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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.

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…

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!

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.

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.

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.