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Jumpers For Goalposts

We’re like a kid on Cup Final day bouncing around with excitement, as we can hereby announce the first production of our Programme 2013…

A Paines Plough, Hull Truck and Watford Palace Theatre production
JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS
by Tom Wells
directed by James Grieve

I’m not asking you to win. I’m asking you to just: chuck your face at it, have a, have a fucking good go at it. And then we’ll. Yeah. We’ll see.

Luke wants Danny, but Danny’s got a secret. Joe wants to play second fiddle, but Geoff wants a headline gig. Viv just wants to beat the lesbians to the league title. Game on.

A hilarious and heart-warming story about football, friendship and finding your way from Tom Wells, winner of the George Devine Award for Most Promising Playwright 2012 for the smash hit comedy THE KITCHEN SINK (★★★★★ The Daily Telegraph).

Yes indeed, we’re thrilled to announce the World Premiere of Tom Wells’ new play in a co-production with our friends at Watford Palace and Hull Truck.

We’ve loved Tom’s writing since he joined our Channel Four Future Perfect Scheme for emerging playwrights in 2009 and we produced his brilliant play ABOUT A GOTH as part of our A Play, A Pie and A Pint season at Oran Mor in 2009. Last year, his award-winning, five star, smash hit comedy THE KITCHEN SINK premiered at The Bush and proved Tom is one of the funniest and sharpest writers in the land.

James & George say: “We could not be more honoured and thrilled to be premiering Tom’s new play. JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS has us rolling around laughing one minute and winded the next. Tom’s acute, moving portrayal of five people trying to beat the odds to win in football and in life will resonate with everyone. It’s a major new play from a major writer and we can’t wait for people to see it across the country.”

JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS will premiere at Watford Palace from 5-20 April 2013. We’ll then take a bit of a break before opening at Hull Truck in August 2013 and embarking on a nationwide tour September – November.

Countdown to Edinburgh…

Last week brought the launch of the 2012 Edinburgh Fringe programme and we were eagerly checking the post box that morning for our copy of the Fringe brochure. When it did arrive there was an instant scramble over the single copy as we all wanted to take a peek at the wealth of shows on offer this year.

And Paines Plough will be taking a show up to the Fringe this year as well – David Harrower ’s Good With People directed by Paines Plough co-artistic director George Perrin, designed by Ben Stones and starring Blythe Duff. The production will be playing at the Traverse Theatre between 4th-26th August as part of a double-bill with David Greig’s The Letter of Last Resort. The play originally started life back in 2010 as part of our A Play, A Pie and A Pint season at Òran Mór, so it is exciting to have it return. And as a play set in Scotland from a Scottish writer, Edinburgh seems its natural home.

If you are interested in seeing Good With People you can book through the Traverse website or call the box office on 0131 228 1404. And of course you can also book through the Edinburgh Fringe website.

So the countdown to the Edinburgh Fringe has finally begun – we can’t wait!

A Play, a Cake and a Pint?

Cake is becoming a bit of a theme around here – as he told us yesterday, Sean is adjusting well to life as the PP intern by embracing the abundance of cakes in the office. And two of this year’s three Play, Pie and Pint shows feature cake in a crucial role. Woe betide any diabetics who come to work for Paines Plough.

It seems like only yesterday I saw the first run through of DIG and started to get a sense of what a beautiful and affecting play it was going to be. In fact, it was just over four weeks ago. And one month, 4 cities, and 24 cakes later, it has drawn to a close.

L-R: Stewart Porter, Louise Ludgate and Simon Macallum - the brilliant cast of DIG.

Here’s what the critics from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester and Coventry had to say…

‘This tightly written play is gripping, funny and extremely moving… A thoroughly affecting piece of theatre.’ Edinburgh Guide ★★★★

‘Tight and emotionally-chargedAs it builds to its powerful conclusion, Dig deftly uncovers the emotions which lie hidden beneath the surface of our everyday lives; and the hope which can often be found growing there.’ Edinburgh Spotlight ★★★★

‘It’s a simple idea, but over the resulting 45 minutes a surprisingly large emotional terrain is covered by George Perrin’s production…Douglas’ dialogue is sharply written and well observed…Louise Ludgate’s climatic monologue, a desperate plea to save her marriage, is impossibly affecting’ Exeunt Magazine ★★★★

‘Incredibly gripping…intelligent, compelling and humorous…The script builds to a tender and emotional conclusion, portrayed brilliantly by a talented trio of actors. Overall, Dig was a fantastic experience and it would have been excellent even if I hadn’t had a hot pie and a glass of red wine to keep me company.’ The Student ★★★★

‘Dig is the sort of brash, confident and hard-hitting piece of theatre which makes you sit up. A perfectly crafted short.’ Annals of Edinburgh Stage ★★★★

‘Very moving, very incisive…For a 45 minute long play “Dig” packs a lot of punch.’ Lothian Life ★★★★

‘A small masterpiece…this rich and shattering slice of lunchtime drama’  The Scotsman ★★★★

‘From hilarity to chilling suspense, Katie Douglas’s script controls the atmosphere in the room precisely…This exploration of the emotional effects of an economic climate where job security is a fantasy asks tough questions, and asks them very well.’ Edinburgh Evening News ★★★★

‘The play, the pie and the pint are all thoroughly enjoyable, but best by far is the play – wonderful, deep and satisfying.’ Warwick Courier

If you caught DIG, we’d love to know what you thought of it.

And if you didn’t – there’s still time to grab your pie and pint and settle down in front of either YOU CANNOT GO FORWARD FROM WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW, at the Belgrade Theatre until Friday, or JUICY FRUITS – playing at the Manchester Royal Exchange this week and heading to Coventry next week.

Tea, Cake, Patrick Stewart and Angie

This is my fourth week here at 43 Aldwych, the most exciting of addresses. We’re a little door between the Aldwych Theatre where Marc Warren is currently treading the boards in Cool Hand Luke ( and soon to be the home of Vincent and Flavia off of Strictly Come Dancing) and The HUGE Waldorf Hotel. We may just have a little door, but up on the fourth floor there is a hive of activity. Paines Plough’s office is bright, and cheery; the kettle is boiled every fifteen minutes (tea drinkers extraordinaire), and there is always coffee in the pot. There is a constant buzz of writers working in the writers’ room, companies rehearsing in the PP rehearsal room, but between 10am and 6pm the Production Office is the place to be.

In this little room, with one big round window and five desks packed in tight, all of Paines Plough’s production work happens. There is always a flurry of typing, printing and phonecalls, bundles of laughter, copious amounts of tea, and if you catch us on a good day (or a bad day depending on how you look at it…) there is always plenty of cake. From oatcakes, to cupcakes, to 58p out of date, reduced chocolate indulgence cake, the production office is run off sugar. At the moment we put this down to the Winter months setting in, but I’m pretty sure, whatever the weather, if you ever need to sweet talk anything from the Production Office, cake is always welcome. As are those foam banana and shrimp sweets. They go down a treat too. Luckily for us, the office is on the top floor so there are plenty of stairs to clamber up, working off the high sugar intake…

Since I’ve started I’ve done all sorts of things from logging feedback we’ve received from audience members who have seen our Play, Pie, Pint or Roundabout shows, to booking travel and accommodation for the team all over the country, to working with Tara and the publishers- faber & faber on proofing the playtext for our last production of 2011- The Sound of Heavy Rain. However, it was in my first 48 hours at Paines Plough where I witnessed the real glitz and glamour of working in theatre.

On my first day, after work we went to see Headlong Theatre’s Decade at St. Katherine’s Docks; on arriving I met Mike Bartlett who co-wrote the script for Decade, and also wrote Love, Love, Love for PP and 13 which opened at the National last week, then Rupert Goold, who directed Decade, and also directed Enron by Lucy Prebble and Earthquakes in London also written by Mike Bartlett wandered over and then, if that wasn’t excitement enough, in comes Patrick Stewart- a pretty impressive trio to be spending Tuesday evening in the company of. But the highlight of all this glamour came the following day when in the London drizzle I made my way up to Holborn to a remarkable little place- LaundaVista. The tea towels from the office needed to be washed, so I wend my way to a backstreet laundry, ran by the delightful Angie and despite the language barrier (I think she’s Spanish) we try and have a broken conversation about all things life, love and laundry.

I’m learning so much working here at 43 Aldwych, but whatever I take from Paines Plough over the next few months, I know that I will be grateful for meeting Angie; for the advice on soap powder to fabric softener ratio, the bewilderment as to why she and her family keep their car keys in one of the washing machines, what the best way is to iron a suit jacket and her views on the pros and cons of the flu jab. Patrick Stewart was brilliant, but I think meeting Angie is something pretty special.

You Cannot Go Forward From Where You Are Right Now impresses in Edinburgh

It’s been a busy week for A Play, A Pie and A Pint. On Monday we introduced Leo Butler’s JUICY FRUITS to the audience at Oran Mor in Glasgow, Tuesday saw YOU CANNOT GO FORWARD FROM WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW‘s first performance at the Traverse in Edinburgh, and on Wednesday, DIG rolled into the Manchester Royal Exchange.

Katie Douglas’s DIG goes from strength to strength, with each city it visits falling for it. It’s been particularly great today to see people tweeting comments to the Royal Exchange, saying how much they loved the show and encouraging others to go and experience the laughter and tears that the play provokes too. Brenda, Tommy and Dean will be at the Belgrade Theatre next week – Coventry, you’re in for a treat.

With the traffic so bad she was worried she wouldn't get to the Traverse in time to get her Scotch pie...

Meanwhile, YOU CANNOT GO FORWARD FROM WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW has also made rather a good impression on its Edinburgh audiences. Here’s what they’re saying:

‘a clever and imaginative piece of short theatre…well worth setting the satnav for the Traverse Theatre and catching it’ Edinburgh Spotlight

‘funny, intelligent and observant’ Edinburgh Guide

‘You might expect the writers of the successful A Play A Pie and A Pint lunchtime offerings to have rather modest ambitions… Not so David Watson…Watson’s handling of the fragmentary structure is sure and confident, and his writing is remarkably idiomatic.’ Edinburgh Reporter

We were also delighted to see another 2 minute youtube review, as blogger Eve Nicol filed her report on YOU CANNOT GO FORWARD. We can’t wait to see what she makes of JUICY FRUITS!

If you’ve seen one of the plays, we’d love to know what you thought. You can leave a comment here, tweet us @painesplough or drop us a line on our facebook page.

And if you haven’t seen any of them yet – what are you waiting for?!

DIG racks up the stars

Stuart Porter (Tommy), Louise Ludgate (Brenda) and Simon Macallum (Dean)

The reviews are rolling in for DIG and the critics are suitably wowed by Katie Douglas’s sizzling drama, currently at Edinburgh’s Traverse before touring to Manchester Royal Exchange and The Belgrade, Coventry.

Here’s a snapshot:

“Politicians talk about the need to “get Britain back to work”, but it takes a small masterpiece like this latest play by Katie Douglas to dig below the surface of the words, into the infinite layers of pain that ripple outward from a man abruptly bereft, by forces far beyond his control, of his key role as family provider..this rich and shattering slice of lunchtime drama.”
The Scotsman ★★★★

“Gripping, funny and extremely moving…A thoroughly affecting piece of theatre”
Edinburgh Guide ★★★★

“Tight and emotionally-charged…builds to its powerful conclusion, Dig deftly uncovers the emotions which lie hidden beneath the surface of our everyday lives; and the hope which can often be found growing there.”
Edinburgh Spotlight
★★★★

“Moving, very incisive…For a 45 minute long play “Dig” packs a lot of punch. The pies are good, too.”
Lothian Life ★★★★

“Devastatingly effective. From hilarity to chilling suspense, Katie Douglas’s script controls the atmosphere in the room precisely.”
Edinburgh Evening News ★★★★

Catch it while you can…

Leo Butler’s brand new play

As we’ve previously revealed, we believe the playwright should be the lead creative artist in the process of making new plays.

So we commission slightly differently to other companies in that we commission playwrights not plays. We identify the writers we love the most, and we commit to putting their play on before they’ve written a word.

This is an extremely exciting and rewarding way of collaborating – always moving towards a concrete production with a date in the diary for the first day of rehearsals, previews and for press night.

But it also poses some challenges, not least because marketing schedules mean brochures with images and copy for plays often have to go to print before the play’s been written. And as we all know, plays develop and morph and sometimes completely transform draft by draft.

Which is what Leo Butler found when he was writing his play for our A Play, A Pie And A Pint season. Initially called ETERNAL SOURCE OF LIGHT, Leo found as he was writing the play that a new and very different play was emerging.

Here’s what Leo has to say about the change of direction and his thrilling new work:

“Working on a new play for Paines Plough has been a highlight of my career so far. For a leading new writing company to commit to producing a play that hasn’t been written yet, demonstrates a level of trust in the playwright that is practically unheard of elsewhere in this country.

There are, of course, challenges to this kind of collaboration, one of which is that the playwright’s first concept of the play develops through the writing process, and that initial idea turns into something very different by the end.  This happens to me always every time I sit down and write a new play, and it has been liberating to have the support of George Perrin and the Paines Plough company, who have encouraged my new discoveries and changes in direction along the way.

Most importantly, I am thrilled to we are offering Juicy Fruits to the A Play, A Pie & A Pint audiences, as it is one that I am particularly proud of.”

And so we’re excited to announce that the brilliant, darkly comic play that Leo has arrived at is actually called JUICY FRUITS and is a very different beast from the one Leo initially imagined. Here’s the lowdown:

JUICY FRUITS
by Leo Butler


Lorna and Nina haven’t seen each other since a drunken wedding reception six years ago.

Whilst Lorna’s been journeying through the urban jungle and reached destination housewife, Nina’s been running wild in the jungles of Borneo.

Reunited over lattes and pastries, their friendship is tested to the limit and the question is asked: does civil exist in civilisation?

JUICY FRUITS is in rehearsals now in Glasgow, directed by George, and starring Denise Hoey, Clare Waugh and Ben Winger. It opens at Òran Mór on Monday 17 October and will subsequently tour to Edinburgh, Manchester and Coventry.

You’re going to love it.

The reviews are in…

…well, one or two of them. Our production of DIG, the first of our three A Play, A Pie and A Pint shows, opened at Òran Mór on Monday after a busy morning of technical work and dress rehearsal. In people filed, collected their pint, chose their pie, and sat down – knives and forks at the ready – to see what we had made for them.

Dig in performance. Terrible photo...'small masterpiece' of a play.

It’s a funny feeling, watching a play you’ve seen develop from words on a page, to slightly different words on a page, to words coming out of actors’ mouths, to a fully fleshed-out, captivating and moving story. And it’s a very gratifying feeling to watch people around you, encountering it for the first time ever, laughing, gasping and even crying as the lives of the people they’re watching unfold before them.

And then the wait for what the all-important critics think… well, today, we got our first review in from Joyce McMillan of the Scotsman – and she loved it, giving it four stars and calling it ‘a small masterpiece’. That’s what we like to hear! See the full review here: http://bit.ly/nek9kN

And as we await the verdicts of our audience-at-large, who can file their reports at http://www.playpiepint.com/ in order to win a bottle of malt whisky (can I enter?), we’ve also spotted reviews like this one coming in. Funnily enough I spotted the lady in the video  in the audience this lunchtime – she was wearing a very nice dress – so it’s brilliant to see a response like this so quickly and vividly. Keep em coming!

PP Around the UK in 81 days

As we are in rehearsals for 4 plays, with two set to tech and open next week, plus a 5th play to start rehearsals and a 6th to join in four weeks time – it can be difficult to keep track of who is where!

Enter the joy that is the EXCEL spreadsheet.  This paired with our brilliant intern, Amy, results in the glorious schedule below.

Take a peak to see who is rehearsing what, where and when…

Colour coded and everything!

Of course there is also Claire, Hanna and Amy who are our rocks at number 43 Aldwych during these busy periods.

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.