Category Archive: PPHQ Rehearsal Room

Broken Biscuits Tech Week


Broken Biscuits at Live Theatre Newcastle (cred. Richard Kenworthy)

Hello! Team Biscuits here, all the way from sunny Newcastle (you may think I jest, but the sun has done nothing but beam up here).

For weeks now an eavesdropper of rehearsals would have become familiar with patient phrases such as:

‘In this bit of the show there will be an effect where…’

‘This is when, during the show, you’ll hear…’

‘Once we have the lights…’

No more!


Broken Biscuits at Live Theatre Newcastle (cred. Richard Kenworthy)

Tech week is here and the imaginings of the creative team are leaping into reality. It truly is glorious.

For all very practical and sensible reasons, rehearsal rooms never begin with all the elements in place. We have to wait for the wonders of tech week before we can stop talking in possibilities and start working with all the practical components of the show. Lights, sound, props, this is your time.


Broken Biscuits at Live Theatre Newcastle (cred.Richard Kenworthy)

Tech week is a hectic, fast paced and brilliant period in the world of a production. It’s the sort of week that if someone reminds you of a conversation that you had that very morning, your brain spends a good five minutes computing how it can possibly have taken place on the same day as now. You’ve been to the world of fairy-lights and back since then.


A world of fairy lights (cred. Richard Kenworthy)

It’s a week of high-speed naps, delirious green room conversation and a huge amount of hard work. It’s safe to say caffeine consumption is at an all time high, but the results are well worth it!

We are so excited to share Broken Biscuits with you all, in the immortal words of Megan ‘You will be wanting to spend the next two months in this shed, I promise.’

Anna Ryder, Assistant Director.

Broken Biscuits Rehearsal Room Blog


Broken Biscuits © Matt Humphrey 2016

As Team BROKEN BISCUITS prepares to up sticks to the wonderful Live Theatre, Newcastle, we wanted to give you all a brief check-in on our London rehearsals so far!

We’ve been having a shed-load of fun *groan* discovering the world of Megan, Holly and Ben and their musical adventures have become somewhat our own! Many biscuits have been consumed, too many biscuits some might say (though they would be wrong) and the shed is really starting to come to life. The cast have been playing with all the possiblities of the space and it is really starting to transform into a stage owned by our glorious characters.


Elmo has been keeping a keen eye on biscuit consumption (cred. Jack Heaton)

The office has been brimming full with the trio’s developing musical talents, and Faye’s (Megan) drumming will undoubtably be missed from everyone’s mornings here. Diving into the deep end of teendom, we have been finding the friendships, feelings and frustrations at the heart of our sixteen year old’s summer.


© Matt Humphrey 2016

Props are a heavy feature throughout the play (what garden shed would be complete without numerous odds and ends) and keeping track of the box of biscuits has become a near full time job for our Stage Manager, Aimee.

We’ve been very lucky to have some visitors to rehearsals over the past few weeks: the wonderful Elspeth Morrison came to support with voice and dialect; the equally wonderful Tom Attwood came to lend a hand with our singing talents; then the equally equally wonderful Polly Bennett dropped by to get us up to scratch with movement. This last session resulting in joyous (slightly exhausting) morning warm-up-boogie that has certainly been doing it’s job.


© Matt Humphrey 2016

We are all very excited to start our Newcastle adventure, watch this space for more updates!

Anna Ryder, Assistant Director.

Roundabout Rehersal Room: An extensive range of dungarees

As we gear up for previews (TONIGHT, AH!) we thought we’d take a look back on our last day in the rehearsal room before our tech rehearsals.

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Thinking, planning, rehearsing (cred. Helen Murray)

It’s getting more populous in here as we get closer to putting the plays in the Roundabout itself. As well as having the writers working with us in the room, we’ve had movement workshops with Kate Sagovsky (I couldn’t resist joining in), Elspeth, our dialect coach, helping the actors with their Merthyr accent and also their Ron-Burgundy-from-Anchorman, and an extensive range of dungarees on offer from Kat, the costume designer. We’ve also been working with a film crew to create trailers for the three shows which I’m really excited about, so look out for those.

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Caitlin thinks about tech week… (cred. Helen Murray)

Dom, our Sound Designer, comes bearing gifts of a beautiful indie soundtrack for LOVE, LIES AND TAXIDERMY and high-octane sound effects for I GOT SUPERPOWERS FOR MY BIRTHDAY which range from gross to hilarious, some of which make the PP team in the office next door to the rehearsal room jump a bit (sorry guys). Prema, our Lighting Designer, gave me a sneak peak at the visual simulation of Roundabout that she’s been using to create the lighting design, because we are living in the future.

Basically, if you picture the Avengers assembling, walking in slow motion with big explosions in the background, that’s the creative team behind these shows right now. Boom.

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“So no one wants to be Hawk-Eye?” (cred. Helen Murray)

See you next time, when we’ll be in the Roundabout itself in Hackney!


Roundabout Rehearsal Room: 3 actors, 55 characters

Hello! Welcome to the latest update from the Roundabout rehearsal room. The plays are up on their feet now and it’s all kicking off. The circular stage has been marked out in tape on the floor by Caitlin, our Stage Manager, with the yellow, blue and pink of the seats around the edges. The colour codes, arrows and crosses all help, because rehearsing three plays at once in the round can be figuratively and literally dizzying.

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Colourful rehearsals = black and white photos (cred. Helen Murray)

The circle comes to life as we explore the huge amount of possibilities for playing in it – it can feel like an intimate little stage or a huge space depending on the dynamics in the scene we’re doing. Altogether, we’ve counted 55 different characters across all the plays, and that makes for a lot of different accents and shapes. We aren’t using any set or props, which means all the focus is on the actors, and they’re conjuring everything from a bedroom to an entire Welsh town to a giant slug in our imaginations.

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Richard Corgan counts how many characters he’s playing… (cred. Helen Murray)

At the end of the week, we went to the beautiful space at Half Moon Theatre to show I GOT SUPERPOWERS FOR MY BIRTHDAY to a young audience. We got some lovely and useful feedback, including “when’s the sequel?” (top secret, sorry guys), and someone compared it to the amazing Avatar: The Last Airbender, which reminds me – I need to watch the last series.

This week’s top tip comes not from me but from one of the actors, and it’s about wearing loose clothing when playing mythical creatures.

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Director George reacts to Andy’s wardrobe malfunction (cred. Helen Murray)

See you next time!


Roundabout Rehearsal Room Blog: The beginning

Hi, I’m Anna! I’m the new Trainee Director at Paines Plough and I’ll be assistant directing the Roundabout plays this year – GROWTH, I GOT SUPERPOWERS FOR MY BIRTHDAY and LOVE, LIES AND TAXIDERMY. I’ve just moved to London to work at PPHQ and in between rehearsals you can find me skipping delightedly across Waterloo Bridge like I’m Andrea Sachs in The Devil Wears Prada and I’ve just arrived in New York.

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Rehearsal room walls (cred. Helen Murray)

Back to the rehearsal room – the first thing you would notice if you came in would be the walls. They started off blank and inviting, and quickly began to fill up. Detailed maps of Merthyr Tydfil, pictures of Captain Planet and The Incredibles, and medical information about orchidectomies cover every surface, along with timelines of each play. As the days go by, all the work we’re doing on the texts manifests itself on the walls, and it begins to look like the office of a particularly eclectic and obsessive private investigator *sips scotch*.

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Hilarious moments with Remy Beasley (cred. Helen Murray)

Incidentally, investigating is exactly what we’re doing at the table in rehearsals (stunning segue Anna) – lots of going through the plays, hearing them out loud, playing and finding information about the characters and stories. Beautiful and hilarious moments emerge, and already I’ve learned a lot about the initial rehearsal process for new writing, about day-to-day life at PPHQ, and NEVER to Google ‘hybrid taxidermy’ (I’m serious, don’t do it guys).

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Anna accidentally googles ‘hybrid taxidermy’ (cred. Helen Murray)

Thanks for reading! I’ll be back soon with more rehearsal updates,


Rehearsal Room Diary: Misheard Lyrics

PPHQ has been treated to the sound of UK Garage classics reverberating down the corridor from WITH A LITTLE BIT OF LUCK rehearsals, as we gear up to take the show out on the road next week. It’s sounding incredible. 

Assistant Director, Nadia, fills us in on what’s been happening behind closed doors, and what all those Garage lyrics we’ve been getting oh so wrong actually are, as we try to sing along…

We’ve been creating our own little rave in the Paines Plough rehearsal room for the past two weeks and apart from the sick beats and sweet melodies one thing has certainly kept us guessing – the lyrics. I test anyone right now to tell me what the heck DJ Luck and MC Neat are talking about.

Or what about Kelly G/Tina Moore’s stonker ‘Never Gonna Let You Go’? We all know the line we simultaneously mumble on, one slight variation…‘never gonna let you go, coz you’re my baby, means more then a penis would’.

Who knew that UK Garage could be such an enigma?

My personal favourite misheard garage lyric goes to our Stage Manager’s rendition of Craig David ft. Artful Dodger’s Re-Rewind – ‘when the crowd so bo selecta’, which was misheard as ‘I got to post a letter’. He assures me that it was his 6 year old cousin who made the boo boo, but I’m not so sure.

Garage queen director Stef O’Driscoll had to be told that the lyrics to Over Here by M Dubs ft. Shy Cookie are in fact ‘listen to what the danman saying’, due to vocals from Richie Dan, after having sung ‘ listen to what the badman saying’ for the past 10 years. A fairly common error, to which Stef doesn’t back down, stating – ‘I’m sticking with badman’. She does her own thing.

But I think the crowning glory has to go to an anonymous contributor who by all standards smashed the misheard lyric game with his rendition of the classic namesake to Sabrina Mahfouz’s play. Our personal favourite WITH A LITTLE BIT OF LUCK misheard lyric has to come from this guy. I mean we are still not sure what DJ Luck and MC Neat are saying… we’ve gone with with ‘holler with the rinsin’ sound, holler with the rinsin’ sound’, but an anonymous Garage extraordinaire upped his game when he thought the lyrics were ‘Ali Ali wets himself, Ali Ali wets himself’ – which I think we can all agree is a banger.

For anyone called Ali – we’re sorry, but forever in our minds you’ll be the guy who wet himself.

– Nadia

WITH A LITTLE BIT OF LUCK kicks off its UK-wide tour at the Garage, Norwich on 13 April and you can get tickets here. See you there? Excellent. 

Debarred Theatre Company at PPHQ

Last month we were super excited to have Debarred Theatre working in our rehearsal room, a new company made up solely of those who’ve had direct experience with the criminal justice system. They spent one week in the rehearsal room at PPHQ, beginning the development and rehearsal of their first production, THE BARRED by Dean Stalham.

We asked them to write a short blog about THE BARRED and their time here:

First week of rehearsals is over, in what has been one of the most enlightening week’s of my career.

The play ‘The Barred’, written by Dean Stalham, is about a prisoner trying to keep a dark family secret locked away from the prison authorities (Mr Mac), but at the same time opening his mind to the world of creativity encouraged by the local writer in residence (Andrew).  A simple plot layered with complex sub text that explores family divides, love, middle class ideology on the working class, corruption of the prison system and that creativity no matter how hard people may try, can never be crushed…phew what a play!

In a small but very pleasant rehearsal room with 5 actors, a director, writer and crew, the process is intense (like the walls of a cell) but this is what attracted me to the role and company. This is a straight talking get down to business process – warts and all.


Trying to find my character this week has been an amazing and at times a tearful experience with emotions flying around the room. As an actor that uses the Stanislavski system, it has been great to work with a theatre company that embraces all styles, even if things can be a little strange and odd at times.

The greatest gift has been the writer, producer and director allowing this process to go the distance amongst the actors.  At times it’s been incredibly tough, but at the end of the day we’ve been working towards one goal of truth and great work, which has meant we’ve ended a very positive week for all!

With a cast mainly from a flavoured working class background, it has been an amazing privilege to work with such directness. The language can be colourful but just as colourful as the work that is beginning to flow. They say that people who swear are more honest than those that don’t, maybe there is something to be said about that when working in the arts?


Paines Plough has been wonderfully welcoming without judgement and I am sure patient as the volume of emotions fly out of the rehearsals room into the corridor. Maybe it’s a perfect match? A company known for stretching the boundaries of traditional theatre and a band of misfits and rogues that challenge the status quo of the drama world with work that has a deep undercutting message like in ‘The Barred': “Middle class solutions for working class people will never work until it is the working class that drive these solutions from the bottom up”.

What I can say is give a group of hungry actors and a grass roots writer a small room and you can watch their confidence grow over just a week. I know something special is going to happen in 2015 for ‘The Barred’ and Paines Plough can gladly say that they were a huge contribution in that process.

Thanks for the room guys and we hope you will have us again.

Luke McGibney – Actor

The Debarred Theatre Company

You can find out more information on our rehearsal room here or to check availability and book please call 0207 240 4533 or email