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The LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Rehearsal Room – Week 2

So we’re now in our new home – the beautiful bricked, windowed and bright rehearsal rooms of the Menier Chocolate Factory. Although we can now see the world outside of our rehearsal room, small battles continue – it can be slightly freezing at times and a few, ineffectual gas heaters are wheeled to-and-fro to huddle around. Sarah (SM) and I currently hog a whole one to ourselves. A rehearsal photographer visited this week which resulted in us all pulling ‘intelligent thinking’ faces at every opportunity. Ben, James and Claire were invited to record a pod-cast with Literary Manager Chris Campbell – look out for that on the Royal Court Website.

This week we have almost all our furniture and props to play with (including skateboards, board-games, golf clubs and herbal cigarettes to keep the cast occupied in tea breaks). We’re still moving along at a great pace. The company has already successfully stumbled/limped/hopped through the entire play on its feet. And what a feat it is. Emotional, funny, moving and distressing – line by line the play is a litany of complexities, which makes it all the more wonderful to watch. Borough Market is a delightful Thursday and Friday lunch treat and today we had cake for Victoria’s birthday (in-keeping with the venue, it was chocolate of course) and wished everyone a Happy Easter and a long weekend off.

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE wins Best New Play

We were delighted to accept the Best New Play Award at last night’s re-branded TMA Theatre Awards on behalf of our Associate Playwright Mike Bartlett.

The newly-christened ‘Theatre Awards UK‘ honoured Mike’s play LOVE, LOVE, LOVE with the award following our 2010 co-production with the Drum Theatre Plymouth and 2011 National UK tour.

Other award-winners included our Roundabout co-producing partners Sheffield Theatres who scooped Best Supporting Performance and Best Design. There’s full coverage of the awards in Playbill, Variety, The Stage, Whatsonstage, Spoonfed and The Arts Desk.

Mike is out of the country at the moment so we can’t report how he feels about winning the award but we think he’ll be happy. We made sure his champagne didn’t go to waste.

So huge congratulations to Mike and thank you to everyone who came to see the show for your support.

What we’ve been seeing at the theatre

We’ve had a brilliant few months at the theatre this spring. Fighting the urge to end every working day with wine in the sun on our office roof, we’ve been royally rewarded.

Having devoured the lion’s share of Hampstead’s World Premieres season – including Rona Munro’s LITTLE EAGLES, Filter and the RSC’s SILENCE, David Eldridge’s THE STOCK DA’WA and BELONGINGS by Morgan Lloyd Malcom – we’re booking up for AMERICAN TRADE by Tarell Alvin McCraney and eagerly awaiting the next season of downstairs plays.

Brilliant, but been and gone, were BOY ON A SWING by Joe Harbot at the Arcola, WASTWATER by Simon Stephens at the Royal Court Theatre, SUNDAY MORNING AT THE CENTRE OF THE WORLD by Louis de Bernières at Southwark Playhouse, PRECIOUS LITTLE TALENT by Ella Hickson at Trafalgar 2, CHEKHOV IN HELL by Dan Rebellato in a Plymouth Drum production at Soho Theatre, ELEKTRA in a new version by Nick Payne at The Gate and SOLD by Suzie Miller at Theatre 503.

If you’re quick you can still catch MANY MOONS by Alice Birch at Theatre 503, I AM THE WIND by Jon Fosse (in a translation by Simon Stephens) at the Young Vic, IN A FOREST DARK AND DEEP by Neil LaBute at the Vaudeville and DO WE LOOK LIKE REFUGEES? By Alecky Blythe at Riverside Studios – all of which we saw and enjoyed.

This month we’ve booked for Anya Reiss’ THE ACID TEST and Penelope Skinner’s THE VILLAGE BIKE at the Royal Court, The Bush’s WHERE’S MY SEAT? by Deirdre Kinahan, Jack Thorne and Tom Wells, Anthony Neilson’s REALISM at Soho Theatre, Arinze Kene’s LITTLE BABY JESUS at Oval House and LONDON ROAD by Alecky Blythe and Adam Cork at the NT.

Also worth catching are the NT’s THE CHERRY ORCHARD, Mike Leigh’s ECSTASY at the Duchess, Little Bulb’s OPERATION GREENFIELD at Soho, Molly Naylor’s WHENEVER I GET BLOWN UP I THINK OF YOU at BAC, the RSC’s KING LEAR and FLARE PATH at the Theatre Royal Haymarket.

We’ve even managed to sneak out of the office to see the graduating acting showcases of RADA, East 15 and Central as well as having the great pleasure of listening to Paule Constable giving the annual Edward Gordon Craig Lecture.

That said, there’s loads we’ve missed that we would have loved to see. There’s only five of us here at PP which means there’s only so much we can get to. But if there’s anything coming up that you think we’d be mad to miss, let us know by posting a comment below and we’ll get booking.

Collaboration – a blog for The Guardian

Here’s a blog we wrote for The Guardian about collaboration. The full text is below or you can read it over on The Guardian website.

Please let us know what you think by posting a comment.


There’s a theme emerging from the many passionate calls to arms in the aftermath of last week’s cuts: the need for collaboration. Of course, the arts are already an innately collaborative industry, which is a big reason why we are the second most profitable UK industry behind finance, and a damn sight more responsible. We have to work together to make a little go a long way.

But with the treasury resolutely blinkered by a grim reaper mask, the pooling of resources and ideas becomes an even greater imperative. As Lyn Gardner said on this blog the other week: “Every bit of theatre is now reliant on collaboration.” We can collaborate more, and we should. Not only to make public subsidy stretch further, but because partnerships are so creatively rewarding.

There are lots of success stories to draw upon. At the Drum theatre, the work Simon Stokes and David Prescott create with other buildings such as the Royal Court and Lyric Hammersmith, and companies such as Frantic Assembly and Told By An Idiot, make Plymouth a creative hub that resonates far beyond Devon. The Young Vic’s hotly anticipated I Am the Wind is multiply co-commissioned by a pan-European conglomerate. Warwick Arts Centre widely co-produces with UK and international partners and an innovative hook-up with Druid has seen a fruitful cultural exchange between Galway and the Oxford Playhouse. The National theatre’s relationship with Travelex is a beacon for corporate partnerships – and the National, along with the RSC, has embodied the spirit of post-cuts collaboration by offering to share their resources with smaller companies.

We at touring company Paines Plough never work alone. We were fortunate enough to receive a small uplift last week and we intend to make the extra money go as far as possible by working with ever-more partners. This year we are co-producing with eight other theatres and counting, enabling us to tour 11 productions to more than 40 towns and cities across the UK. Economically, the benefits of co-production are obvious. The more co-producers, the cheaper the pre-production costs to each partner. But the mutual benefits of collaboration run deeper than the bottom line of the budget. By combining two or more bodies of staff, we access a greater wealth of ideas, experience and energy.

At the inception of a project our core staff of five is bolstered by our partners’ expertise, infrastructure, systems and facilities. In exchange, we can offer a long life on the road for productions that might otherwise have a limited run in one location, meaning more taxpayers in more places have access to ACE-subsidised work. With Sheffield Theatres, for example, we’ve conceived a 150-seat portable in-the-round auditorium within which we’ll premiere three new plays in Sheffield in the autumn. The auditorium and three plays will then tour nationwide in the spring in collaboration with multiple theatres. It’s costing no more than it would to produce the three plays normally, but thousands more people across the country will get to see the work. The long-term plan is to offer the auditorium to other companies to maximise its usage.

We sometimes hear arguments against collaborating, but in our experience the old adage that too many cooks spoil the broth doesn’t hold. If collaboration is rooted in shared taste and clearly articulated objectives, then the more people at the table the better. Collaborating means constructive arguments as well as agreements. Brand dilution is a concern, but we know from our audiences they don’t care about billing as long as the work is good, and we’re learning from the commercial sector here and in the US to focus more on partners and less on credits.

We’ve also heard the argument that co-producing reduces jobs for actors. In fact, the opposite is true: it makes more productions possible. Last year, we employed 61 actors in nine productions; on our own, we could have managed two. Co-commissioning might reduce the number of commissions handed out to playwrights, but it improves the conversion rate from commission to productions. We’ve co-commissioned six playwrights so far this calendar year, and committed to producing all six plays, extending the ethos of collaboration to playwrights. Handing out 20 commissions and hoping a couple of them make the stage is selective, not collaborative, and is exactly the sort of opulence that will see our funds slashed further. Now is the time to invest strategically, and deeply, in the top talent in this country.

Over the next few years, we envisage the nature of partnerships changing. There will be more co-producers per show, longer runs to help reduce costs, wider-ranging partners from corporates to education establishments to local communities. Partnerships will be forged at the inception of projects with multiple co-commissioners firmly committed, not taking a punt. Traditional models of budgeting will adapt and change, as ever more inventive collaborations are imagined. Nick Hytner, the National theatre’s artistic director, says the best work comes when artists are “exhilarated by a new creative ideology”. Post-cuts, that new creative ideology is collaboration, collaboration, collaboration.

A Hard Day’s Night


Kenneth:  “Nothing like this has ever happened before… “

One of the most nerve racking and exciting aspects of putting on new plays is that moment when it first meets an audience. And so, safe inside the Drum Theatre, a packed crowd of all ages sat in anticipation of the World Premier of Love,Love,Love.

And how did it go?…Drum (theatre) roll…

The first preview went down a STORM. The night included ripples of laughs from all ages and raised eyebrows throughout the three acts, as the audience lent forwards on the edge of their seats.

With two intervals, it was great chatting to the audience between acts, asking for predictions as to what might happen next and discussing their thoughts about the play and what it is saying to us today.

feedback on the writing included how;

  • endearing and provocative the characters were.
  • beautifully Mike had crafted his observation of the different time periods.
  • cleverly the thought patterns of the characters evolved across the acts.

Audience feedback can be viewed here – Love, Love, Love by Mike Bartlett – First Preview

Overall, a very exciting first glimpse at Love,Love,Love and we await a second wave of response this evening – and as for the rest of the run…

Sandra: Are you ready?

Kenneth: For what?

Sandra: Adventures!

…more next week and have a fantastic weekend!

Fish n’ Trips and the dawn of tech week

All over the U.K, Paines Plough shows are enjoying exciting theatres and audiences.

Over here in Plymouth, the company of ‘Love, Love, Love’ have had a calm weekend before the storm of this week’s tech.

Some of the company members went to watch Exeter vs Rochdale on Saturday – and a full company outing headed out into the deep sea courtesy of ‘Fish n Trips.’

And so, with a fish supper in our belly, ‘Love, Love, Love’ has started tech week at the Drum Theatre, Plymouth.

Lucy Osborne’s set is being pieced together, Hartley T A Kemp’s is painting the stage with his lighting and Tom Gibbons is creating the sounds of 1967, 1990 and 2011.

It’s been fantastic to have a blueprint of the set with us at all times whilst down here in Plymouth.

1st preview on Thursday – more to report then.

 Here’s a video of Friday week 4 – showing you all how close we are to those mackerel.

Rehearsal footage

“If you can remember the sixties you weren’t really there”

Hello there from PPHQ!

We’re mid-way through week 3 of rehearsals for ‘Love,Love,Love’ by Mike Bartlett.

From working out the huge depth to Mike’s script and plotting the copious amounts of alcohol and cigarettes consumed by our two leads to singing along to our favourite 60’s and 90’s bands, we’re really starting to hit the travelator.

Mike Bartlett’s play traverses three time periods 1967, 1990 and 2011 and is proving a hugely rewarding challenge to capture these three moments in time.

James Grieve has been working closely on picking out the moments, motifs and ideas which appear in all three periods and the cast are reinventing each time we run through sections.

From hair styles to home furnishings, Lucy Osborne has been meeting Mike’s play head on with a beautiful and dynamic design and we’re starting to see the fruits of this exciting collaboration between Paines Plough and the Drumb Theatre Plymouth.

This really is turning out to be not only a hugely entertaining look at 1967, 1990 and tomorrow but is also flagging up one of the most important issues which will affect us all – the ageing baby boomer generation.

Rosie: Look at you… “If you can remember the sixties you weren’t really there.” What a smug f**king little thing to say. You didn’t change the world, you bought it. Privatised it. What did you stand for? Peace? Love? Nothing except being able to do whatever the f**k you want.

It’s impossible to summarize all the important clashes of ideology in this writing. So best just to come and see it and be hit between the eyes by the arguments and issues which affect you. I wonder how many baby boomers read blogs? Please forward accordingly. Seriously.

I’d like to be, down by the sea, in an octopus’s garden – and we are off to Plymouth on Monday for final week of rehearsals so we shall “sea”.

Linda McLean’s THE UNCERTAINTY FILES opened to rave reviews this week at Oran Mor.

‎****The Scotsman for Linda McLean’s THE UNCERTAINTY FILES:

Charlotte Gwinner’s production has a severe and brilliant quiet choreography, controlled down to the minutest gesture; and the performances are riveting, mature, eloquent, beautiful, and not only real, but true.

Whilst the company of Marie Jones’ FLY ME TO THE MOON pioneered the first leg of the tour at Live Theatre Newcastle. I went up there to see the first show and brought back a little souvenir for everyone in the office:

We're loving Newcastle Live A PLAY, A PIE AND A PINT Beer Mat

Judging from the show report received today from Stage Manager, Kara Jackson, the Newcastle audience are enjoying it so much that the running time has increased by two minutes due to laughter.

Back at PP HQ LOVE, LOVE, LOVE culminates its second week of rehearsals.  They have it up on its feet after the detailed table work last week and rehearsal props are flying into the room.  The character of Sandra seems to enjoy quite a few cigarettes!

We also had all three of the Creative Team in today to watch rehearsals.  Hartley  (Lighting Designer), recovered from Edinburgh where he runs C venues, and Lucy Osborne (Designer), currently opening THE ALIENS at the Bush Theatre, have a good catch up on the sofa that is on for rehearsal furniture.

Lucy Osborne and Hartkey T A Kemp deep in thought - or are they on facebook?

We, in the office, are very much looking forward to catching a run through next week and we’ll be able to show you some photos soon as Graham Michael is coming in on Friday to take some rehearsal shots.

Wishing you all a lovely weekend – we’re off to see Bryony Lavery’s BEAUTIFUL BURNOUT on Sunday at the Barbican.

All You Need Is Love…

And there was a lot of love in the Paines Plough offices today as we hosted the first day of rehearsals of our co-production with Drum Theatre Plymouth, Mike Bartlett’s LOVE, LOVE, LOVE

It was a real Monday morning treat to hear five talented actors read this firecracker of a script together for the first time.  It is also really joyous to have all the creative and technical teams plus staff members from both companies in the room together which will probably be the first and last time until we tech in 4 weeks time at Drum Theatre Plymouth.  With this in mind every minute is essential and straight after the reading the actors were measured by Lorna Price, Deputy Head of Wardrobe at Plymouth.

Post a revitalising lunch the actors returned to start their around-the-table-work with James Grieve, who directs his second Mike Bartlett play after ARTEFACTS rehearsed in the very same room 2 years ago.

Raring to go...

Elsewhere in the busy hive of Paines Plough activity around the UK – Gary Owen’s IN THE PIPELINE received its first performance at Oran Mor. Click on the link for video footage.

Tomorrow we welcome the writer of CALAIS, April De Angelis, as well as Tamara Harvey (director) and a wonderful cast: Joanna Bacon, Louise Ford and James French to the A PLAY, A PIE AND A PINT family at number 5 Sanda Street. I’m looking forward to my 5am train up there for second meet and greet of this week!

The fine actresses Abigail McGibbon and Katie Tumelty and superb stage manager, Kara Jackson, have a well deserved week off before going to Live Theatre Newcastle next week.

That’s it for now, I’m off for my sister’s birthday dinner…

It’s Edinburgh time

Whilst the rest of the team are back at PP HQ casting for Love, Love, Love and gearing up for Marie Jones’ Fly Me To The Moon, I’m up in Edinburgh for the week moonlighting with comedian Laura Solon.

Edinburgh Castle, yesterday

For those new to Laura’s work, she’s an extraordinary comic, winner of the coveted Edinburgh Comedy Award (previously the Perrier Award) who was recently named one of the top 10 female comedians by The Observer. I’m working with her on her brand new show, The Owl Of Steven, which runs for the duration of the Fringe Festival at 5pm in the Pleasance Courtyard.

The whole Paines Plough team will be visiting the Festivals at some point during August. We can’t wait to see new plays from some of our favourite writers, including Penelope by Enda Walsh, While You Lie by Sam Holcroft, Bunny by Jack Thorne and Honest by DC Moore.

Top companies whose work we’re booking for fast include Frantic Assembly and The National Theatre of Scotland and their much anticipated Beautiful Burnout, ETT’s Lovesong, Ontroerend Goed collaborating with our friends at The Drum Theatre Plymouth on Teenage Riot and The Bush and Sheffield Theatre’s My Romantic History.

We’re also going to check out work by some really exciting emerging playwrights and fledgling companies including Ella Hickson’s Hot Mess, Tom Wainwright’s Pedestrian, Reuben Johnson’s Territory and The Meeting and Made In China’s Stationary Excess.

And if we can squeeze in anything else in between that lot we’ll be catching Josie Long, Simon Brokin and Ross Sutherland.

Otherwise you can find us drinking in the Pleasance Courtyard, The Scotch Malt Whiskey Society, Assembly Theatre’s new Speigletent in Princess Street Gardens or The Traverse Bar.

Let us know what we’ve missed off our list and what you’ll be making a bee-line for by posting a comment. See you there.

Assembly's new Spiegletent venue in Princess Street Gardens

Paines Plough’s top tips for the festival:

– For a breather from the festivals and some exquisite views, save yourself the schlep up Arthur’s seat and climb Calton Hill in under 10 mins.

– Sign up to the brilliant Theatre Ninja’s website and iPhone app to find out instantly about free or cheap shows close to where you’re standing.

– Check out Maxi’s Bistro at the top of The Royal Mile for great food and wine.