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Latitude: We’re coming for you

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We can’t quite believe it but apparently it’s that time of year again. It’s time for Latitude. We’re enormously pleased WITH A LITTLE BIT OF LUCK by Sabrina Mahfouz is returning to the site of its debut last year.

This year you can catch us at the Film and Music Arena on Friday 15 July at 8:25pm. We’ll be grooving out to some old school garage and hope you can join us. Full info is here.

As usual there’s loads of other incredible acts on at Latitude including some great theatre here.

Can’t make it to Latitude this year? Don’t worry we’ve got another WITH A LITTLE BIT OF LUCK performance for you. We’re part of a fantastic weekend Latitude are curating outside National Theatre on the South Bank. From 5 -7 August Latitude take over River Stage outside NT. You can wander over anytime but if you want to catch us we’re headlining Saturday night at 9:25pm. We’re going to close the evening with the garage rave it deserves.

Check out all the other amazing River Stage acts here.

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COME TO WHERE I’M FROM London


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We’re excited to announce the latest leg of our COME TO WHERE I’M FROM series.

Since 2010, more than 100 writers from across the UK have returned to their home towns to pen plays about the places that shaped them. At theatres from Bristol to Belfast, Cardiff to Coventry and Nottingham to Newcastle, these plays have been performed by the playwrights themselves, coming home to tell their tale.

But COME TO WHERE I’M FROM has never been done in London, until now…

In June and July we’re partnering with Tamasha on a series of London COME TO WHERE I’M FROM events across the city which will see some well known names alongside some of the most exciting new voices from the Tamasha Developing Artists programme.

We’ve got a series of events across the Capital with writers from North, South, East and West performing in their local theatres over the course of six summer days in June and July.

Here are the details…

NORTH-WEST: Tricycle Theatre
Monday 27 June
With Karla Williams, Zia Ahmed, Mediah Ahmed, Ché Walker

SOUTH-WEST: Clapham Omnibus
Tuesday 28 June
With Elena Procopiu, Amman Singh Brar, Kathryn Golding, Alexandra Wood

WEST: The Gate
Wednesday 29 June
With Divya Sachdeva, Sally Woodcock, Satinder Chohan

EAST: The Yard Theatre
Thursday 30 June
With Lucy Sheen, Afsana Begum, Lizzy Dijeh, In-Sook Chappell, Arinze Kene

SOUTH-EAST: Ovalhouse
Monday 04 July
With Sandra Townsend, Vinay Patel, Miran Hadzic, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, Adam Brace

NORTH: Park Theatre
Wednesday 06 July
With Mahad Ali, Isley Lynn, Cheryl Walker, Stephen Jeffreys, Monsay Whitney

In advance of our London series we’re launching the COME TO WHERE I’M FROM app so you can listen to 100 short plays for free wherever you are!

Simulator Screen Shot 17 May 2016, 12.27.58

The app features audio recordings of COME TO WHERE I’M FROM plays read by the playwrights themselves. It’s available for free from the App Store – just search COME TO WHERE I’M FROM or click this link.

Search the map for plays by location or find your favourite playwright in the plays index. You’ll discover a huge range of playwrights from Olivier Award winners to first timers reading tales of their home towns stretching from Edinburgh to Ipswich to the Isle of Wight. A theatrical tapestry of the UK, woven by writers asking if home is really where the heart is.

Let us know what you make of the app by tweeting us using #CTWIF. Happy listening.

COME TO WHERE I’M FROM is supported by Garrick Charitable Trust and Royal Victoria Hall Foundation.

Open Auditions for BROKEN BISCUITS

London – Monday 11 April, 10am – 6pm 
Newcastle – Friday 15 April, 10am – 6pm

We’re holding some open auditions to find the stars of Tom Wells’ amazing new play BROKEN BISCUITS.

As we announced yesterday, we’re co-producing the world premiere of Tom’s hilarious and heart-warming play with Live Theatre in October before it embarks on a national tour until December 2016.

We regularly hold Open Auditions across the country just to meet new actors but they are usually general meetings. This time we’re looking for some specific people…

16-year-olds Megan, Ben and Holly are definitely not the cool kids. Holly’s into graphic novels and computers, Ben enjoys crochet and cross-stitch and Megan likes biscuits maybe a bit too much. They’ve just done their GCSEs and with a long summer holiday stretching ahead of them, Megan decides they have to make themselves cool. And there’s nothing cooler than being in a band.

So we’re hosting Open Auditions in Newcastle and London to meet some amazing Megans, Bens and Hollys. Is it you? Check the details below and get in touch.

WHAT WE’RE LOOKING FOR

We’re auditioning for three specific roles, so please only apply if you genuinely believe you are right for the part. Here are the character breakdowns:

MEGAN: 16. A force of nature. It’s hard to get a word in edgeways with Megan. She’s a big personality and the leader of the three friends. She’s quick and smart with words, very funny with a dry sense of humour. Her bravado sometimes covers the fact she feels unsure of herself. She is bullied at school for being overweight.

HOLLY: 16. Holly is super smart and top of the class. She is painfully shy and feels most comfortable with Megan and Ben, or on her own with her much loved graphic novels or online. She is hoping to go on to study computing and learn code. Boys scare her.

BEN: 16. Ben is the only boy at school studying textiles. Sometimes he likes to wear a dress, which is mostly fine except his Mum’s new fella has two macho sons who might be moving in with them and Ben’s not sure how they will feel about it. He works part-time in the local old people’s home running arts and crafts sessions.

Sound like you? Great. Keep reading…

 

AGES

Please note you must be over the age of 16 to apply for an audition. There is no upper age limit but we are looking for actors who can play 16 so please only apply if your playing age is a fit for the characters.

HOW TO APPLY

Please email your CV to auditions@painesplough.com with the name of the city you wish to audition in and the character you wish to audition for in the subject line. So if you want to audition for Megan in Newcastle your subject line should read NEWCASTLE / MEGAN.

The closing date for applications is 9am on Thursday 7 April.

HOW WE WILL ALLOCATE PLACES

We want these auditions to be genuinely open so if we receive more applications than we have spaces we will draw names at random from the submissions until the places are filled. We will then draw up a reserve list – again at random – and should more spaces become available we will fill them from the reserve list.

WHEN WILL WE LET YOU KNOW IF YOU’VE GOT AN AUDITION?

We will email you to let you know if you have an audition, or if you are on the reserve list by 6pm on Thursday 7 April.

WHAT TO PREPARE

When we email you to confirm your audition we will send you some text from the play to prepare.

WHO WILL YOU MEET AT THE AUDITION?

You’ll be meeting the director James Grieve and Producer Hanna Streeter. Additionally in Newcastle you will meet Live Theatre Producer Graeme Thompson.

HOW LONG IS EACH AUDITION?

We want to meet as many people as we possibly can so each audition will be just a few minutes.

HOW THE AUDITIONS WILL WORK

We’ll have a chat, find out a bit about you, and then we’ll ask you to read the text from the play we sent you in advance. That’s it. Easy.

AGENT APPLICATIONS

Sorry, we don’t accept applications from agents. If you have an agent, you must still apply yourself using your own email address.

That’s because we want to maintain a fair system for everyone, including those actors who are unrepresented.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

If we love what you do we’ll invite you back for another more in depth audition in the coming months. You will need to be available for the rehearsals and tour from September to December 2016.

New system for Open Auditions

Tomorrow we’re going to announce our next London Open Auditions.

In the past we’ve always allocated space on a first-come-first-served basis, which meant a lot of fingers hovering over a lot of ‘send’ buttons. Places generally go within minutes – our last London open auditions saw 1,350 applicants for 90 places.

We’ve heard from some of you that the fastest finger first system is frustrating because work or other commitments mean you can’t be online at the exact moment we announce, and you therefore miss out.

So we’re changing things up this time and trialling a new system which we hope is fairer for everyone. This time there will be a window within which you can apply. Once the window closes, we’ll select people at random until the places are full, and we’ll then select a further group of people at random to populate the waiting list.

We hope this means that everyone who wants to apply is able to apply, and that the selection process is fairer to everyone.

Remember, you need to sign up to our Open Auditions mailing list to receive details of the next date and how to apply.

So keep ‘em peeled for the announcement coming tomorrow, but this time there won’t be quite such a rush to get your application in.

In praise of . . . Newcastle

The sight of the bridges across the Tyne seen from an East Coast train carriage will never fail to impress. The curving green, regimental blue and criss-cross browns stretch out towards a kink in the river for some brief seconds before jackets are pulled on to face the Geordie chill. It’s Newcastle all over really – the sublime quickly succeeded by a firm and familiar slap on the back.

We spent two weeks there with Simon Stephen’s London, and the staff at the Live Theatre treated us very well indeed. Cast and crew spent their free time exploring the town and peripheries, so we thought we’d put a list together of where they went and where they’d have gone given more time.

Just after we left, the news broke that Newcastle City Council will be making some pretty drastic cuts to the arts budget. Paines Plough’s stance will no doubt be obvious (read Lee Hall’s impassioned but ultimately doomed manifesto we re-tweeted). Instead, this is a blog to celebrate what is already great about the city, rather than lamenting an uncertain future.

So here’s where Paines Plough would send you, given half the chance . . .

The Quayside

There will always be a chorus role for stag and hen does in Newcastle. They descend every weekend to spend amounts rivalling even what the capital might take. And though you probably don’t have them on your cultural bucket list, it’s more than likely you’ll experience it all through osmosis. Breathe in the air of the Quayside on a Saturday night and you’ll have effectively sunk four Bacardi’s chased by a generously-measured Jagerbomb before you’ve spotted the next cheesy-chip stained mini-skirt.

Even by day the Quayside is a heady experience. It has undergone some remarkable regeneration over recent years which have slowly erased the few traces that stood from the days of ship-building. Amidst the anodyne high-rise flats that now puncture the horizon, prized possessions of the Newcastle trendies and Geordie Shore ‘actors’, you also have the magnificent Baltic Flower Mill, The Sage and the Millennium Bridge. The first is home to most of town’s contemporary art, the second a wood-panelled acoustic phenomenon, housing world-class concerts every day of the week, and the last a ‘blinking bridge’ – probably the most photographed structure in Newcastle.

There is, of course, the Live Theatre. It’s a theatre whose trajectory charts a building proving itself through quality and determination, rather than nostalgia and Noel Coward. We’ve just played there with London and look forward to returning soon. And whatever you end up seeing on stage, you’d be denser than a Maccum walking alone through central Newcastle on a derby weekend not to try one of the Broad Chare’s scotch eggs afterwards. Pure bliss.

Pink Triangle

The gay quarter of Newcastle is quite something. With bars as gregarious as the spray-tanned clientele they attract, there are also slightly more demure establishments. Like most bars in Newcastle, they change their name as quickly as pints change hands with the bartenders, but there are plenty worth a visit.

Though not strictly within the Triangle, just over the road there is The Forth. That’s the place to go for a trendy pint and just opposite is the Jazz Café. It looks shut most of the time but push the door open and you’ll more often than not find a friendly crowd. It’s known for the live jazz, but the salsa night has something to say for itself too.

This part of town is also the place to go for late night music – regardless of whether you like boys, girls, or both. Head of Steam often has live gigs, and if your ears are not ringing when you spend a night on the tiles at Digital, you’ve probably been there too often. And for those who can hack it, a final fling on the Powerhouse dancefloor is an experience to be remembered. Like most other superclubs, the building has been handled by many a grubby owner, but the size and fun factor keeps them coming back, whoever is profiteering from the overpriced drinks.

Oh and there’s also the Discovery Museum and the Centre for Life in the same area, which are both museums worth a visit – but take those how you will.

The coast

Ask any Geordie residing somewhere other than their home town what they miss, and one of the first things they will mention is the sea. The stretch of coast that is no further than a twenty minute metro ride from the centre is worth the £3 or so it will cost you to get there.

And there’s fierce contest for the bonniest beach. Some might say the forerunner is Tynemouth, but those from south of the river will probably direct you to South Shields or even Marsden. Go there in the summer and you’ve practically saved yourself a flight to Spain (sort of). But whatever the season, combine some a fish & chips with a Minchella’s ice cream, and you’re laughing.

You’ll also be able to spot the numerous ships on the horizon, both recreational and mercantile, reminding you of Newcastle’s recent past. Though few and far between nowadays, the ride to and from the town will whisk you past the remnants of the shipyards that once thrived all along the Tyne.

Night at the dogs

There’s a line in a well-known Geordie play that goes something along the lines of if you’re coming to the region and you’re not into whippets or leeks, then you’re stuffed. Granted, they’re talking about a town outside central Newcastle without libraries or other such distractions, but with the way thing are going perhaps it bears repeating.

Whether the libraries stay or go, dogs will remain a central preoccupation to many. Although televised in the bookies up and down the country, nothing beats the real thing. Pie and ale in hand, for just a few quid you can soak in the atmosphere and howl at your newly sponsored friend for the evening.

Grainger Market

It’s probably the smell of the place that is its distinguishing feature. The covered market is far from being reduced to sepia-induced instant nostalgia just yet. That’s probably because of the range of goods (counterfeit or otherwise) that can still be bought there. Whether you’re replacing a smashed phone screen, or you’re in need of a cut – of either the meat or mop variety, Grainger Market will no doubt do it for you. At a decent price too.

Ouseburn valley

If your idea of a night out is sweaty bump-grinding to Rihanna, then this part of town is not for you. We have nothing against her, or her obnoxious base lines, but the Ouseburn valley offers something of a respite to the traditional Newcastle scene.

First and foremost it is the green so near the centre of the city that will keep you coming back for more. The Town Moor offers this too (maybe not for much longer . . .) but there are few other distractions that are found in such abundance as down the Ouseburn. The Cluny’s reputation precedes it and deservedly so. It nurtures local music talent and has a food and drinks menu to cater for everyone. The atmosphere is second to none, as is the ale selection.

Finally, if you’re not taken by what’s on at the multiplex, The Star and Shadow cinema is an arts venue running film, art and music catering for a huge range of tastes. The whole outfit is volunteer run so definitely deserves your support.

So that’s it really . . . 

Find an ale of your liking, go to the stadium if that’s your wish, but most of all enjoy Newcastle and send it our regards. Until we return.

 

“Keep Calm and Eat Cake”

Our super amazing volunteer Annabel talks about her time at PP HQ:

Well it’s been eight months since I started volunteering at Paines Plough and I can hardly believe how quickly the time has flown by.  I’ve loved every minute of it and couldn’t have been made to feel more welcome.

It has been a busy time for the amazing PP team, yes I am biased, but bear with me on this as I can back it up with some pretty impressive statistics.  In the past eight months there has been Wasted, Love, Love, Love, The 8th, Smithereens, Good With People, the Roundabout Auditorium at Shoreditch Town Hall (with One Day When We Were Young, Lungs and The Sound of Heavy Rain) and London.  Can you understand my awe with the sheer enthusiasm and energy here at 43 Aldwych?

I was recently asked by a friend how Paines Plough manage to be so prolific.  My rather flippant answer was ‘cake’.  Possibly inspired by the poster on the wall in the production office that says “Keep Calm and Eat Cake” but actually in a way my answer was very appropriate.  PP is a team that supports each other, care passionately about the work they are creating, work incredibly hard and are always happy to eat cake.

Thank you team PP for a life changing experience.

Go Bush – Reflections on LONDON

There’s an old Australian saying ‘to go bush’ which means to leave the city and all your cares behind.

What made me think of that wasn’t a trip to the outback but a train ride through the rolling landscape of Northern England. During the past few weeks Paines Plough have been travelling round the country with our newest show LONDON by Simon Stephens and although all the theatres we have visited have been city based, it has meant some wonderful journeys through the British countryside. And LONDON has got me thinking – the city is such a busy place that it can be difficult to pause and reflect or find the time to deal with your problems.

Don’t get me wrong here, I love living and working in the city – I grew up in the countryside but have always been more of a London-girl at heart. Everything you need is only a short walk from your house and you can go from the bustling Southbank, to Borough market, to a club on Bricklane in less than 40 minutes (allowing for no problems with TFL of course).  But as Alex (one of the characters in the play) remarks “the noise of the place and the dirt and the colour and the roar of it” can be so constant it’s stifling.

What I find fascinating about LONDON is that it is a play about London but not set there, indeed there is no specific location indicated by the script. Instead the play’s setting is within the stories and lives of its two characters. London isn’t the over-riding theme of the play, but rather a backdrop and stimulus to its narratives. And it is the people who live in a city that give it its character.

LONDON tells two different stories of city life – one of escape and the other return. A woman finds herself on a train to Heathrow in a desperate attempt to leave all her problems behind. Alex comes back to his home in London and is unable to find the peace and quiet to heal.  Sitting on the early morning train back from Glasgow one of the lines from the play popped into my head: “I can see the world with a clarity I’ve never even dreamed of before”.  It is very true that living in a city it can be hard to find the time to think. Maybe we all need to escape to the country every now and again, even if only for a few hours, to keep us sane.

LONDON isn’t actually coming to London but is touring to other major UK cities, and you can still catch it in Glasgow this week at the Tron Theatre and next week at the Royal Exchange in Manchester.

And let us know what you love most about living in the city…

 

In praise of . . . Glasgow

‘There’s been a wee boo-boo’ . . .

. . . is the phrase that will be remembered from Paines Plough’s rehearsal period in Glasgow this summer gone. Not a reference to our production of Good with People, it is instead the reaction of a pensioner in the local press talking about the North Korean Olympic flag debacle.  But rather than being a cause for continued embarrassment, we think it encapsulates our opinion of the city perfectly.

Because there has been a wee boo-boo if anyone south of the border thinks that Edinburgh is the only Scottish city worth visiting. Glasgow is the veritable arts capital of the country. It has a proud past, striking architecture and is the jumping off point for some of the most breath-taking scenery that the United Kingdom has to offer.

We’re off to the The Tron Theatre next week with London (have you booked yet?), so it’s just the right time to update our Glasgow hit list.

Oran Mor

Paines Plough knows this part of town well. We have worked on numerous of the Play, Pie and a Pint productions at Oran Mor. It’s a lunchtime thing where the main course is a hearty portion of new writing, with a side order of pie and ale all at an extremely reasonable price. We think the clue is in the name. The setting is a gutted church, and the atmosphere inside is what brings us back each time. Safe to say it is less about worship and more about revelry as the additional comedy nights, live music and unbeatable whisky selection retain the parish’s congregation. Worth mentioning also is the surrounding West End area. Set in the backdrop of Kelvingrove Park, it is home to Glasgow University and some impressive Victorian architecture.

Citizens’ Theatre

We promise to stop talking about theatre in a second (sort of). The third venue in town that is always worth a visit is the Citizens’ Theatre. They’ve recently done a co-production with Mike Bartlett on his re-write of Medea and they also hosted us on the Love, Love, Love tour. Its trademark black and bright pink interiors are all part of the fun. National Theatre of Scotland often use the space for their productions and under Dominic Hill’s artistic direction, we are always looking forward to what they come up with next.

Trongate 103

This is somewhere we are yet to visit but which comes highly recommended. Billed as an arts resource space, it is home to trendy creative organisations and has a year round gallery space. The people in charge also programme talks and readings to bring together the creative folk of Glasgow and whilst PP are there, composer Nigel Clark will be hosting one of his regular gigs with actress Judith Williams.

Arisaig restaurant

Bringing food to share with another Paines Plough staff member is a bit of a double-edged sword. Sure, you’ll be greeted with smiles and warm wishes, but you’d be fooled to think that your colleague is demonstrating a particularly spirited reaction to your presence in the office. They’re really just wondering what’s in your Tesco bag and woe-betide if it’s not at least 60% glucose based. Although not sugar, Arisaig does venison sausages and some of the snappiest seafood going. If you’re in town to watch London, try this place in Merchant City for pre or post-show dining. Just don’t go with one of us lot – blink and you’ll only have those especially bloody chunk of haggis left on your plate.

FOUNDATION Glasgow

Ok, so we’re sort of back to theatre with this one. But seeing as Sarah had reputedly never gone further north than the Watford Gap before starting at Paines Plough, we’ve already booked her into this Glasgow museum. It’s theatre because the centrepiece is a black box sound and light show. Over fifteen minutes the entire history of Glasgow is projected onto the floor from an impressive looking rig to educate those new to the city, or just unaware. It also shows how the Commonwealth Games in 2014 are going to look.

The Botanic Gardens

By night, the glass domes of Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens look like giant glowing spinning tops – and if you were lucky enough to catch Three Sisters at the Young Vic you’ll know how mesmerising those can be. With walks next to the River Kelvin, the gardens are immaculate and provide a welcome break from the rumble of the city. Although not quite the Highlands, it’ll do for a few hours for script reading and switching the iphone onto flight mode.

The Tron

Last but not least is our home for the week, The Tron. It is home to the majority of Glasgow’s new writing and is one of the leading players is Scottish theatre. The week before we are there, friend of the family Blythe Duff will be giving another stalwart performance in Rona Munro’s thriller Iron, and just after us there is a Macbeth partly in Gaelic. Michael Boyd was at the helm once upon a time, and it is real pleasure to be playing the space on our London tour. We cannot wait.

Have we missed anything out? Let us know.

And have you booked your tickets yet? Do it here.

London UK Tour – Audience reviews

As LONDON comes to the end of its run at Live Theatre in Newcastle we have been inundated with feedback from audiences there about the show.

Here are just some of the lovely comments and thank you to everyone for their feedback:

“Gripping. Intense. Memorable. Good atmosphere in theatre. Will look to come to more plays.”

“Fantastic concept, very enjoyable and I don’t usually like monologues,”

“Beautifully acted and engrossing. Completely mesmerising, despite its minimalistic approach. The actor’s subtle approach to heartbreaking emotion heightened the tension. I especially loved the script.”

“Never have I felt so much empathy for two characters.”

“Intense, transfixing, fascinating – a real talking point and unique experience.”

“Refreshing, very different from anything I’ve seen before. Very moving. Excellent”

“Silence at the end spoke volumes. Utterly captivating, suprising and will have us talking for hours now.”

“Both parts of the performance were riveting and thought provoking; both excellently performed. First part gave insight into unravelling of a person’s mind due to an unfortunate incident and the repercussions. Second part: thought provoking, almost disturbing look at tragic incident and its divesting consequences.”

“An astonishing event. Superb writing, outstanding performances. Though-provoking, moving, entertaining, haunting.

“I was captivated. I am moved. Thank you”

If you’ve seen the show in Salisbury, Brighton or Newcastle let us know what you thought by commenting below or tweeting @painesplough #LondonPlay.

There are only a few days more to catch the show at the brilliant Live Theatre in Newcastle before it moves on Saturday, when it then goes to the Tron Theatre in Glasgow from Tue 13th – Sat 17th and finishing at the Royal Exchange in Manchester from Tue 20th – Sat 24th.

LONDON trailer

Here’s the film trailer for LONDON by Simon Stephens, created by those geniuses Mathy & Fran.

Check it, and tell us what you think by leaving a comment or tweeting us @painesplough with the hashtag #LondonPlay.

For further information, tour dates and tickets for LONDON click here.

You can see more PP trailers, films and video clips over on our YouTube Channel.