera out on tour, and has been taking some beautiful pics. Next week, Harriet shall be posting a blog of her own with some of her photos. Until then, here are a few moments she’s captured in the dressing room during the half.

PS: some thoughts to leave you with till next week: getting size envy when faced with Windsor’s very own Fun Bus. The fact that it did not stop raining the entire time we were in Newcastle. Kate Tempest’s new book is incredible and everyone should buy it. Hanna smiles for the camera, come rain or shine. I should really take more photos whilst on tour for this blog or we may have to resort to drawing our escapades.

I post this as we come to the end of a week’s break. But now we head to Canterbury, and James’ hometown of Folkestone. Look forward to seeing you there!

What we’re seeing at the theatre…

As we often report on this blog, here at PPHQ we see a lot of theatre, right across the UK. We’re only a small team of five, but we try our best to see as much as possible – especially stuff we receive lovely hand-written invitations to. Because the playwright is at the heart of all our work, we prioritise seeing new plays. But we are always desperate to see the work of actors, designers, directors and producers who we are excited by.

Since the beginning of January we’ve been averaging 3.7 shows a week and have seen some fantastic theatre, including:

Some West End fare
LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT by Eugene O’Neill at The Apollo
THE LADYKILLERS by Graham Linehan at the Gielgud Theatre
MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET at the Noel Coward Theatre
HUIS CLOS by Jean Paul Satre at Trafalgar Studios
HAYFEVER by Noel Coward at the Noel Coward
GHOST The Musical at the Picadilly
MATILDA by Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin at the Cambridge
SINGIN IN THE RAIN at the Palace
WOMAN IN BLACK at the Fortune
SHREK at Drury Lane.

An adaptation
DON JUAN COMES BACK FROM THE WAR by Ödön von Horváth in a new version by Duncan Macmillan at the Finborough Theatre.

A bit of dance and physical theatre –
THE TALENT by Ballet Boyz at Richmond Theatre
CAN WE TALK ABOUT THIS? By DV8 at the National Theatre

Some Shakespeare
RICHARD II at the Donmar Warhouse
A MIDSUMMERNIGHTS DREAM by Filter at the Lyric Hammersmith
COMEDY OF ERRORS at the National Theatre
A WINTER’S TALE by Propeller on tour at Sheffield Lyceum.

Some out-of-London shows
CLEANSED/CRAVE/4.48 PSYCHOSIS by Sarah Kane at Munich Kammerspiele (in Germany)
THE WAY OF THE WORLD by William Congreve at the Crucible Theatre Sheffield
THE MICHAEL FRAYN SEASON (Benefactors, Copenhagen, and Democracy) at Sheffield Theatres
WHERE HAVE I BEEN ALL MY LIFE by Alyecky Blythe at the New Vic in Stoke.

A few revivals
THE LADY FROM THE SEA by Henrik Ibsen at The Rose Kingston
BINGO by Edward Bond at The Young Vic
THREEPENNY OPERA by Bertolt Brecht at Wilton’s Music Hall (LAMDA show)
THE CHANGELING by Thomas Middleton and William Rowley at the Young Vic
AFTER MISS JULIE by Patrick Marber at the Young Vic
NOSIES OFF by Michael Frayn at the Old Vic
HOUSE OF BERNADA ALBA by Federico Garcia Lorca at Almeida
SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER by Oliver Goldsmith at the National Theatre
THE RECRUTING OFFICER by George Farquar at the Donmar Warehouse.

A bit of devised work
YOUR LAST BREATH by Curious Directive at the Pleasance Islington
THE DEVIL AND MR PUNCH by Improbable at the Barbican
MASTER AND MARGARITA by Michail Bulgakov at the Barbican.

And of course lots of new plays
IN BASILDON by David Eldrige at the Royal Court
MOGADISHU by Vivienne Franzmann at the Lyric Hammersmith
HAUNTED CHILD by Joe Penhall at the Royal Court
LOVESONG by Abi Morgan at the Lyric Hammersmith
CONSTELLATIONS by Nick Payne at the Royal Court
nabokov’s MONEY at the Old Vic Tunnels
The nabokov Arts Club at BAC
The Angle Plays at The Bush
AND NO MORE SHALL WE PART by Tom Holloway at Hampstead Theatre
OUR NEW GIRL by Nancy Harris at The Bush
SEX WITH A STRANGER by Stefan Goloszewski at Trafalgar Studios
LAY DOWN YOUR CROSS by Nick Payne at Hampstead Theatre
GOODBYE TO ALL THAT by Luke Norris at the Royal Court
SHIVERED by Philip Ridley at Southwark Playhouse
JERUSALEM by Jez Butterworth at The Apollo
MATHEMATICS OF THE HEART by Kefi Chadwick at Theatre 503
THE OH FUCK MOMENT by Hannah Jane Walker and Chris Thorpe at the Soho Theatre
SHALLOW SLUMBER by Chris Lee at the Soho Theatre
REASONS TO BE PRETTY by Neil La Bute at the Almeida
THE BEE By Hideki Noda and Colin Teevan at Soho Theatre.

What have you been seeing and what can’t we afford to miss in the coming months?

We Are London

Thanks to the brilliant @HeardinLondon, our Administrative Intern Stephanie found this remarkable poster, which chimes heavily with our very own WASTED:

Treats, alternative rock and props – Rehearsal Week 3 of Love, Love, Love

The end of our second week at the Chocolate Factory and the phenomenon of ‘nibbles’ has taken over the rehearsal room. Mr Miles is initially to blame for filling a small prop glass goblet full of wasabi peas and placing them centre-stage (on our desk). For those of you who haven’t tried them yet, stay away, wasabi peas are addictive. But perhaps not as addictive as the salted edamame beans which followed the next day. And when they are so well presented, who can resist? After that, it became quite a tradition of attempting and failing (“right, this really, really is my last one”, “will someone please take these away?!”) to stop compulsively munching. A lovely present from Claire, the General Manager at Paines Plough, had a detrimental effect when the goblet became a cornucopia of Haribo. A very hyper rehearsal session followed. Mr Miles finally ended the craze by sobering us up with dried fruit and nuts instead of crunchy/salty/sugary treats. Remarkably fewer visits to our desk today.

My musical knowledge has expanded considerably since working on Mr Bartlett‘s play. Having missed out in my teens, I am now having my “Stone Roses moment” and enjoying it considerably.

Rehearsals are in a great place. We are already running full Acts and solid shapes are beginning to form. Each time a scene is run it brings with it new improvisations, details and startling moments. It has become increasingly clear that this is the type of exciting realism that director Mike Alfreds champions as truly live theatre; theatre which is “creative, spontaneous, curious, enterprising [and] responsive to others”. It is a delight to watch.

The production side of things is ticking along at a great pace with new pieces of furniture being lugged up the steep Factory steps each day. Intelligent (and unintelligible) technical talk of plug sockets, gutted televisions and tiles make me glad I am only a director and doubly grateful that we have such professionals working to make this show happen.

(Caitlin McLeod, Assistant Director)

A Day in the Life of an Actor on Tour – Top Quiz.

So its halfway through the WASTED tour, and what better way to celebrate this exceptional tour by all sharing in a fun game!! The photo blog, Picture Us WASTED, will recommence next week with a fortnight bonanza, but for right now, what type of actor are YOU??

To write about a day in the life of an actor on tour is to write of the infinite quandary of our cosmos: so many types of actors, so many types of days. Below is a fun, slightly tongue-in-cheek, 10 question quiz, to help you discover what type of actor you are or could be, on any given day of a tour.

1. Your bedside alarm rings at 7.30am Do you?

A- up you get. You wanna get in the shower in time for breakfast and an hour’s vocal warm-up.

B- snooze it five minutes, if not more. There’s no way though you’re getting up for breakfast. And you did a vocal warm-up yesterday.

C- wake up in blind confusion. Smack the off-button. You ain’t getting up till at least midday. You didn’t get to bed till 5am and that hangover ain’t clearing any time soon.

D- there’s no way you will have set an alarm for half 7 in the first place.


2. Your digs landlady has left you a clipping of a local review of your show by your door. Do you?

A- pick it up. Read it quietly to yourself in your room, taking down any notes the theatre critic has kindly made of your performance to take into later consideration.

B- pick it up but without looking at it, pop it in your pocket for a later burial in a far away public bin. You don’t want to upset the landlady and she meant well, but you no longer read reviews. Not since the Bletchley Times spelt your name wrong and suggested they’d rather eat their own face than watch another of your performances.

C- pick it up. Realise what it is and throw it back on the floor. You need to attend to the three S’s before even entertaining any ideas of theatre and work.

D- you never made it back to your digs last night.


3. You’ve never been to this city before. Do you?

A- make sure you take out with you your Lonely Planet guide. You don’t want to miss a thing.

B- head out for lunch with the rest of the company in a local pub. Sit out in the beer garden and take in the ambience. Perhaps go for a walk round the shops if there’s time.

C- head out for lunch. The company are heading to a local but you fancy Wetherspoons. You know what you’re getting with that. Besides, it’s right next to your digs. Perfect.

D- watch This Morning, followed by Cash in the Attic, followed by Neighbours, followed by Quincy, followed by Countdown. Followed by, heck is that the time? You better get to the theatre. You’ve just missed the half.


4. It’s the half (half hour before the show starts). Do you?

A- warm up. Get your vocal exercise book out and follow its instruction methodically as always, careful not to skip anything.

B- warm up. You’ve noticed your higher range is slightly weak so you decide to concentrate on that. Perhaps try loosening the shoulders. See if that helps.

C- choose not to warm up. Get into your costume though and make sure it all feels comfortable. Yep, it does.

D- have a couple of cigarettes. Helps with the stress. Especially after the Stage Manager’s had a go at you for turning up smelling of alcohol.


5. You’re about to step out onto the stage for your first scene. Do you?

A- go through your three circles of concentration, your objectives and your super-objectives.

B- go through your lines.

C- check your flies.

D- sneak a peek into the audience. That girl you met last night said she’d come along. You wanna make sure you push all your best emotions and facial expressions in her direction. She was hot.


6. It’s the final show in this city. Do you?

A Help strike the set. It’s best it’s done quickly so more hands the better. You want to get an early night in before heading to the next theatre. Another week, another community to inspire through the medium of theatre.

B- have a quick drink then help strike the set. More hands the better and you want to have a couple more drinks somewhere else.

C- get to the bar and get in the drinks. You’ve got at least a couple hours of drinking time before the set is packed up. It’s always nice to get some praise from the audience.

D- leg it off the stage, throw your costume on the dressing room floor, run next door to the Wetherspoons, order yourself a line of Jaeger Bombs. The tour van can pick you up en route. You just can’t remember if it was your turn to drive it.


7. You’ve got the Sunday off. Do you?

A- get up early. Get down to the gym. Read through your script. Have a pleasant Sunday lunch with your nearest and dearest. Get an early night.

B- meet with some friends you haven’t seen in a while. Enjoy a few glasses of vino but not too many. You want to get a good night’s sleep in.

C- get a video in, a take-away. Start with a couple beers but your mate comes over and you end up getting really drunk. You get your script out but only to use as an intermediary between your lap and the very hot plate of curry.

D- wake up in a strange city, in a strange bed, a red stamp on the back of your hand, wondering why you hadn’t gone home on the tour van.


8. It’s the first show back after a week’s break. Do you?

A- get together with your fellow cast members that afternoon for a line-run, a discussion of new ideas you’ve had for the show, and to show them the drawings you’ve done of each of them.

B- get together with your fellow cast members to do a quick line-run before the half. You’ve not looked at your script for a week.

C- you’ve not looked at your script for a week. It might be quite exciting to go onstage and at times, be completely surprised by the lines you’re saying. Maybe that might bring about the spontaneity your drama teacher always harped on about.

D- just hope and pray the week you’ve just had, the most hedonistic, alcohol-fuelled week you’ve ever dared have in your life doesn’t harm what was already a rather compromised performance.


9. It’s the final show of the entire tour. Do you?

A- do as you’ve always done. You’re a professional, goddammit.

B- really go out there and enjoy it. It’s your last chance. It might be your last job ever. Have fun out there!

C- try out some new things. Drop in a few jokes of your own. Don’t tell the other cast members though. It’ll be a right laugh. As long as no one’s allergic to cat hair.

D- take the night off.


10. It’s the end-of-play party. Do you?

A- take some headshots along. You never know who you’re gonna meet.

B- dress snazzy. You never know who you’re gonna meet.

C- dress as you always dress. You know exactly who you’re gonna meet. You never liked them anyway.

D- not go. You got so smashed the night before, you’ve not slept for 48 hours and quite honestly your last performance was such a debauched embarrassment, it’s best for all concerned if you stayed away.



A If you answered mostly A, you are an actor.

B If you answered mostly B, you are an actor.

C If you answered mostly C, you are an actor.

D If you answered mostly D, you are an actor, frighteningly.

Auditions, Auditions, Auditions…

This week has been a busy one for Forward Theatre Project as we have been casting our latest play Scarberia by Evan Placey which is being performed between 24th May – 2nd June at York Theatre Royal as part of the TakeOver ’12 Festival. The play was commissioned by the TakeOver team who are a group of young people between 11-26 years old and has been created by working directly with young people in York and Scarborough England and North York and Scarborough Toronto. We also set up an international pen pal system between the 4 groups of young people – which is all done on email nowadays apparently (losing the fun factor of receiving a letter in the post I think –  but definitely more time effective!) We wanted to create a play which was about youth and which engaged with young people at every level. We didn’t want to guess at what young people want to see on stage about their generation but to actually get them to commission the idea they want to see and be involved in its creation to ensure we were creating an authentic voice on stage.

The play looks at the areas of Scarborough in the two different countries. Both wildly different in reputation, we were interested in creating a play which looked at how these two different places with the same name can be connected by one event… a killing. The play has been created by working with FTP’s collective approach to making theatre; the writer came with the beginnings of an idea and then with the director Gemma Kerr and the designer Lydia Denno, the team have worked together at every level to develop the play by working with young people to inform its development. They undertook an intensive 5 week research and development period which involved going across to Toronto to work in their Scarborough – an exciting step for FTP as we start to create work internationally and as we are live streaming the show to our group of Canadian young people as part of the run.

So we begin rehearsals in 2 weeks…actually a week and a half now…eek, where did time go?! So castings are fairly late in the day because of the way the piece has been created but we are really excited about finally bringing the full team together. We have been in the Paines Plough rehearsal room all this week seeing lots of brilliant Yorkshire and Canadian accents come in and out and have just set down to make final decisions. The play is a total cast of 3; two boys that play the English and Canadian roles and a Canadian girl who has gone missing. All the roles are 15 years old so it is a big ask to play both this age and with two very different accents. Luckily as I am from Yorkshire I can cover that side, and Evan is from Toronto so we also have a Canadian voice in the room – definitely useful tools! Auditions are always exciting as it is finding the final piece of the puzzle for your team and we are certainly excited about finding the pieces left for this production. And at being part of TakeOver- a brilliant initiative set up by York Theatre Royal in which every role at the theatre is taken over by artists under 26 years old who then are mentored by their equivalent staff member to programme and run a three week arts festival across the Mainhouse, Studio and other found performance spaces. This year the TakeOver team are hugely exciting to work with and have programmed some brilliant companies including Paines Plough of course for their production of Wasted as well as getting companies such as Frantic Assembly to offer workshops on their work. It is going to be a fun start to the summer, once it stops raining…

Charlotte Bennett
Artistic Director
Forward Theatre Project

Playtext Cover Competition

Here at PP HQ we’re big fans of Apple’s app store. We’re forever downloading small, curved-edge squares that we’re convinced will make our lives easier/faster/more fun/better organised (delete as appropriate).

In fact, if by chance someone from Apple is reading this blog, we would be very open to a conversation about corporate sponsorship. You get to be associated with ‘the national theatre of new plays’ and we get shedloads of Apple products. Seems fair.

Our latest acquisition is PHOSTER which gives you a batch of ready-made design templates using classic graphics and fonts for inspiration.

So we’ve had a go at re-imagining covers for Paines Plough playtexts of the past. We’ve been inspired by trips to New York book shops where we’ve found book-jacket art to be far more interesting than the stuff we tend to get in the UK.

But we reckon that there’s far better design talent out there than is currently housed at PP HQ. So we thought we would launch a competition.

With Kate Tempest’s WASTED currently touring the length and breadth of the UK, the competition winner will receive a PP goodie-bag, including PP playtexts from our archive, a signed copy of Balance, the incredible debut album by Kate Tempest’s band Sound of Rum, and a pair of tickets to see WASTED at the Roundhouse on the 9th May.

All you have to do to enter is to design an imaginary playtext cover for WASTED and send it to as a JPEG or PNG with WASTED PLAYTEXT in the subject line before midnight on the 7th May. Tweet us @painesplough with the hashtag #katetempestwasted to let us know you’ve submitted an entry and we’ll tweet the name of the winner on opening night of WASTED at the Roundhouse on 8th May 2012.

You can design the cover however you like. It can be typefont-based like our own below or it can be image-based. It can be any style, colour and composition. It can include logos and creative teams or not.

We’ll post the winner as well as some of our favourite runner-ups on this blog in May.

We can’t wait to see what you come up with.