Last month we bid a fond farewell to our wonderful Administrator, Natalie, as she took up an incredible new role as General Manager of Coney. Sobs rang out all over the office this morning as her goodbye blog arrived in our inboxes. Here, in her own words, she has summed up her time with us. Sad as we are, we know it’s not really au revoir, just à bientôt…
What an incredible two years it’s been. It’s hard to know where to begin and I won’t be able to cover everything that I’d like to. So, I’ll just share some of my fondest memories from my time at Paines Plough in the hope that it’ll highlight how much of an incredible company and inspiring team they are to work for and with.
My very first PP show was Duncan Macmillan’s EVERY BRILLIANT THING. I travelled with Alex Wood our playwright-in-residence at the time, where we found ourselves in the lovely little village of Ledbury at The Market Theatre. It was so close to where my mum lives (out in the regions) that my brother came along. I remember introducing him to both Alex and George and instantaneously thinking, “wow this is really cool, my family can see our work where they are and where I’m from, we travel to them”. Coming from an area with limited access to the arts and a low-income family, I immediately saw how important and impactful touring theatre and new writing was, and knew that I had made it into the right company.
I joined PP as the Admin and Finance Assistant in 2013 through Creative Access, a charity who provide year-long traineeships in the creative industries for people of BAME backgrounds. This marked the beginning of my career in the arts. Without this opportunity, I’d probably be in an industry that I’m not passionate about, struggling to find my way in. Paines Plough were the first theatre organisation to partner with Creative Access, actively addressing lack of diversity in the industry. Unafraid and open – two major qualities that extend way beyond their work.
Watching an intimate dress rehearsal of Andrew Scott in SEA WALL over the bridge in one of the rehearsal studios at The National was a truly unforgettable experience.
I didn’t know what was happening to me when I watched for those 30 minutes, no more than a metre away from him, sucked into his performance and trying really hard to hold floods of tears back. This had never happened to me watching a play before.
Valuable lessons learned:
– I’ll never get left behind in a hotel in Hull after press night again.
– Even though you’ve planned for everyone to meet at the station in good time to catch your train, you’ll always need to run for it #touringPPstyle.
– Pork scratchings vary in taste and texture from region to region. Scottish pubs don’t stock them.
– How to change florescent strip lights and chargers.
– I still can’t do puns…
– Accents, canoeing, ‘being in the lift’ mimes, street dance, the odd prank call and cake really help when you all need a little group pick me up.
COME TO WHERE I’M FROM at the Southbank Centre was a beautiful installation and interactive map designed by Amy Cook, where audiences and passersby could pop in and listen to plays by writers from all over the UK, for free.
Invitation to interact with the space, watch some of the writers read their plays live and to hang out with a beer in an open space is my kind of art. This was a lovely weekend.
Touring from all corners of the UK from the Isle of Eigg to Ipswich, Liverpool to Lyme Regis and Newport to Nottingham involves a lot of trains…
ROUNDABOUT is by far my favourite thing to have been involved in. From its launch in Edinburgh in 2014 to its current Autumn tour, THE HUMAN EAR to LUNGS, Visitor Services to the Street Team, and tea dances in Margate to TORYCORE, the breadth of what Roundabout can do and give is phenomenal.
EVERY BRILLIANT THING in New York and my (and Francesca’s) first ever trip to the US! We had a whirlwind of five days in New York during the opening at Barrow Street Theatre last December.
It was very surreal to think how it was only a year before that I was in Ledbury with an audience of 30 to then being Off-Broadway with an American audience of 250! And of course we visited the amazing sights, hung out with Jonny and ate a lot of meat…
My Paines Plough round-up in numbers:
3 Arts Council Annual Reports
1 Big fat 40th anniversary year
2 ROUNDABOUT seasons
2 Latitude festivals
1 European festival… Wiesbaden
10,220 miles commuted to and from PPHQ by bike
And a lot of miles travelled up and down the country.
And of course there are the people that make all this happen and I’m so privileged to have worked with such a driven and dedicated team. Under the Artistic Directorship of James and George, I’ve constantly been inspired and driven by their vision and resilience. Working with Hanna and Francesca has been like attending free producing workshops everyday, Aysha has shown me how brilliant being a General Manager is and I take from her into what I do now with Coney, Bhavini and Rachel are the two amazing trainees who like me joined PP though Creative Access; all together they are an incredibly strong, fearless and focused team. I’ve also been lucky enough to work with Claire, Tara, Bene, Bernd and Sean. Paines Plough attracts the most amazing people and I’m just happy to have been a part of the family. Thank you for having me.
For now its goodbye from me as I retire to the red cupboard with my digestive biscuit tin, muji pens and a new picture to hang on the wall…