Monthly archives: March 2013


This week our General Manager Claire, Producer Tara and Assistant Producer Hanna headed up to Scarborough for NSDF 2013. As well as watching the final show of the WASTED tour at the Grand Spa Hall, and seeing some of the selected shows at Stephen Joseph Theatre, the team was also delivering workshops on Producing, Fundraising and Budgeting. We were really inspired by all of the young producers and arts managers who took part in the workshops, thanks so much for coming.

Check out the summaries of the workshops below and click on the handy links for the PowerPoints from the workshop. If you would like copies of any of the handouts please do get in touch.

The Scarborough seaside providing the backdrop for NSDF 2013

1. Run by Tara Wilkinson, Hanna Streeter and Claire Simpson

Workshop title: Getting big on budgets

Workshop summary: Practical guidance on how to draft a production budget, primarily for touring co-productions, focusing on all of the details you might need to consider.  This workshop will include group-based exercises.

Maximum number of attendees: 20

Skill level (if applicable): Some understanding or experience of drafting a budget or producing a show would be advantageous, but not essential.

Genre:  Producing, Finance, Administration

Items needed for workshop: Tables and chairs for practical activity and note taking, projector for power point, flip chart, board pens for flip chart

For the GETTING BIG ON BUDGETS powerpoint click here


2. Run by Tara Wilkinson, Hanna Streeter and Claire Simpson

Workshop title: Treasure Hunt – funding your way to success

Workshop summary: A summary of the current funding landscape and where the opportunities and challenges lie, with practical guidance on drafting a funding application.  This workshop will include group-based exercises.

Maximum number of attendees: 20

Skill level (if applicable): Some understanding or experience of applying for funding or producing a show would be advantageous, but not essential.

Genre:  Producing, Fundraising, Administration

Items needed for workshop: Tables and chairs for practical activity and note taking, projector for power point, flip chart, board pens for flip chart

Click here for the TREASURE HUNT- Funding your way to success Powerpoint


One of PP's NSDF workshops

3. Run by Tara Wilkinson, Hanna Streeter and Claire Simpson

Workshop title: Just the two of us – a guide to the very important co-producing relationship

Workshop summary: Sharing experiences of the different forms of co-producing relationships, how the relationship works in delivering a show and how that is reflected in the co-production contract.  This workshop will include group-based exercises.

Maximum number of attendees: 20

Skill level (if applicable): Some understanding or experience of producing a show would be advantageous, but not essential.

Genre:  Producing, Co-Productions, Administration

Items needed for workshop: Tables and chairs for practical activity and note taking, projector for power point, flip chart, board pens for flip chart

Click here for the JUST THE TWO OF US – a guide to the very important co-producing relationship Powerpoint

For any other information on the workshops email and we’ll see what we can do!

Happy Producing!

LONDON Nominated at Manchester Theatre Awards

We are over the moon that our 2012 co-production of Simon StephensLONDON has been nominated for Best Studio Production at the Manchester Theatre Awards 2013.

Abby Ford in LONDON nominated at the MTA Awards this week

Directed by our Joint AD GeorgeLONDON was the UK premiere of a new project incorporating the critically acclaimed Sea Wall and T5 starring Cary Crankson (who has just finished touring with Kate Tempest’s WASTED) and Abby Ford.

As George is in New York opening GOOD WITH PEOPLE this week and James is rehearsing for JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS Paines Plough regular Cary is representing Team PP- Fingers Crossed!

Top tips for a week Off-Broadway

We’ve landed in the big apple to open our next production of Programme 2013 – David Harrower’s GOOD WITH PEOPLE.

The last time we had a show stateside was in summer 2006 when we transferred AFTER THE END by Dennis Kelly here to 59 East 59 Theaters.

We’ve been back a few times since then, mainly to visit the Orchard Project in upstate New York and to catch up on shows here in the city, but it’s never quite the same as having your own show Off-Broadway.

So for the rest of this week our AD George, Designer Ben Stones and Lighting Designer Tim Deiling will be squeezing the best out of the city around their tech week. Their interests include theatre, burgers and dive bars.

Top tips anyone?

INSIGHTS: Lucy Osborne on the search for the perfect costume

JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS designer Lucy Osborne has been on an odyssey to find a rare Hull City shirt from the 1995 season. No stone is left unturned in the search for the perfect costume…

Lucy Osborne and her spoils – the rare Hull City away shirt 1995

Dedication.  Commitment.  Perseverance.

As a Nottingham Forest fan, these are the words that might spring to mind if I reflected on the great European Cup Triumphs of 1979 and 1980.  Or the attributes that might define such Forest giants as John Robertson, Peter Withe or Stuart Pearce.

But this week at PP HQ we have been awestruck by the passion and enthusiasm of the fans themselves: the amazingly generous and passionate fans of Hull City AFC.

Jumpers for Goalposts tells the story of a 5-a-side football team in Hull.  This is the world of scrappy Saturday afternoon football in the park.  Our team don’t have proper kits, but instead attempt team unity based around a “theme of red”.  Our costume supervisor Mark Jones had a moment of inspiration, and discovered that Hull City abandoned their archetypal amber and black kits for just two seasons and amazingly had a dark red change kit for the 1995-97 season.  This was brilliant news, one of our characters, Joe, would look brilliant playing in a Hull City shirt.  Now we wanted one of these shirts really badly….

But a bit more research revealed that this is an ultra-rare collectors item.  Only 1000 were ever produced, and when they do very occasionally come up for sale they can fetch close to £70.  We love a challenge, but how on earth were we going to track one down?

Time to call my mate Matt who is a Hull City fan.  Did he have one stashed away in the attic?  No, but his Dad might know someone who’s got one.  He’ll call his Dad in Hull.

Matt’s Dad gets involved.  He’s called Mike.  Best bet, Mike reckons after a bit of research, is via  He’ll email the guy who runs it for us. is a website entirely devoted to “an aesthetic critique of Tigers apparel”.  It describes the shirt we are after as being in “an unfamiliar although nonetheless lovely maroon with amber trim…memorably first used in a League Cup tie at Coventry.”.   This website leads us to Les Motherby.  Les runs, widely thought to be the finest independent Hull City website, with a legendary fans forum.  Within four hours of me calling my mate, our plea for a red Hull City Away Shirt from 1995-97 is on Twitter and every Hull City fans forum that counts, and someone has been in touch to say that they might have one that we could have.

Four days after the first phone call, our rare, supposedly impossible-to-find shirt arrives in the post.

So thank you Matt, Mike, Les and everyone on the Hull City forums who has helped us.  Nottingham Forest may have beaten you 2-1 at the weekend, but you have my gratitude and deep respect.  We’ll look after that shirt very, very carefully…

Tom’s first couple of weeks..

I am currently an MA student at Central School of Speech and Drama studying Creative Producing. The course is 1 year and requires a Practices module- spending time in a placement and documenting what you learn. This, for me, is one of the most important aspects of the course, as it allows you to get your teeth stuck in to the day to day jobs of Producing and get a feel for the office environment.

Fortunately, I was lucky to get a place with Paines Plough working in the Production Office as Production Assistant to Tara and Hanna. Everyone in the office has been extremely accommodating so far, and even though I have only just started my second week, I feel like I’m settling in to the family well. Working all day doesn’t sound like the best way to spend your birthday, but working with this crew makes it a lot of fun! Cake and coffee was on the cards! Thanks guys!!

One aspect that stands out for me is how well this group of people work as a team. Everyone is present at company meetings and ‘creative chat’ which really helps you to get your head around the structure of the company as a whole and the goals it is working towards. This allows me to see my role in the context with the company’s future. In creative chat, the Directors George and James bounce their ideas off everyone in the company to get feedback. It is nice to know (for an intern) that your opinion is valued within the company.

I am currently in charge of several aspects for Tom Wells’ new show JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS. This entails working on the marketing pack for the show, liaising with cast and creative’s, facilitating the creation of the show from start to finish. As rehearsals are happening next door, there is always a buzz in the office. For me, this is very important as you feel more involved with the creation of the show, and I believe this is part of the reason why Paines Plough is such a close-knit family of people.

I’m looking forward to the next few months ahead!

INSIGHTS: Adapting LUNGS for radio

Ahead of Sunday night’s BBC Radio 3 broadcast of LUNGS, Duncan Macmillan offers an insight in to the process of adapting the play from stage to radio:

In George Orwell’s ‘1984’, Winston Smith is tortured in Room 101, a place that contains everyone’s worst nightmare. Some people believe it was based on the Committee Room at BBC Broadcasting House where Orwell had worked during the Second World War. I’m currently adapting 1984 for Headlong, and was in the middle of the Room 101 scene when I was invited to come in for a meeting at Broadcasting House.

Unlike Winston, I wasn’t tortured with rats. But I was asked to cut down the swearing in my play ‘Lungs’ which the BBC were about to record for radio broadcast.

“In terms of language, s****, p***, c*** and w***** don’t ring too many alarms. I’m more concerned about words like f***, m*********** and c***.”

I’ve not heard as much swearing in my life as during this meeting about swearing. It was revealed that the f-bomb appears in my play seventy-eight times. I knew this already, oddly, as the play had been reviewed by a theatre-blogging Reverend in Winnipeg who had counted them.

I’d been through this before with the first production in Washington DC where, during rehearsal, I’d managed to cut thirty-two f***s. It’s a generalisation but Americans tend to use the word for emphasis whereas Brits use it for punctuation. There’s no word quite like ‘f***’, no word that has the same function. The characters in Lungs are stressed, they’re thinking out loud, they’re scared and angry and excited. To me, every f*** was justified.

But words have a different power on the radio. When you haven’t got the actor’s body language or facial gestures to help contextualise them, swear words can feel much more abrasive and unnecessary, particularly at the start of a play when the listener hasn’t had a chance to get to know the characters. To my surprise, not only were they not about to strap rats to my face, it became clear that there was no pressure from the BBC to cut the swearing at all. Yes, certain things in language and content require various processes but their priority was always to preserve the integrity of the script and if all the language and content is justifiable, then there’s no problem. The quality of attention from the audience is different on radio than in the theatre. It’s in people’s homes, in their kitchens, living rooms, cars and earphones.

In this new context I found that much of the swearing could be extracted. It took a lot of work but I managed to more than half the f*** count and there aren’t any in the first twenty minutes or so. I sent the revised script to Toby Swift, our producer. He thanked me, then asked if I’d mind restoring some of the eliminated f***s.

On stage Lungs is performed without sets, props, costume changes, lighting changes or sound effects, just two actors. On radio, the listener is already making the sort of imaginative leaps the play asks of the audience in a theatre. So we decided to include a lot of sound in the radio production that wasn’t in the stage version. I broke the script down into fifty-eight scenes and we recorded them separately, with a different acoustic and background sound for each one. We reunited Alistair Cope and Kate O’Flynn from Paines Plough/Sheffield Theatres’ production, Richard Wilson redirected them and Toby did a fantastic job with the production. It was great to get the team back together again, Alistair now a father and Kate taking a few days off from her astonishing performance in Port at the National. They managed to recreate what they did on stage but also bring something brand new to it.

Listening to it in the edit, after all the work cutting the swear words and debating the right form, I think it sounds great. Thank f*** for that.

Duncan Macmillan

LUNGS plays the planet

This Sunday we open our next production of Programme 2013 and it is visiting every living room, bedroom, train, pavement, hotel, gym, laptop, iPad, wireless and car in the UK.

In fact, anyone anywhere in the world with an internet connection (2.4 billion people, or 34.3% of the global population, at the last count) can experience the show.

And it’s on for one night only.

Thanks to BBC Radio 3, our co-production with Sheffield Theatres of Duncan Macmillan’s LUNGS will be broadcast at 20:30 GMT on Sunday 24th March on 90 – 93 FM, online via the BBC Radio 3 website, on the iPlayer Radio App and on DAB digital radio.

As part of their growing collection of stage transfers, BBC Radio 3 recorded Richard Wilson’s production of the play with the original cast Alistair Cope and Kate O’Flynn only a few weeks ago. Thanks to some nifty editing by Richard and Producer Toby Swift, the production is now ready for airing and joins an illustrious canon of stage plays given radio airplay.

So far the production has played in our Roundabout auditorium in both Sheffield and London where a combined total of 2,703 people have seen it. The stage production will soon embark on a national tour as part of our ongoing plans for Roundabout. But in the meantime the studio recording will be available to listen to – for free – on Sunday night and thereafter on iPlayer catch up.

Enjoy the show, planet earth.

Open Auditions at Watford Palace Theatre

Paines Plough Open Auditions in collaboration with Watford Palace Theatre
Saturday 13th April 2013
Watford Palace Theatre, Watford
10am – 5pm

Many actors find themselves in the position of needing to be in something to be seen, and needing to be seen to be in something. In response to this often frustrating dilemma, Paines Plough has committed to meeting over 700 actors previously unknown to the company each year.

Our next meeting will be held on Saturday 13th April 2012 where PP’s joint Artistic Director James Grieve will be joined by Watford Palace Theatre’s Artistic Director Brigid Lamour, and a panel of directors and producers from Paines Plough’s core team. The panel will see 60 actors (30 pairs), and these slots will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. Actors must be from the Hertfordshire area.

If you would like to be seen, please do the following:

• Find yourself a partner – we are auditioning people in pairs.
• Apply by sending ONE email with BOTH of your names to
• Please put OPEN AUDITIONS @ WATFORD PALACE THEATRE in the Subject line.
• Do not send CVs, biogs or headshots as you can bring these with you on the day.
• If you are within the first 30 emails, we will email you back by Friday 5th April with an audition time.
• If you weren’t in the first 30 people to apply we will keep you on a waiting list and may offer you an audition if a slot becomes available.
• Once we have confirmed your time, please prepare a 3 minute piece of dialogue in your pair from a play written post 1995.

Please note

•Actors must be based in Hertfordshire.
•If you have auditioned at our previous Open Auditions, we will not be able to see you this time round.
• We do not accept applications from agents. If you have an agent, you must still apply yourself using your own email address.
• Places are all allocated in advance. You will not be able to request a different time, and we will be unable to see people on a walk-up basis.
• We will retain a waiting list and will notify you if you are on this waiting list.
• If you are allotted a time but for any reason cannot make the appointment please let us know asap by emailing If you fail to turn up to your allotted slot without letting us know in advance, you will not be able to audition at future Paines Plough Open Auditions.
• We will not accept any emails sent to any email address other than
• Due to the large volume of people we are seeing, we will not be able to offer feedback.
• We are not casting for a particular show at the moment – we just want to meet some new actors so that we can have you in mind for future productions.

Best wishes,
George, James and all at Paines Plough


It’s all going on in the JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS rehearsal room this week here at PP Towers, so here’s a sneak peek into what they’ve been up to.

From Edith Piaf to Bjork to Cliff Richard’s Greatest Hits, let’s make a list of the ultimate turn offs, the songs no hopeful romantic should ever play when trying to woo.

Chip in the songs that have hit a bum note in the bedroom for you below, or tweet @painesplough, and we’ll update this blog with the best suggestions.

Let’s get it on…

Jumpers for Goalposts: Rehearsal Week One

It’s always the same isn’t it. You wait for rehearsals to start, then three lots arrive all at once. In the space of a month, Paines Plough has begun three separate rehearsal processes on three different shows. Today, we’re looking at JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS by Tom Wells.

The size of our Aldwych rehearsal room can best be described as modest. So then imagine all the entire cast and creative, team PP and then two co-producers packed into the space to hear the first reading of a script that had been sent, print previewed and copied all before 10am that Monday morning.

And Tom, of course, did not disappoint. Even at the read-through there was a palpable appreciation of a draft that will inevitably change and grow over the four week rehearsal period. Afterwards, Lucy Osborne presented her simple yet brilliantly playful design and then as everyone went their separate ways, our cast of Matt, Viv,  Jamie, Phil and Andy remained to begin the hard work of the next four weeks.

The first week was spent partly round the table breaking the scenes into units, partly on its feet. The exact logistics of uniting is particular to each rehearsal room, and in our one it was about finding moments in the script whereby an action happens that cannot be retracted. A moment that when it happens, changes the state of play. We labelled each one and personal preferences include: ‘Orinoco Flow’, ‘Can’t snog a book’ and ‘Hullywood Ending’.

The plan was then to spend Wednesday to Friday getting the thing on its feet. Which we did. Rather than agonise over whether it should be a break downstage left, or which hand to accept the can with, we went with what felt best and were brave with it. This meant that by Friday afternoon, we had already down a stagger through and had a feeling of the piece from beginning to end.

Tom then had the weekend to make any changes he felt necessary after hearing the words spoken from for the first time. The cast were not to learn anything, but to continue familiarising themselves with their part and the world of the play.

We’re now well into week two, so will update soon.