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Jumpers For Goalposts

We’re like a kid on Cup Final day bouncing around with excitement, as we can hereby announce the first production of our Programme 2013…

A Paines Plough, Hull Truck and Watford Palace Theatre production
JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS
by Tom Wells
directed by James Grieve

I’m not asking you to win. I’m asking you to just: chuck your face at it, have a, have a fucking good go at it. And then we’ll. Yeah. We’ll see.

Luke wants Danny, but Danny’s got a secret. Joe wants to play second fiddle, but Geoff wants a headline gig. Viv just wants to beat the lesbians to the league title. Game on.

A hilarious and heart-warming story about football, friendship and finding your way from Tom Wells, winner of the George Devine Award for Most Promising Playwright 2012 for the smash hit comedy THE KITCHEN SINK (★★★★★ The Daily Telegraph).

Yes indeed, we’re thrilled to announce the World Premiere of Tom Wells’ new play in a co-production with our friends at Watford Palace and Hull Truck.

We’ve loved Tom’s writing since he joined our Channel Four Future Perfect Scheme for emerging playwrights in 2009 and we produced his brilliant play ABOUT A GOTH as part of our A Play, A Pie and A Pint season at Oran Mor in 2009. Last year, his award-winning, five star, smash hit comedy THE KITCHEN SINK premiered at The Bush and proved Tom is one of the funniest and sharpest writers in the land.

James & George say: “We could not be more honoured and thrilled to be premiering Tom’s new play. JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS has us rolling around laughing one minute and winded the next. Tom’s acute, moving portrayal of five people trying to beat the odds to win in football and in life will resonate with everyone. It’s a major new play from a major writer and we can’t wait for people to see it across the country.”

JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS will premiere at Watford Palace from 5-20 April 2013. We’ll then take a bit of a break before opening at Hull Truck in August 2013 and embarking on a nationwide tour September – November.

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.

Countdown to Edinburgh…

Last week brought the launch of the 2012 Edinburgh Fringe programme and we were eagerly checking the post box that morning for our copy of the Fringe brochure. When it did arrive there was an instant scramble over the single copy as we all wanted to take a peek at the wealth of shows on offer this year.

And Paines Plough will be taking a show up to the Fringe this year as well – David Harrower ’s Good With People directed by Paines Plough co-artistic director George Perrin, designed by Ben Stones and starring Blythe Duff. The production will be playing at the Traverse Theatre between 4th-26th August as part of a double-bill with David Greig’s The Letter of Last Resort. The play originally started life back in 2010 as part of our A Play, A Pie and A Pint season at Òran Mór, so it is exciting to have it return. And as a play set in Scotland from a Scottish writer, Edinburgh seems its natural home.

If you are interested in seeing Good With People you can book through the Traverse website or call the box office on 0131 228 1404. And of course you can also book through the Edinburgh Fringe website.

So the countdown to the Edinburgh Fringe has finally begun – we can’t wait!

You Cannot Go Forward From Where You Are Right Now impresses in Edinburgh

It’s been a busy week for A Play, A Pie and A Pint. On Monday we introduced Leo Butler’s JUICY FRUITS to the audience at Oran Mor in Glasgow, Tuesday saw YOU CANNOT GO FORWARD FROM WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW‘s first performance at the Traverse in Edinburgh, and on Wednesday, DIG rolled into the Manchester Royal Exchange.

Katie Douglas’s DIG goes from strength to strength, with each city it visits falling for it. It’s been particularly great today to see people tweeting comments to the Royal Exchange, saying how much they loved the show and encouraging others to go and experience the laughter and tears that the play provokes too. Brenda, Tommy and Dean will be at the Belgrade Theatre next week – Coventry, you’re in for a treat.

With the traffic so bad she was worried she wouldn't get to the Traverse in time to get her Scotch pie...

Meanwhile, YOU CANNOT GO FORWARD FROM WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW has also made rather a good impression on its Edinburgh audiences. Here’s what they’re saying:

‘a clever and imaginative piece of short theatre…well worth setting the satnav for the Traverse Theatre and catching it’ Edinburgh Spotlight

‘funny, intelligent and observant’ Edinburgh Guide

‘You might expect the writers of the successful A Play A Pie and A Pint lunchtime offerings to have rather modest ambitions… Not so David Watson…Watson’s handling of the fragmentary structure is sure and confident, and his writing is remarkably idiomatic.’ Edinburgh Reporter

We were also delighted to see another 2 minute youtube review, as blogger Eve Nicol filed her report on YOU CANNOT GO FORWARD. We can’t wait to see what she makes of JUICY FRUITS!

If you’ve seen one of the plays, we’d love to know what you thought. You can leave a comment here, tweet us @painesplough or drop us a line on our facebook page.

And if you haven’t seen any of them yet – what are you waiting for?!

DIG racks up the stars

Stuart Porter (Tommy), Louise Ludgate (Brenda) and Simon Macallum (Dean)

The reviews are rolling in for DIG and the critics are suitably wowed by Katie Douglas’s sizzling drama, currently at Edinburgh’s Traverse before touring to Manchester Royal Exchange and The Belgrade, Coventry.

Here’s a snapshot:

“Politicians talk about the need to “get Britain back to work”, but it takes a small masterpiece like this latest play by Katie Douglas to dig below the surface of the words, into the infinite layers of pain that ripple outward from a man abruptly bereft, by forces far beyond his control, of his key role as family provider..this rich and shattering slice of lunchtime drama.”
The Scotsman ★★★★

“Gripping, funny and extremely moving…A thoroughly affecting piece of theatre”
Edinburgh Guide ★★★★

“Tight and emotionally-charged…builds to its powerful conclusion, Dig deftly uncovers the emotions which lie hidden beneath the surface of our everyday lives; and the hope which can often be found growing there.”
Edinburgh Spotlight
★★★★

“Moving, very incisive…For a 45 minute long play “Dig” packs a lot of punch. The pies are good, too.”
Lothian Life ★★★★

“Devastatingly effective. From hilarity to chilling suspense, Katie Douglas’s script controls the atmosphere in the room precisely.”
Edinburgh Evening News ★★★★

Catch it while you can…

Leo Butler’s brand new play

As we’ve previously revealed, we believe the playwright should be the lead creative artist in the process of making new plays.

So we commission slightly differently to other companies in that we commission playwrights not plays. We identify the writers we love the most, and we commit to putting their play on before they’ve written a word.

This is an extremely exciting and rewarding way of collaborating – always moving towards a concrete production with a date in the diary for the first day of rehearsals, previews and for press night.

But it also poses some challenges, not least because marketing schedules mean brochures with images and copy for plays often have to go to print before the play’s been written. And as we all know, plays develop and morph and sometimes completely transform draft by draft.

Which is what Leo Butler found when he was writing his play for our A Play, A Pie And A Pint season. Initially called ETERNAL SOURCE OF LIGHT, Leo found as he was writing the play that a new and very different play was emerging.

Here’s what Leo has to say about the change of direction and his thrilling new work:

“Working on a new play for Paines Plough has been a highlight of my career so far. For a leading new writing company to commit to producing a play that hasn’t been written yet, demonstrates a level of trust in the playwright that is practically unheard of elsewhere in this country.

There are, of course, challenges to this kind of collaboration, one of which is that the playwright’s first concept of the play develops through the writing process, and that initial idea turns into something very different by the end.  This happens to me always every time I sit down and write a new play, and it has been liberating to have the support of George Perrin and the Paines Plough company, who have encouraged my new discoveries and changes in direction along the way.

Most importantly, I am thrilled to we are offering Juicy Fruits to the A Play, A Pie & A Pint audiences, as it is one that I am particularly proud of.”

And so we’re excited to announce that the brilliant, darkly comic play that Leo has arrived at is actually called JUICY FRUITS and is a very different beast from the one Leo initially imagined. Here’s the lowdown:

JUICY FRUITS
by Leo Butler


Lorna and Nina haven’t seen each other since a drunken wedding reception six years ago.

Whilst Lorna’s been journeying through the urban jungle and reached destination housewife, Nina’s been running wild in the jungles of Borneo.

Reunited over lattes and pastries, their friendship is tested to the limit and the question is asked: does civil exist in civilisation?

JUICY FRUITS is in rehearsals now in Glasgow, directed by George, and starring Denise Hoey, Clare Waugh and Ben Winger. It opens at Òran Mór on Monday 17 October and will subsequently tour to Edinburgh, Manchester and Coventry.

You’re going to love it.

The reviews are in…

…well, one or two of them. Our production of DIG, the first of our three A Play, A Pie and A Pint shows, opened at Òran Mór on Monday after a busy morning of technical work and dress rehearsal. In people filed, collected their pint, chose their pie, and sat down – knives and forks at the ready – to see what we had made for them.

Dig in performance. Terrible photo...'small masterpiece' of a play.

It’s a funny feeling, watching a play you’ve seen develop from words on a page, to slightly different words on a page, to words coming out of actors’ mouths, to a fully fleshed-out, captivating and moving story. And it’s a very gratifying feeling to watch people around you, encountering it for the first time ever, laughing, gasping and even crying as the lives of the people they’re watching unfold before them.

And then the wait for what the all-important critics think… well, today, we got our first review in from Joyce McMillan of the Scotsman – and she loved it, giving it four stars and calling it ‘a small masterpiece’. That’s what we like to hear! See the full review here: http://bit.ly/nek9kN

And as we await the verdicts of our audience-at-large, who can file their reports at http://www.playpiepint.com/ in order to win a bottle of malt whisky (can I enter?), we’ve also spotted reviews like this one coming in. Funnily enough I spotted the lady in the video  in the audience this lunchtime – she was wearing a very nice dress – so it’s brilliant to see a response like this so quickly and vividly. Keep em coming!

Sound and Vision

You join us, dear blog-reader, at a very interesting and exciting moment here at A Play, A Pie and A Pint HQ in Glasgow. We’ve just watched the first run of DIG, which takes to the Òran Mór stage on Monday. Our second play, YOU CANNOT GO FORWARD FROM WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW, is nearing the end of its first week of rehearsals which has been a brilliant period of exploring and playing with the text. And we’re just putting the finishing touches to preparations for ETERNAL SOURCE OF LIGHT, which starts the whole process again, going into rehearsals on Monday. Having taken you through the sounds we heard coming out of the DIG rehearsal room last week, this week we have a whole different kind of sound to deal with.

David Watson’s YOU CANNOT GO FORWARD FROM WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW is a fantastically original and poetic play in which sound is completely essential to the telling of the story. In it, snippets of conversations you might hear variously on talk radio shows, a police radio, across the pub and on your SatNav weave in and out of each other. So who better to talk us through the show than our Sound Designer and Composer, Scott Twynholm:

Scott, can you tell us about YOU CANNOT GO FORWARD FROM WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW from your perspective? I’m excited about being involved as the play is so sound dependant: I get the chance to cut up sound, record actors, re-create everyday sounds in the rehearsal room, we might even get round the piano to write the odd radio jingle.

What particular challenges are there when you’re putting together a show like this? The main challenge will be deciding what will be pre-recorded and what will be performed live. For this play we’re going for the Foley film studio approach of creating as much as possible live. These sounds will be performed by the cast so it’s important they are simple, effective and compliment the dialogue rather than distract. Of course there is the visual aspect which is naturally more theatrical than sound playback.

You’ve worked with us at Paines Plough for two years on Play, Pie and Pint: is this the sound-iest show you’ve had to work on with us? Yes and no. I would say the sound is written into this play to compliment the narrative. It can be just as challenging to compose the music to underscore the drama of a play. Last year I enjoyed writing the music for IN THE PIPELINE, which didn’t have an obvious sound element.

What do you enjoy about designing sound for the theatre? Composing for the theatre gives me great joy in that it differs from writing for film and commercial recordings. There is more variety and human interaction. There is a certain excitement about the live performance. And I enjoy the collaborative process – I enjoy getting out of the studio, working with actors and the creative team to put together a show.

And finally: What’s your favourite play, pie and pint? I don’t really have a favourite anything but I’ve enjoyed these over the past year or so: Medea/Steak/Heineken.

Sounds good to us.

Some of the items currently in the rehearsal room being used for Foley sound effects. Either that or they were having a tense round of Kim's Game.

PP Around the UK in 81 days

As we are in rehearsals for 4 plays, with two set to tech and open next week, plus a 5th play to start rehearsals and a 6th to join in four weeks time – it can be difficult to keep track of who is where!

Enter the joy that is the EXCEL spreadsheet.  This paired with our brilliant intern, Amy, results in the glorious schedule below.

Take a peak to see who is rehearsing what, where and when…

Colour coded and everything!

Of course there is also Claire, Hanna and Amy who are our rocks at number 43 Aldwych during these busy periods.

A Play, A Pie and A Pint: Week 1

Our rehearsal flat: not a bad place to go to work.

I’ve learnt a new word this week.

DREICH: Scottish word, meaning miserable cold gloomy weather.

To be fair, it’s only dreich about three quarters of the time, occasionally there’s some beautiful sunshine bouncing off the autumnal leaves of the Botanical Gardens across from Òran Mór. But more often, it’s dreich.

So inside, at 5 Sanda Street, where it’s warmer and considerably drier than the streets of the West End of Glasgow, we’re cracking on with the serious business of rehearsing DIG.

I say serious business – there’s been an awful lot of laughter coming out of that rehearsal room this week. There have also been some raised voices during particularly intense sections of dialogue; the hurried tapping of writer Katie’s laptop as she tweaks and re-writes scenes; voices discussing the back stories of three characters who are waiting to be fully realised; all interspersed with guffaws and giggles as our wonderful cast get to know the play and the family they’ll be sharing with audiences in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester and Coventry.

Over the weekend they’ll be learning the script and preparing for what promises to be a very busy second week of rehearsals. It’s strange to think that this time next week we’ll be only a couple of days away from the first performance of this year’s A Play, A Pie and A Pint.

I can’t wait.