I’m Leyla, the new production placement here at PPHQ (I’m getting used to the acronyms already). I’m joining the team for the next three months from my MA in Theatre Producing over at Birkbeck.
It’s been a fantastic first few weeks – as soon as I stepped into the office, I was handed a play-text and told I could go off and read it. Reading a play was now something I could do in work time. Can it get any better than that? It could – the play I was reading turned out to be With A Little Bit Of Luck, by Sabrina Mafhouz. I’ve just seen her last play, Chef, at the Soho theatre (check it out if you haven’t already, it’s amazing), and now I was reading her next piece. Which we’re taking to Latitude. Yep, Latitude. Another thing I found out on my first day; I’m going to Latitude!
I’m also really excited that the PP team (PPT? not sure that’s official yet) is moving over the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for august. The Fringe is probably my favourite place in the world, having grown up half an hour outside of Edinburgh. Yes, this does mean I’m part of the growing Scottish Mafia here at PPHQ (Rachel is the trainee producer you met a few weeks ago, it made me extremely happy to hear her dulcet Glaswegian tones as I stepped into the office). We’ll be running down down the corridor shouting “FREEDOM” any day now!
As the mercury soars, a chilled Taste Tuesday was in order at oven-hot PPHQ, and what better than the Spanish summer classic Gazpacho.
Cold soup sounds less than appetizing, admittedly, but I prefer to think of Gazpacho as a super salad smoothie, a healthy hit of instant refreshment on a scorching summer’s day, fresh from a long chill in the fridge. The Spanish swear by it as los aperitivos, and let’s face it, the Spanish know a bit about both food and hot weather.
There’s a million Gazpacho recipes out there, but they all say the same thing – the freshest of fresh ingredients are the key. So at 7am I was at my local fruit and veg market prodding tomatoes on the hunt for the ripest on the vine.
The rest of the recipe is my own made-up riff on the classic ingredients.
Gazpacho(serves 12 as a starter, plus leftovers, it turns out)
Super ripe tomatoes. Lots. About 3kg at a guess.
3 green peppers
1 red onion
2 spring onions
3 cloves of garlic
Half a baguette from Saturday
Handful of basil leaves
Sprig of mint
150ml ish olive oil
Glug of dry sherry – fino or manzanilla
Splash of white wine vinegar
Tabasco to taste
Salt & Pepper
Pinch or two of paprika
1/ Bring a big pan of water to the boil, then turn off the heat. Cut a cross in the bottom of each tomato and submerge in the just boiled water for around 1 minute. The skin of the tomatoes should peel off easily, but there will always be one or two that just have to be awkward.
Tomatoes ready for peeling…
2/ Peel the cucumber, deseed the peppers and roughly chop. Rougly chop the onion, spring onion and garlic.
3/ Put Saturday’s baguette that’s gone a bit hard into a bowl of water to soak for 20 mins ish. Then squeeze the water out with your hands. This is quite pleasing.
Stale baguette soaking in water doesn’t make for a very appetizing photo, it turns out.
4/ Stick all of the above plus the basil and mint into a blender. Or if you only have a hand blender like me, put it all in a big bowl and then use the hand blender to spray it all over yourself and the kitchen. Blend until completely smooth. Strain through a collander to catch any unwanted bits.
Peeled tomatoes ready for the blender.
5/ Add a good big glug of olive oil, a splash of dry sherry (which frankly should be splashed into almost everything, except cereal), a squeeze of lemon and add tabasco, paprika, salt & pepper to taste.
6/ I was also going to add some black olives but I forgot.
7/ Chill in the fridge. Then serve with cucumber and lemon slices.
We’re on the lookout for a friendly and dedicated Venue Technician to join the good ship ROUNDABOUT and team PP in Edinburgh. Could it be you? Details below:
ROUNDABOUT @ SUMMERHALL EDINBURGH FESTIVAL
To apply please email a CV and brief cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org
Application deadline: Monday 6th July.
Reporting to: Producer
Principal Working Relationships: Roundabout Technical Stage Manager, Paines Plough Production Manager, Roundabout Company Stage Manager, Paines Plough Producer and Assistant Producer, Visiting Company Stage and Technical Managers, Summerhall Front of House team
Dates: 29 July – 1 August, Initial Roundabout install
2 – 6 August, technical rehearsals in Edinburgh
6 – 30 August, Edinburgh Fringe Festival run
31 August – 1st September Roundabout strike
About Roundabout: Developed over the past 4 years, the Roundabout Auditorium is a demountable in-the-round theatre with incorporated LED lighting features.
• Travels in a 45ft trailer
• Can be build in 20 hours and a crew of 4-6
• Runs off 3-4 13Amp sockets
• Facilitates a specially developed LED ceiling and does not rely on traditional theatrical lighting
About Roundabout in Edinburgh: This summer Paines Plough’s Roundabout auditorium returns to Summerhall where it will house a season of extraordinary work from Paines Plough and a host of hugely exciting external companies and performers as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
These companies are:
Half Moon Pentabus Theatre Company Daniel Kitson Eastern Angles in association with the Unity Theatre Dancing Brick in Association with Soho Theatre Papermash in association with Tricycle Theatre Supporting Wall Theatre Uncut
To support the Production Manager and Technical Stage Manager in ensuring the efficient running of the Roundabout auditorium and the management of all technical aspects of the auditorium and Paines Plough shows in Roundabout at the Edinburgh Festival. With the Technical Stage Manager providing a safe, tidy and welcoming environment within the auditorium for all visiting companies and supervising their staff in any use of Roundabout.
Key Responsibilities (including but not limited to):
1) To support the Roundabout TSM on all technical aspects of running the Roundabout Auditorium.
2) To take responsibility for all technical elements of the Roundabout Auditorium when the Technical Stage Manager is not on site.
3) To undertake duties during fit up / strike as requested by and following the schedule of the Production Manager.
4) With the Technical Stage Manager, welcoming and supervising visiting companies and any Technical and Stage Management employed by them in their use of the Roundabout during technical rehearsals and performances.
5) To ensure safe working methods within the Roundabout’s specific H&S procedures.
6) To complete day to day maintenance-work as required, and report any maintenance issues to the TSM, Producer and Production Manager.
7) To strictly monitor and adhere to the weekly schedules as provided by the Producer and Production Manager.
8) To be responsible for the daily power-up and power-down of the Roundabout based on scheduled working days.
9) To support the TSM in ensuring that tools and all fit-up equipment are kept in a tidy, complete, adequately stocked and secure state at all times and to replace any consumable items within budgets and parameters as requested by Producer.
10) In conjunction and liaison with the TSM and CSM, to ensure that all working and public areas are kept tidy and clear of waste material and that equipment is maintained to a safe and proper standard.
11) In the absence of the CSM, cover the running and/or operating of all four Paines Plough productions within the Roundabout.
12) To liaise and co-operate with all other departments and individuals within Paines Plough and Summerhall.
13) To act as a credible ambassador for the company at all times.
14) To adhere to the Health and Safety Policy of the company, undertaking such duties as are required, and ensuring that reasonable care is taken to ensure a healthy and safe working environment.
15) To undertake any other appropriate duties which may be allocated by the Producer.
• Experience of technical management within a venue
• Working knowledge of get-ins/strikes
• Working knowledge of lighting control
• Working knowledge of sound control including Qlab and digital control desks
• Bright, proactive and energetic
• Dedicated and committed with excellent focus and organisational skills
• Good working knowledge of industry H&S regulations Experienced in monitoring and enforcing H&S regulations and ideally H&S trained (IOSH certified)
• Rigging qualification
• IT and AutoCAD literate.
• Degree in technical theatre practice or equivalent qualification
• First Aid trained
• Good team player
• Edinburgh based
• Knowledge of LED technology and pixel mapping
Fee: £450 p/w
The hours for this post will be based on a rota, working six days a week, with no additional payment for overtime.
To apply please email a CV and brief cover letter to email@example.com
Application deadline: Monday 6th July.
Interview date: TBC
Please note there may be second interviews. Date TBC.
We decided it was about time the world’s first pop-up plug-and-play theatre had its own home online, and our incredible designer and all round creative genius Michael at Thread Design made this little beauty.
You’ll find everything you need to know about our state-of-the-art auditorium (how many individual lights are there in Roundabout… you can soon find out), deets of the plays we’re presenting, loads of photos, videos, tour dates, a lovely map (we like maps) and LOTS MORE.
So please have a browse and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear your feedback. You can find the all new Roundabout website right here.
EVERY BRILLIANT THING continues taking the tour circuit by storm and over the last couple of weeks the show has pitched up in Salford, Bracknell, Wellingborough, Norwich and Peterborough. Team PP have continued to read Stage Manager Alicia’s top tips on tour with envy and now you can too – so here we present the next instalment of Jonny and Alicia’s Brilliant Things.
I seem to be finding myself on a mission to find the best Vegetarian restaurant in the UK, so here is yet another incredible one – ‘1847‘. Listed as the best Vegetarian restaurant to be found outside of London. £10 Lunch deal for a main and a drink. Really tasty food and trendy minamilist interior.
Oh there’s also a Cadbury’s outlet opposite the Lowry.
If you’re interested in a hotel which is a converted warehouse and does yoga in the mornings stay at the Victoria Warehouse near Salford Quays. Equally if you’d rather stay in a 4* Ritz style hotel in central Manchester, it’s also worth booking at the Victoria Warehouse as they may just get your booking wrong and relocate you there… (too good to be true)
Today EVERY BRILLIANT THING stops off in Norwich and here at PPHQ we are super jealous. This charming city is a firm favourite on the PP map and we can’t think of a better place to spend a sunny afternoon. We asked our very good friends at The Garage Norwich for their top tips on what to get up to when you visit. So here’s their list of brilliant things…now go and book your train tickets.
WHERE TO STAY
The Maids Head Hotel is known for its traditional Tudor style façade, dating back to the 13th century. It’s also more famously known for reportedly being home to a couple of ghosts – one of a lady dressed in grey, and one of the former mayors of the city.
WHERE TO EAT
Head down to the medieval alleyways of the Norwich Lanes (winner of the Great British High Street of The Year Award 2014) which is home to some of the most splendid restaurants, gastro pubs and cafes in Norwich. You’ll find award winning fish and chips at the Grosvenor, Falafel heaven at Moorish, Bedfords where you’ll find one of the best burgers in the city and much more.
WHERE TO DRINK
Norwich was once thought to have a Church for every week of the year and a pub for every day of the year. The figures aren’t quite that high these days but there are still a wealth of pubs to frequent. If you’re after some Norwich history you can find the Adam and Eve nestled down by the river. Dating back to 1249 the pub has a lovely quaint atmosphere and a good selection of ales. If you’re after something a little more modern The Mash Tun is the newest pub to spring up and serves local beer from troubadours Redwell Brewery, as an added bonus the upstairs has been turned into a gin palace serving over 150 different blends.
WHERE TO GET COFFEE
The Garage is home to Locomotion Coffee who take their coffee making seriously, from traditional lattes and mochas, to concoctions such as the protein vanilla iced-latte banana smoothie. They also serve an array of teas from local tea wizards Wilkinsons of Norwich – you will definitely be tempted by the Smokey Russian caravan or Arctic Fire.
Their skills don’t stop at coffee, barista Jason can solve a rubix cube in less than a minute (it’s all in the algorithms apparently).
HANG OUT AT
Norwich forum is open 7 days a week all year round making it the perfect place to hang out. Much more than just a library, you can also enjoy an eclectic mix of free exhibitions, events activities, and free outdoor film screenings in the summer, or just chill out with friends in Bar Marzano.
Must see attractions include Norwich Cathedral, an iconic Norman Cathedral and one of the most complete Romanesque buildings in Europe. Take a stroll around the largest surviving cloister in England and be awed by the stunning Romanesque architecture, highlighted by the Nave and crossing tower…don’t forget to look up! There’s lots to discover at the Norwich Castle from its history as a Norman palace and as a prison, to the many galleries packed with treasures from nationally important collections, from archaeology to fine art, from the ancient Egyptians to natural history. Also a trip to Norwich wouldn’t be complete without stopping at the Norwich market. There are a plethora of market stalls to delve into, you might find yourself a great vintage bargain….or just pick up a commemorative tea towel to take home! Check out visitnorwich.co.uk for more ideas!
Imagine our delight when we saw that designer extraordinare, Lucy Osborne, was the subject of The Big Interview in The Stage this week. The design brains that made Roundabout a reality, Lucy sat down with Jo Caird and had a good old chinwag about the process of bringing our pop-up theatre to life. Check it out on their website here or just have a look below:
The Big Interview: Lucy Osborne
“So many people had told us it wasn’t possible. That’s such a cliche but I don’t know how else to say it. So many people wouldn’t build it, wouldn’t come near it, didn’t want to hear anything about it, told us we were nutters.”
Lucy Osborne is talking about the Roundabout, the entirely self-contained mobile theatre she designed for new-writing company Paines Plough. In development for four years, with Osborne working closely alongside lighting designer Emma Chapman, Paines Plough’s James Grieve and George Perrin, and lighting consultant Howard Eaton, the Roundabout was launched in Edinburgh in August 2014. A few months later it was crowned theatre building of the year at The Stage Awards, sharing the prize with the new Liverpool Everyman. It makes its London debut, outside the Southbank Centre, this summer.
“We just felt amazed we’d got there, and we’d manage to do what we set out to achieve,” said the theatre designer of the moment in January when she and the team received the award. “And for me, personally, to go up with [architect] Steve Tompkins to get his [award for the Everyman] was just extraordinary. To feel like you’re in that company is an absolute honour.”
Grieve and Perrin approached Osborne about the Roundabout soon after taking over as joint artistic directors of Paines Plough in 2010. The designer had worked with Grieve on new plays, including Mike Bartlett’s Artefacts and James Graham’s The Whisky Taster at the Bush – Grieve was associate director there, while Osborne was associate artist (she went on to design the front-of-house areas of the west London theatre’s new home in a former library).
Born of Grieve and Perrin’s desire to take new writing to audiences that Paines Plough wasn’t able to reach because of a lack of existing infrastructure, the Roundabout had to be quick and easy to put together, and have a capacity of around 150. The rest of the brief, at least at the very beginning, was delightfully vague.
“There’s a brilliant back of a receipt from a restaurant meal that James and George had. It’s basically a circle and it says on it ‘10 metres’ and then there’s a little drawing of a person stood up with a ceiling and I think it says something like, ‘High enough so this man can stand up’. I’ll find it when I unpack all my boxes,” Osborne says, gesturing to the little garden cottage that serves as her studio. “We should get it framed.”
The studio, which she shares with her partner, the composer and musical director David White, occupies an idyllic spot beside the towpath of the Surrey canal where their houseboat is moored. Osborne has been based here for a few years now, but it’s only relatively recently that she and White made the decision to convert the cottage, and she’s still getting used to the new space. Chapman, her long-time collaborator, lives just down the road.
The Roundabout was envisioned as a fully integrated auditorium from early in the design process, Osborne explains, the team drawing inspiration from the mobile spaces toured by the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Manchester Royal Exchange in the 1980s and 1990s.
“This idea that it could just turn up anywhere and people would just join in and help, anyone could carry anything and it would kind of go up by itself. As long as you’ve got one person with the knowledge, everything else was kind of up for grabs. The spirit of adventure and the spirit of the circus coming to town.”
It had to be a welcoming environment too, says Osborne, a non-intimidating space that Paines Plough could take into communities unfamiliar and perhaps uncomfortable with the notion of theatre. “It needed to feel homey and warm and inviting and comfortable and democratic,” she says. “That the space could be used as effectively for a discussion, or that you could do lots of different things in it.”
The project felt like a natural next step for Osborne, whose interest in creating physical contexts beyond those taking place on stage actually predates her career as a set and costume designer. While still at school, she joined the technical team at the National Student Drama Festival in Scarborough, ultimately becoming the festival’s venue designer.
“You would be working with the [student] company to try and interpret what they’d had originally, and trying to put it into a space that worked for them. So we started really pushing the boundaries of what was possible: dividing spaces in half and building things up at height – just doing some really unconventional mad things.
“And because we were all students, you’ve got a crew of 60-80 people – you can do a huge amount,” she recalls. “Looking back, it made me unafraid to play with space in that way and also made me question any kind of conventional theatre layout.”
The festival wasn’t just a safe place in which to experiment and make mistakes, it also led to Osborne’s first paid role in theatre: working as a follow-spot operator at the Theatre Royal Newcastle while studying fine art at the university. It was here that she first began to think about theatre as a possible career path, rather than just a hobby.
The RSC, which toured to the Theatre Royal every year during Osborne’s time there, was a major influence. “I was sat doing my job and there was somebody there going, ‘That should look like that; why is it not like that?’, and I had a moment when I thought, ‘What’s that job? That looks cool.’”
Osborne finished her art degree then enrolled on to the now defunct Motley Theatre Design Course, an intensive year-long course run from a back room at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.
“It was brilliant, totally madcap, and everyone worked insanely. You’d get like six hours’ sleep a night for a year; it was crazy,” the designer remembers. “I fell in love with the craziness actually, how zany it was.
“When I was in my interview, there was a painting of Percy [Margaret ‘Percy’ Harris, who set it up] hanging on the wall, and they all talked to her all the way through my interview. So Ali [course director Alison Chitty] would keep looking up at this painting, going, ‘So, Percy, what do you think about this?’”
The course was taught entirely by practising professional directors and designers, among them Josie Rourke, then trainee associate director at the Royal Court. Rourke brought in a piece of new writing for the students to work on as their final project and she and Osborne hit it off.
They didn’t work together again for another three years (on Steve Waters’ adaptation of the Joseph Roth novel Flight Without End at LAMDA in 2006), but the seed was sown for a collaboration that has proved both fruitful and enduring. Osborne has since designed more than a dozen productions for Rourke, with new writing making up a significant proportion of their work together.
It’s fairly common for young designers to be offered mainly new plays at the start of their careers, Osborne points out, but it’s thanks to her relationship with Rourke – and Grieve, whom she began working with a couple of years later – that new writing has become her own particular niche.
“When you’ve built up a relationship with a director where there’s a lot of trust and a lot of belief in what it is that you’re doing, I think that you can then start to do exciting things because actually you can really push the boundaries; you feel very safe without making safe decisions; you feel safe to be able to make some crazy decisions.”
The six-week Roundabout season at the Southbank Centre is just one of the new writing projects the designer has on the go this summer. Another is Anders Lustgarten’s Lampedusa, which is transferring to the main space at the Soho Theatre, having sold out its run at the upstairs studio. Osborne, unsurprisingly, is unfazed by the prospect of totally transforming the auditorium in order to maintain the ‘democratic’ feel of her original design for the show.
She’s also working on the UK premiere of Luna Gale by the American playwright Rebecca Gilman, which opens at the Hampstead Theatre this month. Her main concern on this rather “filmic” project is being “as truthful as possible to the locations but as quick as possible about getting from one to the other,” she says. “I’m hoping we’ve done it. We’ll find out in tech, I guess.”
So what is it about new writing that so inspires her?
“There’s nothing more exciting than being sent a new play to read. You might be only the eighth, ninth, 10th person to read it, and it’s such a brave thing to do for a writer to put that out into the world,” she says. “You feel so privileged to be able to read it and feel like you can create this thing the first time it’s ever seen.”
Osborne relishes the creative collaborations involved in designing for new writing too. Matt Charman’s The Machine, which Rourke directed for the Manchester International Festival in 2013, is a case in point. “We were kind of designing it as he was rewriting and it just felt like it was all part of the same process,” she recalls. “We were all talking all the time and it was really exciting and really fun. Just to work in that way with a writer was lovely.”
Not that the designer has a problem with the classics. Her CV is peppered with Shakespeare, from Richard III at the Cambridge Arts Theatre with Tom Cornford in 2006 to Rourke’s Twelfth Night and The Taming of the Shrew at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre (2009 and 2010 respectively) to Coriolanus at the Donmar in 2013.
The only difference between the two disciplines, as far as Osborne is concerned, is not having the writer in the room. “You start from scratch and put it in the context of now,” she says. “So I don’t think it changes your approach. You have to get rid of all that baggage. You have to say, ‘Why are we doing this play here and now?’”
The other major project occupying the designer’s time at the moment doesn’t involve a writer at all. Osborne, Chapman and Eaton set up Studio Three Sixty in 2014 to design and build different types of mobile venue that could draw on the expertise and technologies developed on the Roundabout – in particular the theatre’s innovative pre-focused LED lighting panels, which require no specialist lighting design experience to use and cut down drastically on get-in time.
The trio are working on a venue that they’re hoping to build at the end of the year, ready to hire out on a commercial basis in 2016. Most likely end-on rather than in-the-round, designed mainly for music rather than for theatre, rough and ready enough for “muddy welly” festivals, the new space will be markedly different from the Roundabout. But the inspiration behind the projects is the same.
“We just feel like you go to so many festivals and temporary events and see temporary performance spaces that are not really fit for purpose. You put up with so much when you’re in the middle of a field but actually there’s no reason why production values can’t be high. So it’s just taking the Roundabout ethos and applying it to different spaces.”
Underlying Osborne’s work with Studio Three Sixty is the same philosophy that informs her entire design practice. Whether she’s dreaming up mobile venues, designing sets and costumes, creating all-encompassing site-specific environments or working with architects on front-of-house spaces, “it’s fundamentally about a really joyful, exhilarating marriage of constraints and possibility and opportunity”.
Listen up everyone. This August we’re super pleased to be returning to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with ROUNDABOUT. From 6 – 30 August, ROUNDABOUT will pop up in the courtyard of Edinburgh’s Summerhall and house a season of extraordinary work all performed in a thrilling 360 degree setting.
WHO ARE WE LOOKING FOR?
We’re looking for dedicated people to join our Festival Street Team, and help us tell Edinburgh about a host of exciting work taking place in ROUNDABOUT. We’re seeking people with unrelenting energy, boundless enthusiasm, an ability to work independently and the stamina to keep going at the world’s most vibrant arts festival.
Previous experience is not essential, although an interest and passion for theatre and comedy and all forms of the arts are. You must be a good communicator, extremely friendly and enthusiastic and be comfortable chatting with anyone.
This role is very flexible so would suit students living in Edinburgh and anyone who might be performing in their own shows, whatever brings you up to the festival we want to hear from you.
WHAT WILL YOU BE DOING?
You’ll be working as part of our Street Team to promote all the shows in Paines Plough’s Roundabout.
– Flyering and postering around Edinburgh (come rain or shine)
– Talking to the public about the shows
– Sticking up and stapling reviews
– Reporting to the Assistant Producer and Administrator at the beginning and end of each shift
Most importantly, you’ll be having fun and experiencing all that the festival has to offer!
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Each shift is 4hrs
We’ll pay you £26 for each shift
This job is flexible so you can work as many or as few shifts as you like, depending on your availability
WHAT ELSE DO YOU GET?
An Edinburgh Goody bag full of treats from Paines Plough
A Summerhall pass which allows you to see all shows at the venue during the festival for free (subject to ticket availability)
WHAT ARE THE SHOWS?
We’re excited to be welcoming a host of hugely exciting companies and performers who will be bringing their work to ROUNDABOUT alongside Paines Plough shows:
If you are interested in becoming part of our street team please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line STREET TEAM attaching your CV and 250 words explaining why you’re applying and what you think you can bring to the team.
Interviews will either take place over the phone or as part of a recruitment evening. If you’re based near London or Edinburgh we’ll be running recruitment evenings on the week commencing 29th June. If you’re based anywhere else in between then we might give you a call instead.
Please also let us know if you have any specific access requirements.
Deadline for applications is Friday 26th June, 12pm
You must be over 18 to apply for this position.
For more information on ROUNDABOUT and each of the Paines Plough shows please visit www.painesplough.com.