It’s the biggest arts festival on the planet. Three and a half weeks of theatre, dance, spoken word, comedy, cabaret, circus, exhibitions and music. At times the fringe can be as bonkers as it is breathtaking but ultimately, it’s the most exciting, surprising and unforgettable month on the theatrical calendar.
Half of Team PP moved north of the border last weekend so are already getting into the swing of all things fringe. With the other half speedily following this week before the unveiling of our Roundabout Auditorium at Summerhall here’s our #edfringe essentials to help see you through the month:
You can pick them up everywhere, they’re free and contain EVERYTHING you need to plan your time in Edinburgh. No messing about, just get one.
Not God’s gift to fashion but after a couple of days running between performances/pubs/parties in the rain one minute and blazing sunshine the next a pac-a-mac will be your new best friend. Portable, practical and most importantly- not porous. Trust.
Late nights, early mornings, and the fast food/coffee/alcohol diet all take their toll. Get a vitamin hit to help stave off the dreaded FringeFlu. (Alternatively you could just eat plenty of fruit and veg, but who’s got time for that?)
Healthy (ish) sustenance
There’s only so many burgers you can eat in a week. We know. We’ve tried.* We like 10 to 10 in Delhi on Nicholson Street for it’s curries and cushions (what more do you need?) and The Potting Shed on Potterow serves food in plant pots and has a pretty impressive cocktail list- our favorite? Rosie and Gin.
We’ll be spending most of our time at The Royal Dick in Summerhall. A playlist of soulful classics, veterinary related art all over the shop and their own gin distillery (not to mention the aforementioned burger). Festival win.
(We also like Brass Monkey on Drummond Street, The Trav Bar and The Fiddler’s Arms on Grassmarket)
Wandering up Arthur’s Seat is a must for the epic views across the city and to get an hour away from flyering and the relentless festival pace. Whatever you do, don’t leave it until the last day when you’re knackered, hungover and the rain’s lashing down because you’ll hate every minute. No one wants that. Especially not Arthur.
What are your top tips for getting through the festival? A Black Medicine coffee? An Elephant and Bagel? Or just red bull, pro plus and a diet coke? Let us know by commenting below or tweeting at us.
See you in Edinburgh!
So, if you haven’t already heard, PP HQ is upping sticks and moving north of the border for the whole of August this year as we launch our Roundabout auditorium at the Edinburgh Fringe in partnership with Northern Stage and Summerhall.
This week, we started an epic eight week rehearsal period at PP’s London home on Aldwych with our top flight company comprising of Andrew French, Sian Reese-Williams and Abdul Salis. (Don’t panic, Jonny Donahoe will be reprising his role in the one man show Every Brilliant Thing).
After long discussions about how to plan our eight weeks rehearsing three plays we decided that we’d split the weeks across the three plays rather than rehearsing each individual show in two and a half week blocks. The benefit to this is that every time we come back to the play is that it will be fresh after a break and in the meantime, even though we haven’t been directly working on it, all the ideas and thoughts we’ve been forming has had some space to breathe which we decided could only be a good thing.
This week, following the obligatory meet and greet/read through, we’ve been taking it pretty leisurely- reading over all of the plays and breaking them down into sections. Sian has been an absolute hero – rehearsing with us in the morning and then hopping on a train and heading up to Leeds each day to perform in West Yorkshire Playhouse’s production of Alan Bennett’s ENJOY. Keep your eyes peeled on the blog for updates and insights into how we’ve been getting on.
We’re beside ourselves with excitement as we gear up to launch Roundabout this summer at The Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
After three years of designing and prototyping and problem-solving, we are ready to unveil our beautiful travelling theatre with a repertory of new plays from the nation’s hottest playwrights.
Roundabout means we can tour outstanding new plays further and wider than ever before. Our state-of-the-art pop-up amphitheatre seats 168 people completely in the round. It flat packs into a single lorry and can pop up anywhere from the stage of a proscenium arch playhouse to a school hall, sports centre or warehouse.With a bear pit atmosphere, Roundabout is the most dynamic, most innovative, most essential new theatre in the country.
Designed by Lucy Osborne and Emma Chapman, the Roundabout Auditorium was piloted in 2011 in partnership with Sheffield Theatres and showcased at Shoreditch Town Hall in 2012. It has since been developed with Charcoalblue, Howard Eaton and Factory Settings and made possible by the generous support of principal funder The Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, along with The J Paul Getty Jr Charitable Trust, The John Ellerman Foundation, The Garfield Weston Foundation and a host of you lovely people who have made invaluable donations through our Justgiving page… thank you all.
The Roundabout auditorium will be presented at Summerhall in collaboration with Northern Stage and will play host to our 2014 Roundabout Season, made possible with the support of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation: THE INITIATE by Alexandra Wood, OUR TEACHER’S A TROLL by Dennis Kelly and LUNGS by Duncan Macmillan.
|First up in our Roundabout Season 2014 is the world premiere of THE INITIATE, a thrilling new play by our former Playwright-in-Residence and George Devine Award winner Alexandra Wood.
A British couple are seized by Somali pirates. In East London, a taxi-driver decides to rescue them. Meeting disbelief with determination, he dismisses his wife’s fears and flies out to negotiate their release.
Speeding from the banks of the Thames to the now unfamiliar world of his homeland, he confronts the family he left behind and the bravado of the men he once called brothers.
A thrilling tale of altruism, greed, and the search for how to belong.
Cast: Andrew French, Sian Reese-Williams and Abdul Salis.
|OUR TEACHER’S A TROLL|
|Dennis Kelly, the multi award winning writer of MATILDA THE MUSICAL, returns to Paines Plough with a deliciously funny play for young people, which we are co-producing with Half Moon.
Two terrible twins with a talent for turmoil rule their school with terror and tyranny. That is, until the arrival of a new head teacher with green scaly skin, sharp gnarly fangs, and a long spiky tail…
Can the twins save the school from the child-eating Troll? Can they get Brussels sprouts in peanut butter taken off the lunch menu? And most importantly, can naughtiness prevail?
OUR TEACHER’S A TROLLis a hilarious play about mischief and mayhem for ages 7+ and their accompanying trolls (or parents).
Cast: Andrew French, Sian Reese-Williams and Abdul Salis.
|Duncan Macmillan’s award-winning, internationally acclaimed LUNGS is back by popular demand.
I could fly to New York and back every day for seven years and still not leave a carbon footprint as big as if I have a child. Ten thousand tonnes of CO2. That’s the weight of the Eiffel Tower. I’d be giving birth to the Eiffel Tower.
A couple are deciding their future. Thirty-something, educated and thoughtful, they want to have a child for the right reasons. But in a time of overpopulation, erratic weather and political unrest, what exactly are the right reasons?
A play about the different types of love we feel in a lifetime.
‘The most beautiful, shattering play of the year.’ ★★★★★ Sunday Express
Cast: Sian Reese-Williams and Abdul Salis.
|EVERY BRILLIANT THING|
|Following its successful rural tour with co-producers Pentabus Theatre Company, Duncan Macmillan’s EVERY BRILLIANT THING will also play at the Edinburgh Festival as part of our Roundabout Season.
You’re six years old. Mum’s in hospital. Dad says she’s ‘done something stupid’. She finds it hard to be happy.
You start to make a list of everything that’s brilliant about the world. Everything that’s worth living for.
1. Ice Cream
You leave it on her pillow. You know she’s read it because she’s corrected your spelling.
Soon, the list will take on a life of its own.
A new play about depression and the lengths we will go to for those we love.
Each performance of Every Brilliant Thing involves members of the audience, making every night unique.
Cast: Jonny Donahoe.
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.
We’re recruiting a Touring Production and Technical Stage Manager for our ROUNDABOUT AUDITORIUM.
About the Roundabout: Developed over the past 3 years, the Roundabout Auditorium is a demountable theatre in the round with incorporated LED lighting features.
- travels in a single 45ft trailer
- can be build in 20 hours and a crew of 4-6 plus PP TSM
- runs of 3-4 13Amp sockets
- facilitates a specially developed LED ceiling and does not rely on traditional theatrical lighting
- tours 3 Paines Plough productions and provides a useable and flexible space for local people – anything from amateur dramatics to meetings, screenings and conferences.
Job Purpose: To take full responsibility of the auditorium fit up / strike, venue liaison and all technical touring operations whilst on the road. Managing all technical aspects of Paines Plough’s productions on tour. Facilitating the training and being first point of contact for local technical managers for their independent use of the Roundabout Auditorium.
Managing and monitoring all relevant H&S procedures whilst touring.
Person Specification: Minimum of 4 years professional mid to large scale touring experience, preferably with temporary, demountable structures.
- Demonstrable experience of supervising crew during get ins and get outs.
- Working knowledge of lighting control especially with regards to LED technology and pixel mapping
- Working knowledge of sound control including Qlab and digital control desks.
- Bright, proactive and energetic, with an evident record in the delivery of productions at the highest technical level.
- Dedicated and committed with excellent focus and organisational skill, with the ability to demonstrate the application of excellent project management
- Good working knowledge of industry H&S regulations Experienced in monitoring and enforcing H&S regulations and ideally H&S trained (IOSH certified)
- Rigging qualification
- Able to demonstrate a recognisable level of credibility within the industry.
- IT and AutoCAD literate.
- Degree in technical theatre practice or equivalent qualification.
- First Aid trained
For more information please download the full job description here.
To apply please email a CV and brief cover letter to Hanna Streeter, Producer, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Application deadline: 5pm Wednesday 21st May 2014
Interview date: Tuesday 27th May 2014
Please note there may be second interviews. Date TBC.
Two weeks ago, in partnership with ITC, PANDA and Manchester Royal Exchange, we hosted a symposium to explore the future of small scale touring. The responses to a survey we conducted in 2013 highlighted a uniformity of issues amongst companies, artists and venues throughout the sector, including audiences taking less risk on new work, an unsustainable financial model and challenges in maintaining consistently high production values.
We invited producers, artists, venue programmers and touring companies to discuss the ways in which we can meet these challenges head on with inventive and strategic solutions.The day was split into three sections; New Touring Models and Approaches to Tourbooking, Data and Audiences, and Working in Partnership; and each section was delivered through a series of TED style talks, which shared practical and applicable ideas.
Opening the event, Louise Blackwell and Kate McGrath from Fuel, presented New Theatre In Your Neighbourhood and highlighted their use of local “Theatre Adventurers” as a way to start conversations with local audiences. Their speech concluded with a call to arms: “when you get back to your towns and cities invite three new key members of your community to see a show in your favourite venue and meet them for a drink before or after the show and ask them what they thought”.
‘Conversation’ was a recurring theme throughout the day, instigated by key note speaker Vikki Heywood. She asked: “how much are we talking to our audiences about what they want?”
The need for local ambassadors to encourage and broker these conversations with audiences was then echoed by BAC‘s Katie Roberts and Fevered Sleep‘s Sophie Eustace, both of whom create touring work to reach new and young audiences. Sophie said “we’re making meaningful touring partnerships rather than just asking venues to present the work. So there is a shared ownership of the project and an excitement and belief in the work.”
Paines Plough joint Artistic Director George Perrin discussed similar consultative relationships with venues through Paines Plough’s small-scale network and the development of a portable small-scale in-the-round auditorium, which will embed itself in local communities and lend its space to local artists, as well as playing a repertory of new plays on tour.
On taking work out of traditional theatre spaces, Chris O’Connell from the Shop Front Theatre said “being at the shop has helped us make a point of having conversations with our audiences and understanding what they can afford, what they like, and what they can pay. We’re not retailers like other shop keepers, but we welcome people at the door, we trade experiences, build relationships with our audiences and have conversations.”
On touring in rural Scotland, Neil Murray of NTS asked “how can we change the demographic of audiences?” and introduced Five Minute Theatre – plays by anyone, for anyone – as their means to bridge an ever widening social gap.
Contact Theatre‘s Artistic Director Mat Fenton presented the need for internal collaboration through multiple programmers and artistic visions, to enable a socially diverse programme of work.
Sam Eccles introduced the The Touring Network, an on-line tool to enable more efficient rural tour booking in Scotland. A similar database to that of partnership touring network HOUSE, which Mark Makin presented while emphasising a fundamental need for shared risk between venues and touring companies.
This financial sharing of risk was later reaffirmed by ITC‘s Charlotte Jones, who in reference the #illshowyoumine campaign said “we cannot keep pretending it’s acceptable to work for nothing,” and suggested that the Arts Council help level the playing field, calling for re-distribution of funding across the UK.
But it wasn’t all about money. Warwick Arts Centre‘s Matt Burnham and Marine Theatre‘s Tim Bell and Harry Long spoke passionately about artist collaboration and development through their offerings of space and time resource. As well as their R&D by the Sea, Tim and Harry celebrated breaking down exclusion zones by working with neighbouring venues on programming.
Throughout the day, we were reminded of Arts Council England’s recent announcement to enforce the sharing of audience data amongst NPOs. As explained by Nick Bareham from Au Insights, to use this data effectively we must provide a value exchange which calls for transparency with our audiences and again, conversation. Jo Taylor of Morris Hargreaves McIntyre also said “if we understand what someone wants to get out of the experiences we offer, we are best placed to fulfill them.”
Speakers from the wider industry also offered interesting provocations. Sholeh Johnston from Julie’s Bicycle noted that rural touring is 30% more sustainable than bringing a theatre full of people into a city, and likewise, the emissions from a theatre production are less than if the audience were to stay at home and watch TV.
As the day drew to an end and delegates descended on the Royal Exchange bar to continue their discussions, we at Paines Plough left Manchester abuzz with ideas on how we can implement this sharing into our own touring models, and in particular how we can create more meaningful relationships with our audiences and partners. For all the challenges we face as a touring theatre sector, the reasons for collaboratively finding a way of securing its future feel more urgent than ever.
As we move forward and continue discussions on the development of touring, we’ll be adding all interesting contributions, so if you have anything you think might add to the discussion then, please tweet @futuretouring with #fsst and a link to the material.
The Foundation has donated £150,000 towards our dream theatre – a fully self-contained in-the-round auditorium that will flat pack into a lorry and pop up anywhere from theatres to school halls and sports centres, in every corner of the country.
In October 2011 we built a prototype of the auditorium which housed three new plays by three of UK’s hottest writers – Duncan Macmillan, Nick Payne and Penelope Skinner. The protoype and the plays had their first outing at Sheffield Theatres, with whom we co-produced the season.
We then brought the prototype and the season of plays to Shoreditch Town Hall in Autumn 2012.
Thanks to the generous support of The Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, we can now build a permanent, portable Roundabout Auditorium, fulfilling our long-held ambition to tour the very best new plays to every corner of the UK, to both established theatre spaces, and non traditional theatre venues.
Designed by Lucy Osborne (with lighting by Emma Chapman), the 111 seat venue will be built using sustainable materials and will flat pack into a single lorry and can pop up in any space from existing theatres to village and school halls, community and sport centres, warehouses and even parks.
Madeleine Lloyd Webber, Foundation Trustee, said:
“The Foundation is very proud to be funding this completely innovative performing space for Paines Plough.
“Paines Plough brings excellent theatrical productions to regions across the UK and we hope the new space will help enhance the work they already do. Providing opportunities for everyone to have positive artistic experiences is a priority for the Foundation, so we encourage others to give to arts projects that make an impact on communities across the UK.”
Our ADs James and George said:
“We are hugely grateful to The Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation for its game-changing support of The Roundabout Auditorium. We are thrilled the Foundation shares our passion for finding new ways to enable more people around the country to experience new plays. Its support will play a major role in making Roundabout possible, meaning our pop-up in-the-round touring amphitheatre will hit the road with a repertory of three outstanding new plays, offering audiences everywhere a unique theatrical experience.
“For years to come, the best new plays will turn up on people’s doorsteps in theatres, school halls, sports centres, warehouses and even parks. The ALW Foundation is supporting us to make this touring revolution possible, and we are galvanised as we seek to build a legacy of enjoyment of new plays in every corner of Britain. ”
The ROUNDABOUT AUDITORIUM has also been generously supported by:
18 anonymous donors
Alice Flynn & Family
Hilary Puxley & Michael Crane
Jon & NoraLee Sedmak
TRUSTS AND FOUNDATIONS
Without the generous support of Trusts and Foundations and individual donors, we simply couldn’t do what we do. We are truly grateful to all our supporters. If you would like to support us, we’d love to hear from you.
Read more about Roundabout on our blog.
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.
The Roundabout Season came to an end this Saturday with a brilliant three show day and a lovely night of celebrations, and joining the cast and company at drinks afterwards were many of the amazing volunteer ushers who’s dedication and enthusiasm has embodied the spirit of the Roundabout Season.
How are you finding the Roundabout experience? I’m loving it – it’s great to be in a buzzing, creative building again after working in a commercial, business environment for a while.
What’s your favourite part of the Roundabout Auditorium? It is a very intimate space yet can fit a surprising amount of people, and there isn’t a ‘bad’ seat in the house!
Which plays have you seen so far? I’ve been lucky enough to catch all three, more than once in some cases!
Which one would you recommend and why? Lungs – the way Duncan Macmillan has written the dialogue feels revolutionary even though it’s really just an accurate representation of the cadences of everyday speech.
Give us your 140 character review of the play: Breath of fresh air in exploration of contemporary relationships. Characters have believable shades of grey & are beautifully performed by talented cast of two.