Monthly archives:

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.

Rehearsals begin for LONDON by Simon Stephens

With ROUNDABOUT up, running and open for business at Shoreditch Town Hall, rehearsals began in earnest at PPHQ yesterday for the eleventh production of Programme 2012 – Olivier Award-Winning Simon StephensLONDON.

The project incorporates Simon’s play SEA WALL – which was originally commissioned and produced by The Bush Theatre in a production directed by our Joint Artistic Director George – and its companion piece, T5, which was recently published alongside WASTWATER.

We are co-producing LONDON with our friends at Salisbury Playhouse and Live Theatre Newcastle, before touring to Brighton Dome, Manchester Royal Exchange Studio and The Tron Theatre Glasgow.

LONDON is directed by George and designed by Hannah Clark, with lighting from Malcolm Rippeth and Sound by Tom Gibbons.

The production stars Cary Crankson and Abby Ford (below).

As usual, you’ll be able to follow the rehearsals, opening and tour right here on the PP blog.

In the meantime you can get daily updates from @painesplough or by searching twitter for #LondonPlay and you can find links to book tickets here.