Monthly archives: December 2013

Review of the Year 2013

Our Programme 2013 saw us produce new work by 15 playwrights across 8 productions touring to 44 towns and cities nationwide.

We send love and thanks to all who came to see a PP show this year, and we hope you’ll join us in 2014 as we celebrate our 40th Anniversary with a stellar programme of new plays on tour.

Meantime, here’s a quick lowdown on the year that was…

WASTED by Kate Tempest
Back by popular demand, WASTED completed our inaugural CAMPUS tour of Student Unions before a second sold-out run at London’s Roundhouse, where we live streamed a performance for the first time.

“Ingenious…funny and true.”
★★★★ The Guardian

“A slender, wistful three-way play that’s as seductive as smoke.”
★★★★ Time Out

You still have one more day to catch the live stream if you missed it!

LUNGS by Duncan Macmillan
Our co-production with Sheffield Theatres of Duncan Macmillan’s award-winning, much-loved LUNGS was broadcast on BBC Radio 3.

“The most beautiful… shattering play of the year.”
★★★★★ Sunday Express

GOOD WITH PEOPLE by David Harrower
First co-produced by Paines Plough and Òran Mór as part of A Play, A Pie and A Pint in 2010, GOOD WITH PEOPLE made it all the way to 59E59 Theatres in New York in 2013.

“Harrower’s beautiful, deceptive wisp of a play…Duff and Scott-Ramsay are perfection.”
Ben Brantley, New York Times

On home soil, we took COME TO WHERE I’M FROM – our theatrical tapestry of the UK, woven by writers asking if home is really where the heart is – to Plymouth and Leeds this year.

Check out some insights from our playwrights here.

In partnership with Pentabus, we premiered Duncan MacMillan’s EVERY BRILLIANT THING at Ludlow Fringe Festival and Ledbury Poetry Festival last summer.

Here’s what audiences had to say:

“Altogether so human, so relatable…it uplifts and enlightens, exploring the joy and endless possibility of humanity.”

SEA WALL by Simon Stephens
Andrew Scott reprised his acclaimed performance for an exclusive seven nights only in Simon Stephens’ SEA WALL at The Shed at The National Theatre.

“One of the most devastating 30 minutes you are ever likely to experience in the theatre.”
Lyn Gardner, The Guardian

“As engaging and devastating a piece of theatre as you’re likely to find….”
★★★★★ Independent

Following the huge success of WASTED, we were reunited with performance poet Kate Tempest for HOPELESSLY DEVOTED, which opened with our co-producers at Birmingham Rep and toured the Midlands in September-October. HOPELESSLY DEVOTED will return for a Spring 2014 tour.

“The play sings and soars, a little shard of lyrical brilliance… startlingly beautiful.”
★★★★ The Times

“Outstanding… The writing is fantastic, with just the right balance of spoken word, song and dialogue.”
★★★★★ The Public Reviews

And some words from our Tweeters:

“Absolutely loved #HopelesslyDevoted. Now that’s the theatre that gets my blood pumping.”

And last but certainly not least, Tom Wells’ infectiously funny, critically acclaimed football rom-com JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS, which we co-produced with Watford Palace Theatre and Hull Truck.

“The perfect winter-warmer…blissfully funny…deeply affecting”
★★★★★ Daily Telegraph

“Wells has given us another winner…Unreservedly recommended.”
★★★★★ Independent

“A razor sharp, beautifully human script that brings to life characters that every one of us will know, but whom rarely get to claim their space within gay culture.”
★★★★★ Attitude Magazine

And on the Twittersphere:

“Jumpers for Goalposts. One of the best pieces of theatre I’ve seen this year. Am totally speechless.”

Playing at The Bush Theatre until 4 January 2014. Book tickets here.

It’s been a wonderful year of theatre (and cake!) and there’s no denying we couldn’t have had as much without you (and cake!) coming along for the ride.

So – keep eating cake, and we wish you all a merry Christmas! Catch you next year?

Team PP x

Cupcake? :)

A farewell from The Big Room Playwright-in-residence

In one way, the past seven months at PP have been no different to any other seven months. I’ve been writing, essentially.

But in other ways they’ve been very different. When anyone’s asked me what I’m up to, instead of having to come up with some evasive blurb about the play I’m writing, or some upbeat pep about how there’s a potential thing happening here or there, I’ve been able to reply, succinctly, “I’m at Paines Plough”. In one fell swoop I’ve avoided talking about what I’m working on, which I really don’t like doing, whilst still suggesting that I am engaged in some kind of activity. I’m ‘at’ somewhere. It sounds simple, and it probably is.

I could, of course, mention how lovely the whole PP team have been (they have been), how wonderful it’s been to have a quiet office to work in (it has been), and to get to know more about the work they’re producing (which I have), but mostly it’s been really great to have been ‘at’ somewhere. I’ve loved that.

Alexandra Wood

JFG Insights-2nd week at The Bush

We’ve settled right in here in W12.  Shepherds Bush has everything: cafés, caffs, restaurants, markets, gyms, convenience stores, and humming away behind it, glowing like a docked spacecraft, is the Westfield Shopping Centre.  It has its own gravity force and sucks us in after matinees, relieves us of fifteen quid for our ‘quick bite to eat’ and makes us buy clothes that we don’t need.  DAMN YOU, Westfield (and thank you for your nice Byron burgers and shakes).

Fortunately, the café/bar at the Bush is properly lovely.  There’s a reading room with a huge collection of plays on the old shelves (it used to be the local library), including the ones that have recently been playing.  You can sit there with your fat sausage roll and good coffee and relax.

It’s not been that relaxing, really; London isn’t set up for that, and it’s better to just drink plenty of coffee and hurl yourself into the maelstrom.  Have fun and sleep when you die (or, better, in January).  Margaret Thatcher only needed four hours sleep per night whilst she was PM; Andy Rush needs even less, and he’s not busy smashing the Unions.  Phil and I were knackered after a 2-show Saturday and an evening at Blacks and Madame Jojo’s (50s hits/Northern Soul), but Duracell Rush wasn’t done; no, he held an impromptu limbo competition in the middle of Soho afterwards.

Andy Rush doing what he does best!

The shows themselves come thick and fast.  Whilst we’re waiting to go on we can hear and feel the anticipation from the packed houses.  There are people we know at every performance – friends, family, loves, casting and industry folk – along with the dozens who have queued for tickets and put their hands in their pockets to come and see our play.  We look each other in the eye as we line up after Amy gives us the ‘Stand by’ call, backs are patted, hands are shaken, a quick hug, one more daub of mud and then we’re out there.  We want to give them all a ‘Press Night’.

JFG Bush Dressing Room

The standard we’ve set ourselves is high.  Of course we have – it’s a matter of professional and personal pride, but the closeness of the audience and the writing itself demands it.  This space keeps you honest and you get found out if your energy or concentration slips by a degree.  In two scenes I am sitting on the bench downstage left, only a couple of feet from the front row, close enough to nick their Werthers.  The other night I heard a guy whisper the end of one of Viv’s lines before she’d said it herself.  It seems people have come back to see us for a second or even a third time.

Audience at the Bush awaiting show-time

James came in last week to watch the show.  It was a decent enough performance but the running time was long – a sure sign that some moments are being indulged.  He gave us some important notes: keep listening to each other, stop ‘performing’ it, and tell the story for the first time, every time, with simplicity and clarity.  An audience can tell when you start to fall in love (a bit) with your lines and gradually you can hear less belly in the laughter and more shuffling in the quiet parts.

Weird things happen when you’ve been doing a show for a while.  Phil had a funny turn during one show (not just intentionally funny, which he always is) and scrambled a couple of his lines: ‘slim prickings’ were on offer in his library, and we had to smirk when he declared that, at Luke’s parents’ cookery weekend, ‘you tell posh people how to whisk.’  At the start of scene 4 Viv takes the team through the current league table and complex results permutations.  Last Wednesday, much to our surprise, she produced the ball pump (makeshift pointer) as usual but also a pair of granny glasses, which she conducted the scene in.  Some actors work from the inside – out, and some rely on props and costume to add depth to their character.  Well, it worked for Alec Guinness!  I’m considering where I might incorporate a stovepipe hat…

The inevitable xmas jumpers...

Oh yeah, Gary Lineker came to watch the other night.  The Gary Lineker who presents MOTD and SPOTY and does the crisps ads and has a celebritmodelactresstvpersonality wife and once babbed himself during a game?  No, not him.  It was the Gary Lineker who scored 48 goals for his country (England’s second top scorer), is still a hero in Barcelona, where he won domestic and European trophies and scored a hat-trick in an El Classico game (he also learned to speak Spanish fluently). The Gary Lineker who won the Golden Boot in the ’86 World Cup and nearly took us to the Final at Italia ’90.  The authentic football legend?  Him.

Gary Lineker with Barely Athletic

His theatrical connection goes back some way too.  A play was written in 1991 called ‘An Evening With Gary Lineker’ and was later adapted for telly, with the man himself making a cameo appearance.  He also guested as ‘God’ in Spamalot in the West End (albeit via video), and a few months ago, he shocked the stage world with a reply to a Simon Stephens tweet.  A theatre bromance has since blossomed between the two and Stephens and his wife accompanied the Linekers last Wednesday.  It was thrilling to have them in, and quite surreal.

But amongst all this – the rush, the gush, the three quid coffees, the booze, the talk, the photos, the celebrities, the hype, the noise, the buzz and the bollocks – we’re clear why we’re here: to tell the story of 3 gay lads, a bossy lesbian and a young widower who are fighting battles which most know nothing about.  Like everyone.


Critics are jumping for JUMPERS

We’re thrilled at the reception to Tom Wells’ JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS, currently running at The Bush Theatre until the 4 January 2014.

Alongside earning a place in The Daily Telegraph’s ‘Best Plays On Now‘, here’s a round-up of what else reviewers had to say:

“Wells has written a razor sharp, beautifully human script that brings to life characters that every one of us will know, but whom rarely get to claim their space within gay culture”
★★★★★ Attitude Magazine

“The perfect winter-warmer…blissfully funny…deeply affecting”
★★★★★ Daily Telegraph

“Wells has given us another winner…Unreservedly recommended.”
★★★★★ Independent

“You won’t know whether to laugh or cry (you’ll probably do both).”
★★★★★ Public Reviews

“Truly exceptional…sparkly with wit…What you witness is an honest portrait of two people finding their way into each other’s hearts… an utterly charming must see”
★★★★  What’

“James Grieve’s delicate direction, which milks every awkward moment with cringe worthy results, is complemented by a cast that balance emotive performances with physical comedy”
★★★★ Official London Theatre

“Consistently funny, tenderly observed and gently moving”
★★★★ Metro

“A delightfully awkward librarian played with great charm by Philip Duguid-McQuillan… More rueful notes are struck by Matt Sutton… an air of furtive daftness by the excellent Andy Rush…generous, warm-hearted…very funny.”
★★★★ Evening Standard 

“A heartwarming message, delivered with fine acting, tart humour and judicious northern understatement.”
★★★★ Time Out

“Wells is not afraid of appearing sentimental: he writes with a brave emotional honesty that proves very moving.”
★★★★ Financial Times

Get tickets here.


It’s been a pretty exciting week for us at PP HQ, with JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS jumping into its second week after opening at the Bush Theatre in London to some brilliant reviews. Followed by the announcement of three Offie nominations this week!

We’re thrilled to impart the nominations are as follows:

JAMES GRIEVE for Best Director

JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS for Best Ensemble Acting

JAMIE SAMUEL for Best Male Performance. 

Tom and James recently did an exclusive interview on JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS, offering a closer look into that ‘magic formula’ that theatre critics are quick to bring up. You can find their insights right here for your viewing pleasure:

We could not be more pleased at the reception to Tom Wells’ heartwarming play. Amongst other things, Twitter has been set ablaze with #Jump4Goal. Here’s a round-up of some of our favourite tweets:


Well worth racing back from Cardiff. I laughed & cried. & cried again!


Adored #Jumpers4goalposts @bushtheatre last night, funny, delicate, deeply moving. Brilliant work again from @painesplough – Go See!


I don’t often revisit plays but @painesplough ‘s Jumpers for Goalposts @bushtheatre thrilled like this again


Loved watching #Jump4Goal @bushtheatre. Fantastic work @painesplough – I laughed and cried. Everyone GO SEE!


Beautiful play, brilliantly acted, directed and staged. A must see.

Have you seen JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS? Tweet us your thoughts: @painesplough #Jump4Goal. Don’t miss out, book your tickets here. See you at the Bush!

JFG Insights – 1st week at the Bush

London -Week 1

At a quarter to eight a week on Wednesday morning a fortnight ago, two figures moved through the Westminster gloom and stepped into a cone of light on College Green – that small patch of grass across the road from the Houses of Parliament – where they do all the interviews with MPs.  One of the figures was the Rt. Hon Maria Miller MP, Minister for Culture, and the other was Phil Redmond CBE, the Liverpudlian who gave us Grange Hill and Brookside in the ‘80s.  Around them was a crescent of cameras, microphones and journalists who were there to hear one word: the name of a city.

200-odd miles and an eastern swerve through the rich industrial shadows of the North, a few dozen people had gathered in the foyer of Hull Truck theatre, where Jumpers For Goalposts had played its home fixture two months earlier.  I know many of the assembled and I know that most had not touched a drop or a crumb of the breakfast buffet that had been laid on for them.  There were poets, playwrights, councilors and campaigners, managers and musicians, and they were there to hear just one syllable: the name of their city.

Maria Miller said some stuff that nobody really took much notice of, and then, without pause or drama – and with only the growl of traffic on Victoria Street as a drum roll and the odd horn bib as fanfare – said, ‘the Capital of Culture 2017 will be Hull.’

And this is what happened in the foyer at Truck.

The screams, cheers and yeses in that clip are not triumphant roars of Yorkshire bigheads, but a flood of relief and joy that someone had at last recognized something valuable and fascinating in us, and had faith in our ability to display it to the nation and beyond with flair and imagination.

The photos and scratchy reels of Hull in the first half of the last century show vaguely familiar places as the settings for unimaginable bustle and activity.  Noise and masts and smoke.  Tidy chaos.  I grew up in a landscape of still and empty docks, or ones filled in with the mossy rubble of the warehouses which used to surround them, and railway sidings that have been slowly embroidered with weeds; a city skyline that has actually thinned and shrunk and – ducking the wide skies above.  The Hull of my childhood was a poor old man of a town; unkempt, whiskered, hair sprouting from the ears, going on about his youthful glories.  The people are modest and straightforward, not timid, but wary of attention in case it was more bad press about us being Britain’s worst ‘this’ or the UK’s crappest ‘that’.  Being UK City of Culture will hopefully bring positive change to Hull, and its renaissance is actually well underway.  But a generation spent in the shadows, on the edge of things, has also given us an un-self-conscious honesty and deadpan humour that Tom Wells has personified in the characters of Beardy, Joe, Viv, Danny and Luke.

We’ve had a wonderful opening week at the Bush.  The reviews are glowing and generous and they, along with the enthusiasm on social media, have made us feel really proud.

We arrived in the Capital knowing that we had a good show.  I think we were all a bit wary of what London audiences – spoiled with cutting edge, quality drama and harder to impress – might make of a relatively gentle, joyful but un-sensational story of a bunch of losers from a place on the edge (never mind the middle) of nowhere.  Tom had a big hit at the Bush a couple of years ago with The Kitchen Sink so there was a lot of anticipation for what he had come up with next.  Maybe some people are coming to see what this Hull thing is all about following the 2017 announcement.

Leaving nothing to chance, I blessed the stage before the Tuesday preview with some holy Chip Spice, which I had brought down from home.  It didn’t bring us any immediate luck when disaster struck during the tech.  We were all thinking we could smell something funny, and Charlie Balfour suddenly noticed that his lights had started to melt the plastic roof on Lucy Osborne’s changing room set.  Shit.  We had to forego the dress rehearsal while a cooler form of illumination was sourced and rigged (huge thanks to the cavalry at the NT lighting dept.).  Jamie said he thought the burning smell was weed (you need to find yourself a new dealer, mate).  So our first performance was before an actual, live sold-out audience.  It didn’t matter – in fact, we enjoyed the edginess and heightened feel that it gave the performance (sorry, I inadvertently made that sound like a cheap condom advert), and by now, the play is in our bones.

I was nervous on press night the following evening, though.  It has to go well on press night, and my mind was going a bit pinball.  We’d done all our usual warm-ups and prep and had just had the 5 minute call, so I decided to go back to the dressing room and watch the Hull 2017 bid film on my laptop.  It’s stirring and moving, and undoubtedly contributed to us being awarded the City of Culture.  It sorted me out anyway.  I went out there with a headful of home and we all told our stories simply and honestly and had fun.  Viv’s right: all you can do is chuck your face at it and do your best.


A Hello from Benedict


I’m Bene, new marketing personnel at PP HQ. Coming up to my first full month at Paines Plough, it’s been an interesting 4 weeks and I’m glad I’ve been thoroughly encouraged to blab about it all here.

Being The-New-Girl at Paines Plough Head Quarters was coupled with many other new experiences for me last month, having also just moved to London from northern lands, and prior to that, finally ending a three year love-affair with my beautiful seaside town of Bournemouth.

TheatreCraft at Royal Opera House

I got to catch WASTED by Kate Tempest in my early weeks at PP during the Autumn campus tour. This was pretty exciting for me, as I distinctly remember wanting to see this very same show during its 2012 tour, and now I got to work with the incredible talents behind it all. Meeting the cast in Warwick was lovely (think I introduced myself with, “Hi. We haven’t met but I’ve been editing your face. A lot.” In retrospect, not the best opening line to go throwing at people unfamiliar with your job description).

Then came the first work social after our live stream of WASTED. I got to meet Kate later, which was great & closely followed by a tiny glimpse of the origins of the ‘Party Plough’ nickname. I actually missed most of the action on this occasion having to leave early, but got front row seats to The Results Show the next morning. I think its safe to say I’m now looking forward to all future socials with the PP team.

I thoroughly enjoyed JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS by Tom Wells at last week’s press night, and have nothing else to say apart from that it may be one of the most beautiful pieces of theatre I’ve seen all year, and I’d like to make it my personal mission to ensure everyone on the planet gets to see this incredibly relevant, poignant and important work of art. [On the off-chance you’re reading this, have yet to see it, and feeling somewhat swayed, may I gently direct your attention to this link over here? :)]

It’ s been great experimenting with creative marketing, and one thing I really love about Paines Plough is how open they are to trying out new ideas and taking risks. There are some really exciting projects I can’t wait to throw myself into as we head towards PP’s 40th anniversary.

I’m currently still getting to know everyone in Paines Plough’s extensive network. It’s been truly great to interact with so many people  across the sector who have such an incredible love and admiration for not just the work the company produces, but all the people pulling it together behind-the-scenes. It’s pretty inspiring, and working in an office with such a wonderfully talented and friendly team makes going into work every day a pleasure.

Ending this essay and my over-use of adjectives right here, I promise.


Bene x

We’re recruiting an Assistant Producer

Following yesterday’s exciting news that Hanna will be replacing Tara as Producer, there’s a new vacancy at PPHQ.

We’re looking for a new Assistant Producer to come and join our gang.

You’ll need to be completely brilliant, is the first thing. Dynamic, highly motivated, and passionate about new plays and touring. If you like cake and biscuits and Haribo, that will help.

You will lead on our newly revitalised Small-Scale touring strategy and assist Hanna on Midscale tours, the ongoing development of Roundabout, and delivery of our annual programmes of work.

Did we mention we were 40 next year? Well, we are. So this is a particularly exciting time for PP as we prepare to celebrate our 40th Anniversary in 2014. The Assistant Producer will play a central role in delivering a vibrant programme of activity during the anniversary year and beyond.

You will be an enthusiastic member of our dedicated team of seven full-time cake eaters employees based on Aldwych. You will have a minimum of two years’ professional experience in the arts and experience of assistant producing or line producing at least one professional production.

Hello! Is it you we’re looking for?

For more information and to download a full job description and application form please go here or email

Deadline for applications: Monday 16th December at 4pm
First interviews: Wednesday 18th December
Second interviews: Thursday 19th December

Introducing our new Producer… Hanna Streeter

Through the mist of unstaunched tears at PPHQ over the departure of our cherished colleague and indomitable producer Tara, there is happy news to report.

We’re thrilled to announce that our new producer will be Hanna Streeter.

Hanna, as you may know, is currently Assistant Producer here at PPHQ, and will step into Tara’s ballet pumps from 20 January.

Hanna has already racked up an impressive CV of PP producing credits having helmed all three tours of WASTED, as well as assisting Tara on Programme 2013.

Hanna joined Paines Plough on a temporary basis as administrator cover in 2010. And she hasn’t been able to escape since. She went on to be appointed permanent Admin Assistant, before being promoted to Administrator.

In 2012 we gave Hanna a sabbatical from her admin role to produce WASTED full-time and further her ambitions to produce. Thanks to funding from Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Fund, The Paul Hamlyn Foundation and The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, we were able to create a full-time Assistant Producer role in 2013, which Hanna has filled with distinction.

James & George said:

“We could not be more excited to be working with Hanna as we approach our biggest and most exciting season of work to celebrate Paines Plough’s 40th Anniversary in 2014.

“Hanna is an outstanding producer with the skill, ingenuity and drive to ensure our 40th is our best year yet, and to pioneer the next 40 years of Paines Plough.

“Hanna’s meteoric rise from temp to Producer in just fours years is testament to her extraordinary ability, admirable tenacity and infectious passion for new plays and for touring. She embodies Paines Plough, and we are delighted that the company, our partners and the artists we work with will benefit from her brilliance in the years to come.”

So, that’s exciting, eh?

Feel free to send Hanna flowers and chocolates and stuff, or post congratulatory comments below.