Category Archive: Associate Company Scheme

Forward Theatre: Genesis


Our brilliant Associate Company, Forward Theatre Project, are touring their new show GENESIS this autumn. Artistic Director, Charlotte Bennett, tells us what it’s all about…

In 2013, I met a brilliant, inspiring woman called Morag Siller.

Morag was an actress, had incurable breast cancer and was the patron of charity Prevent Breast Cancer. She told me about this small but radical organisation; the UK’s only charity to solely focus on breast cancer prevention, which had started with a vision of finding an alternative way to achieve a breast cancer free future – and I was blown away.

Morag wanted to create a play to raise awareness of prevention and asked if I would work with her. We wanted to look at how we could reach not only scientific minds but non-scientific ones by telling the human stories behind the science. And so myself and playwright Frazer Flintham, interviewed patients and scientists to create a new play: GENESIS, which tells a story about genetic testing for breast cancer.


As part of ‘tooling up’ we spent hours ensuring we understood the science and the terms (the sort of stuff that if you are a non-science bod make you want to bolt). We know how to tell human stories, but understanding the science was the real challenge. It was hard but GLORIOUS. And the support from the brilliant staff at Prevent Breast Cancer empowered us to make a play that is now as scientifically informed as it is theatrically crafted.

Morag passed away in April. She was a woman who campaigned right to the end of her life to bring the science of this charity into the fore of the conversation about a breast cancer free future. And she was also a brilliant actress who recognised the ability of theatre to have conversations with audiences about difficult things like genetic testing by using humour, drama and story. And so we make this one for her.

And now here we are, rehearsing this important piece of theatre in Manchester. We premiere at The Lowry, Salford. We then tour to Soho Theatre, London, then to Cumbria, Preston and Doncaster.


Booking details are here:

11th – 12th November The Lowry (8pm, 2.30pm and 8pm) Tickets £12 / £10 concessions

15th – 19th November Soho Theatre (7pm, Sat matinee 4pm) Tickets £16 / £14 concessions

22nd November Beggar’s Theatre Cumbria (7.30pm) Tickets £10 / £7 concessions

23rd November  Preston Continental  (8pm) Tickets £8 / £6 concessions

24th November Cast Doncaster (7.45pm) Tickets £10.50 / £9 concessions

GENESIS is supported by funding from Arts Council England, the Teale Charitable Trust, the Richard Carne Trust, Talbot Validus, the Granada Foundation, the Unity Theatre Trust, the Royal Victoria Hall Foundation, Morag Siller, other private donors, and our crowdfund backers.

THEATRE UNCUT in Roundabout

Working on projects for Theatre Uncut is always a joy, but this year we have two reasons to be especially cheerful…  We are absolutely delighted to be part of the Paines Plough ROUNDABOUT season at Edinburgh this year.  ROUNDABOUT is a special venue, and one that reflects the ethos of Theatre Uncut to an uncanny degree. Equitable, open, quick to assemble but with a long lasting effect: this is all very like we hope to be. But more than that ROUNDABOUT’s ability to be put up anywhere, to function as a beautiful theatre space anywhere it chooses, to reach un-expecting and unexpected audiences is a joy and a wonder.

TU blog pic

Our second reason to be cheerful is that in this, the approach to our fifth year, in the year of the general election, we are in a reflective mood and are staging some of our most downloaded scripts.  This means that as Artistic Directors, we’ve had the chance to revisit scripts we’ve loved and directed before. It’s a wonderful feeling to come back to an excellent script: it’s both an echo and a discovery. As time marches forward the scripts inevitably change resonance. What’s extraordinary about our writers is quite how immediate the scripts still are. And what writers we have: Clara Brennan’s ‘Hi Vis’ is from our first year, and holds all the visceral energy of that time. Exploring the affects of cuts to the disability mobility allowance with the help of a clown and a vibrator, it is hilarious and moving, a gem of a script. Also from year 1, is Dennis Kelly’s ‘Things That Make No Sense’, a dystopian nightmare that asks are we really ‘all in this together’? From Year two we have Neil LaBute at his controversial best examining Occupy and the 1% in ‘In the Beginning’.  Vivienne Franzmann’s ‘The Most Horrific’ is from 2014, and brilliantly skewers the media and how we consume stories, climaxing in a throaty call to arms. From our TU: Istanbul collection Stef Smith gives us an insight into the Gezi Park protests and the dented democracy in Turkey through the eyes of three very different young women. Lastly, from our Scottish Referendum scripts, comes Kieran Hurley’s brilliant ‘Close': a piece that asks us to consider democracy in all its disappointments and challenges us: ‘what now?’

And what now indeed? As we head out of Cameron’s first 100 days as Prime Minister of a Tory government- what now? As we see the country decide if Labour should head back to its left wing roots or stick to its ‘middle’ ground- what now? What now for Theatre Uncut and for all of us? The question is out there. Come and join us and answer it with us. Do that online, or in one of our post show discussions. We will keep asking, and looking for change. If there is one thing these scripts show, is that change happens whatever we do, so let’s be the architects of it.

Theatre Uncut: In Opposition runs in ROUNDABOUT @ SUMMERHALL at 10am every day until August 30th.


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.

Theatre Uncut: Dispatches from Edinburgh

So here we are, nearing the end of another Edinburgh Festival. It’s been an incredible month. Theatre Uncut have presented 17 new short pieces, worked with more than 20 new actors, and several Edinburgh returnees, thrown a party, had a raffle, won a Fringe First(!) and generally had a wonderful time, working hard and making things.

Dalgety and Fragile by David Greig at Paterson's Land 20-24th August, 3pm

We’ve also been lucky enough to see some wonderful pieces of work: Gemma Whelan is extraordinary in Philip Ridley’s brand new one woman show ‘Dark Vanilla Jungle’. Phil Nichol’s new stand-up-slash-storytelling is both raucously funny and deliciously poignant. Gary Beadle is brilliant in the Banksy-inspired ‘The Room in the Elephant’ directed by our very own Emma Callander.

As always the Fringe has been as changeable as the Edinburgh weather: plain sailing one minute, sunshine and smiles, and then suddenly it’s raining. For us this manifests in short bursts of stress right before our Monday morning Traverse shows, or in the tech for our David Greig double bill. The joy of having two Artistic Directors, however, means that you are never on your own in the midst of a bafflingly broken projector, or a smashed thermos… Or sourcing a black feathered detachable ‘right wing’… Or police lapels that won’t re-attach. Or… you get the picture.

Edinburgh is as always, the place where you get to feel the most theatrical, most resourceful, and most delighted in our wonderful profession. It is a place where you can bump into every actor you have ever met- and meet them for a random courtyard drink, or visit their shows. It is a place where we can work with venues and casts, producers and writers in a way that is impossible elsewhere. It is a place where we can test ourselves and our work: play and grow and take shape. Indeed, our David Greig double bill includes a full scale production of ‘Dalgety’, the play that we previewed as a rapid response script at the Traverse in Edinburgh last year. Coupled with ‘Fragile’, another play that David wrote for Theatre Uncut, it is a joy to see how Edinburgh has helped us shape those pieces of work and run with them.

The double bill of ‘Dalgety’ and ‘Fragile’ by David Greig runs to the 24th August, 3pm daily at Paterson’s Land, venue 247. Tickets still available.


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!

Associate Company Theatre Uncut hits NYC

One of our Associate Companies, Theatre Uncut, opened in New York City this week for a residency supported by the Carol Tambor Foundation as part of the Best of Edinburgh Season.

Here is a sneak preview from the New York Times of actress Gia Crovatin in Neil LaBute’s Theatre Uncut play In the Beginning.

If you’re in the city this week, you can get $10 TICKETS if you call 212-947-8844 or visit and quote the code TRUNCUT10.

Plays by Neil LaBute, David Greig, Clara Brennan, Lena Kitsopoulou, Anders Lustgarten and Marco Canale will be included in this presentation.

Remember you can still receive the plays free of charge through the request page at

Job opportunity for a General Manager…

Here’s a message from our Associate Company, Forward  Theatre, who are looking for a new General Manager. . .

In November we were lucky enough to find out that we had been successful with a funding bid to the Paul Hamlyn Foundation for a Shared General Manager with nabokov, Theatre Uncut and Pieces Productions to work across our four companies full-time for the next 2 years. As four emerging companies we identified both a mutual need for a General Manager and a mutual problem in sustaining one when we all only require someone part-time. It is a common challenge emerging companies also find with Producers; holding on to them without being able to offer full time hours or salary means they soon get snapped up for full-time roles.

One of the things I have never liked about theatre is the sense of competition in the industry. Understandably every new theatre company wants to make their individual mark, but there is a lot to be said for collaboration and supporting one another in other ways than just co-productions. Instead of pitting ourselves against one another, why are we not realising that we are stronger together? Of course we are not the first set of theatre companies to do this and we certainly won’t be the last. We were greatly inspired by Lincolnshire One Venues who are 10 arts organisations who achieved collective NPO status from the Arts Council through sharing resources, core staff and space. What is exciting for us about this new partnership is the possibilities it offers for us to expand on working together over the next 2 years. By sharing a core member of staff we hope to identify other ways to share and collaborate on resources and to develop more of a combined business model moving forward. One concern we had was that our new recruit may find it a little lonely in an office with us each coming in and out but them being the only permanent feature. Excitingly, Paines Plough have agreed that our GM can be based at their office alongside their staff. As each company involved in the partnership are Associate Companies of Paines Plough, this allows us to all be more integrated into our mentor company and will allow the GM to be supported by having a friendly team of employees around them.

We are thrilled that Paul Hamlyn Foundation have made the decision to support our new venture. As an Artistic Director of a young theatre company, I have spent the last 4 years managing the company administration, tax, accounts and day to day tasks on top of finding time to do what I really love about having a theatre a company; being an Artistic leader. To know that I can now work alongside a General Manager to lead the company is such an exciting prospect. FTP are having our first programming meeting of the year on Thursday to decide on productions to make in 2013/2014 which don’t have to work around when I am not freelancing or when I have the capacity to produce and manage projects. Hurray!

So how do I apply I hear you cry?! Well we are all uploaded on Arts Jobs Online, Ideas Tap and Arts Council England website or hey why not download from here:


£23,000 per annum
Full-time 2-year fixed term contract
Supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation

Four of the UK’s most vibrant and dynamic theatre companies have joined forces and are recruiting a shared new post – General Manager.

Forward Theatre Project, nabokov, Pieces Productions and Theatre Uncut are at the forefront of creating new work nationwide and internationally. This pioneering new post is an opportunity for a General Manager to work across all four companies to help us realise our ambitious plans to extend our range of artistic work, collaborations, digital content and audience reach over the next two years.

With a wide range of work presented across diverse platforms, we need a General Manager to ensure that four of Britain’s most exciting emerging companies run like clockwork.

General Manager is a senior position, necessary to ensure the smooth operational management and delivery of the companies’ activities. The General Manager will work closely with the artistic and producing teams from each company.

Forward Theatre Project Artistic Director: Charlotte Bennett nabokov Artistic Director: Joe Murphy Theatre Uncut Artistic Directors: Hannah Price and Emma Callander Pieces Productions Artistic Directors: Clare Lizzimore and David Watson.

The General Manager will work:

–    2 days a week for Forward Theatre Project
–    1.5 days a week for Nabokov Theatre
–    1 day a week for Theatre Uncut
–    0.5 days a week for Pieces Productions

To apply please read the job description and complete the application process, including submitting an equal opportunities form, all of which can be downloaded here:

Closing date: Friday 1st February

Email applications to

Interviews will be held on Saturday 16th February.

We look forward to reading your application.

Charlotte Bennett
Artistic Director
Forward Theatre Project

Auditions, Auditions, Auditions…

This week has been a busy one for Forward Theatre Project as we have been casting our latest play Scarberia by Evan Placey which is being performed between 24th May – 2nd June at York Theatre Royal as part of the TakeOver ’12 Festival. The play was commissioned by the TakeOver team who are a group of young people between 11-26 years old and has been created by working directly with young people in York and Scarborough England and North York and Scarborough Toronto. We also set up an international pen pal system between the 4 groups of young people – which is all done on email nowadays apparently (losing the fun factor of receiving a letter in the post I think –  but definitely more time effective!) We wanted to create a play which was about youth and which engaged with young people at every level. We didn’t want to guess at what young people want to see on stage about their generation but to actually get them to commission the idea they want to see and be involved in its creation to ensure we were creating an authentic voice on stage.

The play looks at the areas of Scarborough in the two different countries. Both wildly different in reputation, we were interested in creating a play which looked at how these two different places with the same name can be connected by one event… a killing. The play has been created by working with FTP’s collective approach to making theatre; the writer came with the beginnings of an idea and then with the director Gemma Kerr and the designer Lydia Denno, the team have worked together at every level to develop the play by working with young people to inform its development. They undertook an intensive 5 week research and development period which involved going across to Toronto to work in their Scarborough – an exciting step for FTP as we start to create work internationally and as we are live streaming the show to our group of Canadian young people as part of the run.

So we begin rehearsals in 2 weeks…actually a week and a half now…eek, where did time go?! So castings are fairly late in the day because of the way the piece has been created but we are really excited about finally bringing the full team together. We have been in the Paines Plough rehearsal room all this week seeing lots of brilliant Yorkshire and Canadian accents come in and out and have just set down to make final decisions. The play is a total cast of 3; two boys that play the English and Canadian roles and a Canadian girl who has gone missing. All the roles are 15 years old so it is a big ask to play both this age and with two very different accents. Luckily as I am from Yorkshire I can cover that side, and Evan is from Toronto so we also have a Canadian voice in the room – definitely useful tools! Auditions are always exciting as it is finding the final piece of the puzzle for your team and we are certainly excited about finding the pieces left for this production. And at being part of TakeOver- a brilliant initiative set up by York Theatre Royal in which every role at the theatre is taken over by artists under 26 years old who then are mentored by their equivalent staff member to programme and run a three week arts festival across the Mainhouse, Studio and other found performance spaces. This year the TakeOver team are hugely exciting to work with and have programmed some brilliant companies including Paines Plough of course for their production of Wasted as well as getting companies such as Frantic Assembly to offer workshops on their work. It is going to be a fun start to the summer, once it stops raining…

Charlotte Bennett
Artistic Director
Forward Theatre Project

Forward Theatre Project- Scratch My City

Here at Forward Theatre Project we are gearing up for our third scratch night, Scratch My City which is going to be at the Soho Theatre on Sunday 30th October. Our scratch nights started about a year ago now, a few months after we had been made anassociate company of Paines Plough. Paines Plough were a great support in helping us create a formula for our scratch nights – being a collective of 25 theatre directors,writers and designers, we were concerned with how the scratch nights could be used to help us build relationships within the collective, but also not always become a writer-led event. After a few trial and errors, and mentorship from George and James about how Scratch My City could develop, each time we are feeling happier about, finding the winning formula. One thing has remained constant with Scratch My City, and that is that it has always been a ‘venture into cross-region collaboration.’ One of FTP’s main aims is to create a community amongst peers and to build relationships between peers from all around the UK. With so many exciting emerging theatre companies working all around the country, we decided that Scratch My City would always involve a collaboration with another emerging theatre company who were based somewhere else in the UK.

 This time, we are really excited to be working with Left Luggage Theatre who are a designer-led company from Newcastle. Left Luggage have inspired us to do a designer-led scratch night for our next Scratch My City. After many a discussion with Left Luggage, FTP designers and FTP artists, we settled on exploring the idea of reversing the traditional theatre-making process. Typically, designers are given a play text to work on – in this text there will be certain things that the designer has to adhere to, for instance, if it is a play set in a cottage in Devon in the 1980s, this is already stipulated for them before they begin their design. So what we have decided to do is explore beginning the process with the design. Our design team are currently reading ‘Sorry Tales’ by Mick Jackson – a collection of macabre and idiosyncratic short stories that they are going to use to fuel a design concept or idea. These four design ideas are then being given to each of our four scratch groups (director-writer teams) who will then create a short piece of theatre which adheres to, inspires and uses one of these designs. The clearest example I can offer is one designer who gave the example of being interested in creating a visual time restriction on stage. He said he might give a group the design of several guillotines hanging in the space which all fall down at different times, and by the time the last one has fallen, the piece should be over. Eek…what are we letting ourselves in for?!

It is a complete experiment for us, but we are excited to see what may come out of it and we have a great line up of artists involved including directors Ellen McDougall, Jacqui Honess-Martin and Derek Bond, writers Ben Ellis, Alison Carr, Frazer Flintham and Gabriel Bisset-Smith and of course our wonderful Left Luggage Design team Verity Quinn, Anna Harding and Alison Garner.
One of the things we aim for in our scratch nights is high-quality production values. So all performances are off-book and as rehearsed as possible before the big day. This means the classic scenario of all groups trying to scramble around for rehesarsal space, casting through our casting director Fran Bradley and pulling everything together. It is at times like these that we are reminded of how valuable Paines Plough is as a support to the company. Not only because of the guidance and support they offer in terms of creatively developing the project but also practical support. Access to a central London rehearsal space with a toilet and a kettle is a god-send! As SMC is currently unfunded, being able to offer casts a nice and accessible space to rehearse is so much better than dragging them all the way to your living room in Balham!

Without Paines Plough’s generous support I think the scratch nights would not attract the same high quality artists or productions. The associate company status has also proved of great personal benefit to me over the past few months too. Sometimes I can tell myself that sitting at my laptop on my bed is working and productive, but some times (and this might not be helped by the fact that my bedroom is literally a bed-in-aroom) it just isn’t. Being able to bring my laptop and work at a desk space in an office environment has literally saved my work soul and means I am so much more productive. Also, excitingly, we have just been given our first grant from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation to produce a project at York Theatre Royal next year (woop woop!) So over the next 6 months the whole company will be leaning on Paines Plough for more support as we prepare for this launching and running.

So, back to Scratch My City – we are getting ready to launch this Thursday night with all the teams coming together with their design packs and pairings and getting ready for a ‘on your marks, get set, go!’ scenario. It will be something new. It will be untested. Untried. A bit of an adventure. I cannot wait.

See you there, Soho Theatre cabaret space Sunday 30th October 7.45pm,

Artistic Director

Forward Theatre Project

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.