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Programme 2016

Here we go… the grand unveiling of our Programme 2016 in all its glory. A host of new plays from red hot writers hitting the road to the four corners of our green and pleasant land.

PP2016 season shows v8 web generic banner

Here’s a snapshot:

ROUNDABOUT features a new rep of three brand new plays by Katie Douglas, Alan Harris and Luke Norris at Summerhall in Edinburgh and on tour to Kent, Cornwall, Cumbria, Lincolnshire, Bedfordshire, Staffordshire, Yorkshire and Greater Manchester.

The world premiere of BROKEN BISCUITS by Tom Wells opens with our co-producers Live Theatre in Newcastle prior to a UK Tour.

WITH A LITTLE BIT OF LUCK by Sabrina Mahfouz tours to 29 venues nationwide.

EVERY BRILLIANT THING is back on home soil by popular demand following an international tour.

COME TO WHERE I’M FROM comes to London with a week of live events across the capital featuring 30 playwrights.

Elinor Cook’s TEN WEEKS opens in London tonight.

Our transatlantic collaboration with legendary New York company Naked Angels sees two new radio plays by Nathan Bryon and Lucy Gillespie released as free to listen downloads.

Here’s what James & George have to say about it all:

“We’re raring to hit the road to the four corners of the UK with this cracking programme of new plays from some of the most exciting writers around. Roundabout will pop-up across the country with comedies from Luke Norris and Alan Harris, a superhero tale for children from Katie Douglas and a host of events from international visiting companies and local community groups, bringing a festival feel to every place it visits. We’re honoured to be working with talents as innovative as Sabrina Mahfouz – whose UK Garage musical is theatre you can rave to – and Tom Wells whose heart-warming new play will delight fans of his previous Paines Plough hit Jumpers For Goalposts. With Every Brilliant Thing returning to the UK after an international tour, London stories in Come To Where I’m From and new plays from Elinor Cook, Nathan Bryon, Lucy Gillespie, there’s a play for everyone, everywhere in Programme 2016.”

Paines Plough presents
2016 sees the return of Roundabout, our award-winning pop-up theatre. The all new Roundabout programme will preview from 19 – 24 July at Hackney Showroom in London before taking up residency once again at Summerhall during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and then touring nationwide.

Roundabout will tour nationwide in partnership with The Lowry, Hall For Cornwall, Margate Theatre Royal, Lincoln Performing Arts Centre, Brewery Arts Centre, Barnsley Civic, Appetite Stoke-on-Trent and Revoluton, Marsh Farm Estate in Luton.

In rep will be three World Premieres…

A Paines Plough, Sherman Cymru and Theatr Clwyd production
By Alan Harris

A deliciously quirky comedy from Alan Harris about two teenagers in Merthyr Tydfil who fall in love in Tesco but face a fight to save their parents from self-destruction.

LLT 466

A Paines Plough production
By Luke Norris

A very funny new play from Luke Norris about a 20-something who tries to ignore a lump until it’s almost too late.

GROW 466

A Paines Plough and Half Moon production
By Katie Douglas

An epic superhero quest for ages 7 to 11-year-olds from Katie Douglas.


PLUS… Roundabout will again host a programme of visiting companies at The Edinburgh Festival Fringe and on tour, and see the return of EARLIER / LATER, Paines Plough’s early morning and late night series of one-off shows, events, workshops and more.

A Paines Plough and Live Theatre production
By Tom Wells

The brand new play from JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS writer Tom Wells. A hilarious and heart-warming tale of three teenagers dreaming of rock ‘n’ roll stardom.

BB 466

A Paines Plough and Latitude Festival production
by Sabrina Mahfouz

Our hit UK Garage musical is back in our rehearsal room and getting set to hit the road to 29 venues nationwide. This is theatre you can rave to.


A Paines Plough and Pentabus Theatre Company production
By Duncan Macmillan with Jonny Donahoe

Our worldwide hit show is back on home soil in Edinburgh and on a UK tour this Autumn.

EBT 466

A Paines Plough and Tamasha production

Since 2010 more than 100 playwrights have written plays about the place they call home as part of our nationwide project, but never in London… until now…


A Paines Plough and Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama production
by Elinor Cook

Elinor Cook’s electrifying new play about the Alpha course transfers to The Gate in Notting Hill following its Cardiff premiere.

TW 466

Paines Plough and Naked Angels present
BILAL’S BIRTHDAY by Nathan Bryon
322 DAYS by Lucy Gillespie

Our transatlantic partnership with New York legends Naked Angels has resulted in these two cracking radio plays from rising US star Lucy Gillespie and our very own Playwright Fellow Nathan Bryon.

NA 466

Woop. And there’s lots more to come including a mega programme of visiting companies, one-off shows, events, workshops and fun stuff in Roundabout, the return of EARLIER/LATER, festival appearances, more tour dates, and probably other stuff we think up as we go along too.

But for now, welcome to Programme 2016. We hope you like it.


Roundabout Round-Up

We can hardly believe it, but Roundabout opened it’s doors for the final time this year earlier in the month. What a whirlwind it’s been as our portable, plug-in-and-play auditorium has undertaken a whistle stop tour, taking it all across our green and pleasant land.

Audiences of all ages have been delighted by our wide-ranging repertoire and now we’re looking back at all the moments that made us laugh and smile.



“A masterclass in storytelling that had every audience member lapping up every word…”★★★★★ The Reviews Hub

The Human Ear is a fine piece of drama” ★★★★ The Reviews Hub

“…gives us real food for thought.”★★★★ The Reviews Hub


Lungs is “clever, excellent, and powerful”” (The Linc)


“Portable dome will be home to cutting-edge theatre” (Cumbria Live)

“Students’ actors get an inside ‘view'” (West Morland Gazette)

“ARTS: cutting edge theatre in a Roundabout way” (West Morland Gazette)




“​Pop-up theatre ‘the Roundabout’ set to wow crowds in Hanley” (Stoke Sentinel)

And you can listen to Hanna on BBC Radio Stoke here, at around the 2hour 15 minute mark.

We’ve been thrilled and humbled by the responses from everyone who has visited and taken in a show and we want to say a massive THANK YOU for coming came along. We’ve loved every minute! Now we’re off to plan next year’s Roundabout programme and we’re determined to knocks your socks off – see you then!

Team PP x

We’re off to… Kendal

Today our ROUNDABOUT arrives in Kendal with THE HUMAN EAR, LUNGS, OUR TEACHER’S A TROLL and EVERY BRILLIANT THING in tow. The team are super excited to be visiting so we asked our friends at the Brewery Arts Centre for their list of brilliant things to see and do while we’re around…


The Castle Green Hotel, Castle Green Lane, Kendal, LA9 6RG.©

Kendal’s only 4 star hotel. The grounds are beautiful and it includes a separate real ale pub and fine dining restaurant so you can relax with a pint or do something a little special. There’s something for everyone.


The Brewery, Grainstore Restaurant, 122a Highgate, Kendal, LA9 4HE.Grainstore Restaurant

Serving a Mediterranean menu featuring tasty tapas menu with a quirky twist using local ingredients and pizzas. Situated in the Brewery complex, it’s a great spot to enjoy a bite before the show.


The Brewery, Vats Bar, 122a Highgate, Kendal, LA9 4HE.Vats Bar

Settle into one of the Brewery’s original brewing Vats and enjoy a fantastic selection of local real ales, beers and wines. Super cosy and casual it’s a great spot to relax and unwind.


The Brewery, Warehouse Cafe, 122a Highgate, Kendal, LA9 4HE.Warehouse CAfe

Shabby chic café featuring a homemade cakes, pies, crepes, snacks and local Farrer’s coffees and teas. Treat yourself! There’s also free WiFi available so you can Instagram your treats and make your friends jealous.


Abbot Hall Park.

Lucky for us, it’s just across the road from the Brewery. A lovely green open space by the River Kent surrounded by trees and historic buildings and with a nearby children’s playground. Ideal if you’re bringing the little ‘uns to see OUR TEACHER’S A TROLL.


You can’t miss Kendal Castle.

Standing atop a hill overlooking the town, it’s a spectacular ruined castle and the reputed home of Catherine Parr (one of Henry the VIII’s wives). The perfect place for panoramic views of Kendal and the surrounding fells.

If you’re coming to see a show, why don’t you check out some of these spots too?

Now to find some mint cake to take back to PPHQ…

Arts Council backing for Roundabout

High fives at PPHQ with the news that Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Programme will invest £784,052 in the future of Roundabout.


This is really exciting news for us because it means that we’ll be able to deliver festivals of brand new work in Roundabout every year for the next three years and develop and expand our already exciting partnerships in Barnsley, Margate, Lincoln, Kendal, Cornwall, Stoke-on-Trent and Salford right through to 2018.

Our aim is for Roundabout to become a creative hub everywhere it visits showcasing top notch new plays from PP alongside locally produced and curated festivals tailored to each community – engaging audiences while giving a platform to local talent.

Here’s what our ADs James & George had to say:

“We are indebted to Arts Council England for the belief and support evidenced by this investment from the Strategic Touring Programme. This enables us to further realise the potential of Roundabout to offer people across the UK access to the best new theatre. We look forward to working with key partners including Margate Theatre Royal, Lincoln Performing Arts Centre and Brewery Arts Centre Kendal to invite local people to curate and take part in festivals of new work in Roundabout in their home towns.”

Roundabout launched as the centerpiece of our 40th anniversary programme in 2014 thanks to the generous support of principal funder Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation along with J Paul Getty Jr Charitable Trust, John Ellerman Foundation and Garfield Weston Foundation.  This funding from the Arts Council will help us pop-up all over England and ensures that the Roundabout will form an integral part of future Paines Plough’s programmes.


We love being out on the road, sharing our shows with audiences far and wide, and we’re super chuffed that we’ll be able to continue doing that in Roundabout. Thanks to everyone at Arts Council England for their belief and support, and thanks to all of you for your enthusiasm for Roundabout.

We’ll be popping up in a town near you soon…

Insights with JFG cast – In Kendal/Scarborough

Last Thursday was National Stage Management Day.  Though this date hasn’t yet reached the levels of pervasiveness and commercialization as Mother’s Day, its subjects are similarly underappreciated and over-worked, and thoroughly deserve the recognition of the rest of the stage community.  Stage Managers are the Strong Nuclear Force that holds a production together: you don’t see them but everything would fall apart if they weren’t there (*end of under-researched physics metaphor*).  I’m not sure it is possible to write a job description for them, but ‘everything else’ would not be innacurate.  They note all the blocking in rehearsals, source obscure practice props, are the go-tos for all of the mundane, workaday stuff whilst on tour and are the link between performers, production company and the theatres.  They set the props and prepare the stage, wash the costumes, listen to actor whinges, book comps, call and run the show itself, do the show report, distribute rail tickets, listen to another actor whinge.  Et cetera.  Ad infinitum.  They are the first to arrive and the last to leave.  And they never get a curtain call.  So, Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the JFG Stage Management Team: Alicia White (CSM) and Amy Slater (ASM).  Take a bow, you two.

Another thing that SM’s have to do are the ‘calls’ – the times and places everyone has to be at.  On show days, actors have to arrive before ‘the half’ (actually 35 minutes before curtain up), although we usually arrive earlier than this for notes, warm-ups, important social debriefings and hangover solidarity.  Even then, we’re still not at work until well after High tea.  So, what do we do during the days, I hear you not cry?  In the Good Old Days of Rep, when theatres used to put on a play a week with French windows and shit sound effects, and performers’ faces were fearsomely caked in Leichner and Kryolan, the actor’s day was divided thus: getting rid of last night’s hangover; raking together enough change and finding a quiet phonebox to ring agent, family and mistress; meeting fellow cast members in The [insert monarch/animal]’s Head and embarking on tomorrow’s hangover; do the show; return to the pub.  This is a probably a gross caricature and a thespy cliché.  Probably.  I imagine that they got up, out and enjoyed what the various towns that they visited had to offer, as we have.  We had a cracking week last week; it was spilt between The Lakes and The Seaside.

On Tuesday my train overshot Oxenholme station and I ended up in Penrith…PENRITH!

I was very late.  The Brewery in Kendal was a new venue for all of us; it’s a thriving arts centre that serves up the best touring comedy and theatre to.  Plus, if you’re working there you can get 10p tea.  TEN PEE! – just like the Good Old Days of Rep.  We had one of our best performances there last Wednesday night; a loud and laughing audience lifting the play to its very best.  Production Manager Bernd and the crew burned the Kendal at both ends to get the set out, over to and into Scarborough ready for a show the following night.  No mean feat, that.  The Round at the Stephen Joseph Theatre is a legendary stage.  It is the playground of Sir Alan Ayckbourn, one of the most performed playwrights on the planet and a giant of modern theatre.  We didn’t play ‘in the round’ with audience on all sides (it’s a square, really), but plonked ourselves across the space and played to half of the capacity in a sort of thrust.  The audience was very quiet, which was a bit of a shock after the reactions we have had elsewhere, but the staff at SJT reassured us that this was usual and they were enjoying the show.  Afterwards, more people came over to us in the bar to say ‘well done’ than anywhere before, and on Saturday night, after another seemingly muted response, they gave us a standing ovation.  Strange, eh?  You have to be careful not to be thrown by an audience, boisterous or reserved.  It is a unique mix of people who have paid their money and they’ll enjoy it on their terms.

Scarbados, like any British seaside resort in the off-season, can seem pretty dull (following a vivid, startling Martin Parr summer).  It tried to be – raining throughout our stay – but we ballasted ourselves with Mother Hubbard’s fish and chips, filled our tanks at the Alma (SJT’s local) and went full steam ahead at Bacchus (the late bar named after the Roman god of fake Jäegermeister).

We finish the tour in Ipswich, at the New Wolsey.  Tonight, in fact (last night? Last week?  Anyway – Thursday 17th – sorry, I am very late with this blog).  They won the TMA Most Welcoming Theatre award in 2012. They deserved it; it’s a terrific venue with strong beating heart and loyal, laughy following.

Have to swap with Lisa now.  Pub? #Jump4Goal

TINY VOLCANOES : Day 1 of rehearsals

Welcome to Liverpool

While George, Tara and Jack make their way back from this year’s National Student Drama Festival in Scarborough (blog to follow), James and Hanna are up in Liverpool with the cast and crew of Laurence Wilson’s TINY VOLCANOES for the first day of rehearsals of our 2011 Spring tour.

After a meet and greet with the lovely people at the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse this morning, the brilliant cast, Kevin Harvey and Michael Ryan, who have re-joined the company after our 2010 Autumn tour, got straight back into the swing of things with a hilarious read through of the play.

Kevin Harvey, Michael Ryan and Laurence Wilson read through the script

Rehearsals are off to a cracking start and we can’t wait to see them back on stage.

Writer, Laurence Wilson, talks about the play in today’s Liverpool Echo.

The tour opens at Liverpool Everyman on Wednesday 20th. (Next week!) Get your tickets now.

20 – 21 April Liverpool Everyman
26 April Artrix, Bromsgrove
27 April Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal
28 – 29 April Harrogate Theatre
30 April The Maltings Theatre, Berwick-upon-Tweed
2 May Quarterhouse, Folkestone
3 May Ustinov, Theatre Royal Bath
4 May Colchester Arts Centre
6 May Watford Palace Theatre
7 May Marine Theatre, Lyme Regis
9 May Key Theatre, Peterborough
10 – 11 May Bike Shed Theatre, Exeter
12 May Dartington Arts
13 May Arc Theatre, Wiltshire