For the first time in Paines Plough’s 37 year history, we’re building our own theatre.

In partnership with Sheffield Theatres, we’re creating the UK’s first small-scale in-the-round touring amphitheatre. We’re calling it The Roundabout Auditorium.

Lucy Osborne's design for The Roundabout Auditorium

We think theatre-in-the-round is one of the most exhilarating ways to watch theatre – the original and best 3D experience. As Simon Stephens says: “What I cherish about theatre is that it gives us an insight in to what it is to be a human being – there’s no theatrical architecture that challenges or interrogates what it is to be a human being more than theatre-in-the-round.”

With only five permanently in-the-round theatres in the UK, most people have never had the chance to see work in this most exciting and intimate of environments.

As a new writing touring company our aim is to make the best contemporary plays available to everyone, irrespective of geography, in high quality productions and exciting performance contexts. This is why we came up with the idea of creating The Roundabout Auditorium, and why its ease of portability is key to its success as a revolutionary concept in touring theatre.

Another view of The Roundabout Auditorium

The Roundabout Auditorium is designed by award winning theatre designer Lucy Osborne. It will comprise 150 seats over four tiers offering a thrilling amphitheatre style performance space. Think a mini Colosseum. Or a mini Camp Nou. It will flat pack into a lorry and pop-up anywhere from the stages of main house theatres, to arts centres and studio theatres, eventually touring to village halls, schools, warehouses and parks in every corner of the UK. From Liverpool to Lyme Regis, Taunton to Trowbridge, Harrogate to Harlow – the Roundabout Auditorium will turn up on the doorsteps of audiences everywhere. Its legacy will be years of world-beating plays, performed in a unique and electric setting, in top quality Paines Plough productions by a raft of the most exciting UK playwrights.

Inspirations for Roundabout... Rome's Coliseum and Barcelona's Nou Camp

We believe The Roundabout Auditorium will fundamentally transform the new writing touring landscape in the UK. But we need the help of people who share our passion for new plays, touring and groundbreaking new ideas.

We believe that collaboration makes us better and we want you to join us in making this project a reality. We want The Roundabout Auditorium to be built with the input of people who care as much as we do about the importance of innovating new ways to tour contemporary theatre, and the work that Paines Plough produces. We want every piece of the auditorium to have been supported by someone who cares about the success of this ambitious venture as much as we do.

Here’s a film we made about The Roundabout Auditorium and how you can help make this dream theatre a reality:

Along with Sheffield Theatres, we’re using our Arts Council subsidy to fund the creation of three productions that will premiere in a prototype auditorium in Autumn 2011, written by ace playwrights Nick Payne, Duncan Macmillan and Penelope Skinner. Building a prototype and producing plays within it will provide us with the opportunity to test all elements of the project before building the fully functioning, enduring and tourable version of The Roundabout Auditorium next year.

We need to raise £90,000 to make The Roundabout Auditorium a reality. It might sound like a lot of money, but really it’s a steal for a fully functioning theatre that will last for many years to come. Most new theatres cost millions, and are static in one locality. Roundabout is for everyone.

In the next year alone we plan to present 198 individual performances in the Roundabout Auditorium. That means there will be 29,000 available seats. So the cost of building the auditorium is £3 per potential audience member. And that’s just the first year – we believe the Auditorium will last us a minimum of five years, and more likely a decade. So The Roundabout Auditorium represents real value for money.

The overall £90,000 cost of building the fully tourable and sustainable Roundabout Auditorium is made up of £30,000 in labour costs and £60,000 in materials.  With a project as ambitious as this there are of course many individual elements which make the whole.

Labour: £30,000
Seating: £35,000
Stage: £10,000
Lighting: £5,000
Sound: £5,000
Steps into the space: £3,000
Outside wall / casing: £2,000

TOTAL: £90,000

We are inviting you to play a significant part in helping us deliver this brand new concept in small-scale producing, and leave a lasting legacy to help secure the future of Paines Plough’s small-scale touring programme.

By donating towards the cost of the Roundabout Auditorium, you will enable people nationwide to experience this groundbreaking theatrical concept. As one of the major contributors to the building of the Roundabout Auditorium, we’ll make sure audiences know the crucial part you have played in facilitating their experience.

We hope you’re as excited by Roundabout as we are, and that you’ll consider joining us to help make the project a reality. Without you, it’s just a pipe dream.

You can donate easily, quickly and securely through our online fundraising partners Justgiving by clicking on the button below. If you’re a UK Taxpayer, Justgiving will automatically reclaim Gift Aid, adding 28% to your donation.

Donation Online button

You can even donate via your mobile phone. Simply text PPPP00 followed by the amount you wish to donate to 70070. So, for example, text PPPP00 £10 to 70070 if you wish to donate £10. Find out more about text giving here.

If you’d like to talk to us further about any aspect of Roundabout, we’d be delighted to hear from you. Please contact Claire Simpson on 020 7240 4533 or

With your help, we can make your dream theatre a reality.