Monthly archives:

Announcing Programme 2017

PP2016 Web Banner 2

Welcome to Programme 2017. Theatre. Everywhere.

Our Artistic Directors, James and George, unveiled #PP2017 today:

“We’re thrilled to present some of the UK’s most exciting playwrights on tour to more than 60 places across the UK and around the world in Paines Plough’s Programme 2017.

Our pop-up Roundabout will again tour the UK with three world premieres in partnership with Theatr Clwyd and the Orange Tree. Elinor Cook’s OUT OF LOVE is a very funny, topical, heart-tugging exploration of female friendship spanning 30 years. We’re honoured to be premiering another of Elinor’s plays following TEN WEEKS in Programme 2016. Elinor was on attachment to Paines Plough through The Big Room in 2011 and has since won the George Devine Award and become one of the most vital, distinctive new voices in theatre. Roundabout will also host the World Premiere of Brad Birch’s new play BLACK MOUNTAIN, a nerve-jangling psychological thriller showcasing the style and comic brio that marks Brad out in the vanguard of Welsh playwrights. HOW TO BE A KID is a vivid new play for young people by Manchester’s Sarah McDonald-Hughes which tackles some big subjects with extraordinary lightness of touch and a lot of joyous dancing to Taylor Swift.

We are renewing our partnership with Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama to again showcase new talent with the world premiere of Newcastle playwright Alison Carr’s HUSH, directed by Hannah Banister who was previously at Paines Plough as assistant director on THE ANGRY BRIGADE in 2014.

Nathan Bryon was awarded our inaugural Playwright Fellowship in 2015 and we’re delighted to be partnering with tiata fahodzi to present the world premiere of his debut play MIXED BRAIN. Future Paines Plough programmes will feature the work of this year’s Fellowship writer Sam Steiner, and Zia Ahmed who joins us supported by the Channel Four Playwrights Scheme.  

We are ceaselessly overwhelmed by the reaction to EVERY BRILLIANT THING as it tours the globe. In Programme 2017 we welcome our new brilliant thing James Rowland to perform the show on a second tour to Australia and New Zealand before returning home to the UK, while Jonny Donahoe continues in the role in North America. Sabrina Mahfouz’s euphoric UK Garage musical WITH A LITTLE BIT OF LUCK returns for one very special night in the Roundhouse main space and Luke Norris’ Fringe First winner GROWTH takes off on a UK Tour. COME TO WHERE I’M FROM continues to celebrate locality with playwrights performing plays about their home towns in Middlesbrough, Glasgow and Gloucester. We’ll also be taking COME TO WHERE I’M FROM to Hull and we’re really excited to hear the stories from the city whilst in its inspiring year as City of Culture. You can continue to listen to plays from across the UK on the COME TO WHERE I’M FROM app. 

It’s our mission to take the best new theatre everywhere and with our productions appearing in all four corners of the UK, across the Atlantic, down under and on your smartphone there is something for everyone, everywhere in Programme 2017.”

A Paines Plough and Pentabus Theatre Company production
EVERY BRILLIANT THING
By Duncan Macmillan with Jonny Donahoe

Every Brilliant Thing Web Treated

The worldwide smash hit is back. After touring USA and Canada in January and February, EVERY BRILLIANT THING continues to Australia and New Zealand with James Rowland at the helm. Then we’re off on a 30-date UK and Ireland tour throughout May, June and July. Stay tuned for more international announcements throughout the year.

 

A Paines Plough production
GROWTH
By Luke Norris

Growth Web Treated

“It’s a lump in a bag of lumps. It’s fine.”

Tobes is young, free and having a ball. Off.

He’s successfully ignored his lump for two years but it’s starting to get in the way – cramping his style and, worse, affecting his sex life. So now there are pants to be dropped, and decisions to be made… It’s a real ball ache.

A comedy about growing up and manning up from critically acclaimed writer Luke Norris (So Here We Are, Royal Exchange; Goodbye To All That, Royal Court).

Winner of a Fringe First Award at the 2016 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, GROWTH embarks on its second national tour through September and October.

“Achingly funny and tender… Of the hundreds of shows at the Fringe, few feel as necessary as this.”  ★★★★★ Financial Times

 

A Paines Plough, Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama and Gate Theatre production
HUSH
By Alison Carr

Hush Web Treated

A 999 call sets the wheels in motion. Nothing stays a secret forever. Especially in this town.

Sadie returns to the place she hates. Natalie tries to do the right thing. Josh can only hope. Three stories linked by guilt, secrets and a missing boy.

A dark, funny and often tender new play by rising star Alison Carr, writer of “bruising yet touching” (The Stage) Iris at Live Theatre.

HUSH will premiere at The Bute Theatre, Cardiff and Gate Theatre in London.

 

A Paines Plough and tiata fahodzi production
MIXED BRAIN
By Nathan Bryon

Mixed Brain Web Treated

“One day we were playing football. One kid shouts ‘let’s do black v white’. My heart starts beating hoping someone dusts this dumb idea off. All the white kids go to one side, all the black kids go to the other, I try slip off. Another kid yells: ‘Nathan what team will you be on? You’re mixed…”

Star of Benidorm, writer for Rastamouse, 50% Jamaican, 50% British, 100% reppin’ Shepherd’s Bush. Nathan Bryon is many things. Mixed.

Welcome to his world. Part story, part stand-up, a show fusing Afro-Caribbean flair and British awkwardness in a searing, searching exploration of what it means to be mixed-race and mixed-experience today.

If you live in the middle does anywhere feel like home? Get in the mix. Learn a little, live a little, laugh a lot.

You’ll be able to catch MIXED BRAIN at festivals this summer. Stay tuned for details.

 

A Paines Plough and Latitude Festival production
WITH A LITTLE BIT OF LUCK
By Sabrina Mahfouz

With A Little Bit Of Luck Web Treated

It’s 2001. Garage is the anthem. Nadia feels like it’s her time to shine.

A hot summer’s night of love promises endless possibilities. Swept up in drinking, dancing, hope, ambition, lust, greed… Nadia will make decisions that will determine the rest of her life.

Underscored by your favourite UK Garage bangers. This is theatre you can rave to.

Award-winning writer and poet Sabrina Mahfouz explores the legacy of a cultural movement that defined the hopes of a generation in a “generous, joyous and lyrical collision of gig and theatre” (★★★★ The Stage).

WITH A LITTLE BIT OF LUCK returns to Roundhouse for one night only. Headlining the Last Word Festival you’ll also be able to see DJ Luck & MC Neat and Mighty Moe in an old school UK Garage night on Friday 9 June.

 

A Paines Plough, Theatr Clwyd and Orange Tree Theatre production
BLACK MOUNTAIN
By Brad Birch

Black Mountain Web Treated

Rebecca and Paul are running away. Away from memories and mistakes.

They’re trying to save their relationship. They need time and space. An isolated house in the country is the perfect place to work things out. They set themselves rules: they have to be honest, they have to listen and they have to be fair.

But you can’t run forever. Especially when you’re being followed.

BLACK MOUNTAIN is a tense psychological thriller about betrayal and forgiveness by winner of the Harold Pinter Commission Brad Birch.

BLACK MOUNTAIN will tour in Roundabout in September and October.

 

A Paines Plough, Theatr Clwyd and Orange Tree Theatre production
OUT OF LOVE

By Elinor Cook

Better Than She Should Be Web Treated

Lorna and Grace do everything together. They share crisps, cigarettes and crushes. That’s what happens when you’re best friends forever.

But when Lorna gets a place at University, and Grace gets pregnant, they suddenly find themselves in starkly different worlds. Can anything bridge the gap between them?

A tale of friendship, love and rivalry over thirty years from award-winning playwright Elinor Cook.

‘Intelligent and savagely funny’ The Times on Elinor Cook

OUT OF LOVE will tour in Roundabout in September and October.

 

A Paines Plough, Theatr Clwyd and Orange Tree Theatre production
HOW TO BE A KID
By Sarah McDonald-Hughes

How To Be A Kid Web Treated

Molly cooks. Molly does the dishes. Molly gets her little brother Joe ready for school. Molly is only 12, but she doesn’t feel much like a kid anymore.

Now Molly’s Mum is feeling better, maybe things will get back to normal. Can you help Molly learn how to be a kid again?

Join Molly, Joe and her Nan for a larger than life story of family, friends and fitting in.

Warning: Contains dancing, chocolate cake and an epic car chase.

For ages 7+.

HOW TO BE A KID will tour in Roundabout in September and October.

 

COME TO WHERE I’M FROM

Come To Where I'm From Web Treated

COME TO WHERE I’M FROM is a collection of mini plays written by playwrights about the places they call home.

Since 2010, 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 are performed by the playwrights themselves, coming home to tell their tale.

Now you can listen to this amazing collection of over 130 short plays through the COME TO WHERE I’M FROM app. Available for free here. Search the map for plays near you or find your favourite playwright in the plays index.

You’ll find a huge range of playwrights from Olivier Award winners to first timers reading their own plays about 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.

In 2017 we will be hosting CTWIF events in the following places:

Middlesbrough Theatre on 16 March
Hull Truck Theatre on 24 May
Tron Theatre, Glasgow on 25 May
Fountain Inn, Gloucester on on 6 July

“A reminder of the enormous tug that place has on us all.” The Guardian

“Conjures an intimacy between us that burns as bright and as potent as striking a match” Exeunt

*

So there you have it. Programme 2017. Theatre. Everywhere.

Let us know what you think on #PP2017

Save

Save

Save

Save

Programme 2016

Here we go… the grand unveiling of our Programme 2016 in all its glory. A host of new plays from red hot writers hitting the road to the four corners of our green and pleasant land.

PP2016 season shows v8 web generic banner

Here’s a snapshot:

ROUNDABOUT features a new rep of three brand new plays by Katie Douglas, Alan Harris and Luke Norris at Summerhall in Edinburgh and on tour to Kent, Cornwall, Cumbria, Lincolnshire, Bedfordshire, Staffordshire, Yorkshire and Greater Manchester.

The world premiere of BROKEN BISCUITS by Tom Wells opens with our co-producers Live Theatre in Newcastle prior to a UK Tour.

WITH A LITTLE BIT OF LUCK by Sabrina Mahfouz tours to 29 venues nationwide.

EVERY BRILLIANT THING is back on home soil by popular demand following an international tour.

COME TO WHERE I’M FROM comes to London with a week of live events across the capital featuring 30 playwrights.

Elinor Cook’s TEN WEEKS opens in London tonight.

Our transatlantic collaboration with legendary New York company Naked Angels sees two new radio plays by Nathan Bryon and Lucy Gillespie released as free to listen downloads.

Here’s what James & George have to say about it all:

“We’re raring to hit the road to the four corners of the UK with this cracking programme of new plays from some of the most exciting writers around. Roundabout will pop-up across the country with comedies from Luke Norris and Alan Harris, a superhero tale for children from Katie Douglas and a host of events from international visiting companies and local community groups, bringing a festival feel to every place it visits. We’re honoured to be working with talents as innovative as Sabrina Mahfouz – whose UK Garage musical is theatre you can rave to – and Tom Wells whose heart-warming new play will delight fans of his previous Paines Plough hit Jumpers For Goalposts. With Every Brilliant Thing returning to the UK after an international tour, London stories in Come To Where I’m From and new plays from Elinor Cook, Nathan Bryon, Lucy Gillespie, there’s a play for everyone, everywhere in Programme 2016.”

Paines Plough presents
ROUNDABOUT
2016 sees the return of Roundabout, our award-winning pop-up theatre. The all new Roundabout programme will preview from 19 – 24 July at Hackney Showroom in London before taking up residency once again at Summerhall during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and then touring nationwide.

Roundabout will tour nationwide in partnership with The Lowry, Hall For Cornwall, Margate Theatre Royal, Lincoln Performing Arts Centre, Brewery Arts Centre, Barnsley Civic, Appetite Stoke-on-Trent and Revoluton, Marsh Farm Estate in Luton.

In rep will be three World Premieres…

A Paines Plough, Sherman Cymru and Theatr Clwyd production
LOVE, LIES AND TAXIDERMY
By Alan Harris

A deliciously quirky comedy from Alan Harris about two teenagers in Merthyr Tydfil who fall in love in Tesco but face a fight to save their parents from self-destruction.

LLT 466

A Paines Plough production
GROWTH
By Luke Norris

A very funny new play from Luke Norris about a 20-something who tries to ignore a lump until it’s almost too late.

GROW 466

A Paines Plough and Half Moon production
I GOT SUPERPOWERS FOR MY BIRTHDAY
By Katie Douglas

An epic superhero quest for ages 7 to 11-year-olds from Katie Douglas.

SUPER 466

PLUS… Roundabout will again host a programme of visiting companies at The Edinburgh Festival Fringe and on tour, and see the return of EARLIER / LATER, Paines Plough’s early morning and late night series of one-off shows, events, workshops and more.

A Paines Plough and Live Theatre production
BROKEN BISCUITS
By Tom Wells

The brand new play from JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS writer Tom Wells. A hilarious and heart-warming tale of three teenagers dreaming of rock ‘n’ roll stardom.

BB 466

A Paines Plough and Latitude Festival production
WITH A LITTLE BIT OF LUCK
by Sabrina Mahfouz

Our hit UK Garage musical is back in our rehearsal room and getting set to hit the road to 29 venues nationwide. This is theatre you can rave to.

WALBOL 466

A Paines Plough and Pentabus Theatre Company production
EVERY BRILLIANT THING
By Duncan Macmillan with Jonny Donahoe

Our worldwide hit show is back on home soil in Edinburgh and on a UK tour this Autumn.

EBT 466

A Paines Plough and Tamasha production
COME TO WHERE I’M FROM: LONDON

Since 2010 more than 100 playwrights have written plays about the place they call home as part of our nationwide project, but never in London… until now…

CTWIF 466

A Paines Plough and Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama production
TEN WEEKS
by Elinor Cook

Elinor Cook’s electrifying new play about the Alpha course transfers to The Gate in Notting Hill following its Cardiff premiere.

TW 466

Paines Plough and Naked Angels present
BILAL’S BIRTHDAY by Nathan Bryon
322 DAYS by Lucy Gillespie

Our transatlantic partnership with New York legends Naked Angels has resulted in these two cracking radio plays from rising US star Lucy Gillespie and our very own Playwright Fellow Nathan Bryon.

NA 466

Woop. And there’s lots more to come including a mega programme of visiting companies, one-off shows, events, workshops and fun stuff in Roundabout, the return of EARLIER/LATER, festival appearances, more tour dates, and probably other stuff we think up as we go along too.

But for now, welcome to Programme 2016. We hope you like it.

#PP2016

Developing New Writing: The Big Room

It’s hard to believe it’s been 12 months since the ray of sunshine that is Nathan Bryon joined Team PP as our Big Room Fellowship playwright – and what a year it has been! He’s been to Barcelona, joined us at Latitude and in Edinburgh, and also managed to squeeze in two development workshops to develop a new script. Not bad, eh? 

We got him to write one last blog for us before jetting off to film Benidorm – oh yeah, did we forget to mention that he acts too?! What a guy. It’s not goodbye, just see you later – it’s been a pleasure!

It’s that time again to blog for PP but sadly it will be the last time as the Big Room writer!

Down to business!!! I feel like I need to do one of those catch ups they put at the beginning of cheesy American show ‘Previously on the Big Room Fellowship…’ in bullet point form.

  • Another One Bites The Dust: A short play I wrote about police brutality in America was performed in Barcelona
  • I wanted to develop AOBTD play during my time with PP and after 3 days of workshopping and talking lots, the idea for Mixed Brain was floating around in my head, I just didn’t know what it was.
  • A further 4 days locked in the PP Big Room with no food or water resulted in me writing the first draft of Mixed Brain.

So after 4 days locked in the PP Big Room, OK I wasn’t technically locked in and OK there was food and water, lots of it actually. I had a first draft of my new play Mixed Brain… I wrapped up the first draft and ran off to the pub to see the Paines Plough Crew Dem and just forget about it for a while!

‘Mixed Brain is about exploring what it means to be Mixed Race in London in 2016, the story is set in a Mixed Race family about two brothers who have been bought up VERY differently and an incident that separates the whole family…’

Lots of Life happened and then George and James asked me what did I want to do to end this ‘Scheme??’ One thing was that I wanted see LOADS of theatre before I went back to Spain… so I did, I went and saw a lot, but what I really loved was ESCAPED ALONE – it was everything! MA RAINEY was magical!

I also wanted to hear Mixed Brain read out loud, as there is only so many times you can hear you own whiney voice saying your words! George and James then told me was money left over in the budget, after they had said no I couldn’t use it too fly first class to Jamaica for a week, I decided I wanted another 3 day workshop with Mixed Brain.

The script was in a first draft state, meaning bare spelling mistakes and just general chaos, and Rachel the legend then went around attaching dons to the workshop! First to the party is the Don of Dons, my flat white partner in crime, just general O.G Natalie Ibu was the director. We met in a PRET obvs, and I just thought YES she is a DON.  Natalie is the sort of person I can chat with for HOURS about everything and everything and just get wiser! SHE IS A WISE WISE DON!

Natalie and Rachel then literally got the avengers of young performers, god knows how all these dons were available at the same time.

The morning of the workshop Rachel texted me the cast list – I had just got back from working in Glasgow so was a bit knackered but I was just like RAAAAAAAAR!!! They are the fire of young British talent right now and I get to work with them for 3 days – what a fucking honor!

The first thing we did was a read of the text which for me was super useful to hear lots of other voices read in, and could allow me to realize that… the story would appear and disappear and some scenes were totally useless, but it’s cool I’m not down in the dumps – my first drafts I call my vomit draft: just getting it ALL out! There were also bits of text that I really liked as well it’s not doom and gloom out here.

Like most workshops WE debated WE Discussed LOADS over the 3 days, about things that give us rage and what we would like to change, revolving around mainly race.  We would leave a session and I think it’s fair to say everyone’s brains were bulging with thoughts of what we had discussed.

Unlike most workshops I’ve done, I usually bring in new scenes during the days to play with new material but this time I didn’t. It was great to interrogate the text and ask questions, exploring it more as it was a new writing style for me as I had written the play by assigning no characters or locations to the lines.

I almost wished we had a camera in the room filming us and you dons could just live stream in but a) that would be kinda creepy B) it wouldn’t be the same. Natalie created such a free raw space everything felt open to bring forward their thoughts and tings.

Before a workshop I usually write a list of things I want to achieve by the end of the days. My main one for this Mixed Brain pt 2 workshop was to leave inspired to make the next draft. I AM SOOOOO exited to re-draft it!!! Let’s hope I don’t make it shit…

We ate Caribbean for lunch like everyday, we were in Brixton so it was live! Then the workshop ended with BEERS and MUNCH, the way life should just end in general. We all sat down and I asked the actors questions like… ‘What scenes would you like to see in this play which I haven’t written?’ ( I’m such a lazy writer hahaha) ‘What characters would you like to see most developed?’ etc, and then we just chatted about life! It was VIBES.

My time at PP has been legit the best year of my life so far!!!!! I am soooooo fucking grateful to have had this incredible opportunity. I’ve done so much. I’ve literally just heard the first draft of my new radio play BILAL’S BIRTHDAY which was recorded in New York – yep NEW YORK!! CRAY CRAY CRAY!!!! A Naked Angels and Paines Plough production, it will be out mid March I’m guessing… I still can’t get over American’s reading my words hahahaha!

PPS. I am going to produce my play NEGRIL BEACH and I’m looking for producers – HOLLA at yo boy!!!!

Big Love

Nathan :)

Developing New Writing: The Producer’s Perspective

Trainee Producer, Rachel, joined the team in May and has been managing Nathan’s development with us since then. Here she give us an insight into how she put together the development workshop and what she learned from it.

20151118_143132

Producing toolkit: Notepad, iPad and, most importantly, a diary!

I remember sitting with my friend Nicola as she spoke about the play she was writing while we were at uni. She was struggling for a title that communicated the themes and also got across a sense of where the play was set, in the world of DJ-ing.

Nicola: It’s the word for the thing they do? When they put one song into another…?
Me: Mixing?’
Nicola: No… It’s like that, but… Not.
Me: (struggling) Uh…Fading…?
Nicola: Yes! Well… Kind of, I feel like there’s another word they use…

I’m wracking my brains, at this point trying to remember something, anything at all, from when I studied music at school – school now a distant, foggy memory.

Me: What about… cross fade?

The word hung in the air in front of us for a moment.

YES! WRITE IT DOWN!’

I almost fell out of my chair with relief and, with a laugh, that’s how the title of her first play, and subsequently her theatre company, came about. Over a cuppa, sharing ideas in the student union.

I didn’t realise it, but that’s producing.

Of course there’s a bit more to it – scheduling, budgets, casting, and loads more I’ve still to learn – but at its heart it’s listening to each other, sharing ideas and making it happen.

So when it came to putting together a development workshop for Nathan, that experience is what I drew on. I have worked with emerging writers and directors in Scotland (now that I look back on it, coffee shops seem to be a recurring motif…) and I’ve seen the excitement, the fear, and the nerves that come when people share their ideas with you, and experienced the wonderful madness that accompanies figuring out how to make those ideas become a reality.

20151017_113731

Once Nathan had chosen a date for his workshop, the next thing to find was a director. After a meeting with George and James, we approached Titas Halder to see if he’d be interested in being involved and after meeting with Nathan, he agreed to come on board. We drafted in Trainee Director Nadia as Titas’ assistant in the room and the next thing I knew, I had a creative team.

After this my foot really hit the gas as we went full speed into casting, looking for actors who’d be active and engage in the discussion in the room to help Nathan get to the core of what he wanted to write about. A list of names was drawn up and I spent my days trawling through Spotlight like a woman possessed, contacting agents, doing availability checks… I was sorting through CV’s, communicating back and forth with Titas, and making so many phone calls that I felt like an octopus. Offers were made and accepted, and after an energetic few days I was able to relax and confirm with Nathan, Titas and the rest of Team PP that our cast was finalised.

I arrived for the first day of workshopping to set up the room and print out the stimuli that Nathan had compiled for everyone. Our actors – Tanya Fear Tunji Lucas, Michael Hadley and Llewella Gideon– arrived and after some warm up exercises and a little bit of time to get to know each other, we got down to discussing the contents of Nathan’s dramaturgical pack. Soon the ideas covered the walls and surrounded us.

It was a fascinating, scary, intense, relevant and necessary discussion. It felt theatrical in itself as the various subject matters – ethnicity, identity, class, family, belonging – provoked strong emotions and feelings from everyone in the room.

Each new day brought with it more writing from Nathan, and it was fascinating to see how the conversation in the room filtered in to his writing, stretching and reshaping his ideas in to what would eventually land on my desk a week later – the first draft of his brand new play.

20151104_112437

Without realising it, I’ve found the work I’ve contributed towards having a decidely musical slant in both Crossfade and Mix Tape. The aim in putting together the development workshop was to help Nathan try out new ways of writing and telling stories. Inadvertently, it’s also helped me to start shaping my identity as a producer and how I want to work with other creatives in the future.

-Rachel x

 

Developing New Writing: The Assistant Director’s Perspective

The second in our newest series of blogs on creating new work comes from our Nadia Amico, our Trainee Director from Birkbeck’s MFA in Directing. She’s previously assisted our Associate Director, Stef, on WITH A LITTLE BIT OF LUCK and most recently has written and performed at Stratford East at the Empower House event.

It’s not very often you get asked by a director to do some research into Kendrick Lamar, and I knew at that moment that this was the kind of rehearsal room I was meant to be in.

20151017_113731

2 weeks out of a 3 day workshop and not only am I still reeling from some of the conversations but I certainly feel heavier with the knowledge and experience of being in a room with director Titus Halder and writer Nathan Bryon.

The topic was simple, yet incredibly raw, as George Perrin later reminded me, and raw it was – what it means to be black and, in a way, what it means to be white.

We spent a large amount of time being expertly navigated through a workshop by Titus, which ultimately encouraged us share an incredible amount of political, social and cultural material, breaking down personal barriers and crossing over racial thresholds. As the assistant director, a lot of what you’re told about the job involves listening and adhering to the room, but it was hard – not just coz I could talk the back legs off a donkey – but because I was frustrated and upset. How is it 2015 and the colour of someone’s skin, or the sexual orientation of a person is still being questioned, challenged and to some degree, oppressed?

e59k1vm4wxbv5newpl2x

Kendrick’s album To Pimp A Butterfly crystalizes, in potentially the most eloquent and fundamental way, the issues facing black people in America today. You only have to mention Treyvon Martin and blurry images, recorded on handheld phones, shaking from left to right, distorting the forms of black boys and bullet holes, white cops and Taser guns, contradict the ironic point Lamar is trying to make – “we gon be alright”.

What really stood out for me was how inspired Nathan was by Titus’ handling of the workshop – Titus pushed Nathan to explore a more abstract way of writing. Letting his pen flow across the page rather then worry too much about characters and narration. “What really matters, man” I’m pretty sure is something I heard from most people throughout the workshop. After day one in fact, Nathan stayed behind, his brain close to exploding, and wrote something in response to the conversations and opinions formed in the room that day.

I was keen to come back into the room on Sunday to see what had changed or formed more vehemently in his mind. I wasn’t disappointed, as what Nathan at written encouraged further debates and conversation pertaining to everything we already had discussed and more. Class issues became a prominent talking point – and again, being a working class director, it was hard to not put my two cents in.

Within the first 20 minutes of the workshop, tears were shed and a comforting arm uniting a working class black woman and a middle class white man stretched out saying ‘it’s ok’. I was overwhelmed, happy, sad, excited and finally grateful. I got to witness something really special. Titus took me for a drink later and I said ‘all I want to do is extract the juice from everything’. I had said it in a jokey kind of way, but the workshop had left both a sweet and sour taste in my mouth. And I think that’s what theatre is all about. The good with the bad, the happy with the sad, but eventually really real situations and really real people.

– Nadia x

Developing New Writing: The Writer’s Perspective

Earlier this year, Nathan Bryon was selected to be our Big Room Fellowship playwright, and as part of the programme we are helping him to develop his playwriting skills. At the end of October we organised a development workshop with director Titas Halder, ably assisted by our Director Placement, Nadia, and four actors, to thrash out some ideas. Here’s a little insight from Nathan in to what happened…

Last week, was intense. Super, super, super, super intense… We had 3 days of rehearsal and development of my new play, and I had no idea what is or was going to be about. Then I set myself the mad challenge of writing a draft of my new play in 5 days… This is the blog that tells you how it went – it involved lots and lots and lots of COFFEE and expensive Eat sandwiches.

20151017_113731

(L-R: Nadia, Tanya, Nathan & Tunji)

I wrote a short play called ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST about the police brutality in America. I wrote it whilst in Spain watching the Walter Scott police shooting because I had major, major rage and the play was an immediate response to that. I knew for my new full-length play that I didn’t want it to be an extension to ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST because I felt, whilst it was short, the play was complete.

I met Rachel, the producer, a few days before the workshop like “Shit, I haven’t actually written anything proper to rehearse with the actors!”, just because I didn’t know exactly what I even wanted the story to be about. Rachel explained that it’s not about going into the rehearsal with a full piece, it’s about going in with provocations and bits of script to play with to inspire myself. This conversation was a massive relief so I went away and made like a 40 page pack for the day which the poor director, Titas, had to go through, hahaha. I had decided I wanted to discuss the black experience, black rage, police brutality, identity and a billion other things. It was full of short scenes, my wants for the pieces, the themes I wanted to explore, and a whole lot more.

20151017_113746

The Wall on Day 1

I had an amazing room of actors – Tunji Lucas, Llewella Gideon, Tanya Fear and Michael Hadley – who all came in on their weekends which I know is a long ting, hahah. They were so generous with their stories and thoughts, and I don’t think at any time I was not scribbling something down in my notebook. We would write things on a piece of paper – thoughts we had, sentences that we liked  – and stick them on them wall so we were literally surrounded by it all day.

CRrY5enWcAArY-v

Titas in directing mode while Simone and Bhavini from Team PP watch on.

One of my favorite parts of the three days was us all watching Kendrick Lemar’s music video for ‘Alright‘, and just being mesmerised by how amazing it was. Nadia, the assistant director, printed me out a pack of research about Kendrick who is my favorite rapper right now, which I am slowly getting through.

We could have locked ourselves in that room for another 5 days, but thank god we didn’t because at the end of every day we all felt drained, mentally and physically.

CRrY5fCWEAAmCfn

Tanya and Michael

Writing-wise, I sat down with Titas before we began the workshop and he really liked some of the poetry led pieces I had written in ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST. I have a poetry background as that was what I did before writing plays. He gave me debbi tucker green’s BORN BAD and RANDOM. I knew of debbi tucker green and loved her work but I had never read BORN BAD which blew my head off, just the anger in that play. I loved the non-naturalistic writing style which was something I had been learning loads about from my time in Barcelona.

The first day of the rehearsal I came in with some abstract scripts with no character names, scene headings, or locations and Titas directed the actors to perform this… For me it was a spark of magic – that night when the actors left, I stayed in the room for another 3 hours and just wrote, wrote, wrote. I came up with 4 more abstract scenes, so excited at the thought of hearing them read out loud in this new style the next day. I always used to think abstract theatre like that was totally wanky and would think ‘What’s wrong with being naturalistic?’. The answer is ‘nothing’, but I am so glad I now know I can try to do both.

20151021_101057

Covering the room over Days 2&3

The discussions got more intense as the workshop progressed and  after we shared some of the work with the Paines Plough team, the actors left on Monday. I was left in the room now covered in pieces of paper and I had to make sense of all the things we discussed figure out, with this new writing style, how on earth I was going to make a play this way which at first was very, very, very scary.

When I write, I try my best to make some element of the story relate to my life so that I can make it honest. I wanted to base this play around my family and my mixed raced background, which I hope I did hahaha.

For 5 days I wrote non-stop in that room, drinking copious amount of coffee playing Kendrick Lemar pacing around, eating expensive PRET sandwiches, sticking things up on the wall… it was fucking amazing. It was one of those moments were I felt like a proper, proper writer with writer problems, hahah. Everyday I would come home and just be a bit distant because my mind couldn’t switch off and I was just thinking about what I was going to write the next day.

20151021_101104

Sorting through and organising my favourite thoughts from the 3 days.

Everyday I would print off my progress (don’t worry it was recycled, I’m not about that wasteful life) and read it all out loud. The play was really taking shape and by Friday I had finished… god knows if it is total shit, I really hope not as I am definitely attached… To top it off, Hanna the producer brought me in a BOOM bowl of Mac and Cheese on the Friday which I was so happs about, as there are only so many sandwiches you can eat.

On the Friday at 5:30 I had finished the whole thing and I ran to the pub with the Paines Plough crew dem haha and had lots of pints which was wonderful. I felt like that week I had achieved something boom!

On the Saturday morning I woke up totally knackered, but also still feeling really affected by the subject matter, and on the Saturday evening I got rage that this white dude called his dog Django after the slave from the movie in a pub… After vexing and ranting for hours on twitter (tweets now deleted) I took a breath and
stepped away and watched RuPauls Drag Race. I think the subject matter really swallowed me up at one point which was fucking intense, but super interesting.

But yeah long story short, I finished the first draft, the play is called MIXED BRAIN: THE MIXTAPE and it is all abstract and that, I am super excited at the prospect of developing it. It’s a story about me and my brother and our different upbringings, what it means to be mixed raced, and an incident that split my family.

20151104_112437

Draft 1…

Now I need to get back to re-drafting something else as I said I would have it done tomorrow… I hope I didn’t just lie to the producer… first let me make another tea!

– Nathan