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Broken Biscuits: Tour & Casting announcement

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© Matt Humphrey 2016

We’ve got a double whammy of news for you today. We’re co-producing Tom Wells‘ new play BROKEN BISCUITS with Live Theatre in Newcastle and we’re very pleased to announce both the cast and the national tour dates.

We scoured the country for the talent to play Megan, Holly and Ben – the ‘Mis-Shapes‘ at the centre of BROKEN BISCUITS. We did Open Auditions in London, Hull and Newcastle. We met hundreds of talented actors. We did first calls and recalls. And then there were three. Here they are:

Faye Christall

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© Matt Humphrey 2016

Faye is making her debut with Paines Plough and trained at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. Theatre credits include: GONE VIRAL (St James Theatre), ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST (Edinburgh Festival Fringe). Film credits include: CUTE LITTLE BUGGERS 3D and AWAKE. Workshops include: THE UNTITLED MUSICAL (Tricycle Theatre). Faye is also part of the Cirque du Soleil Company.

Faye will play Megan in BROKEN BISCUITS.

Grace Hogg-Robinson

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© Matt Humphrey 2016

TV includes: The regular role of Beth Kennedy in THE CORONER: Series 1 & 2 (BBC1 and BBC Worldwide) as well as appearances in CASUALTY (BBC1), CAMPING (Sky Atlantic), DIARY OF A SNOB (Nickelodeon), DOCTORS (BBC1) and SUSPECTS (Channel 5). Film includes: EDGE OF TOMORROW (Warner Bros.), BIRDHOUSE (NFTS), CANDY FLOSS (HAUS Pictures) and THE NEST (Beyond Fiction). BROKEN BISCUITS will be Grace’s stage debut.

Grade will play Holly in BROKEN BISCUITS.

Andrew Reed

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© Matt Humphrey 2016

Andrew was born in South Tyneside. He trained with The Customs House, South Shields and the Theatre Royal Newcastle. Credits include: THE FIFTEEN STREETS, DRAMA, BABY, TAKEAWAY (The Customs House, South Shields), SCRAPBOOK (Live Theatre, Newcastle), THE MACHINES, 13 (Theatre Royal Newcastle and on tour).

Andrew will play Ben in BROKEN BISCUITS.

We’re also pleased to announce the creative team that will be taking BROKEN BISCUITS from page to stage:

Songs Matthew Robins
Direction
James Grieve
Design Lily Arnold
Lighting Joshua Pharo
Sound Dominic Kennedy

Our brilliant cast will be touring, with shed and musical instruments in tow, to the following venues in Autumn 2016:

Wednesday 5 to Saturday 22 October
Live Theatre, Newcastle
Tickets here.

Tuesday 25 to Saturday 29 October
The Drum, Theatre Royal Plymouth

Tickets here.

Tuesday 1 to Saturday 5 November
Hull Truck Theatre
Tickets here.

Tuesday 8 to Saturday 12 November
Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough
Tickets here.

Tuesday 15 to Saturday 19 November
Crucible Studio, Sheffield
Tickets here.

Friday 25 to Saturday 26 November
Tobacco Factory Theatres, Bristol
Tickets here.

Tuesday 29 November to Saturday 3 December
Birmingham Repertory Theatre
Tickets here.

We hope to see you on tour.

#FunFact Tom’s inspiration for writing BROKEN BISCUITS was listening to Pulp’s hit Mis-Shapes. Listen carefully for the biscuit reference.

#BrokenBiscuits

Middle Child join PP as Associate Company

We’re thrilled to announce Middle Child as a new Associate Company at PP.

We’re big fans of the Hull based new writing collective, we think they’re one of the most exciting companies around. They are theatremakers after our own hearts with a passion for playwrights, touring, and making exciting shows in interesting spaces for non-traditional audiences. We love their spirit and brand of striking in-yer-ears gig theatre mixing contemporary stories with soundtracks that get your feet moving.

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We’re thrilled they’ve agreed to join Theatre Uncut and Forward Theatre Project as a Paines Plough Associate Company. It means we get to hang out with them, exchange ideas and provocations and hopefully help them out a bit.

Our AD James says: “Middle Child are provocateurs. They think theatre needs to change and they’re going about changing it. I love their work, their values and pledges, their punk attitude, their taste in writers and music, their passion for Hull. Theatre needs Middle Child. We’re proud to have such an important, boundary-pushing company as a PP Associate.”

Middle Child AD Paul says: “Everyone at Middle Child is buzzing at becoming associates of Paines Plough. We absolutely love their work and have been inspired by their dedication to new writing and new audiences for a long time. They make quality, modern, bold theatre that truly makes a difference. We can’t wait to work with them and learn from their vast experience as we continue creating gig theatre that sets fire to what a night at the theatre can be.”

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Middle Child’s WEEKEND ROCKSTARS

To celebrate, we’re announcing a very special Edinburgh LATER hosted by Middle Child in Roundabout @ Summerhall on Saturday 20 August at 10:30pm.

SOME TINY PLAYS ABOUT HOW FUCKED WE ALL ARE

The world is a strange place in 2016. We all know that, right?

Middle Child and Luke Barnes’ SOME TINY PLAYS ABOUT HOW FUCKED WE ALL ARE uses verbatim text from the internet to explore the world we live in. From arguments about how many days in a week to Donald Trump poetry and 1D Fan Fiction we explore whether modern life really is rubbish after all.

It’s part-Mock The Week, part-Buzzfeed and part-piss up. Come along for a few drinks, a few laughs and a game of The Great British Bingo Off (complete with terrible prizes).

Tickets here.

Middle Child's TEN STOREY LOVE SONG

Middle Child’s TEN STOREY LOVE SONG

We also highly recommend you check out Middle Child’s Edinburgh hit TEN STOREY LOVE SONG at Pleasance Dome 3-29 Aug, 5.20pm.

About Middle Child

We are Middle Child, theatre that makes a noise.

We are a Hull-based company creating gig theatre events that capture the electrifying moment when the beat drops, mixing original live music with bold new writing. Our events explore what it means to live in modern Britain while recognising the importance of theatre as a social event, giving audiences a reason to come early and stay late. We prioritise liveness in our work, acknowledging this audience in this space at this time. We will always have a strong northern voice and are committed to ensuring that theatre is affordable and accessible for all. At a Middle Child event you are as likely to meet the love of your life as you are to be told a great story. Attendance at one of our events prompts fear of a hangover as much as even the cheapest student night.

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The Earth You’re Changing

In January 2014 we hosted a panel discussion at the National Theatre with four of our alumni: actors HARRIET WALTER and FIONA VICTORY, playwright STEPHEN JEFFREYS and director JOHN TIFFANY. Here’s what they had to say about their time at PPHQ…

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HARRIET WALTER AND FIONA VICTORY – 1970’s.

FV: David Pownall and John Adams and the actor Chris Crooks were out of work and miserable and they were drinking beer at the Paines pub in Bedfordshire. As David Pownall tells it, he said, “Oh stop moaning. I’ll write you a play. You will act in it, you will direct it, and we’ll go to the Edinburgh Festival.” And they did. It was a play called Crates on Barrels and it was about a Greek philosopher —

HW: Socrates.

FV: Yes, Socrates — and it was very good.

HW: Richard III Part Two was my first with Paines Plough, it was quite a large piece involving lots of music, two or three different time zones and George Orwell- pretty ‘Powellian’. David’s imagination was immense. Steven Boxer had had a musical training and a teaching training, and he wrote wonderful music. I was listening to it recently. He was only 23 and he was writing these wonderful complex tunes and –

FV: – and teaching everybody else! People who couldn’t sing, had never sung, couldn’t read music, couldn’t play anything, he somehow managed to give everyone their line and teach them how to do it calmly.

HW: At the time it was very unusual to get a young bunch of actors together at the early stage of a play and evolve it with them with everyone doing the music, and the costumes, and the props, and everything ourselves, then tour it all over the country

FV:— in a small van!

HW: We used to do the fit ups and strike the sets ourselves. A couple of people helped with the lighting, and we used to do the ironing

FV: – and sacking skips and making tea and whatever.

STEPHEN JEFFREYS – 1980’s

By the time I joined, David had stopped writing all the plays himself. It went from being a writer’s company with an apostrophe-s to a writers’ company with an s-apostrophe. There was a wave of new people, David Moat, Elizabeth and, the young Terry Johnson — a mere slip of a lad at the time- and we were all brought in. We were the first people were writing plays that weren’t by David Pownall, and that was rather difficult. You thought, ‘oh I’ve got to write a play that takes place in three different time zones with madrigals and people playing sackbutts and things: I started doing that and it was a complete disaster.

John Adams, the director, commissioned this play from me and it wasn’t going well. He said, “Well, you’ve got to finish it this weekend” and then, “What I’ll do is this: I’ll leave you in my flat, in Leamington Spa, and I’ll just clear off and you’ll finish it by the end of the weekend.” John’s mistake was that he had a priceless collection of malt whiskeys. He came back and found that I’d barely written a word. He said, “You’re trying to write the wrong kind of play. I want you to write your kind of play.” That’s what Paines Plough then did: it successfully mutated from a David P company to a company that could do any kind of new play at all. Somehow, Paines Plough’s always been very good at negotiating those awkward moments of handover.

I came back in the Pip Broughton era. She was — and still is- a wonderful director. Paines Plough had evolved into a matriarchy. We had offices by Warren Street tube station and Ian Rickson and I were the only men in the company. There was Pip and Sue Storr and Vicky Heywood. It was a very, very lively time, because there was a lot of exciting new writing around.

There were two phases under Pip. One consisted of a lot of very political plays about early Thatcherism, set in different parts of the country reflecting local conditions. Then, by around 1986 or so, she’d had enough of that and did another of those big, daring Paines Plough changes. We suddenly became a big company doing big plays. We did a version of GERMINAL. We did my play THE CLINK, another by Nigel Gearing called BERLIN DAYS HOLLYWOOD NIGHTS. Huge plays.

When Pip left Anna Furse took over. She came from a dance background and, for a while, it almost became a performance art company. So Paines Plough was in a constant state of mutation. That’s why it survived.

JOHN TIFFANY – 1990’s

Vicky [Featherstone] couldn’t really get arrested when Paines Plough gave her a job. She’d left the West Yorkshire Playhouse and moved to London, but couldn’t get herself taken seriously as a director of new writing. The Bush gave her a job for a little while — Literary Manager, I think— then she went into TV. She was doing really well, developed Touching Evil and Silent Witness, worked at the BBC and independents, then went for this job at Paines Plough — and the visionary board took a chance on her.

As Stephen says Paines Plough attracts writers. By the time I arrived in 2001, we were really developing a wonderful stable, people like Abi Morgan, Jack Thorne, Sarah [Kane] obviously, Mark Ravenhill was writing a lot for them at the time, Gregory Burke, David Greig, Enda Walsh, Philip Ridley.

We got the Peggy Ramsey award that year, which was —£50,000, wasn’t it? We decided we were just going to commission eight playwrights, and we bullied the Menier Chocolate Factory, which was still in its infancy, into taking all four plays. Philip Ridley wrote this amazing play called Mercury Fur, which was the first one I directed. Ben Whishaw was in it and — we didn’t quite realise at the time— but it was a bloodbath by the end. The Chocolate Factory didn’t have a shower, so some of our hard earned sponsorship money— I shouldn’t admit this — bought the Chocolate Factory its first ever shower. Actors ever since have got Paines Plough to thank…

In 2004, I was in Mexico directing a play over a summer and Vicky called me one morning and went, “Guess what, I’ve been given a new job running the National Theatre of Scotland.” To go from, you know a company like Paines Plough to running —to setting up — a national theatre was amazing. We always said— Neil Murray, who was the producer, he still is, David Greig who was the dramaturg at the time, me and Vicky we said, ‘Well, we’re going to run it like Paines Plough, but with £6 milllion.” Having done what we did at Paines Plough for £120,000 from the Arts Council, we knew what that money could buy. We were determined not to be frivolous or fritter it away.

What James and George have done amazingly is to treat the whole country like it’s a venue, which is so inspiring. The output has doubled or tripled. Vicky and I followed the model of two shows a year and when you look at the volume of work that these two are managing, on not much more money, you look at the list now of things coming through in 2014, it’s incredible. It really is.

One more thing: I’ve been under a delusion for many, many years. I thought Paines Plough meant the plough of Tom Paine, the radical thinker, the surface of the earth you’re changing. Only now do I find out it was thought up in a boozer!

What do you do all day? Artistic Director

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Name: JAMES GRIEVE
Job Title: ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

Hello! Can you give us a brief overview of your career so far?
I did a bit of acting at school and university but only for fun, I never considered a career in theatre. I was going to be a journalist. In my 3rd Year, I set up nabokov with George and Ric Mountjoy to produce new plays that might persuade my friends that theatre didn’t have to be long, boring and irrelevant. Our first event was a series of short, angry political plays – we bribed people to come by staging them at midnight in a bar with a late license.

After Uni I pursued my journalistic career at various papers and then joined the nascent Justgiving.com as content editor and later marketing manager. We kept nabokov going in our spare time – staging ‘shorts’ nights at The Old Red Lion and taking shows to Edinburgh. Josie Rourke said to me, if you’re serious, you have to be a director full-time. I said sure, how am I supposed to pay my rent? And she made me her assistant, which was amazing – the first time anyone actually gave me a job in theatre. I spent a year as staff director to Howard Davies at The National and then joined Josie at The Bush as Associate Director in 2007.

How did you end up in your current role?
Paines Plough was a company George and I had always admired – we used to go and watch their shows when we were students – so when the job came up in 2009 we went for it. We had run nabokov for 10 years in the image of Paines Plough, and it felt like the right time for nabokov to be re-imagined by a new team and for us to move on to a new challenge. I guess the fact we ran a new writing touring company helped make the case for us at PP.

What are your main responsibilities within Team PP?
With George I have the privilege of developing relationships with the writers we want to work with and choose the plays we produce. We have overall responsibility for the health and growth of the company – from making sure the books balance to articulating the brand and managing our amazing team. We decide strategy, evolve touring models, write the business plan, raise money, work with artistic directors of our partner venues, report to ACE and our Board of Trustees and represent the company publicly. Because of my background in media and digital I take an active role in our marketing strategy. Oh yeah, and I direct plays.

What do you think are the essential skills needed to be a successful Artistic Director?
You have to be interested in both parts of the job. You spend half your time in a rehearsal room and half the time at your desk staring at spreadsheets. It’s vital you get creative fulfilment from both.

Real talk – what’s the least enjoyable part of your job?
Working on a shoestring. We would be so much more productive and creative if we weren’t spending half our time scrabbling down the back of the sofa for loose change. That said, on the flipside, it is hugely gratifying when an organisation like The Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation or a company like UCG or individuals like Jon and NoraLee Sedmak see value in what we do and offer to invest in our work and our mission.

One piece of advice from you to someone who aspires to be an Artistic Director?
You can do anything. You just can’t do everything. Be singular in your vision and go for it with all you’ve got.

Paines Plough offer work placements in our Admin and Production offices throughout the year. If you’re interested, you can download more information here.

Santiago tour diary

The British Council invited our Artistic Director James to the EDEC conference in Santiago to met Chilean playwrights and see LUNGS make its Latin American debut. Here’s his tour diary.

Santiago from the top of San Cristobal.

Santiago from the top of San Cristobal

Monday 28 September
This morning I watched the sunrise on Orkney at the end of EVERY BRILLIANT THING’s Highlands and Islands tour. Tonight I’m at Heathrow heading for Santiago as a guest of The British Council at Encuentro de Dramaturgia Europea Contemporánea – a conference bringing together European and Chilean theatremakers to discuss contemporary European theatre and showcase plays from across Europe. I’ve never been to Latin America so this is exciting.

Tuesday 29 September
The approach to Santiago over the snow-peaked Andes is sensational. Chile’s capital lives in a big bowl of a valley stretching 50 miles across with mountains all around it. The blanket of smog makes it look like the crater of a volcano until the plane ducks underneath to reveal the sprawling city. My host Alex – the British Council’s international projects manager here in Chile – meets me at my hotel and whisks me straight to Santiago staple Emporio La Rosa, voted one of the top 10 ice cream parlours in the world for a quick introduction to Chilean theatre and a delicious introduction to Lúcuma ice cream.

The opening event of the conference sees critic Jürgen Berger give a talk on current trends in German theatre, which is translated into Spanish and then very kindly by Alex into English for my benefit. Everyone repairs to a beautiful roof garden for wine, canapés and speeches to officially open EDEC 15. Cameras flash as the culture minister turns up to make an address.

Ana López Montaner who is directing the reading of LUNGS on Saturday invites me to join her at The Clinic, a bar famous for political debates. Ana’s excellent English makes up for my shameful lack of Spanish and we set to discussing Duncan’s wonderful play.

This way for my workshop, apparently...

This way for my workshop, apparently…

Wednesday 30 September
I’m running workshops at the beautiful Universidad Católica – a huge old monastery with trees and fountains adorning courtyards and cloisters surrounded by lecture halls and art studios and rehearsal rooms. Playwright collective Interdram has invited playwrights from across Chile to attend the conference and meet delegates. It is fascinating to hear experiences from top to bottom of this huge and varied country (Chile is 2,672 miles long), and to discover the obstacles and anxieties writers face here are largely the same as at home. We focus on politics. What makes a play political? How do the personal and political coexist in great plays? It’s a fascinating discussion here where the scars of the Pinochet dictatorship are still so clearly seen. And it’s a tough workout for my heroic translator George who simultaneously translates the discussion as everyone contributes.

Thursday 1 October
Today my workshop focus is on LUNGS, or rather PULMONES as it is in its Spanish translation. The group has read the play and really love it. It’s exhilarating to be part of a passionate debate about a play in a different language and culture, sensing how well it translates and how relevant and poignant its themes are even on the other side of the world.

Ana invites me to see a production of Camus’ LOS JUSTOS. I don’t understand a word but I’m struck by the very European aesthetic – big, bold, physical, colourful and expressionistic storytelling. It’s staged at the home of Theatrocinema who I’m excited to meet. Their productions of THE MAN WHO FED BUTTERFLIES and HISTORIA DE AMORE have wowed the Edinburgh International Festival with ground-breaking fusions of film and live performance, so I’m thrilled to get a peek behind the scenes of their super cool converted cinema home.

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Friday 2 October
This morning I’m accompanying Alex at a meeting of the Arts Council and artistic directors of regional theatres. Once again I’m struck by the similarities in the discussions here and at home – a desire to see more work tour, a frustration at city hotspots attracting money and talent at the expense of the rest of the country.

Then we meet a group of playwrights who had been part of the Royal Court’s workshop programme in 2012, culminating with their plays being staged as readings in London in 2013. The experience had been transformative for them and it was great to get their take on the state of Chilean theatre. The common theme is the lack of producers, or producing infrastructure, which means writers often have to produce their own work. In fact, they quite often produce, direct and perform in their own work, and tear the tickets at the door.

This evening I’m at GAM, a magnificent modernist arts centre – Santiago’s answer to the Barbican – to see a dance piece EMOVERE which sees performers hooked up to sensors which trigger music to match their physical movement.

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Saturday 3 October
I have some spare time today so I climb San Cristobal hill which looms over central Santiago and offers panoramic views of the city from the huge white statue of the Virgin Mary at its peak. I push through the crowds and marvel at the colours and aromas in the city’s two vast markets La Vega and Mercado Central before tucking into delicious ceviche and chowder.

Then it’s back to GAM for the reading of PULMONES which Ana has staged beautifully with the two actors reading the play from iPads and each scene assuming different relationships with two chairs on an otherwise empty stage. There are around 100 people listening and they love it. I know the play so well that I can follow it even though I don’t understand word-by-word and it is thrilling to hear big laughs come at exactly the points I hoped and a silence descend on the room as the play bewitches its audience just as it does back home. Proof that great art is truly universal.

We repair to an incredible wine bar called Bocanariz that serves tasting glasses from its vast menu and toast Ana’s production and Duncan’s wonderful play.

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PULMONES on stage in Chile

Sunday 4 October
I spend my last morning in Santiago at the Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos, a museum dedicated to remembering the victims of the Pinochet regime. It’s a stark, powerful evocation of Chile’s dark recent history and a deeply moving memorial to the many who lost their lives.

It’s been an honour visiting this wonderful country and meeting so many talented, passionate playwrights. Muchos gracias particularly to Alex and Ana for being such generous hosts. Our hope is that this trip is just the beginning of an ongoing relationship between Paines Plough and theatremakers in Chile that will foster the exchange of ideas and see plays like LUNGS/PULMONES cross continents.

Now, I’ve got 48 hours to get to Bristol to see another Duncan Macmillan play. Here goes.

Backstage at The Stage Awards

Here’s an interview with our AD James, Roundabout designers Lucy Osborne and Emma Chapman, and Gavin Green from consultants Charcoalblue. They were speaking to The Stage after picking up Theatre Building Of The Year for Roundabout at The Stage Awards 2015.

Watch  the video below or head over to The Stage for the full feature.

THE ANGRY BRIGADE rehearsal shots

Things are heating up in Plymouth as we dive into the final week of rehearsals for James Graham’s turbo-charged new thriller, THE ANGRY BRIGADE, our latest co-production with our old pals at Theatre Royal Plymouth. Check out some snaps from rehearsals below.

Photo credit: Richard Lakos

For the full set, visit our Flickr page.

The play premieres at Theatre Royal Plymouth, playing from 18 September – 4 October 2014, before making its way to Oxford Playhouse from 8 – 11 OctoberWarwick Arts Centre from 14 – 17 October and Watford Palace Theatre from 21 – 25 October.

#TheAngryBrigade @painesplough @TRPlymouth

James and George on PP’s 40th Year

Our ADs James and George recently wrote a piece for WhatsOnStage on celebrating PP’s biggest season to date. You can view the original article here or read on below.

James Grieve and George Perrin

It’s a great honour to be the custodians of the company as it reaches this milestone. The anniversary has given us an excuse to properly delve into the archives at The V&A and it’s been thrilling to find sepia photos of Joe Marcell and Harriet Walter and Eric Richard performing in early Paines Plough productions in the 70s; photos of Andy Serkis and Peter Capaldi and Ben Whishaw.

We found this incredible portrait of Ian Hart taken by the legendary rock ‘n’ roll photographer Kevin Cummins in 1986, so we got in touch with Kevin and amazingly he remembered the shoot, remembered Paines Plough and agreed to come and photograph our production of Mike Bartlett‘s An Intervention as part of our 40th. He took an astonishing portrait of Rachael Stirling which someone will unearth in 40 years time. Some of the great actors of the past four decades have worked with Paines Plough.

But it is the roll call of playwrights that really articulates what 40 years of PP has meant for British theatre. The company was founded by a playwright, David Pownall, and a director, John Adams in 1974. Initially the company produced David’s plays which John directed, but in the early 80s the company started producing the work of Stephen Jeffreys, and the debut play by an aspiring writer called Terry Johnson. Since then it has been Paines Plough’s raison d’être to discover brilliant young writers, produce their early work, and send them off to write for the National Theatre and Hollywood, and win Oliviers and BAFTAs. Tony Marchant, Sarah Kane, Mark Ravenhill, Dennis Kelly, Abi Morgan, Jack Thorne – it’s an illustrious alumni.

And so we see turning 40 as a chance to celebrate those extraordinary writers whose work has shaped theatre and television and film, and to secure the legacy of PP for another 40 years by producing great new talent like Tom Wells and Kate Tempest.

We started the anniversary year by hosting a party for everyone who’s ever worked for the company at The Young Vic. Our founders David and John were guests of honour, and actors from the very first company swapped stories with the cast of Jumpers for Goalposts.

The National Theatre invited us to stage a Platform event at which Fiona Victory, Harriet Walter, Stephen Jeffreys and John Tiffany told amazing tales from their time on tour with PP through the ages. Then we held an industry symposium in Manchester titled The Future Of Small Scale Touring to try to energise the debate around touring new plays.

But mostly we’re just doing what the company has always done – producing great new plays and touring them. Programme 2014 is our biggest ever, with 12 productions touring to 50 places nationwide. We’re producing the work of Olivier award winners and debutants, in proscenium arch playhouses and student union bars, at music festivals and in village halls.

At the heart of our anniversary programme is the launch of the Roundabout Auditorium – our new pop-up theatre. Roundabout is a 170 seat in-the-round auditorium that flat packs into a lorry and can be erected anywhere from theatres to school halls, sports centres to warehouses. It means that we can tour new plays to more places than ever before, and introduce a whole new audience to our best playwrights.

Paines Plough has always existed to produce the best new plays and tour them far and wide. We strive to be a truly national theatre of new plays, by travelling to every corner of the country to give as many people as possible the chance to see the best of British new writing.

If you live in London, you’re spoilt for choice. On any one night you can choose from more than 50 productions ranging from Shakespeare, to Sondheim, to a new play by a first time writer. But if you live in Frome or Folkestone or Falkirk, your menu is rather more limited. And even if the odd King Learcomes to town, very few of the nation’s best new plays are ever seen outside major cities. You’ve got more chance of seeing the best of British new plays if you live in New York, than if you live in York.

We believe everyone should have the opportunity to see the best new plays. So we try to be the national touring theatre showcasing the best of British new plays far and wide, from Aberdeen to the Isle of Wight.

PP has premiered many plays that were ahead of the curve and changed the landscape. Plays like Craveand Mercury Fur. But its impact resonates beyond its own programmes, in the work of the playwrights Paines Plough championed at the start of their careers, who go on to be world-beaters. Abi Morgan‘s films Shame and The Iron Lady have been seen by cinema audiences worldwide. Dennis Kelly’sMatilda: The Musical has taken the West End and Broadway by storm. Writers like Jack Thorne, Nick Payne, Penelope Skinner and Tom Wells came through our Future Perfect playwright attachment programme. Vicky Featherstone now runs the Royal Court, John Tiffany is the toast of Broadway. PP has launched the careers of some of our nation’s greatest artists.

To read the full article, click here.

40th Platform at the Shed

A few weeks ago, we held a platform event at the National Theatre Shed as a lead-up to our Programme 2014 announcement. 

Stephen Jeffreys, John Tiffany, Fiona Victory and Harriet Walter joined our ADs James Grieve and George Perrin in sharing tales of 40 years on the road, and discussing PP’s rise in becoming the national theatre of new plays.

Have a look at some photos from the event below.

For the full set, visit our flickr page.

Have you seen Programme 2014 yet? Click here to check out our brand new season of shows.

#PP40

Images by Alex Brenner

40th Anniversary Reunion

In the lead up to our 2014 Programme announcement, we celebrated turning 40 the best way we knew how – by reuniting with friends from all four decades of Paines Plough on the road.

As a touring theatre company founded in The Plough pub in 1974, hitting 40 is an incredible landmark, and one we’re all very proud to be rejoicing.

Our current ADs George and James opened our birthday bash at the Young Vic, offering their vision for what’s in store moving forward.

We also had words from PPs founding members, David Pownall and John Adams. As they shared their insights and tales from the past, we raised our glasses to values that have stood the test of time.

We’re delighted to say that PP boasts a pretty spectacular alumni list: from the Emmy-winning Abi Morgan, Olivier award-winner Mike Bartlett, acclaimed playwright Simon Stephens, BAFTA-winning actor Andrew Scott, Royal Court Artistic Director Vicky Featherstone – the list is endless.

These are just some of the brilliantly talented people we are lucky enough to have worked with, and  honoured to call our friends.

Have a look at some photos from the night below (for the full set, check out our flickr page).

A final heartfelt thank you to everyone for your continued support.

Here’s to hitting 80.

PP x

James Grieve, David Pownall, John Adams and George Perrin

Abi Morgan and Vicky Featherstone

Andrew Scott and Mike Bartlett

James Grieve and George Perrin

Andrew Scott, George Perrin and Simon Stephens

David Pownall and Tom Wells

PP ADs through the years: James Grieve, Roxana Silbert, John Adams, Vicky Featherstone, Pip Broughton and George Perrin

Current Team PP: Natalie Adams, Tara Wilkinson, Bernd Fauler, James Grieve, George Perrin, Hanna Streeter, Aysha Powell, Sean Linnen, Benedict Lombe