Programme 2018

Our Joint Artistic Directors James and George today announced Programme 2018.

“We are honoured and excited to present some of the UK’s most exciting new playwrights around the country, on the airwaves and online in Paines Plough’s Programme 2018.

ROUNDABOUT will again tour the UK with three world premieres in partnership with Theatr Clwyd. Simon Longman’s ISLAND TOWN is a play about friendship, cheap cider, and feeling stuck in your hometown. STICKS AND STONES is a hilarious, incisive satire on the modern condition from BAFTA nominated Vinay Patel. Georgia Christou’s HOW TO SPOT AN ALIEN is a rip-roaring space odyssey for adventurous young people and older stargazers. We think Georgia, Simon and Vinay are amongst the most distinctive, observant and entertaining new voices in British theatre and we are thrilled to showcase their work across the UK in our beautiful pop-up Roundabout.

POP MUSIC is a new play from Bruntwood Prize winning writer of YEN, Anna Jordan, co-commissioned with Birmingham Repertory Theatre. Turbo charged by non-stop pop hits from the past 30 years of chart toppers, POP MUSIC is a euphoric, nostalgic, poptastic theatre party for anyone who’s ever been a dick on the dancefloor.

Thanks to a Channel Four Playwright Bursary, London Laureate and former Roundhouse Poetry Slam Champion Zia Ahmed spent the last year on attachment to Paines Plough, during which time he wrote one of the most exciting debut plays we’ve come across in several years. We could not be more excited to be partnering with Tamasha to present the tender and lyrical love story I WANNA BE YOURS which will embark on a ‘Create’ Tour with Rural Arts in April.

We are again partnering with Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and The Gate Theatre to showcase new talent with the world premiere of Isley Lynn’s ALBATROSS, directed by Anna Himali Howard who was Paines Plough Trainee Director in 2016. Both Isley and Anna are major new talents and we are delighted to forge their partnership on a show which will be performed by the graduating actors at RWCMD.

It is our mission to take the best new theatre everywhere, live and digital. Our COME TO WHERE I’M FROM smartphone app will relaunch on the Apple store and Google Play with a 160-strong audio play library from writers across the country – a vivid patchwork quilt of accents, experiences and impressions in your pocket. Wherever you are in the world you can hear writers like Alice Birch, Mike Bartlett, James Graham, Roy Williams, April De Angelis and Lizzie Nunnery telling tales of their home towns.

Whether you’re in a theatre, on a smartphone or listening to your car radio, there is something for everyone, everywhere in Programme 2018.”

Paines Plough presents


Following another critically acclaimed season in 2017, Roundabout, our award-winning portable in-the-round auditorium, will return for a fifth consecutive year in 2018. The 2018 programme will include World Premieres from Simon Longman, Vinay Patel and Georgia Christou co-produced with Theatr Clwyd and performed in rep, opening at Theatr Clwyd and touring to The Lowry (Salford), Brewery Arts Centre (Kendal), Lighthouse (Poole), Theatre Royal Margate, Lincoln Performing Arts Centre, Appetite (Stoke-on-Trent), Darlington Theatre Town and Luton Culture.

The UK tour of Roundabout is part of a strategic audience development project funded by the Arts Council England Strategic Touring Fund. This is the third year of the project and the tour sees us return to our eight partners.

Roundabout will also host a programme of visiting companies, comedy, music and local community events.

Our 2017 Roundabout premieres from Brad Birch, Elinor Cook and Sarah McDonald-Hughes co-produced with the Orange Tree Theatre and Theatr Clwyd are currently running at the Orange Tree Theatre until 3 March 2018 (more details below).

The World Premieres at Roundabout are:

A Paines Plough and Theatr Clwyd production
by Simon Longman


Kate, Sam and Pete are stuck. The town they live in doesn’t have much going on. But they don’t really care about that when they’ve got cheap cider and their whole lives ahead of them.

And they’re going to break away anyway. Someone’s about to get a car. And all roads go somewhere else. Right? 

ISLAND TOWN is a new play about friendship, hope and trying to make an escape.

Simon is a writer from the West Midlands whose play GUNDOG is currently premiering at the Royal Court Theatre. Last year, his play WHITE SKY premiered at the Royal Welsh College before transferring to the Gate Theatre. Simon is currently under commission to the Bush Theatre and Paines Plough. He was a member of the Royal Court Young Writer’s Group in 2014 he won the Channel 4 Playwrights’ Scheme.

A Paines Plough and Theatr Clwyd production
by Vinay Patel


“So we’re clear
You know, right?
You know I’m not that kind of person.”

Sometimes we can’t find the right words. Sometimes the wrong word just slips out. Sometimes the right words become the wrong words. And sometimes that ruins everything.

When a misfiring joke turns their life upside down, B sets off on a surreal journey into the night, looking for answers. In an age when language is ever-shifting and technology multiplies every little mistake, can we find a way to understand each other?

Written by BAFTA nominated Vinay Patel, STICKS AND STONES is a side-splitting satire about the search for a sure footing in an uncertain world.

Vinay’s debut play TRUE BRITS premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe 2014 and transferred to the Bush’s RADAR Festival and VAULT Festival.  His second, FREE FALL, opened at the Pleasance Islington and was nominated for three Off West End awards. His latest play AN ADVENTURE will premiere at The Bush Theatre in September 2018 and will be directed by Bush Artistic Director, Madani Younis. Vinay’s television debut MURDERED BY MY FATHER was commissioned for BBC3 and won 2 Royal Television Society awards including Best Single Drama as well as being nominated for three BAFTAs including Best Single Drama and the Breakthrough Talent Award for Vinay.

A Paines Plough and Theatr Clwyd production
by Georgia Christou


What do you do if you think your aunt is an alien? 12-year-old Jelly and her cousin JonJo have their suspicions.

She won’t let them leave the house. Or ask questions. And she definitely won’t let them in the attic.

Join Jelly and JonJo on their quest to discover the truth in a rip-roaring adventure through space full of friendship, fun and flying saucers.

Contains: one confused alien, two brave kids and a busted spaceship.

For space cadets age 5 and up.

Georgia is a previous member of the Royal Court Young Writers’ Group. YOUS TWO is her first full-length play which was originally shortlisted for the Verity Bargate Award in 2015. She has also been selected as part of Channel 4’s 4Stories scheme and is writing an original single drama which will shoot in 2018. YOUS TWO is currently playing at Hampstead Theatre Downstairs until 24th February 2018.


A Paines Plough and Birmingham Repertory Theatre co-commission
by Anna Jordan

Direction James Grieve

POP MUSIC Landscape

For anyone that’s ever been a dick on the dance floor.

A wedding. A free bar. A blast from the past.

G and Kayla’s lives are a mess but tonight they’re determined to Have It Large. As their veins course with adrenalin and cheap prosecco we follow them on an epic journey through thirty years of Pop.

Can the DJ save them as they become Dancing Queens, reliving their Teenage Dream, Staying out For The Summer and Spicing Up Their Lives? Pop makes promises it can’t keep, and soon they’ll discover they have more in common than their taste in tunes.  

Pop Music is an emotionally contagious rollercoaster. A night at the theatre like no other.

Anna won the 2013 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting for Yen (Royal Court) after having been twice longlisted for her plays MARIANNE and CHICKEN SHOP. YEN has had productions at Manchester Royal Exchange, the Royal Court and MCC New York as well as several international productions. It was also shortlisted for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize 2015-2016.  Other theatre writing includes WE ANCHOR IN HOPE (Royal Court Theatre – Beyond the Court), CHICKEN SHOP (Park Theatre) and FREAK (Theatre503 / Assembly Studios).

James is Joint Artistic Director of Paines Plough.

POP MUSIC will tour with support from Esmée Fairbairn and Paul Hamlyn Foundation.


A Paines Plough and Tamasha production
by Zia Ahmed

Direction Anna Himali Howard


Ella is from Yorkshire. Haseeb is from London. They order a pizza. House red for Ella. Hot chocolate for Haseeb.

“I think I’m falling in love with you.”

Meet in the middle. Meet the parents. Meet the friends. Meet the aunties. They say opposites attract, but can they stay together?

A tender, funny, lyrical play about finding love and holding onto it with everything you’ve got. I WANNA BE YOURS is the debut play from slam poetry champion Zia Ahmed.

Zia is from North West London. He is a London Laureate, having been shortlisted to be the Young Poet Laureate for London 2015/16. He is a former Roundhouse Poetry Slam champion.

I WANNA BE YOURS was developed with support from the Channel 4 Playwrights’ Scheme.


A Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama Production in collaboration with Paines Plough
by Isley Lynn

Direction Anna Himali Howard


Tattoos are forever. Almost. And at Noodle Soup Tattoo there are strict rules: No names unless they’re dead. Nothing on the face. Nothing you might get sued for later.

When Jodie, a rough sleeper, asks for a free tattoo from apprentice Kit, her request is well within the guidelines. But Kit is still unsure, because Kit knows only too well that getting inked isn’t the only decision that stays with you for the rest of your life.

Albatross is a small but sweeping story about the past refusing to stay in the past.

Isley’s most recent play, SKIN A CAT, won the Vault Pick Of The Year Award in 2016 and was nominated for four Off West End Awards. She is part of the Bush Theatre’s Emerging Writers Group and a HighTide First Commissions Writer.

Anna was Trainee Director at Paines Plough in 2016. She is a Creative Associate at the Gate Theatre and an alumnus of the REP Foundry artist development scheme. Other directing credits include LIFE IS NO LAUGHING MATTER by Demi Nandhra (Battersea Arts Centre, Normal? Festival) and 20B by Jane English (Birmingham REP, Theatre Royal Stratford East).


A Paines Plough production


PP2018 season CTWIF images v14

Since 2010, Paines Plough’s nationwide project Come To Where I’m From has seen over 160 playwrights from across the pen plays about the places they call home.

Each play is performed for one-night only and then becomes part of the free Come To Where I’m From smartphone app which houses all the mini-plays that have been performed since the project began to create a vivid patchwork quilt of accents, experiences and impressions of the UK.

Thanks to support from The Space, in 2018 Paines Plough will relaunch the app which will be available free to download from the Apple Store and Google Play. The 160-strong audio play library will include a huge range of playwrights, from Olivier Award winners to first timers. Recent additions include: Alice Birch, Mike Bartlett, James Graham, Roy Williams, April De Angelis, Vinay Patel and Lizzie Nunnery.

The app was redeveloped with funding and support from digital commissioning agency The Space and developed by Milk Bar Studios.

The app is available free to download for iOS or Android. Download here.


A Paines Plough and Latitude Festival production
By Sabrina Mahfouz

Direction Stef O’Driscoll 


It’s 2001. Garage is the unavoidable anthem of the UK. 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.

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


Originally commissioned for a festival audience, With A Little Bit Of Luck premiered to Latitude Festival in 2015. Directed by Stef O’Driscoll with Seroca Davis as Nadia alongside the vocal talents of Martyna Baker, this is theatre you can rave to.

Sabrina’s work includes Fringe First Award-winning CHEF (Underbelly Edinburgh, Soho Theatre), DRY ICE (Bush Theatre), her first play based on her time working in stripclubs, directed by David Schwimmer and for which she was nominated as Best Solo Performer in The Stage Awards and CLEAN (Traverse Theatre), which won a Herald Angel Award and transferred to Off-Broadway in 2015.

Stef is former Associate Director at Paines Plough and and Artistic Director of nabokov

Paines Plough’s 2017 Roundabout premieres from Brad Birch, Elinor Cook and Sarah McDonald-Hughes co-produced with the Orange Tree Theatre and Theatr Clwyd are currently running at the Orange Tree Theatre until 3 March 2018.


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

Direction James Grieve


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.

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.

Nominated for the Best Production in the English Language at the Wales Theatre Award 2018.

Brad was awarded the Harold Pinter Commission in 2016. In 2017 THIS MUST BE THE PLACE won Pick of The Year at VAULT Festival. He is currently under commission to the RSC, Teatro Malta, Sherman Theatre and the Royal Court and he is on attachment to the National Theatre.

A Paines Plough, Theatr Clwyd and Orange Tree Theatre production

By Elinor Cook

Direction James Grieve

OUT OF LOVE Landscape

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.

OUT OF LOVE is a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize 2018.

Elinor was the winner of the George Devine Award 2013 for Most Promising Playwright. She was recently commissioned by the Donmar Warehouse to adapt Henrik Ibsen’s THE LADY FROM THE SEA, which was directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah. Her previous work with Paines Plough includes TEN WEEKS which was a co-production between Paines Plough, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and Gate Theatre in 2016 and LATER in 2007 where it debuted alongside work by Polly Stenham and Alexandra Wood. Elinor also adapted Mac Barnett’s EXTRA YARN which premiered in 2016 at the Orange Tree.

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

Direction James Grieve

HOW TO BE A KID Landscape

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.

Winner of the Best Play for Young Audiences at the Writers Guild Awards 2018.

For ages 7+.

Sarah is an actor and writer from Manchester. She recently won a 2018 Writer’s Guild Award for her play HOW TO BE A KID and won the 2017 National Octagon Prize for her play SHERBET, co-written with Curtis Cole.  She has previously worked with Paines Plough on Come To Where I’m From.


Thank you to our brilliant season launch creative team:

And that’s Programme 2018. Let us know what you think.

@painesplough on Twitter or comment below.