Category Archive: A Play A Pie And A Pint

A Play, A Pie and A Pint: Week 1

Our rehearsal flat: not a bad place to go to work.

I’ve learnt a new word this week.

DREICH: Scottish word, meaning miserable cold gloomy weather.

To be fair, it’s only dreich about three quarters of the time, occasionally there’s some beautiful sunshine bouncing off the autumnal leaves of the Botanical Gardens across from Òran Mór. But more often, it’s dreich.

So inside, at 5 Sanda Street, where it’s warmer and considerably drier than the streets of the West End of Glasgow, we’re cracking on with the serious business of rehearsing DIG.

I say serious business – there’s been an awful lot of laughter coming out of that rehearsal room this week. There have also been some raised voices during particularly intense sections of dialogue; the hurried tapping of writer Katie’s laptop as she tweaks and re-writes scenes; voices discussing the back stories of three characters who are waiting to be fully realised; all interspersed with guffaws and giggles as our wonderful cast get to know the play and the family they’ll be sharing with audiences in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester and Coventry.

Over the weekend they’ll be learning the script and preparing for what promises to be a very busy second week of rehearsals. It’s strange to think that this time next week we’ll be only a couple of days away from the first performance of this year’s A Play, A Pie and A Pint.

I can’t wait.

Glasgow here we come!

Ye'll take the high road and I'll take the low road and I'll be in Scotland afore ye...

I’m bidding farewell to Paines Plough HQ on the Aldwych tonight, and will spend tomorrow packing frenziedly, because this weekend George and I are heading to Glasgow to start rehearsals for DIG by Katie Douglas, the first of our A Play, A Pie and A Pint season. James will be joining us in a week’s time when his rehearsals for YOU CANNOT GO FORWARD FROM WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW by David Watson start, and then the week after that George will start all over again with Leo Butler’s ETERNAL SOURCE OF LIGHT – by which time audiences will be tucking into their pies and sipping their pints as they watch DIG at Òran Mór.

It’s a really exciting time – everything is coming together nicely and everyone’s waiting to see what happens in those rehearsal rooms. DIG is set to be a properly Scottish affair; Katie, the writer, is from Kilwinning, our company is made up of three brilliant Scots actors, and the play is set in Glasgow itself. Me and George will obviously have to try to make ourselves more Scottish in order to fit in – for me quite easy as I was born in Dundee, George’ll just have to drink loads of Irn Bru.

Keep checking the blog and Twitter (@painesplough) for updates on our progress, casting news and titbits from rehearsals. And if anyone has any suggestions for cultural activities, places to visit or indeed (especially) great pubs to frequent while we’re up in Glasgow, you know what to do.

‘I really hope those are air bubbles’

Here's one of the photos we didn't use...don't ask.

The more eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that the A Play, A Pie and A Pint pages of the website have been spruced up today, with a lovely new photo each for DIG by Katie Douglas, YOU CANNOT GO FORWARD FROM WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW by David Watson and ETERNAL SOURCE OF LIGHT by Leo Butler.

One of the things I knew I’d be doing as part of my producing placement here at Paines Plough was working on the marketing material for A Play, A Pie and A Pint. What I didn’t think I’d be doing is asking a dear friend to wade in a stinky canal and let me photograph him doing it. Yet that is what I spent last Tuesday doing.

We needed to find a brilliant image to sum up the feel and tone of DIG to give prospective audiences an impression of what they might expect. George Perrin, who is directing the play, liked the idea of a man buried up to his waist, struggling to get out of a hole.

SO! We needed a hole, a man, a suit and a photographer. We soon decided that the hole could become a body of water (less digging involved – not one of my strong points). Yet even plopping someone in a pond and taking a picture is easier said than done, when you need permissions and licenses to take photographs in public or royal parks.

I will admit, there were times when I thought it was never going to happen. I kept saying to George ‘IF all this comes together’, and ‘IF it works out’ until he gave me a not-so-subtle kick up the bum by saying ‘Rachel, you do realise that’s what producing IS, don’t you?’. Dammit. He had me there.

So I hit the charity shop down my road and bought a shirt, jacket and tie. I called a photographer, the wonderful Graham Michael, who agreed to come and try and recreate the shot. I made my boyfriend put me on the insurance of his Fiesta so I could tear around London looking for water features. And last but not least, I called a childhood friend who just so happens to be a brilliant actor, the lovely Andrew Hawley.

I already knew Andrew was game for most things. And it was HIS idea to get in the canal that runs near his house. But when he stepped into that sludgy water and uttered the words ‘I really hope those are air bubbles and not eels running up my legs’, he secured his place as one of my favourite people ever.

Step Changing from NT to Play, Pie, Pint

please note: pint pictured is not actual size

As this is the end of my third week working with Paines Plough I thought it was about time I wrote a blog. I’m Rachel, and I’m here due to a frankly brilliant scheme called Step Change.

The idea behind the programme is to try and counteract the fact that the theatre industry can be haphazard in terms of spotting and nurturing people who have management and producing potential. My experience, working at the National Theatre as the Technical and Production Administrator, has been great in terms of teaching me about the theatrical process on a large scale; but when it comes to the next step in my career, I’m going to need specific experience that my role at the NT as a little cog in a big old machine doesn’t afford me.

Participants on Step Change get a week of masterclasses from industry experts and several follow-up sessions; a mentor to give advice/drink with/be talked down by (mine, Ros, is General Manager at the Old Vic); and a secondment of around 40 days in another organisation. And this is where my path meets Paines Plough’s.

Paines Plough had put together two secondment proposals, and when I first met with Tara and Claire I told them I was interested in working as Assistant Producer on what turned out to be the upcoming Roundabout project. I’m a Sheffield girl, and the concept – a portable theatre space, initially within the Crucible, a company in rep, three brand new plays – sounded very exciting whilst still allowing me to cling on to my comfort zone (read: opportunity to jump on the 82 to my Mum’s for a cuppa if it all got too much). I still think the Roundabout project is going to be brilliant and I’m really enjoying being in the office watching it all coming together.

But when Tara called and said they thought I’d be better served by being given even MORE responsibility, and would I be up for being the Trainee Producer on this year’s A Play, A Pie and A Pint, I was thrilled. Then terrified. Then thrilled again.

So I’m spending two days a week south of the river with the NT, and three on the north bank with Paines Plough, until mid-September when we hit Òran Mór in Glasgow with our three brilliant plays. We will then be touring to the Traverse in Edinburgh, the Royal Exchange in Manchester, and the Belgrade in Coventry. So far I have been meeting with the writers, putting together our teams (Stage Management, Lighting and Sound design), drafting ideas for marketing material and next week I’m travelling up to Edinburgh to continue casting one of the plays – at the National, there are whole departments to do each of those things.

I can see that our three plays are going to present me with completely different challenges, and I’m sure that that will mean a lot of thinking on my feet – particularly when I take the lead once we’re in Scotland. But that’s what I’m after – a buzz, a challenge and above all, the opportunity to get properly hands-on and help create some excellent theatre. I’ll keep you updated.

In the mean time, if you’d like to know more about Step Change, let me know by posting a comment here, or check out

Summer Signings

Casting begins today for three productions of ‘Programme 2011’. I am directing brand new plays by Katie Douglas and Leo Butler with fellow Artistic Director James taking the helm of David Watson’s new work. We have co-commisioned all three playwrights with Oran Mor in Glasgow, where the plays premiere this autumn.

Our commissioning policy means that we are often committing to producing commissions long before they even have titles, let alone scenes. We find it the most thrilling way to work with writers. James talks about the resulting ‘New Plays with No Names’ here.

With Katie’s play first up in the season, we’re beginning to meet actors this week in London and next week in Edinburgh. With Open Auditions in both cities this week and next, we’re incredibly excited about the prospect of meeting many actors new to the company, who we hope to be able to consider for the three plays we’re currently casting.

Personally, I think casting is one of the best parts of the directing job. Having been brought up immersed in Sunday league football, Match of the Day and Championship Manager, there’s something in the casting process that reminds me of picking a dream team of players – the more individually skilled, well suited to their role and equipped they are to team play, the stronger the team itself becomes.

Here at Paines Plough we’re fortunate enough to have worked with some incredible actors over the years. Thanks to our new Open Audition initiative, the number of actors whose work we have seen is rocketing up each year, which only makes it easier for us to find the right actor for each part and to give each play we produce the production it deserves.

Hello! Let the show begin – I’m ready!

Having worked on a freelance basis over the past 8 years, I was more than excited when I walked into my new full-time position as Production Manager for Paines Plough. Overlooking the BT tower from my desk, it has been a real jump into the cold water – or to be more truthful, a jump into a busy and exciting period here at PP. Preparations for the ROUNDABOUT season are in full swing and the annual A PLAY, A PIE AND A PINT season (touring to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester and Coventry) is just around the corner.

All in all, six new productions in a wide range of spaces and settings need looking after, planning, finalising and delivering before the year comes to an end. So it is no wonder that I am still introducing myself to directors, stage managers, venue contacts and many more creatively involved people. All of whom are passionate about making each performance something special.

In my short time here, I have already had the chance to travel to Coventry, Holloway, Walthamstow and Sheffield. The highlight here is undoubtedly  a rather rushed but successful visit to Primark in a cold and rainy Sheffield. Thanks Tara! And, there is much more to come.

Over the coming weeks I shall be using our national rail network on a regular basis, visiting workshops and venues across the country; meeting all the more folks who help us make our work a success.


Dispatches from Hunter, NY

Hello England, from Hunter NY!

George and I are here at The Orchard Project with Katie Douglas, Kate Tempest and Che Walker. They’ve been working on their respective commissions for Paines Plough against the stunning backdrop of the Catskill Mountains.

Yesterday we held a reading of Kate T’s play. It’s a lyrical firecracker that fizzes through the offices and parks and cafes and parties of South London evoking the sights and sounds and smells and rhythms of inner city life.

Then as Kate headed down to Manhattan for a one-off gig, we welcomed Reg E Cathey to Hunter. Reg is starring in Che’s play THE 8TH which he’s creating with Paul Heaton to premiere in less than a month’s time at The Manchester International Festival.

Reg lives in New York and so has made the 3 hour trip north to spend a couple of days with Che and director George working on the show. Last night, in Hunter’s quaint little cinema, Reg gave a first reading of Che’s darkly soulful sermon.

Meanwhile Katie D has just finished the first draft of her play for our A PLAY, A PIE AND A PINT season in the Autumn. With great excitement, we’re going to read it today.

Che and Katie outside our house on Maine Street, Hunter

One of the great things about The Orchard Project is that you get to meet and see the work of other companies from around the world who are staying here. Yesterday we saw a work-in-progress performance by the multi-award winning New York company The Talking Band.

The Talking Band performing at The Orchard Project

With Kate T heading back from the city, it’s our turn to share some of our work, so tonight we’re going to host an impromptu gig in the cinema featuring extracts of the plays and an exclusive Kate Tempest set. We’ll video some of it to share on the blog.

Aside from work, we’ve mainly been hoping to see a bear. There’s a veritable menagerie living under our beautiful wooden house overlooking Scoharie Creek and Hunter Mountain, including groundhogs, chipmunks and a slightly sinister looking orange snake. But we’re yet to come face-to-face with a grizzly.

A terrifying face-to-face encounter with a bear

In the evenings, it’s camp fires by the creek, cold cans of Milwauke Be(a)st, and stunning light shows courtesy of the fireflies. There can be few better places to create work than here.

The stunning Scoharie Creek

A Play, A Pie and A Pint – On Tour

A Play, A Pie and A Pint

A Play, A Pie and A Pint

Later this year we’re presenting three World Première productions with our good friends at Oran Mor in Glasgow. Brand new work by Katie Douglas, David Watson and Leo Butler will open in Glasgow as part of the lunchtime series A Play, A Pie and A Pint, before heading out on tour. Oran Mor is in the heart of Glasgow’s West End – a vibrant and eclectic corner of this gorgeous city, home to students, families and some of our favorite cinemas, delis and bars in the UK.

Oran Mor

Oran Mor

First stop after Glasgow will be Edinburgh’s new writing power-house, The Traverse. A Scottish home to much of Paines Plough’s work of the past few years (including 2010’s PPP series as well as Orphans, After The End, Long Time Dead and The Straits), the Traverse is also one of the top venues for the Festival Fringe each summer.

Traverse Theatre

Traverse Theatre

From Edinburgh we head south to Manchester for our fourth visit in twelve months to this beacon of the north. After a fling with the Manchester International Festival this July we’ll be back at our home from home in M2, the formidable Royal Exchange Theatre, in October.

Royal Exchange Theatre

Royal Exchange Theatre

Last stop on this tour is Coventry, where 79% of our audience for last year’s PPP series were first time visitors to the theatre. We were in Coventry for Come To Where I’m From in July last year where our four writers painted a vivid picture of a fascinating city. You can still listen to the writers reading the plays themselves here.

Belgrade Theatre

Belgrade Theatre

We’ll be posting updates on Katie, David and Leo’s plays on this blog as well as on our website over the coming months. In the meantime, let us know if you’ll be coming to share a pie and a pint with us in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester or Coventry this autumn.

And, if you’re already a regular at Oran Mor’s PPP, vote them pub of the year by following the instructions below. We’re sure they’ll reward you royally.

To vote Oran Mor the Sunday Mail pub of the year:

Call 0901 229 2817 and enter the code 10. Calls cost 26p plus network extras. Calls from mobiles may be significantly higher.

Or text SMVOTE01 followed by a space and the code 10 to 84080.Texts cost 25p plus your standard rate.

Lines will close at noon on Thursday, June 2, 2011.

Blythe Duff shortlisted for CATS award

Blythe Duff as Jackie Reid in Taggart (photo: Edinburgh Evening News)

On Wednesday night we opened LOVE, LOVE, LOVE at The Citizens Theatre in Glasgow, and we were delighted to welcome as our guest Blythe Duff, who played Helen in last year’s GOOD WITH PEOPLE by David Harrower, and is best known for playing Jackie Reid in Taggart.

On Thursday morning, as we were thrilled to learn Blythe has been shortlisted in the Best Female Performance category of the Critics Awards For Theatre In Scotland (CATS) for Good With People.

The awards are Scotland’s most prestigious for theatre, and Blythe in shortlisted alongside Kate Dickie, Gemma McElhinney, Mercy Ojelade in her category. The winners will be announced at the Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, on Sunday 12 June.

Blythe and Andrew Scott-Ramsey toured Good With People to Edinburgh, Coventry, Dublin and Newcastle after the production’s premiere as part of our A Play, A Pie And A Pint season with Oran Mor in Glasgow last Autumn. Our AD George directed.

Here’s what the critics had to say:

“In George Perrin’s razor-sharp production, Blythe Duff is brilliantly deadpan as a Helensburgh hotel landlady, hilariously hidebound by petty regulations.”
★★★★ The Guardian

“Terrific short dialogue – performed with electrifying power by Blythe Duff and Andrew Scott-Ramsay.”
★★★★ The Scotsman

So congratulations Blythe! We’ll be rooting for you on 12 June.

Butler and Lizzimore join Programme 2011

We’re thrilled to announce that the tenth and final playwright to feature as part of our programme 2011 is the superb Leo Butler. Leo wrote an exquisite short play as part of our 2010 project COME TO WHERE I’M FROM which you can listen to here.

Leo is joining Katie Douglas and David Watson to write a brand new play as part of our season of co-productions with Oran Mor in Glasgow.

Leo’s other plays include REDUNDANT, I’LL BE THE DEVIL and the searingly brutal FACES IN THE CROWD which tore apart the Royal Court Upstairs in 2008, in a scorching production by Clare Lizzimore. Clare is an extraordinary director, and we’re very excited to announce that she is also joining the Paines Plough fold this year, to helm Nick Payne’s play One Day When We Were Young.

As well as having directed new plays for the Royal Court Theatre, Clean Break, Theatre 503 and Hampstead Theatre (where she is an Associate Director), Clare is the Artistic Director of one of Paines Plough’s Associate Companies, Pieces Productions, for whom she directed David Watson’s devastating play PIECES OF VINCENT at the Arcola Theatre last year.

If you want to find out when and where you can see Leo and Clare’s work with us this year have a look at our programme brochure here, keep checking this blog or follow us on twitter.