Monthly archives: June 2013

We’re recruiting a General Manager

We’re looking for someone completely brilliant to come and join our team at PPHQ.

Claire is one such completely brilliant person, but she’s made us very sad by leaving us to join the team at The Belgrade Theatre in Coventry. So we need you to cheer us up by becoming our new General Manager.

You’ll be highly motivated and organised. You’ll be responsible for the management of Paines Plough and lead on administration, finance, human resources and income generation across the company’s programme of work.

You’ll also be passionate about new plays and touring and be excited to join our hard-working, fun-loving team at PPHQ on Aldwych in Central London. Liking cake is not essential, but is advisable.

This is a particularly exciting time for Paines Plough as we prepare to celebrate our 40th Anniversary during 2014.  You will play a central role in delivering a dynamic programme of activity during the anniversary year and beyond.

We’re looking for someone with a minimum of 3 years professional experience in the arts and a minimum of 2 years arts or finance management experience.

Is that you? Great! We very much look forward to hearing from you.

To download a full job description and application form please go here or email


This week we have started making EVERY BRILLIANT THING.

And we have decided to use not the tools of the playwriting trade, but rather those of the arts and crafts world.

We have made good use of post-it notes:

Loosely speaking we think there might be three strands to the show:

Some bits will be scripted:

By Duncan:

And some bits will be made up by Jonny:

And whatever we have by 8pm on Friday, we’ll share in this room:

The story behind EVERY BRILLIANT THING – Part 1

The way Duncan tells it, EVERY BRILLIANT THING began as a favour.

Rosie, an actress in his first play, came up to him on their final night. She was in two scenes but had no lines and was required to keep her back to the audience. After the performance, she took his face in her hands and said:

‘You owe me.’

A few months later he was invited to write a short play for The Miniaturists and it seemed like a good opportunity to repay the favour. He wrote her a monologue. Having been in a play where she said nothing, she was now able to stand on stage and talk constantly for fifteen minutes which, knowing Rosie, suited her much better.

The monologue he wrote, entitled SLEEVE NOTES, is a short story about a young girl who makes a list of everything that’s brilliant about the world as an attempt to combat her mother’s depression.

1.       Ice cream

2.       Rollercoasters

3.       Staying up past your bedtime and being allowed to watch TV

4.       People falling over

5.       Banana slides

6.       Water fights

As the girl grows up, so does the list. It takes on a life of its own, other people start adding to it, writing in the margins, making amendments, providing footnotes. The purpose of the list is forgotten and her mother’s depression doesn’t go away. Eventually, as a grown woman, she reaches her self-imposed target of one million entries.

She calls the list ‘Every Brilliant Thing’.

People who heard Rosie read the monologue enjoyed it greatly and so over the next few months, she was asked to perform it again and again at different theatres.

A little while after that, Duncan was invited by Paines Plough to perform something he’d written as part of LATER, which was a monthly event conceived by Mark Ravenhill, where playwrights would read or perform their own work. Duncan decided to read SLEEVE NOTES, and set about changing anything gender specific and making the list in the story feel a bit more macho.

3675. Shoes


3675. Marlon Brando

I heard Duncan perform SLEEVE NOTES and asked him to do it again at SHORTS – an event James and I used to run for nabokov at the Old Red Lion. I really liked how he performed it. It felt honest. Autobiographical maybe. Despite not particularly having enjoyed the experience of performing it the first time round, he reluctantly relented and agreed.

I noticed once more how the simplicity, warmth and hope of the story moved people.

A year or so later people still mentioned the story to me. How it had stayed with them. How it had gently changed the way they viewed things. Duncan and I met for coffee and between us we dreamt up the idea of actually making the list in the story. From scratch. Something that, like in the story, anyone could add to and share.

Unsure of exactly where to begin, we stared a Facebook group in the hope of reaching out to those who already knew the story to help us populate the real life list. Within hours contributions started flying in.

101. Massages

102. Late night text conversations

103. Inappropriate songs played at emotional moments

The group continued to grow and within a few months we had several hundred members and nearly a thousand entries.

We took SLEEVE NOTES to a festival in Brick Lane and to the Innocent Village Fete in Regents Park where it was read by Gugu Mbatha Raw while children hung their contributions on the branches of ‘The Tree of Every Brilliant Thing’.

2571. Hugs and laughing til your tummy hurts

2572. Seashells

We saved all the contributions in a huge card board box and added them to the Facebook Group. We loved the idea of the list existing physically as well as digitally – something you could look at, hold in your hands, walk around.

So we enlisted designers Paul Burgess and Simon Daw and set up what Paul called a ‘voluntary sweatshop’. We began to transpose the digital entries from Facebook on to paper, using backs of envelopes, post-it notes, newspaper cuttings, receipts, cardboard, beer-mats, whatever we could get our hands on. We installed our list like an exhibition in one of the huge arches in Village Underground in Shoreditch for the nabokov Arts Club – thousands and thousands of entries;

3263. Telephones with a rotary dial rather than push buttons

3346. Getting a mix tape

3376. Columbo

nabokov’s Producer at the time Davina Shah had managed to source a load of old cassette Walkmans and we had recorded hundreds of people reading SLEEVE NOTES as well as a companion piece we commissioned Gary Owen to write called KILL JOY. Whereas SLEEVE NOTES was a child’s perspective on a parent struggling with depression, KILL JOY was  a story about a young child written through the eyes of a depressed parent. As you walked around the installation you would listen to one story on side A then turn the tape over and listen to the other on side B. At the end you could add your own entries to the list which began to grow out of the arch as the evening went on. At some point in the evening the music from the next arch got so loud that it drowned out the headphones. So I managed to persuade Duncan to get up on stage and perform SLEEVE NOTES one last time. 500 people stopped dancing, and almost as one, quietly sat down on the floor to listen.

Duncan reads SLEEVE NOTES at the nabokov Arts Club

The following year, Tania Harrison invited nabokov to take the exhibition to the Latitude Festival. This time we had our own tent in which we set up the installation. Our Stage Manager Kirsten Turner, along with some help from willing volunteers Hannah Scott and Camilla Kinchin, spent the weekend rallying people to come and perform SLEEVE NOTES inside the tent. We had set it up so that someone different would read the story every fifteen minutes or so, for four days straight. As well as actors Sian Clifford, Tom Cullen, Clare Dunne, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Ferdy Roberts and Craig Gazey amongst others, we also tempted comedians Ed Byrne and Frank Skinner to do a shift. But for a last minute intervention, we would have had Jarvis Cocker up there too.

This was where the life of the exhibition ended, though the Facebook group continued to grow.

3545. Untangling things

But still the project itself hung in the air. I went to stay with a GP friend in Wales who told me how it had changed her perspective and how much good she thought it could do for others. Another friend who at the time was a parliamentary consultant for the Royal College of Psychiatrists spoke passionately to me about how helpful it could be to run it at one of the party conferences to raise awareness for mental health charities. We were approached by the people who run World Mental Health day too. We never intended it to, but it had managed to speak quite eloquently but in a very gentle way about the connections between perception and mental well-being.

But more than any potential political impact was the feeling we had something positively contagious that more people should come in to contact with. The Facebook group continued apace, gathering followers and contributions from around the world.

So last year, during the London run of Duncan’s play LUNGS, we picked up the conversation once again. We wondered what the evolution of the project would be and how Paines Plough, as well as other companies, might facilitate the next step of the journey.

Unsolicited Scripts FAQs

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about submitting plays to Paines Plough. We hope they’re helpful. If you have a question we haven’t answered below, please post it as a comment.

1.    How do I submit my script?
2.    Can I send it by post?
3.    Which contact details should I give you?
4.    Do I need to send an equal opportunities form?
5.    How many scripts can I submit at a time?
6.    Who will read my script?
7.    How should my play be formatted?
8.    What happens when you have read my script?
9.    When will I hear back?
10.    Do you offer feedback?
11.    My play has already been produced, can I still send it to you?
12.    How long should the play be?
13.    Do you accept musical theatre scripts?

1.    How do I submit my play?

Please send us your script as an email attachment to along with an equal opportunities form which can be downloaded from our website here.

2.    Can I send it by post?

No, please don’t. We’re trying to save trees so we only accept scripts sent electronically by email. If you send us your script by post we’ll ask you to resubmit it electronically.

3.    What contact details should I include?

Please include your email address and phone number so we can contact you via telephone or email to let you know that we’ve received your play, and again once we’ve read it. Please also include your postcode, just so we can monitor the geographic spread of script submissions – we’re geeky like that.

4.    Do I need to send an equal opportunities form?

Yes please. We ask everyone submitting a script to also submit an equal opportunities form. This form will be kept separate to your play and will not be seen by the person reading your play. If you’re having trouble downloading the form from our website please email Hanna at and she’ll send you one over.

5.    How many plays can I submit at a time?

Please only submit one play at a time. Because of the large number of scripts submitted to Paines Plough, we are only able to read one submission per writer. If we like it, we’ll ask to read more.

6.    Who will read my script?

Your play will be read by James or George (Co-Artistic Directors) or Tara (Producer). We don’t use external readers – every play is read in-house.

7.    How should my play be formatted?

However you like, just please include page numbers. Because we read plays on e-Readers (to save trees) it’s really helpful if the Title and Author fields are correct in the document’s properties. To check this, go to File > Properties > Summary (in MS Word) or File > Properties > Description (in Adobe Acrobat).

8.    What happens when you’ve read my play?

Once a member of our core team has read your play, we’ll give you a call to let you know whether we wish to consider it for production. We aim to do this within eight weeks of you sending it to us. Please be aware that because we receive lots of plays every week, only a tiny percentage are considered for production.

9.    When will I hear back?

Once we’ve received your play, we’ll give you a call within a week to let you know it’s arrived. One of the core team will then read your play and get back to you within four weeks.

10.    Do you offer feedback?

No, sorry. We receive a huge number of plays and we don’t believe it is the best use of our resources to offer feedback on plays we’re not considering for production.

11.    My play has already been produced, can I still send it to you?

We exclusively produce new plays, so if your play has already had a production we won’t consider it, sorry.

12.    How long should the play be?

How long is a piece of string?

13.    Do you accept musical theatre scripts?

No, sorry!

Any other questions? Contact us.

New shows: nabokov and Theatre Uncut

Ticket booking alert! Three new shows from two of our Associate Companies coming right up in Edinburgh and Watford.

Yes siree, you don’t want to miss these. Theatre Uncut heads back to Edinburgh with two of its past hits from playwright royalty and current Charlie & The Chocolate Factory adapter David Greig, alongside a return to The Traverse with a new set of plays for 2013 to follow last year’s Fringe First Award winning collection.

And once your liver has repaired after Edinburgh, head to Watford for nabokov‘s latest show from the dazzling pen of EV Crowe.

Theatre Uncut presents
Dalgety and Fragile by David Greig

Fringe First, Herald Angel and Spirit of the Fringe award winners Theatre Uncut present a double bill of David Greig plays written for the international Theatre Uncut action event. Two rural coppers are faced with the Naked Rambler in Dalgety; while Fragile looks at the effects of the cuts in mental health support.

Paterson’s Land
20-24 August, 3pm

Theatre Uncut at the Traverse: presenting the 2013 new short play season

Theatre Uncut presents new plays that aim to get people thinking, talking and taking action on what is going on in the world around us. Following the success at the 2012 Edinburgh Fringe (winning a Fringe First, Herald Angel and Spirit of the Fringe Award) Theatre Uncut returns to the Traverse with a brand new collection tackling the issues that are facing us all right now. This is rough, vital theatre that raises debate and calls for action.

Traverse Theatre
10am on Monday 5 / Monday 12 / Monday 19 August

nabokov and Watford Palace Theatre present
Virgin by E.V. Crowe

Emily, a busy working mother and commuter, can’t wait for broadband to reach her remote country farmhouse. When ambitious young Sally arrives to work with her on the project, she’s invited to stay. But being connected means different things to these two generations of women, and Emily finds her ideas of friendship and privacy tested to the limit…
A witty, provocative, compelling new play from E. V. Crowe, directed by Joe Murphy.
Watford Palace Theatre
26 September – 19 October 2013

See y’all there!

Dennis Kelly wins a 2013 Tony Award

PP alumnus Dennis Kelly won the Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical at last night’s 2013 Awards for MATHILDA.

Watch Dennis’ brilliant acceptance speech here.

We worked with Dennis on AFTER THE END and ORPHANS, both of which were directed by ex-PP Artistic Director Roxana Silbert.

Huge congratulations to Dennis from everyone at PP.

Bring us back some Hershey’s Peanut Butter Cups please.

Elinor Cook wins George Devine Award

Winner! Photo: David Ryle

Much whooping and cheering at PPHQ at the announcement that Elinor Cook is the winner of this year’s George Devine Award for most promising playwright.

Elinor is one of the five writers on attachment to PP and Channel 4 as part of The Big Room, and we think she’s great.

We’re not the only ones. Playwrights Lucy Caldwell, Laura Wade and Donald Howarth, and former Royal Court Literary Manager Graham Whybrow made up the judging panel who praised Elinor’s “distinctive subject, style and dialogue”, which is “vivid, precise, wry and sparely written”.

Elinor receives a cheque for £15,000 (ours is a pint of lager please Elinor), and joins a roll call of seriously starry past winners of one of the nation’s most prestigious prizes for new plays.

We’re rather proud (bashfully, you understand) to point out PP writers have a rather good track record. Last year’s winner was JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS writer Tom Wells. The 2011 award went to THE SOUND OF HEAVY RAIN‘s Penelope Skinner. Nick Payne, who wrote ONE DAY WHEN WE WERE YOUNG, was crowned in 2009. Tom, Penelope and Nick – like Elinor – are all past writers on attachment to PP and Channel 4. Our current Big Room Writer-In-Residence Alexandra Wood won in 2007, and past winners include PP alumni Che Walker, Gary Owen and Enda Walsh. What great taste the judges have.

Huge congrats Elinor, from all of us here. We’re made-up for you!

How can we make our website better?

We’re conducting a review of all things digital at PPHQ, and we need your help.

What more can we do with our website? Does it give you all the information you need about PP and our work? What’s missing, or what could we do better?

We’d be super grateful for any thoughts you have and any ideas for cool new stuff we could do. Post a comment and let us know. We’ll send you a big thumbs up back, and make you our hero for the day.

Thank you, thank you.