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Like vampires in the dark

It’s tech day, which essentially means we’ve become like vampires, scared to step outside into the light. Tucked away in the darkness of the auditorium, with only the glow of the parcans and 2Ks from the stage, and the red neon glare of the control desk, it’s here that we will feel safe.

Sixty Five Miles, is a play that most theatre’s would put in their studio. It’s perceived as being delicate and intimate. Hull Truck’s main auditorium is colossal. 400 seats. It’s as far from a studio as possible. Amy has created a sweeping, multi level design, that embraces the opportunities the space provides and allows the action of the play to step out of the confines of being a traditional studio piece. The journey between Sheffield and Hull that is central to the play, and the multiple locations that the action unfolds in, are allowed to merge seamlessly into each other, the play now has an epic feel. Tim’s lighting, enhances and compliments this idea, using a palette of colors to stamp strong visual images on the action. Add to this Ed’s delicate yet bruising score, and the play, still retains the subtlety that I hoped for but also has found a bolder, tougher and searing quality.

It’s thrilling to see this. As a young writer I’ve often been convinced that the only plays I will ever have produced are in studios. So it’s great to see the play fighting against this notion. I hope that when we open tomorrow the audiences will feel the same! And I also hope that in years to come, I will get a chance to see plays like James Graham’s ‘Albert Boy’ or DC Moore’s ‘The Empire’ revived in spaces that go against the preconceived image of where such plays should be produced.

I spent three of the best years of my life in Hull. Between 1999 and 2002 I studied at the University, my time was spent living and drinking on Beverly Road, watching Hull City at the old Boothferry Park Stadium, learning and making my first mistakes as an independent adult, and regularly making the trip back along the M62 to my parents home just outside Sheffield. It’s a city that has defined me in many ways, in terms of the choices I’ve made and the people that now occupy my life. It fills me with joy that my first full scale production will be produced by Paines Plough and Hull Truck, it feels like a homecoming.

I started writing Sixty Five Miles in 2006. It wasn’t the first thing I’d written by any means but it was the first thing I was proud of.  I sent an early draft of the play to Paines Plough in order to try and win a place on their Future Perfect scheme. At the time I was doing a job in London, that bored me to tears and writing at night, so I was delighted when I was offered a place on the scheme.

It was whilst on attachment at Paines Plough that I met George Perrin, who was then the trainee director in residence. George, having been to University in Sheffield felt a connection with the play and we worked on developing it together. The play’s had a long and windy journey, hundreds of rewrites, several attempted productions, an award, some fantastic advice and guidance from brilliant friends and actors but it seems right that it has come back to the company and the director it began with.

I hope the journey, from starting this play to getting it staged, gives hope to other writers. Patience and perseverance can often be the most frustrating of qualities to possess, but when they pay off, my oh my they are worth it.

For those of you that make it up to Hull, thank you, and do please pull me aside and have a chat. I’m normally found at the bar with a pint of Guinness.

Matt Hartley’s 65 MILES in Hull

We’re super excited to announce another new show for 2012…

With our friends at Hull Truck we’re co-producing the world premiere of Matt Hartley‘s electrifying and moving new play 65 MILES.

The production will open at Hull Truck on 1 February, directed by George and starring Ian Bleasdale, Craige Els, Becci Gemmell, Alan Morrissey and Katie West.

I don’t even have a photo. Every girl I see could be her. You’d know yer own child if they walked past wouldn’t you?

Sixty Five Miles. The distance between Hull and Sheffield. The distance between a man and the daughter he’s never met.

Pete and Rich are two very different brothers. Reunited after nine years, both are seeking forgiveness. Rich needs to confront ex-girlfriend Lucy, and the shadows of his recent past. Pete’s search is for the one woman in his life he has never known, his daughter.

They soon discover that – even separated by sixty five miles – people never forget.

We’re thrilled to be working with Matt, who wrote for COME TO WHERE I’M FROM last year in Sheffield, and whose blog about last week’s Jersey residency you can read here.

And we welcome a stellar cast to the PP rehearsal room:

L-R Ian Bleasdale, Craige Els, Becci Gemmell, Alan Morrissey, Katie West

George is working with a crack team of creatives with the brilliant Amy Cook designing, lighting by Tim Deiling – who’s previously worked with PP on THE 8TH and our A Play, A Pie and a Pint season – and Ed Lewis on sound.

And we’re thrilled to again be working with Andrew and his brilliant team at Hull Truck after our lovely visit with LOVE, LOVE, LOVE earlier this year.

Full details of the production are here. We can’t wait.

Welcome to HQ

Paines Plough HQ is a bright and welcoming place to visit now that all of our refurbishment work is compete. The final finishing touches were put in place by the very talented designer Amy Cook, who made these lovely perspex signs for us.

No reason to get lost on the 4th floor again

The colourful signs indicate what happens in each room on the 4th floor, 43 Aldwych and their design is based on the shape of road signs, to reflect the many miles of the UK that Paines Plough travels each year touring our productions. We hope that after a treacherous climb up the many stairs to get here, visitors will at least know where to go while they catch their breath (and where to get a cup of tea).

Friday Facelifts

To paraphrase Rebekkah Black, it’s Friday, Friday and we’re all looking forward to the weekend.  But before we go, we thought we’d just update you on what’s been happening at PP HQ over the last few days.

The brilliant Amy Cook has been working on some jazzy new signage for the office today, and we can’t stop admiring her handiwork. Here she is at work, as well as a sneak-peak at the nearly-finished product.  Never again will visitors wander in uncertainly and say tentatively ‘I’m looking for Paines Plough…?’.

Today’s also Chrissy and Tash’s last day, and we’ll be very sad to see them go.  Both of them have been here for 3 months, and Chrissy’s run down of her time as Trainee Producer will be following shortly. We’ll be toasting all their hard work over prosecco and cake this evening.

Show-wise, despite suffering from a something of an Edinburgh-induced theatre hangover, this week we’ve seen Double Feature 1 & 2 at The National Theatre, The Faith Machine at the Royal Court and Dr Faustus at the Globe.

Finally, in upcoming news, we’ll be announcing casting for Roundabout very soon, along with updates on A Play, A Pie and A Pint. So be sure to stay tuned to the blog and, most importantly, have a lovely weekend.