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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?!

Sound and Vision

You join us, dear blog-reader, at a very interesting and exciting moment here at A Play, A Pie and A Pint HQ in Glasgow. We’ve just watched the first run of DIG, which takes to the Òran Mór stage on Monday. Our second play, YOU CANNOT GO FORWARD FROM WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW, is nearing the end of its first week of rehearsals which has been a brilliant period of exploring and playing with the text. And we’re just putting the finishing touches to preparations for ETERNAL SOURCE OF LIGHT, which starts the whole process again, going into rehearsals on Monday. Having taken you through the sounds we heard coming out of the DIG rehearsal room last week, this week we have a whole different kind of sound to deal with.

David Watson’s YOU CANNOT GO FORWARD FROM WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW is a fantastically original and poetic play in which sound is completely essential to the telling of the story. In it, snippets of conversations you might hear variously on talk radio shows, a police radio, across the pub and on your SatNav weave in and out of each other. So who better to talk us through the show than our Sound Designer and Composer, Scott Twynholm:

Scott, can you tell us about YOU CANNOT GO FORWARD FROM WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW from your perspective? I’m excited about being involved as the play is so sound dependant: I get the chance to cut up sound, record actors, re-create everyday sounds in the rehearsal room, we might even get round the piano to write the odd radio jingle.

What particular challenges are there when you’re putting together a show like this? The main challenge will be deciding what will be pre-recorded and what will be performed live. For this play we’re going for the Foley film studio approach of creating as much as possible live. These sounds will be performed by the cast so it’s important they are simple, effective and compliment the dialogue rather than distract. Of course there is the visual aspect which is naturally more theatrical than sound playback.

You’ve worked with us at Paines Plough for two years on Play, Pie and Pint: is this the sound-iest show you’ve had to work on with us? Yes and no. I would say the sound is written into this play to compliment the narrative. It can be just as challenging to compose the music to underscore the drama of a play. Last year I enjoyed writing the music for IN THE PIPELINE, which didn’t have an obvious sound element.

What do you enjoy about designing sound for the theatre? Composing for the theatre gives me great joy in that it differs from writing for film and commercial recordings. There is more variety and human interaction. There is a certain excitement about the live performance. And I enjoy the collaborative process – I enjoy getting out of the studio, working with actors and the creative team to put together a show.

And finally: What’s your favourite play, pie and pint? I don’t really have a favourite anything but I’ve enjoyed these over the past year or so: Medea/Steak/Heineken.

Sounds good to us.

Some of the items currently in the rehearsal room being used for Foley sound effects. Either that or they were having a tense round of Kim's Game.

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.

Glasgow here we come!

Ye'll take the high road and I'll take the low road and I'll be in Scotland afore ye...

I’m bidding farewell to Paines Plough HQ on the Aldwych tonight, and will spend tomorrow packing frenziedly, because this weekend George and I are heading to Glasgow to start rehearsals for DIG by Katie Douglas, the first of our A Play, A Pie and A Pint season. James will be joining us in a week’s time when his rehearsals for YOU CANNOT GO FORWARD FROM WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW by David Watson start, and then the week after that George will start all over again with Leo Butler’s ETERNAL SOURCE OF LIGHT – by which time audiences will be tucking into their pies and sipping their pints as they watch DIG at Òran Mór.

It’s a really exciting time – everything is coming together nicely and everyone’s waiting to see what happens in those rehearsal rooms. DIG is set to be a properly Scottish affair; Katie, the writer, is from Kilwinning, our company is made up of three brilliant Scots actors, and the play is set in Glasgow itself. Me and George will obviously have to try to make ourselves more Scottish in order to fit in – for me quite easy as I was born in Dundee, George’ll just have to drink loads of Irn Bru.

Keep checking the blog and Twitter (@painesplough) for updates on our progress, casting news and titbits from rehearsals. And if anyone has any suggestions for cultural activities, places to visit or indeed (especially) great pubs to frequent while we’re up in Glasgow, you know what to do.

‘I really hope those are air bubbles’

Here's one of the photos we didn't use...don't ask.

The more eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that the A Play, A Pie and A Pint pages of the website have been spruced up today, with a lovely new photo each for DIG by Katie Douglas, YOU CANNOT GO FORWARD FROM WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW by David Watson and ETERNAL SOURCE OF LIGHT by Leo Butler.

One of the things I knew I’d be doing as part of my producing placement here at Paines Plough was working on the marketing material for A Play, A Pie and A Pint. What I didn’t think I’d be doing is asking a dear friend to wade in a stinky canal and let me photograph him doing it. Yet that is what I spent last Tuesday doing.

We needed to find a brilliant image to sum up the feel and tone of DIG to give prospective audiences an impression of what they might expect. George Perrin, who is directing the play, liked the idea of a man buried up to his waist, struggling to get out of a hole.

SO! We needed a hole, a man, a suit and a photographer. We soon decided that the hole could become a body of water (less digging involved – not one of my strong points). Yet even plopping someone in a pond and taking a picture is easier said than done, when you need permissions and licenses to take photographs in public or royal parks.

I will admit, there were times when I thought it was never going to happen. I kept saying to George ‘IF all this comes together’, and ‘IF it works out’ until he gave me a not-so-subtle kick up the bum by saying ‘Rachel, you do realise that’s what producing IS, don’t you?’. Dammit. He had me there.

So I hit the charity shop down my road and bought a shirt, jacket and tie. I called a photographer, the wonderful Graham Michael, who agreed to come and try and recreate the shot. I made my boyfriend put me on the insurance of his Fiesta so I could tear around London looking for water features. And last but not least, I called a childhood friend who just so happens to be a brilliant actor, the lovely Andrew Hawley.

I already knew Andrew was game for most things. And it was HIS idea to get in the canal that runs near his house. But when he stepped into that sludgy water and uttered the words ‘I really hope those are air bubbles and not eels running up my legs’, he secured his place as one of my favourite people ever.

Step Changing from NT to Play, Pie, Pint

please note: pint pictured is not actual size

As this is the end of my third week working with Paines Plough I thought it was about time I wrote a blog. I’m Rachel, and I’m here due to a frankly brilliant scheme called Step Change.

The idea behind the programme is to try and counteract the fact that the theatre industry can be haphazard in terms of spotting and nurturing people who have management and producing potential. My experience, working at the National Theatre as the Technical and Production Administrator, has been great in terms of teaching me about the theatrical process on a large scale; but when it comes to the next step in my career, I’m going to need specific experience that my role at the NT as a little cog in a big old machine doesn’t afford me.

Participants on Step Change get a week of masterclasses from industry experts and several follow-up sessions; a mentor to give advice/drink with/be talked down by (mine, Ros, is General Manager at the Old Vic); and a secondment of around 40 days in another organisation. And this is where my path meets Paines Plough’s.

Paines Plough had put together two secondment proposals, and when I first met with Tara and Claire I told them I was interested in working as Assistant Producer on what turned out to be the upcoming Roundabout project. I’m a Sheffield girl, and the concept – a portable theatre space, initially within the Crucible, a company in rep, three brand new plays – sounded very exciting whilst still allowing me to cling on to my comfort zone (read: opportunity to jump on the 82 to my Mum’s for a cuppa if it all got too much). I still think the Roundabout project is going to be brilliant and I’m really enjoying being in the office watching it all coming together.

But when Tara called and said they thought I’d be better served by being given even MORE responsibility, and would I be up for being the Trainee Producer on this year’s A Play, A Pie and A Pint, I was thrilled. Then terrified. Then thrilled again.

So I’m spending two days a week south of the river with the NT, and three on the north bank with Paines Plough, until mid-September when we hit Òran Mór in Glasgow with our three brilliant plays. We will then be touring to the Traverse in Edinburgh, the Royal Exchange in Manchester, and the Belgrade in Coventry. So far I have been meeting with the writers, putting together our teams (Stage Management, Lighting and Sound design), drafting ideas for marketing material and next week I’m travelling up to Edinburgh to continue casting one of the plays – at the National, there are whole departments to do each of those things.

I can see that our three plays are going to present me with completely different challenges, and I’m sure that that will mean a lot of thinking on my feet – particularly when I take the lead once we’re in Scotland. But that’s what I’m after – a buzz, a challenge and above all, the opportunity to get properly hands-on and help create some excellent theatre. I’ll keep you updated.

In the mean time, if you’d like to know more about Step Change, let me know by posting a comment here, or check out www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/stepchange.

Summer Signings

Casting begins today for three productions of ‘Programme 2011’. I am directing brand new plays by Katie Douglas and Leo Butler with fellow Artistic Director James taking the helm of David Watson’s new work. We have co-commisioned all three playwrights with Oran Mor in Glasgow, where the plays premiere this autumn.

Our commissioning policy means that we are often committing to producing commissions long before they even have titles, let alone scenes. We find it the most thrilling way to work with writers. James talks about the resulting ‘New Plays with No Names’ here.

With Katie’s play first up in the season, we’re beginning to meet actors this week in London and next week in Edinburgh. With Open Auditions in both cities this week and next, we’re incredibly excited about the prospect of meeting many actors new to the company, who we hope to be able to consider for the three plays we’re currently casting.

Personally, I think casting is one of the best parts of the directing job. Having been brought up immersed in Sunday league football, Match of the Day and Championship Manager, there’s something in the casting process that reminds me of picking a dream team of players – the more individually skilled, well suited to their role and equipped they are to team play, the stronger the team itself becomes.

Here at Paines Plough we’re fortunate enough to have worked with some incredible actors over the years. Thanks to our new Open Audition initiative, the number of actors whose work we have seen is rocketing up each year, which only makes it easier for us to find the right actor for each part and to give each play we produce the production it deserves.

A Play, A Pie and A Pint – On Tour

A Play, A Pie and A Pint

A Play, A Pie and A Pint

Later this year we’re presenting three World Première productions with our good friends at Oran Mor in Glasgow. Brand new work by Katie Douglas, David Watson and Leo Butler will open in Glasgow as part of the lunchtime series A Play, A Pie and A Pint, before heading out on tour. Oran Mor is in the heart of Glasgow’s West End – a vibrant and eclectic corner of this gorgeous city, home to students, families and some of our favorite cinemas, delis and bars in the UK.

Oran Mor

Oran Mor

First stop after Glasgow will be Edinburgh’s new writing power-house, The Traverse. A Scottish home to much of Paines Plough’s work of the past few years (including 2010’s PPP series as well as Orphans, After The End, Long Time Dead and The Straits), the Traverse is also one of the top venues for the Festival Fringe each summer.

Traverse Theatre

Traverse Theatre

From Edinburgh we head south to Manchester for our fourth visit in twelve months to this beacon of the north. After a fling with the Manchester International Festival this July we’ll be back at our home from home in M2, the formidable Royal Exchange Theatre, in October.

Royal Exchange Theatre

Royal Exchange Theatre

Last stop on this tour is Coventry, where 79% of our audience for last year’s PPP series were first time visitors to the theatre. We were in Coventry for Come To Where I’m From in July last year where our four writers painted a vivid picture of a fascinating city. You can still listen to the writers reading the plays themselves here.

Belgrade Theatre

Belgrade Theatre

We’ll be posting updates on Katie, David and Leo’s plays on this blog as well as on our website over the coming months. In the meantime, let us know if you’ll be coming to share a pie and a pint with us in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester or Coventry this autumn.

And, if you’re already a regular at Oran Mor’s PPP, vote them pub of the year by following the instructions below. We’re sure they’ll reward you royally.

To vote Oran Mor the Sunday Mail pub of the year:

Call 0901 229 2817 and enter the code 10. Calls cost 26p plus network extras. Calls from mobiles may be significantly higher.

Or text SMVOTE01 followed by a space and the code 10 to 84080.Texts cost 25p plus your standard rate.

Lines will close at noon on Thursday, June 2, 2011.

James & George unveil Programme 2011

11 PRODUCTIONS IN 33 PLACES (and counting…)

We’re thrilled to announce our Programme 2011 which sees 11 productions touring to 33 towns and cities across the UK and counting… with more tour dates soon to be announced.

Building on our inaugural year as Joint Artistic Directors – which saw us produce 9 productions in 33 places – our Programme 2011 sees even more shows touring to even more places as we aim to be a truly national theatre of new plays. Our 11 productions this year can be seen everywhere from Liverpool to Lyme Regis, Scarborough to Southampton, Bath to Berwick-Upon-Tweed.

These are tough times for theatre economically, but flourishing times for theatre artistically. Our programme celebrates the very best of British playwrighting in exceptional productions that traverse scales from 700 seat proscenium arch playhouses to arts centres, pubs, and outdoor festivals. The creation of our own portable in-the-round ROUNDABOUT auditorium offers us even greater scope to tour in the future as we strive to ensure everyone, everywhere has access to the very best new plays from the pens of our nation’s world class playwrights.

Programme 2011 kicks off with extended tours for two of last year’s productions. Mike Bartlett’s acclaimed LOVE, LOVE, LOVE visits 13 theatres between now and June on the biggest tour in Paines Plough’s history with 28,000 available seats from Glasgow to Ipswich to Salisbury. TINY VOLCANOES by Laurence Wilson is back on the road in April and May, touring to 15 different theatres nationwide from Folkestone in Kent to Kendal in the Lake District.

We’re very excited about our unique collaboration with Sheffield Theatres in the Autumn – The ROUNDABOUT SEASON. We’re building a portable 150-seat in-the-round auditorium which will host the world premières of three plays – by Nick Payne, Duncan Macmillan and Penelope Skinner – performed by an ensemble of four actors. All three plays will open at the Crucible Studio, Sheffield, before touring nationwide within the Roundabout auditorium, in rep, in Spring 2012.

Nick Payne’s beautiful portrait of a love that spans a century, ONE DAY WHEN WE WERE YOUNG, opens the season, followed by Duncan Macmillan’s extraordinary LUNGS, in which love and morality do ferocious battle. Penelope Skinner will write a new play specifically for the acting ensemble, which promises lashings of her incisive wit and theatrical ingenuity.

The ROUNDABOUT auditorium will enable us to tour new plays to any size space. The auditorium can sit in flexible studio spaces or arts centres, or on the stages of mid to large scale theatres behind the iron, so watch out for us on the road to all sorts of places next year.

In the summer we’ve got two very special productions for you. At the Latitude Festival we’re presenting the debut play from the extraordinary performance poet and rapper Kate Tempest, prior to a national tour of theatres and student unions in 2012 in collaboration with The Birmingham Repertory Theatre and NSDF. At the Manchester International Festival, we’re teaming up with former Housemartins and Beautiful South frontman Paul Heaton and playwright Ché Walker to present a unique live show featuring a star cast of musicians – THE 8TH.

Following last year’s amazing tour, we’re thrilled to be producing three more world premieres under the A PLAY, A PIE AND A PINT banner this Autumn. All three will premiere at Òran Mór in Glasgow before touring nationwide, with shows playing lunchtimes and early evenings.

Katie Douglas and David Watson – two of the most distinctive voices in British theatre – will be joined by a third very special playwright soon to be announced. And of course every audience member gets a free pie and pint with every show.

We’ll be announcing new dates for COME TO WHERE I’M FROM throughout 2011, and don’t forget you can still listen to free podcasts of last year’s COME TO WHERE TO WHERE I’M FROM plays via our website.

We’ll continue to host open auditons across the country; we’ll be taking up residence in theatres nationwide; we continue to run our Associate Company scheme and we’re officially launching our bespoke playwright development resource centre The Big Room, supported by Channel Four and The Fenton Arts Trust.

We hope you like the look of our Programme 2011 and will have a chance to experience some of our work this year. Wherever you are in the UK, Paines Plough is coming to a town near you soon.

Let us know what you think by posting a comment.

James & George