Monthly archives: November 2014

Associate Companies update: a Soho takeover and funding success


It might be getting colder as we near the end of 2014 but things are really heating up in the world of our Associate Companies. So here’s the exclusive low-down on what’s been going on.

Theatre Uncut are currently flying high with their flagship production of five new plays which they commissioned for 2014: fascinating, interlinked short pieces that explore themes of knowledge, information, the news media, power and politics in the digital age by some incredibly exciting writers: Clara Brennan, Inua Ellams, Vivienne Franzmann, Anders Lustgarten and Hayley Squires. Even better, for the first time ever the flagship production will be touring the UK until 13th December: you can catch it at Soho Theatre this week (until Sun 30th Nov), or in Brighton, Bristol, Canterbury or Liverpool. To find out what the critics have been seeing check here.

The flagship plays are also available for anyone in the world to download, read and perform, rights-free, until 13th December. So far already this year the plays have been downloaded over 320 times in 25 countries. We’re proud to support a project that makes new writing available around the world on an unprecedented scale. You can access the plays by visiting Theatre Uncut’s website here.

Meanwhile nabokov have also pitched up at Soho, making it an “associate companies sandwich”  and have taken over the downstairs cabaret space with their rollicking, rocking mashup of theatre and live music, SYMPHONY. A co-production with Soho, the show comes straight off the back of a hugely successful Edinburgh run in August followed by a UK tour. Now it’s taking London audiences by storm if these audience reactions are anything to go by. With three new plays by Ella Hickson, Nick Payne and Tom Wells, interwoven with music from London Snorkelling Team’s Ed Gaughan, it’s definitely not to be missed – a good helping of festival vibes to warm up your winter! You’ve got until Sunday 30th to catch it so be quick!

Last but by no means least, we’re delighted to announce that Forward Theatre Project have just been awarded a grant of £30,000 from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, to support their core overheads and the salary of Artistic Director Charlotte Bennett over the next two years. This hugely exciting and thoroughly well deserved money will allow Forward Theatre Project  to continue to produce distinctive work, created through collaborations between members of the collective, with strong connections to regional locations.

Back on the road

After last week’s scary motorway smash sadly scuppered our Edinburgh shows, we’re excited to be back on the road for two last HOPELESSLY DEVOTED tour dates before we rock up at The Roundhouse next week.

London is a total sell-out, but if you failed to get your mitts on a ticket, fear not. Tonight and tomorrow the show is a mere train hop from town. We’ve even done the research for you and included a handy train guide below (we know you Londoners don’t like leaving Zone 2 but it’s lovely out there, really).

This evening we’re at the beautiful Waterside Theatre in Aylesbury. The show starts at 7:30pm. When you see this sign you’ll know you’ve arrived.


London Marylebone – Aylesbury
Max journey time: 1hr 12 mins
Min Journey time: 52 mins
Price for a return from £19.60 / £12.95 with YPR / £13 Network RC

Best trains to get:
OUTBOUND: 18:11 (arr 19:13)
RETURN: 21:32 (arr 22:35)

Tomorrow (Friday 28th) we’re in Kent at The Hazlitt Arts Centre in Maidstone, also at 7:30pm. Here’s a map showing places around Maidstone, which shows that places around Maidstone include – hey presto – London.


London Kings Cross or Victoria  – Maidstone
Max journey time: 1hr 7 mins
Min Journey time: 49 mins
Price for a return from: £20.40 / £13.45 with YPR / £13.45 Network RC

Best trains to get:
OUTBOUND: 18:16 (arr 19:05)
RETURN: 21:33 (arr 22:36)

Of course if you have the good fortune of living in Aylesbury or Maidstone, you can completely disregard all the train from London information and just take a lovely stroll to the theatre in the crisp autumnal air.

Either way, we hope to see you there.

ANGRY BRIGADE transfers to The Bush


We’re very excited to announce that James Graham’s explosive hit THE ANGRY BRIGADE will transfer to The Bush for a six-week run in Spring 2015.

Our co-production with The Theatre Royal Plymouth opened in Plymouth in September before touring to Oxford Playhouse, Warwick Arts Centre and Watford Palace Theatre. It will preview at The Bush from 30 April 2015 with press night on 5 May. It runs until 13 June.

“Its government has declared a vicious class war.
A one-sided war…
We have started to fight back…
…with bombs.”

Against a backdrop of Tory cuts, high unemployment and the deregulated economy of 1970s Britain, a young urban guerrilla group mobilises: The Angry Brigade.

Their targets: MPs. Embassies. Police. Pageant Queens.

A world of order shattered by anarchy; the rules have changed. An uprising has begun. No one is exempt.

A bold new play by James Graham, writer of sell-out smash hits THIS HOUSE and PRIVACY.

“A world with chilling similarities to our own.”
★★★★ The Guardian

“Enthrals… Graham’s witty play deserves a London run.”
★★★★ The Times

20th September 2014. Paines Plough and Theatre Royal Plymouth present The Angry Brigade by James Graham.

We’re thrilled to be returning to The Bush, the scene of last year’s sell-out hit JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS. It’s one of our favourite places to present work, and we go back a long way – PP first presented work at The Bush in the 1970s. The artistic director back then was Simon Stokes, who is now AD of our co-producers on THE ANGRY BRIGADE, Theatre Royal Plymouth. So, y’know, it just feels right.

Our AD James first worked with James Graham on The Bush Theatre hit THE WHISKY TASTER back in 2010, designed by Lucy Osborne. So the team is excited to be reunited for a Bush return.

Snap your tickets up right here, right now.

Edinburgh shows cancelled

Bad news folks, we’ve had to cancel performances of HOPELESSLY DEVOTED tonight and tomorrow at Assembly Roxy in Edinburgh. We’re really sorry.

The van carrying the company back from Derby on Friday night broke down on the M1, and someone went into the back of it. Nobody was seriously hurt thankfully, but concussion has meant rest at doctor’s orders.

We’re really sad not to be in Edinburgh. We always relish our visits and were greatly looking forward to playing the Roxy. Anyone who bought tickets should contact the venue direct.

Thanks for your understanding. We hope the show will be back up and running in Aylesbury on Thursday.


So HOPELESSLY DEVOTED  has officially kicked off its Autumn tour and we’re super excited to have some brand new shots of the production and the brilliant cast to show you. Here’s a sneak peek.


To see the full album head to our Flickr.

HOPELESSLY DEVOTED is touring through November. Next up Pegasus Theatre, Oxford.

Photos taken by Richard Lakos


A goodbye from Bene…

It’s 3.30pm on a Friday at PP HQ. And with (literal) buckets of sweet delights in the treat box, event prepping and 30 minutes to go before we set off to celebrate 40 years of PP with an evening of plays at BBC Radio 3, it’s a pretty typical day at HQ. Only with moderately raised levels of panic (mine, mostly) as I attempt to tie up all loose ends and bid farewell to this wonderful company and an excellent group of people… Much easier said than done.

Where do I even begin? 2014 has been an exceptional year for PP, and I am so lucky to have been a part of it all. Before I started, I loved the fact that there was a renowned company that wasn’t afraid to take chances on new writing talent in an industry that was increasingly hard to break into as a new writer. And then the fact that they made it their mission to make sure this new work reached as many people as humanly (or financially) possible sounded even better. I knew I was in for a great ride.

12 productions, 53 places, numerous campaigns, trailers, photoshoots, immeasurable print, endless wifi battles, fall-outs with computers, Press Nights, Guest Nights, Festival nights, International nights and (not enough) Friday-at-Fives later – I can say wholehearted it was all better than I ever expected.

An early highlight for me was one of the first PP shows I saw when I came onboard late last year – Tom Wells’ excellent JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS. It stands up there with some of my favourite pieces of theatre, and I remember the excitement I felt at the thought of working with people who produced work of this calibre. I still feel it now.

…Or maybe it’s the memory of the Christmas Jumpers War we waged against The Bush Theatre


Team PP & the JFG cast.

I reckon we won that one.

The PP 40th Reunion at the Young Vic was a reminder of both the great talent that’s come through the doors at PP as well as the talent PP has helped cultivate in the last 40 years. It set the tone for what would follow in the months to come. There was something almost electric about being amongst a roomful of game-changers and looking ahead to PP’s plans to change the game again with Programme 2014.

And the two people that would lead us into it…

Paines Plough 40th Anniversary Reunion - 15th January 2014

Just to be clear: we’re pointing at them here.

Working for James and George very rarely felt like working for James and George – which is a huge credit to them. I’ve never met two people who were able to inspire and excite and galvanise (…that’s the same thing, isn’t it?) everyone they meet just by their passion and vision alone. The fact that Team PP is made up of only 8 core staff is proof of this. I’m not quite sure how many people realise just how incredibly small the team is, especially for what they’re able to accomplish time and time again. Which leads me to the other exceptional people I got to work alongside – Hanna – our reigning Producing sensei who I learned so much from, Aysha, Francesca, Natalie and Sean: proof that people who work because they absolutely love their jobs actually do exist. Unlike unicorns.

There are so many memories and touring experiences I’ll take with me, too many to list, but quick ones that come to mind:


Team PP before opening NOT THE WORST by Sam Burns

Heading to Mold in Wales and feeling like we just stepped into a Thomas Hardy novel.



Visiting Whaddon on the rural tour of EVERY BRILLIANT THING before most of the world knew it was a brilliant thing.



Arriving for HOPELESSLY DEVOTED’s international debut at the Europa Festival of New Plays

Jetting off to Wiesbaden in Germany and getting to experience theatre from all over Europe. I wasn’t as upset about it all as my face might imply…



Heading to LATITUDE with Hopelessly Devoted and deciding that portaloos might not be the worst things in the world. Second worst? Maybe.



ROUNDABOUT Launch at 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Without a doubt, one of this year’s biggest highlights.


PP’s portable, state-of-the-art pop-up amphitheatre.

Maybe everything that could be said about ROUNDABOUT has probably been said – but what an absolute pleasure to be a part of such a revolutionary concept and breathtaking final product. I truly believe that this is the future of touring theatre – and can’t wait to see what it becomes in the years to come.



Homecoming weekend at the Southbank Centre.

Finishing off my PP experience as the face of COME TO WHERE I’M FROM…I still don’t think anyone’s quite sure how that happened.

In summary – one of the most important things I learned at PP – and what I truly believe is the secret to their success – is too simple a concept to not try out: be nice. Always. It goes a long, long, long way.

What an amazing year; I leave inspired, stimulated and more in love with theatre than I was before. Very excited for what comes next.

Paines Plough – from the bottom of my heart, thank you.


Bene x.

Q & A with HOPELESSLY DEVOTED Director Stef O’Driscoll

102414BPainesploughHopelessR-0012 - Copy

We caught up with HOPELESSLY DEVOTED director Stef O’Driscoll who gave us the scoop on the upcoming third national tour of Kate Tempest’s lyrically explosive tale of love and redemption.

So, it’s the third time round for HOPELESSLY DEVOTED. What is it about this play that connects with you, and why have you wanted to tell this story again and again?

It’s a beautiful, humane, important story about real people – women – who’ve made mistakes in their lives. This play is tragic and raw and it’s beautiful because there’s no sense of anyone playing the victim. These women are aware of their crimes and are in the process of dealing with them and what we actually explore is how you can love another and yourself again – how you can survive with the choices you made in life.

Just to give it some context, can you tell us a little about the play?

So, we follow the story of Chess and her inmate Serena. You get to see what they bring out of each other and how they’re there for one another. When Serena leaves, Chess has to go on her own journey, and music plays a key part in that when she starts a 12 week music rehabilitation course. Another reason why I love this play is the style of music. It’s a ‘musical’ but it’s cool, it’s contemporary, it’s raw – the lyrics are just insane. You really get to the very heart of Chess’ character, her story, her pain, her hopes and dreams and what she’s lived through – everything – through the music in this play.  And that’s exciting. It’s exciting that it’s three female characters – yet another thing that drew me to this. Three very strong female parts for three strong female performers. Have I said the word female enough?

But that’s important, though, isn’t it? It’s been a huge topic of conversation in the industry, of how we need more strong female parts to be written and performed.

Absolutely, and this has it in spades. And another thing that struck me – doing this the third time round – was the idea of children, and a woman’s role within motherhood. The play explores the tragedy that unfolds when kids are taken away from their mothers – for whatever reason – how all these women who can no longer be with their children have to cope. I think there’s a statistic about how it’s estimated that more than 17,240 children were separated from their mothers in 2010 by imprisonment. And I know I keep saying the word ‘humane’ – but what Kate Tempest does is write human beings at their absolute core. She makes any story universal, no matter the scenario – it’s love, betrayal, redemption – it’s all these things that we all feel and we all recognise and that’s why her stories connect with people. That’s why it hits you.

What’s different about the show this time round?

Firstly, we’ve got a completely new cast. I think when you do something again with a completely new cast, the best thing you can do is scrap anything that you’ve done before and try an entirely fresh approach. And each actress we’re working with has approached this from a completely different place. What they’re bringing to it this time round… I feel like it’s tonally different. It goes to a darker place. We’ve got a new team working on it and we’ve been trying to keep ourselves open to new discoveries. I’ve banned saying “when we did it last time” from the rehearsal room. I think it can be really disruptive, actually – and it’s difficult for me because I’ve done it before and I know, in my head, what worked. But to allow it to be fresh and exciting again, for a new journey to be found within this, I need to let go of that.

Any changes to the script?

Kate, like myself, is an absolute perfectionist. So every time we’ve looked at it – and this is the third time now – we’ve asked ourselves “What worked? What didn’t?” You learn so much by getting work out in front of an audience. And that’s the beauty of new writing – the writer is alive, so they can come into a rehearsal, they can make edits. And Kate’s gone and done that. The script is very, very tight – and we’re all very excited about the way the story unravels this time around, from what we’ve learned previously.

What has working on and developing this piece with Kate Tempest been like?

When you get someone with a phenomenal mind, who is equally down to earth, has a good soul and is just so honest with themselves – it’s a dream. It’s a dream come true. I feel like a brilliant creative relationship has been formed because she only strives for perfection and only wants the work to be the best it can be. To reach out to as many people as she can by telling these stories. No matter what form she touches, whether it’s a play, whether it’s a novel, poetry, music  – she has a way with words and I honestly feel like I’m working with today’s Shakespeare. It’s just a gift to be able to work with someone who just simply wants us to be able to connect with each other and understand one another a bit better; to have empathy for our fellow human. And I feel like that’s at the heart of this play. These women are human. They’ve made some mistakes and we should try to understand why it’s happened and what has failed them. Why are these women where they are in the first place? Is there anything we can do to prevent that in future? I think the simple idea of looking after one another a bit better is at the heart of her work .

Any final words?

There’s something really poignant that Kate said after she received letters from some inmates of a men’s prison. One of them wrote – prison isn’t so terrible when you’ve only known badness and lived a life doing bad things. It’s when you’ve experienced the good in the world that prison becomes a nightmare.  Because it’s the good things that you miss, and how you deal with filling that void.


HOPELESSLY DEVOTED opens at Lincoln Performing Arts Centre at 7.30pm tonight, before winging its way to venues nationwide. Catch it.

View the full tour schedule.

View rehearsal snaps.

View the trailer.

Join the conversation online:

#KTHopelesslyDevoted @painesplough  

Introducing the cast for BBC Radio 3 evening of new plays

As you might know, we’re rounding up celebrations of our 40th anniversary by hosting an evening of new plays with BBC Radio 3. The evening will feature short plays by three of the UK’s most exciting writers – all of whom are PP alumni:

– REUNION by Katie Douglas, directed by Sasha Yevtushenko.

– THE SILVER DRILLS by Robin French, directed by George Perrin.

– HAPPINESS by Nick Payne, directed by James Grieve.

It’s the first day of rehearsals at HQ today, and we’re delighted to be welcoming such a super talented cast…


The plays will be recorded in front of a live audience at the BBC this Friday 7 November then broadcast on 21 December 2014, at 10pm.

We hope you’ll be tuning in.