This is my fourth week here at 43 Aldwych, the most exciting of addresses. We’re a little door between the Aldwych Theatre where Marc Warren is currently treading the boards in Cool Hand Luke ( and soon to be the home of Vincent and Flavia off of Strictly Come Dancing) and The HUGE Waldorf Hotel. We may just have a little door, but up on the fourth floor there is a hive of activity. Paines Plough’s office is bright, and cheery; the kettle is boiled every fifteen minutes (tea drinkers extraordinaire), and there is always coffee in the pot. There is a constant buzz of writers working in the writers’ room, companies rehearsing in the PP rehearsal room, but between 10am and 6pm the Production Office is the place to be.
In this little room, with one big round window and five desks packed in tight, all of Paines Plough’s production work happens. There is always a flurry of typing, printing and phonecalls, bundles of laughter, copious amounts of tea, and if you catch us on a good day (or a bad day depending on how you look at it…) there is always plenty of cake. From oatcakes, to cupcakes, to 58p out of date, reduced chocolate indulgence cake, the production office is run off sugar. At the moment we put this down to the Winter months setting in, but I’m pretty sure, whatever the weather, if you ever need to sweet talk anything from the Production Office, cake is always welcome. As are those foam banana and shrimp sweets. They go down a treat too. Luckily for us, the office is on the top floor so there are plenty of stairs to clamber up, working off the high sugar intake…
Since I’ve started I’ve done all sorts of things from logging feedback we’ve received from audience members who have seen our Play, Pie, Pint or Roundabout shows, to booking travel and accommodation for the team all over the country, to working with Tara and the publishers- faber & faber on proofing the playtext for our last production of 2011- The Sound of Heavy Rain. However, it was in my first 48 hours at Paines Plough where I witnessed the real glitz and glamour of working in theatre.
On my first day, after work we went to see Headlong Theatre’s Decade at St. Katherine’s Docks; on arriving I met Mike Bartlett who co-wrote the script for Decade, and also wrote Love, Love, Love for PP and 13 which opened at the National last week, then Rupert Goold, who directed Decade, and also directed Enron by Lucy Prebble and Earthquakes in London also written by Mike Bartlett wandered over and then, if that wasn’t excitement enough, in comes Patrick Stewart- a pretty impressive trio to be spending Tuesday evening in the company of. But the highlight of all this glamour came the following day when in the London drizzle I made my way up to Holborn to a remarkable little place- LaundaVista. The tea towels from the office needed to be washed, so I wend my way to a backstreet laundry, ran by the delightful Angie and despite the language barrier (I think she’s Spanish) we try and have a broken conversation about all things life, love and laundry.
I’m learning so much working here at 43 Aldwych, but whatever I take from Paines Plough over the next few months, I know that I will be grateful for meeting Angie; for the advice on soap powder to fabric softener ratio, the bewilderment as to why she and her family keep their car keys in one of the washing machines, what the best way is to iron a suit jacket and her views on the pros and cons of the flu jab. Patrick Stewart was brilliant, but I think meeting Angie is something pretty special.