Monthly archives: October 2012

LONDON trailer

Here’s the film trailer for LONDON by Simon Stephens, created by those geniuses Mathy & Fran.

Check it, and tell us what you think by leaving a comment or tweeting us @painesplough with the hashtag #LondonPlay.

For further information, tour dates and tickets for LONDON click here.

You can see more PP trailers, films and video clips over on our YouTube Channel.

Simon Stephens & Abby Ford on LONDON

Our tour of LONDON by Simon Stephens rolls into Newcastle tonight and opens at the brilliant Newcastle Live Theatre, where it plays until 10 November.

The Newcastle Journal interviewed Simon in advance of our visit, and as always, SS makes for essential reading…

Every play is an attempt, and in that way, every play is a failure.”

You can read the full interview here.

Also well worth a read is cast member Abby Ford’s interview with The List, in advance of our tour dates at The Tron in Glasgow 13-17 November.

I pass people in the street everyday, and I wonder, ‘Who are you, I wonder what it’s like to be you and what’s that thing I can see in your eyes?’ And wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could truly share those things with each other? Maybe the world wouldn’t seem so big.”

The full interview is here.

Theatre Awards UK: Theatre 1 Football 0

All the winners at The Theatre Awards UK 2012

We were thrilled to attend The Theatre Awards UK last Sunday, hosted by The TMA and The Stage at the magnificent Guildhall in the heart of the City of London.

We were proudly supporting Duncan Macmillan whose play LUNGS – part of our Roundabout Season – was nominated in The Best New Play category.

The TMA does a fantastic job of celebrating the truly national reach of British Theatre. Nominees in its annual awards ranged from The Lyric Belfast to The Theatre Chipping Norton, via touring companies like Graeae and ETT, and celebrating the invaluable contribution of backstage, box office, marketing and management staff who make our theatres tick, as well as the writers, actors, directors and creatives whose work we see on stage.

As TMA president Rachel Tackley rightly said: “Regional theatre is going from strength to strength, and we should recognise and celebrate that success.”

Rachel also offered a suprising statistic: “With 30 million theatre attendances a year in Britain, theatre-going easily outstrips football attendances.”

So much for theatre being a minority sport.

We loved hearing Sam West speak so passionately about his parents Timothy West and Prunella Scales who were honoured with The Stage Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Theatre for their lifetime devotion to touring far and wide. And we loved celebrating the extraordinary energy and innovation of a nationwide industry bloodied but unbowed by funding cuts.

We also loved the salmon mousse, rack of lamb and chocolate soufle. Obvs.

The Best New Play award was won by Sarah Ruhl for her play IN THE NEXT ROOM, produced at The Ustinov Studio, Theatre Royal Bath. So congratulations to her, and congratulations to all the winners and nominees (but especially Duncan, we’re unashamedly biased…)

And congratulations to British Theatre collectively, in all its diversity and variety and brilliance. You beat football.

Roundabout Meet the Ushers: Gabriella

The Roundabout Season came to an end this Saturday with a brilliant three show day and a lovely night of celebrations, and joining the cast and company at drinks afterwards were many of the amazing volunteer ushers who’s dedication and enthusiasm has embodied the spirit of the Roundabout Season.

Last week we heard from Jon and Ariane about their experience of the season and now it’s Gabriella‘s turn …

Name: Gabriella

How are you finding the Roundabout experience? I’m loving it – it’s great to be in a buzzing, creative building again after working in a commercial, business environment for a while.

What’s your favourite part of the Roundabout Auditorium? It is a very intimate space yet can fit a surprising amount of people, and there isn’t a ‘bad’ seat in the house!

Which plays have you seen so far? I’ve been lucky enough to catch all three, more than once in some cases!

Which one would you recommend and why? Lungs – the way Duncan Macmillan has written the dialogue feels revolutionary even though it’s really just an accurate representation of the cadences of everyday speech.

Give us your 140 character review of the play: Breath of fresh air in exploration of contemporary relationships. Characters have believable shades of grey & are beautifully performed by talented cast of two.


The last Come to Where I’m From we did, on the Isle of Wight, is now but a hazy summer memory. Havanas were acceptable, street carnivals permissible and a skinny dip would not result in hospitalization. Next week takes us to Cheltenham, and although no one is packing their sunglasses, we’re equally excited to be listening to writers talk about the places that matter to them.

So who is doing the talking?

The four writers chosen for the Parabola Arts Centre next Thursday 1st November are Alice Jolly, Katherine Mitchell, Steven Deproost and Lucy Tyler.

As you might already know, the concept is simple – we ask writers to write about their home towns. Some respond anecdotally, others earnestly, and then there are those who write in a more abstract way. No one needs to tell us how ‘true’ their piece is, because ultimately it is not important. What matters is that each writer says what they want to say in a way that they see fit.

Here is a little bit about what each writer has focused on in their piece:

Alice Jolly came back to her home county of Gloucestershire after sixteen years living abroad and shares her experience both as an insider and outsider.

Katherine Mitchell grew up in a tough northern town where the language was football and the Beatles. For her, its felt like coming home to move to a place where you’re more likely to overhear conversations about biodynamic vegetables and storytelling.

Steven Deproost has been involved in several projects, as a writer and an actor, which reflect on the history and nature of the area. He writes for site-specific, youth theatre, community theatre and large ensemble casts and so this is a chance for a much more personal response to home.

Lucy Tyler tells her unique story about running away from university in Nottingham to live with a man on a communal farm in rural Gloucestershire.

Tickets can be bought here.  We hope to see you there.

LONDON plays London (nearly)

What have the Brighton Dome being putting in the fish-batter mix every time we visit? Whatever it is, Orla Flanagan and her team keep us coming back for more. In May it was WASTED, June was Open Auditions with COME TO WHERE I’M FROM straight afterwards, and this weekend Paines Plough will pay a final 2012 visit with Simon StephensLONDON.

LONDON’s first home, Salisbury Playhouse, has been a welcoming one. For the past three weeks, Gareth Machin and his team have helped us make a show with headphones and printed audience instructions ready for its UK tour.

Next on the agenda, this weekend in fact, LONDON will head towards its spiritual home – London. Well, sort of.

So it means those of you who cannot, or will not, venture too far from the Big Smoke for your theatre fix have to act fast. On Friday and Saturday only at 8pm, we’ll be less than an hour from most of your abodes.

So come join us.

Getting there is easy. Southern Railway will take you from St Pancras, Blackfriars, Victoria, City Thameslink or London Bridge to the centre of Brighton for as little as £10 for a return ticket. Trains leave every few minutes and you can be there and back after work it’s that near. We’ve even heard that there are special four for the price of three deals going, so get some mates together and head to the coast!

Tickets are still available, but not for long. Click here for the Brighton Dome direct.

We’re going en masse this Friday and would love to know what you think. If you see us in the bar afterwards, come over and chat.

And if that’s not enough, let’s not forget that this weekend is also the last time you can catch the Roundabout at Shoreditch Town Hall.

That’s a lot of Paines Plough this weekend.


Roundabout Meet the Ushers: Jon

Following on from Friday’s blog we asked another of our amazing volunteer ushers to share their experiences of the Roundabout Season and give their personal recommendations of which shows to see in the final week …

Name: Jon Barton

How are you finding the Roundabout experience?

I’m having a really great time. I’m a writer myself so its a useful learning experience for me.

What’s your favourite part of the Roundabout Auditorium?

That it’s in the round. It completely changes the dynamic of the productions and really does justice to the writing. Also we don’t have enough in the round theatres in the UK and it’s a breath of fresh air.

Which plays have you seen so far?

I’ve been lucky enough to see all of them.

Which one would you recommend and why?

One Day When We Were Young is probably my favourite but they’re all unique in their own ways. Lungs is a really affective love story and The Sound of Heavy Rain is great fun.

Give us your 140 character review of the play…

Nick Payne has written a compelling love story that lends itself to the intimacy (and theatricality) of the Roundabout space. In a story that spans six decades we meet Leonard and Violet – wartime lovers looking to enjoy their last night together. Leaping forward to the sixties we see the extent of their estrangement, until events draw them together once more in 2002. Clare Lizzimore’s production excels in its execution, mining the writing for every bit of tenderness and inelegance. Exposing set and costume serve a timeless quality to the story and remind us of the advancing years. What stays with you is the quiet power of the triptych and its ability to quietly break your heart.

Roundabout Meet the Ushers: Ariane

Shoreditch Town Hall has been buzzing in the past 5 weeks with the Roundabout Season in town. And at the heart of the experience are our wonderful volunteer ushers, who have been giving up their time to help create a friendly front of house experience and pass on their passion for theatre and new writing.

So who better to tell us about the ROUNDABOUT experience and what they think of the  shows:

Name: Ariane Barnes

How are you finding the Roundabout experience?

The Roundabout Season has been very rewarding for me, I feel like I am doing something useful with my time on a Friday night and Its always a pleasure to see the other ushers and staff at Shoreditch, its a lovely team.

What’s your favorite part of the Roundabout Auditorium?

I’m very taken by the lighting set up, the guys let me have a go on the lighting board during the introductions evening and I felt like a little kid! When you add the structure of the actual stage ( being in quite a small round) and how intimately it involves audience members, it really does give it all a very unique ambience.

Which plays have you seen so far?

I’ve seen The Sound of Heavy Rain by Penny Skinner and ‘heard’ ( from a different position in the room as an usher) One Day When We Were Young by Nick Payne.

Which one would you recommend and why?

I’d recommend The Sound of Heavy Rain

It’s an experience that melds the unique qualities you would find in a classic American cop caper à la ‘Dick Tracy’ and the gritty reality of modern day London and British actors.  It is presented in a unique and highly entertaining way in this auditorium.

Give us your 140 character review of the play…

Right from the start this play sets out to be very different from the normal theatrical experience. Penny Skinner’s writing and the unique ambience created in the intimate space of the roundabout auditorium, provide for this in droves.

Immersed in smoke and sultry music, the audience is instantly transported into the American film noire genre, and skillfully brought back to our gritty London streets by the charming style of delivery given to us by the cast.

All the actors here are to be highly commended for their ability to weave a very British undercurrent into a play written as an expression of both the American genre and the very real, very pressing issues in modern-day Britain.

Therein lies the genius of the writing. This play contains both an expression of what we as an audience die for; the beauty, the music, the intrigue but also a much needed, good hard slap in the face courtesy of the stinging realism in the second half, put to us in a searing duologue showcasing Kate O’Flynn’s emotive, straight-talking, desperation in the face of an emotionally serious situation.

Yes, there will be singing and dancing and a bloody good laugh or two! But ultimately there is a finely crafted message here… the audiences journey through fantasy towards reality is reflective of the characters needs to explore their own psyche’s. And in some cases have their whole ‘constructed world’ completely fall down around them like a house of cards… How long can people stay lost in a fantasy until reality comes calling?

Entertaining and thought provoking theatre.

View from the Stage: Frizzy Hair in the Rain

It was over a month ago now that the Roundabout Auditorium opened its doors at Shoreditch Town Hall. Since then thousands of people have sat on the colourful cushions and sampled some of the three new plays on offer.

At the heart of the Roundabout Season is the stunning acting ensemble of four – Maia Alexander, Alistair Cope, Kate O’Flynn & Andrew Sheridan – who between them perform all the roles in the three productions.  One of the questions they are most frequently asked is: What is it like playing such a range of roles?

Maia (Violet in One Day When We Were Young & Maggie in The Sound of Heavy Rain) tells us that it’s all about the hair…..

Hair today, gone tomorrowThe Sound of Heavy Rain

“When I think about the range of characters that I play in the Roundabout Season, from the seventeen year old to the seventy-nine year old, from the introverted to the glamorous, then the thing that really seems to set them immediately apart is hair. They all have it, of course, but in wildly different styles, some more natural than others, that distinguish not only personalities, but where and when they come from.

For instance, in the transition between Act One and Two of One Day When We Were Young by Nick Payne, when my character Violet is preparing to see Leonard again after a long war which has seen their once paired lives painfully diverge, a broken hair tie threatened to ruin everything. Why was my middle-aged beehive on the side of my head exactly, spilling youthful salon-fresh, perfectly curled locks out onto my jacket that looked exactly like the pre-war seventeen year old Violet? Because the hair tie was refusing to get with the times, that’s why. Stay in character, hair tie!

With Andrew Sheridan in Nick Payne’s “gripping love story” – The Guardian

In The Sound of Heavy Rain by Penelope Skinner, I play five different characters – which is partly achieved by a juggling act of an ever expanding number of wigs.   There is the curly wig which seemed determined to make me look like the lovechild of Brian May and Deidre Barlow, which the designer and costume department fought tirelessly to tame, hacking away at it to try and make it behave. The wig had ideas of its own, and the more it was chopped, the more fervently it asserted its wildness.   Ultimately, it was decided that the wig’s fame had gone to its head and it had begun to upstage the performers head that it was on – and so . . . it was cut from the show. Luckily, the aloof blonde waitress wig stepped in to fill the synthetic void – versatile and relaxed, the platinum bob will play any number of roles without complaint – at the last count, the blonde wig was being used for five different characters, although there is talk, even at this stage half way through the run, of a brunette appearing on the scene. Watch out you blondes.”

What we’re seeing at the theatre

Another week, another brilliant creative chat at PPHQ.

Every Friday we try our best to meet and talk about some provocation or other. It might be the hot topic doing the rounds in the office that week, or it might be something much more peculiar.

We’ve been, let’s say, just a little bit busy with London and Roundabout over the past few weeks – so the hiatus provided us with plenty of material to thrash out. After dissecting our own productions for a time, we then moved onto what we’ve seen and what we plan to see over the coming weeks.

What we’ve seen recently:

Twelfth Night at The Globe,   Damned by Despair at The National, Monkey Bars at The Unicorn, War Horse at New London Theatre, This House at The National, I Heart Peterborough at Soho, Magic Flute at ENO, Last of the Haussmans at The National, Three Sisters at The Young Vic, Desire Under the Elms at the Lyric Hammersmith, Crypted/Excess at The Arcola, Love and Information at The Royal Court.

What we’re going to see in the next couple of weeks:

Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night at The National, Medea at Watford Palace, Lyrikal Fearta at Sadler’s Wells,  Fireface at The Young Vic, Mudlarks at The Bush, Tanika’s Journey at Southwark Playhouse, Joe/Boy at The Last Refuge, The Hotel Plays at Grange Hotel in Holborn, Jumpy at The Duke of York’s Theatre, Bunnies at The New Diorama Theatre, 55 Days at Hampstead, The Seagull at Southwark Playhouse, Hedda Gabler at The Old Vic.

What have we missed? Let us know what you’re seeing, what you’ve liked, and what else should be on our to-see list.