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Open Auditions: Stephens and Kelly are your faves

Huge thanks to everyone who came to our Open Auditions yesterday. We had a ball meeting you all. It never ceases to amaze us how much talent and passion there is out there. It was a really inspiring day.

To everyone who came along, please stay in touch. Keep us informed about your work and let us know whenever you’re in something we can come and see – we’ll do our best to make it along. And of course, if we liked what you did yesterday, we’ll keep you in mind for future castings.

We loved seeing extracts of plays ranging from those we know well to some we’d never heard of. One of the joys of Open Auditions days is being reminded of plays we’d not seen or read for years, or compiling reading lists of plays we’d not come across before. So we went scampering off to re-read Pyranees, and hit Amazon for a fix of Morris Panych.

The usual suspects were popular – David Greig, Mike Bartlett, Penelope Skinner, Moira Buffini, Simon Stephens, Mark Ravenhill, Nina Raine – and it was also great to hear some extracts we’d not seen before at Open Auditions from Anthony Weigh and Ella Hickson, amongst many others.

During the day we conducted a completely unscientific and completely subjective straw poll… “Who’s your favourite playwright”? It was hotly contested, partisan and impressively diverse.

But we can reveal… drum roll, speeches at the ready… that your joint favourite playwrights on total votes cast are… Simon Stephens and Dennis Kelly.

Closely on their coat tails were Caryl Churchill, Jez Butterworth, Mike Bartlett, sarah Kane, Philip Ridley, Abi Morgan, Laura Wade, David Eldridge, Moira Buffini, Lee Hall, Martin McDonagh, Alecky Blythe, Mark Ravenhill, David Greig and Lucy Prebble – all carding multiple votes.

And in the interests of sharing, all these great writers got a nod too: Dawn King, Tim Crouch, Anthony Minghella, Ché Walker, Joel Horwood, Alexi Kaye Campbell, Stephen Sondheim, Timberlake Wertenbaker, Nicola McCartney, Ella Hickson, Anya Reiss, Michael Wynne, Nick Payne, Joanna Murray-Smith, April De Angelis, Marina Carr, Duncan Macmillan, Luke Barnes, Jacob Richmond, Martin Lynch, Alice Birch, David Mamet, Shelagh Stephenson, Leo Butler, Peter Moffatt, Steve Thompson, Nick Dear, Robert Holman, Anthony Weigh, Bruce Norris, Steven Bloomer, Mikhail Bulgakov, Hayley Squires, Cat Jones and Neil LaBute.

What we’re seeing at the theatre…

It’s been a busy Autumn for Paines Plough, with shows on in Sheffield, Glasgow, Manchester and Coventry simultaneously but despite our team being split all over the country we’ve still managed to catch plenty of theatre all over the shop and the festive period is looking pretty good for our culture calendar too…

James and I caught Tom Wells’ brilliant new play The Kitchen Sink at the Bush on press night.  It’s selling out but the run has been extended til 23rd Dec, so there’s still chance to catch this extraordinary new play.

Claire and Hanna loved April de AngelisJUMPY at the Royal Court, Tara caught Polar Bear’s OLD ME at the Roundhouse and we all went on a PP office social to see OFFICE PARTY at the Pleasance which was an absolute hoot!

We were big fans of Michael Sheen’s HAMLET at the Young Vic, Jez Butterworth’s JERUSALEM (it just gets better…) at the Apollo, BLACKBERRY TROUT FACE by the superb Laurence Wilson (who wrote TINY VOLCANOES which we toured earlier this year), and ONE MAN TWO GUVNORS by Richard Bean at the Adelphi.

We’re very excited about seeing COMEDY OF ERRORS with Lenny Henry and directed by Dominic Cooke at the National, I’m off to see Michael Grandage’s last show at the helm of the Donmar- RICHARD II with Eddie Redmayne at the weekend and James saw Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin’s hit adaptation of MATILDA at the Cambridge Theatre and can still be found humming the songs around the office…

Last week Claire and Tara headed up to Sheffield (quickly becoming our second home) to see the Crucible’s revival of Sondheim’s COMPANY with Daniel Evans and Samantha Spiro which was brilliantly entertaining! And speaking of Sheffield we had a great time there two weeks ago when the whole team got together to see our ROUNDABOUT season; Nick Payne’s ONE DAY WHEN WE WERE YOUNG, Duncan Macmillan’s LUNGS and THE SOUND OF HEAVY RAIN by Penelope Skinner.

So what are we seeing over Christmas? Our panto withdrawal from last year will be soothed by trips to ALADDIN at the Lyric Hammersmith and SLEEPING BEAUTY at Sheffield’s Lyceum. We’ll be at the National next week for Daniel Kitson’s IT’S ALWAYS RIGHT NOW, UNTIL IT’S LATER which I’ve been dying to see since it debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe back in 2010. Claire’s off to see Matthew Bourne’s NUTCRACKER at Sadler’s Wells on Tuesday and Tara will be going to Kurt Weill’s MAGICAL NIGHT at the Royal Opera House later this week. Other treats in store are Reuben Johnson’s THE PROPOSAL produced by exciting young company Fiddy West Productions at Theatre 503, Joe Penhall’s HAUNTED CHILD at the Royal Court and Dawn King’s FOXFINDER at The Finborough.

Wowzer, there’s a whole lot of theatre for you.

What have you been seeing? Any top tips for theatre trips over Christmas?