Roundabout @ Summerhall 2018

34480595611_16d5f2a392_o
Roundabout. Photo: The Other Richard.

We’re delighted to announce the full programme for Roundabout @ Summerhall.

Our Artistic Directors James Grieve and George Perrin said today:

“We’re proud to present our ROUNDABOUT @ SUMMERHALL line-up for 2018, packed with outstanding new plays from around the UK.

Our Roundabout rep features three world premieres:  Vinay Patel’s razor-sharp satire STICKS AND STONES, Simon Longman’s beautiful, elegiac ISLAND TOWN and Georgia Christou’s rip-roaring adventure through space HOW TO SPOT AN ALIEN.

We’re also welcoming some of the UK’s most innovative and exciting new writing companies and playwrights to Roundabout. Our Associate Company Middle Child return with an all new theatre gig ONE LIFE STAND by Eve Nicol, Boundless Theatre present musical comedy DRIP by Tom Wells, Olivier Award winning Sherman Theatre present Brad Birch’s new play TREMOR. Ed Edwards’ THE POLITICAL HISTORY OF SMACK AND CRACK chronicles the fallout for communities crushed by the heroin epidemic of the 80s with great anger and wit, and we’re thrilled that Fringe First winners Kieran Hurley and Gary McNair will join forces for SQUARE GO, a raucous story of playground violence deconstructing myths of masculinity.

Also in our programme we’re thrilled to welcome our newly announced Playwright Fellow for 2018 Charley Miles with her Susan Smith Blackburn nominated debut play BLACKTHORN. Written on attachment with West Yorkshire Playhouse, BLACKTHORN is a touching exploration of growing up in a North Yorkshire village.

We’ll be welcoming back old friends Dirty Protest as Alan Harris’ SUGAR BABY returns with tales of Cardiff drug dealer Marc and Billy the Seal. After last year’s sell-out run and numerous awards Middle Child’s ALL WE EVER WANTED WAS EVERYTHING by Luke Barnes returns for one week only.

Our LATER programme returns with an eclectic mix of electric new work from the very best companies, comedians, musicians and more throughout the Fringe so keep an eye on our social channels for announcements.”

Tickets are on sale now from EdFringe and Summerhall.

Keep scrolling to read about the whole programme:

A Paines Plough and Theatr Clwyd production
HOW TO SPOT AN ALIEN
By Georgia Christou

Alien Blog Crop

What do you do if you think your aunt is an alien? 12 year old Jelly and her brother 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.

Get tickets for HOW TO SPOT AN ALIEN here.

*

A Paines Plough and Theatr Clwyd production
STICKS AND STONES
By Vinay Patel

Sticks and Stones Blog Crop

“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. Sometimes that ruins everything.

When a misfiring joke turns their life upside down, B starts to question what being good really means. In an age when technology multiplies every mistake, can we find a way to understand each other?

A razor sharp satire about the search for a sure footing in an uncertain world from BAFTA nominated Vinay Patel.

Get tickets for STICKS AND STONES here.

*

A Paines Plough and Theatr Clwyd production
ISLAND TOWN
By Simon Longman

Island Town Blog Crop

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 bittersweet story about friendship, hope and dreams of an escape.

Written by Simon Longman, recipient of the 2018 George Devine Award for Most Promising Playwright (GUNDOG; Royal Court, MILKED; Pentabus Theatre Company).

Get tickets for ISLAND TOWN here.

*

A Middle Child production
ONE LIFE STAND
By Eve Nicol
Music by James Frewer and Honeyblood

One Life Stand Blog Crop

When we can have sex whenever we want, with whomever we want, why settle for a normal relationship? With the promise of fresh excitement just a swipe away, is Kat’s long-term lover her lifelong dream? One Life Stand is a late-night search for intimacy across a hyperconnected, hypersexual city, exposing the loneliness sometimes found in modern relationships, where expectations of love and lust are ever-changing.

Written by Eve Nicol with music by James Frewer and Honeyblood, this is brand-new gig theatre from the award-winning company behind All We Ever Wanted Was Everything.

Get tickets for ONE LIFE STAND here.

*

An InSite Performance in association with West Yorkshire Playhouse
BLACKTHORN
By Charley Miles

Blackthorn Blog crop

‘What you think’s a completely different plant on ‘surface – it’s all from the same roots.’

The only two children born in a North Yorkshire village for a generation cannot imagine ever being apart, but as their lives shift, so too do the ties that bind them. Charley Miles’ outstanding debut play explores the changes and choices that pull us from the places and people we love. Blackthorn was a finalist for the prestigious Susan Smith Blackburn prize in 2017 and is presented as an InSite production in association with the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

Get tickets for BLACKTHORN here.

*

A Most Wanted and Offstage Theatre production in association with W14 Productions and Alastair Michael, co-commissioned by Soho Theatre
THE POLITICAL HISTORY OF SMACK AND CRACK
By Ed Edwards

Smack and Crack Blog edit

‘The history of England jumps off its axis. 2am, 8th July, 1981, 20 cities across England burn.’

The night of the Manchester uprising. That night should change everything. Drawing on his own personal experience, Ed Edwards’ script crackles with anger, humour and authenticity as he chronicles the fallout for communities crushed by the heroin epidemic at the height of Thatcherism. Shot through with home truths about the road to recovery this is an epic love song to a lost generation.

Get tickets for THE POLITICAL HISTORY OF SMACK AND CRACK here.

*

A Francesca Moody production
SQUARE GO
By Kieran Hurley and Gary McNair

Square Go Blog Crop

Max is a normal-ish kid in a normal-ish town. He spends his days daydreaming and hanging out with his weird wee pal Stevie Nimmo. But when Max is called for his first Square Go, a fight by the school gates, it’s his own demons he must wrestle with first. This is an unmissable collaboration between Fringe First-winning writers Kieran Hurley (Heads Up) and Gary McNair (A Gambler’s Guide to Dying) is a raucous and hilarious new play about playground violence, myths of masculinity and the decision to step up or run.

Get tickets for SQUARE GO here.

*

A Sherman Theatre production
TREMOR
By Brad Birch

Tremor Blog Crop

Once our lives are touched by tragedy, can we ever truly move on? Sophie and Tom’s relationship fell apart in the aftermath of a catastrophe. Four years on and as they come face to face once again, the aftershocks of that fateful day can still be felt.

Tremor is the world premiere production from the Olivier Award-winning Regional Theatre of the Year. This thrilling new play by Brad Birch (Black Mountain, Roundabout 2017) explores how society chooses to live in a time riddled with tension, anxiety and division.

Get tickets for TREMOR here.

*

A Boundless Theatre and Script Club production
DRIP
Words by Tom Wells
Music by Matthew Robins

Drip Blog Crop

A one-man musical comedy by award-winning duo Tom Wells (words) and Matthew Robins (music) fresh from a sell-out tour. Liam is 15 and he’s just signed up for Bev Road Baths’ first ever synchronised swimming team. It’s for his best mate Caz really. She needs to get a team together to win the annual Project Prize at school. She tries every year. She always loses. But Liam’s an optimist, he’s determined to help. There’s just one problem. Liam can’t swim.

‘Matthew Robins’ music and Wells’ lyrics feel like Victoria Wood for a new generation.’ (Stage).

Get tickets for DRIP here.

*

A Dirty Protest production
SUGAR BABY
By Alan Harris

Sugar Baby Blog Crop

Being a small-time drug dealer in Cardiff is tough. Marc avoids his mum, disguises his cannabis plants with fake tomatoes at the allotment, and now has to bail his old man out of £6,000 owed to local loan shark Oggy. When he meets Lisa for the first time in years, things get even messier. Oggy wants Lisa. Lisa wants Marc. Marc wants to survive the day. Critically acclaimed one-man comedy from award-winning Welsh company Dirty Protest.

‘The packed audience loves it’ ★★★★ (Scotsman).

‘Theatrical tour de force’ ★★★★ (Times).

Get tickets for SUGAR BABY here.

*

A Middle Child production
ALL WE EVER WANTED WAS EVERYTHING
By Luke Barnes
Music by James Frewer

All We Ever Wanted Blog Crop

Meet Leah and Chris: raised on Harry Potter, New Labour and a belief that one day they would be as special as their parents promised. But what happens when those dreams don’t become reality? Set across three decades, from 1997’s Cool Britannia to today’s Brexit Britain, this is multi award-winning gig theatre that mixes original live music from James Frewer with bold new writing by Luke Barnes. 2017 Broadway Baby Bobby Award; 2017 The Stage Excellence Award; 2017 Edinburgh Festival Fringe sell-out show.

‘Superb gig theatre’ (Lyn Gardner, Guardian).

Get tickets for ALL WE EVER WANTED WAS EVERYTHING here.

*

Let us know what you’re most excited for on @painesplough with #RoundaboutPP

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

ROUNDABOUT

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
ISLAND TOWN
by Simon Longman

ISLAND TOWN Lanscape

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
STICKS AND STONES
by Vinay Patel

STICKS AND STONES Landscape

“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
HOW TO SPOT AN ALIEN
by Georgia Christou

HOW TO SPOT AN ALIEN Landscape

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
POP MUSIC
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
I WANNA BE YOURS
by Zia Ahmed

Direction Anna Himali Howard

I WANNA BE YOURS Landscape

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
ALBATROSS
by Isley Lynn

Direction Anna Himali Howard

ALBATROSS Landscape

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

COME TO WHERE I’M FROM

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
WITH A LITTLE BIT OF LUCK
By Sabrina Mahfouz

Direction Stef O’Driscoll 

WITH A LITTLE BIT OF LUCK Landscape

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
BLACK MOUNTAIN
By Brad Birch

Direction James Grieve

BLACK MOUNTAIN Landscape

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
OUT OF LOVE

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
HOW TO BE A KID
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.

Why we’re making a new audition pledge to actors

Our Joint AD James explains our thinking behind our new audition pledge.

Back in 2010 when I first joined Paines Plough we started Open Auditions as a direct response to actors telling us they were frustrated at the Catch-22 of needing to be seen to be in something, and needing to be in something to be seen. Our answer was to hold genuinely open calls across the country so everyone had the same chance of securing a slot. We’ve since met 2030 amazing actors we might never have met otherwise. Several of them have gone on to star in PP productions.

Over the past couple of years I’ve been fortunate to spend time with some great groups of Actors’ Guild members in workshops on auditioning for new plays. It’s been fascinating to hear their audition experiences from the other side of the door, and the other side of the table to me.

What becomes quickly and starkly apparent when you do a 360° evaluation of auditions is how often the process is stacked against the actor. For any normal job interview there’s a job description, you’ll get sent some information about the company, you’ll be told who you’ll be meeting, you’ll have time to prepare to present the very best version of yourself.

But for auditions, actors often find themselves sitting in waiting rooms with nothing but some pages of text and with no idea who is on the other side of the door or what they’re looking for. Will someone be reading with me? Should I be off-book? Will I be sitting or standing? Should I try a Scottish accent?

How can you possibly do your best work with so many unknowns?

For my Actors’ Guild workshops I drew up lists of practical tips for auditions, and some of my pet hates. Once I’d given them to the actors, they gave me great auditions. It dawned on me that I’d get much better auditions across the board if I just let actors know what to expect, and what I was looking for. Not exactly rocket science.

So last year we started sending advance emails to every actor who came to audition for us. The email said how much we were looking forward to meeting them, and gave them some basic information about the format of the meeting, the people they would be meeting, and what we’d like to see from them. So I had the chance to let people know they would be sitting around the table, I didn’t expect them to learn the text, I wanted to hear them read in their own accent and they’d be meeting the playwright and producer as well as me.

Armed with some prior knowledge, actors came in more confident and less liable to be thrown. I got to see more of the real them because we’d already established some simple parameters.

From now we promise to always provide actors with the information they need to best prepare for their audition with us, and what to expect from us. We’re making it a formal pledge partly to hold ourselves to account, and partly because we hope it might encourage others to follow suit. We think it will make for better auditions for everyone.

The other thing actors tell us frustrates them is they often only find out about parts when the cast is announced. So from now on, when we announce new productions, we’ll publish breakdowns on our website and we’ll accept and consider CVs from anyone who thinks they’re right for the role.

Read the full pledge here.

Let us know what you think of our pledge and what else we could do better. We’re always keen to hear from you and happy to take your feedback on board. Tweet at us on @painesplough or leave a comment below.