Tag Archive | "Dennis Kelly"

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Feature: Paines Plough – “I don’t know how anyone can run a company on their own”

Posted on 16 April 2014 by Conori Bell-Bhuiyan

James Grieve and George Perrin, Artistic Directors of Plaines Plough. (c) Geraint Lewis.

James Grieve and George Perrin, Artistic Directors of Plaines Plough. (c) Geraint Lewis.

James Grieve and George Perrin have been working together since the were at university – they started their own company, Nabokov, and co-ran it together for 10 years. So when the job of Artistic Director (or directors) came up at leading new-writing company Paines Plough, they jumped at the opportunity. That was back in 2010, and now they’re leading the company through its fortieth anniversary. “So far I’ve loved it!” Perrin says, “…it’s been an honour to run Paines Plough, I’ve always been a big fan of their work and it’s great fun to be working with so many different writers.”

Running Paines Plough is a huge job, and for both its directors, having someone to share the workload with is an asset. The working relationship the pair have built in the 13 or 14 years since they first started out has set them up well for taking over a company as big as Paines Plough. “We’ve never know any different… I can’t imagine doing it any other way,” says Perrin, and Grieve describes those years starting out together as essential. “On a practical level it’s brilliant,” he explains. “Any time we’ve got any big decision to make, there’s two of us to make it. If I’m writing a fundraising application on a Sunday evening I can always call George and he’s there for moral support… I don’t know how anyone can run a company on their own frankly!”

“I think at the heart of the collaboration is the fact that we have a shared taste. We like the same writers and we feel the same things about theatre and what theatre should be.” Perrin uses the exact same words – a shared taste. “If you spend a lot of time disagreeing you will just end up wasting a lot of time,” he says. That’s not to say that there’s never any disagreement at all, but this is a collaboration that’s stood the test of time. “Certainly when we go and see shows we often disagree”, admits Grieve. “There are certain productions that I’ve loved and George hasn’t, and vice versa, but we don’t ever really disagree about the theatre we’re making… When we know we want to commission a writer and we believe in that writer then whatever happens along the way – and there’ll always be difficult moments along the way – we know that we believe in the project.” That’s not to say that there aren’t some moments of, quote, “rigorous conversation”, but Grieve can “honestly say we’ve never fallen out in 14 years of working together.”

Grieve and Perrin both agree that the best part of what they do is being able to work with so many talented and exciting new writers. “I’m currently directing a play by Mike Bartlett”, says Grieve, “who I think is a genius and one of the greatest playwrights in the world… to be directing the world premiere of his new show is a complete thrill and something I never thought I’d get the chance to do when I was starting out.” Perrin thinks Paines Plough has a “vital role in keeping new work at the heart of theatre, and taking those new plays out to everywhere in the country.” New writing is at the core of what Paines Plough does and he stresses that the company wants to be one that is within the reach of young writers. “We don’t want to be out of reach… we want the younger, newer writers to feel that we are someone who is contactable – obtainable.”

When it comes to the current overall state of new writing, Perrin definitely thinks the future is bright for all the aspiring playwrights out there; “opportunities for writers have increased in the last 20 years but the competition probably remains just as strong. There’s always been a strong scene in London but now it’s growing beyond the major cities as well.” Grieve is a little less optimistic – he’s worried about the impact cuts to the arts councils will have on theatre in the long run. “It’s certainly the most present, or prevalent, risk to new writing in the last couple of years. It’s the one that most people have been talking about… the long term damage of lack of funding could be huge, because it’s not just productions going on now but it’s the new generation of playwrights that will be writing plays in five or ten years time. I think we’ve got to, at all costs, make sure that there are still funds available and still opportunities for young writers at schools and colleges and universities all over the country to engage with playwriting as a potential career, in order to secure the legacy of British playwriting for years to come.” In that case, do either of them have any advice for the young people aspiring to make theatre in the years to come? Perrin votes for the ‘just go and do it’ approach. “I spent five years applying and writing applications, but it was going out and doing it that gained me a lot of really valuable experience. Get in a room with some actors and a writer and make some theatre. You’ll learn a lot more actually doing it than writing up applications.”

I ask them both if, out of all the writers they’ve worked with over the years, they have a favourite. “That’s like picking a favourite child!” replies Perrin. “We have such a broad range of writers and plays… Paines Plough has an amazing roll call!” Grieve picks out a few upcoming productions that he’s particularly looking forward to: “We’ve just done a second play by Kate Tempest… I’m really excited about Kate because she brings a completely different energy to writing for theatre. She does come from a music background so she writes in verse and she writes with incredible rhythm and real soul. Her shows are a bit like gigs.” Another rising star is Welsh writer Sam Burns, and her upcoming debut Not The Worst Place – a coming of age story about a teenage girl who runs away with her boyfriend to pitch a tent on a beach in Swansea. “It’s a really astounding debut”, says an enthusiastic Grieve, “an incredibly beautiful story…”

This year will see the biggest programme of work from Paines Plough yet – as a celebration of the company’s anniversary it’ll be producing a total of 12 or 13 shows and touring to 50 places around the country. Over the past 40 years, Paines Plough has provided a platform for some of the best young playwrights from across the country – writers like Dennis Kelly, Abbey Morgan, Simon Stephens. Perrin was right when he called it an amazing roll call. Moving forward, the plan is to just “keep on doing what we’re doing,” as Perrin puts it. “Our role is to be the best” he says. Grieve agrees: “We just want to continue to commission the best writers and produce the best new plays.” They also both agree that it’s important for them to be touring that work far and wide, and beyond the major cites, giving it the chance to be seen by people everywhere. Hence the new Roundabout project – a portable theatre space that the company will debut in Edinburgh this summer. “It will help us get to places in the country that we’ve never been able to access before”, explains Grieve, “now we don’t need to tour into a theatre – we can take our theatre with us!”

Visit Paines Plough’s website for more information on its current and upcoming shows. 









Conori Bell-Bhuiyan

Conori Bell-Bhuiyan

Conori Bell-Bhuiyan is a student and arts and culture blogger from Manchester. She wants to end up working as a journalist somewhere warm, and she loves anything artsy, off-beat or slightly wacky.

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Competition: Win tickets to The Ritual Slaughter of Gorge Mastromas at the Royal Court Theatre

Posted on 08 October 2013 by A Younger Theatre

We’ve got five pairs of tickets to see Dennis Kelly’s The Ritual Slaughter of Gorge Mastromas at the Royal Court Theatre to give away. It’s super easy to enter, just fill out the competition form below, and you’ll be entered into a chance to win tickets for the performance on Saturday 19th October at 8pm.

The Ritual Slaughter of Gorge Mastromas

The Ritual Slaughter of Gorge Mastromas
By Dennis Kelly

Royal Court Theatre

Ticket competition for: Saturday 19 October, 8pm

If you could lie without flinching, corrupt without caring and succeed at all costs – how far could you go…how much could you make?

From the early promise of the 70s through to unrelenting capitalism of the 80s and 90s, follow Gorge on the journey from innocence to savage greed and knotted honesty, as he invents three golden rule for success, whatever the cost.

An electrifyingly dark tale from the writer of Channel 4’s Utopia and Matilda the musical.

Watch the trailer here:

For more info visit the Royal Court Theatre website or call 020 7565 5000

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Competition closes on 15th October at 3pm. Winners will be announced shortly afterwards. Tickets can not be exchanged nor refunded, and no cast alternative can be offered. The Royal Court Theatre and A Younger Theatre reserve the right to cancel this competition without warning. Tickets are subject to availability.

A Younger Theatre

A Younger Theatre

A Younger Theatre (AYT) is a platform for young people to express their views on theatre and performance. The site is maintained, edited and published by under 26 year olds who all have a passion for theatre.

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AYT Recommends: The Best Theatre 1st – 16th October 2013

Posted on 01 October 2013 by A Younger Theatre

Stuck for what to see for the first few weeks of October? See the roundup of the best theatre from A Younger Theatre’s Jake Orr and Eleanor Turney. Bite-sized and bursting with top tips. Enjoy!

Clout Theatre The Various Lives of Infinite Nullity

Jake recommends…

Contemporary theatre is alive and kicking in London, but you can be ahead of the game by seeing the latest research in the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama’s Collisions Festival. I particularly recommend seeing the new work-in-progress by Joseph Mercier, whilst over at Battersea Arts Centre you can see two highlights of mine from the Edinburgh Fringe, Clout Theatre’s The Various Lives of Infinite Nullity (review here) and Made In China’s Gym Party (review here).

New writing is hitting an all-time high with Theatre503 delivering the brilliant debut of Chris Urch’s Land of Our Fathers, whilst the Royal Court brings Dennis Kelly’s The Ritual Slaughter of Gorge Mastromas to the stage. The Finborough Theatre has its Vibrant Festival back again, which always throws up fascinating discussions on new writing.

Book ahead for the Young Vic’s 2014 season which had my jaw dropping to the floor – so many good directors including Peter Brook and Katie Mitchell, not to mention Simon Stephens. Also be sure to book for The Light Princess, the new Tori Amos musical at the National Theatre, and it’s the last few weeks of Headlong Theatre’s Chimerica in the West End.

If you live in Bristol you should be looking at getting a hug in the dark with a group of singers. Sound intriguing? The Wardrobe Theatre’s Hug sounds beautiful. There’s only a few more days to catch Kate Tempest’s newest play Hopelessly Devoted at Birmingham REP and you shouldn’t miss 20 Stories High’s Melody Loses Her Mojo at Contact Theatre in Manchester. In Newcastle you should be checking out The Noise by Unlimited Theatre and in Liverpool be sure to catch Crime and Punishment at Liverpool Everyman Playhouse.

Eleanor recommends…

Having just moved away from Bristol/Bath, I’m gutted to be missing Bristol Old Vic’s new production of Great Expectations, which has its press night tonight. Looks set to be a good’un. Also at BOV this week is Table of Delights at “theatrical tasting in five acts” by Theatre Damfino and Flinty Red – food and theatre at the same time. What’s not to like?

Staying in the South West for a moment, Rebecca Manson Jones’s Ibsen-award-winning production of An Enemy of the People stops off at the Tobacco Factory in Bristol, the Ustinov Studio in Bath continues its trilogy of Spanish Golden Age plays, and the National Theatre of Scotland makes its first visit to Bath Theatre Royal’s main house with David Greig’s Dunsinane. Community theatre gets epic in York with the opening of Blood and Chocolate, which has a cast of more than 200 people!

HAG, my favourite show of the Edinburgh Fringe, lands at the Soho Theatre in London this week, as does Bryony Kimmings’s Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model and Chris Thorpe’s There Has Possibly Been an Incident. Quite a good week to be at the Soho… Also in London, the Almeida’s production of Ghosts (more Ibsen) looks well worth catching and The Love Girl and the Innocent, at the Southwark Playhouse from 10 October, has me intrigued…


Photo from Clout Theatre’s The Various Lives of Infinite Nullity.

A Younger Theatre

A Younger Theatre

A Younger Theatre (AYT) is a platform for young people to express their views on theatre and performance. The site is maintained, edited and published by under 26 year olds who all have a passion for theatre.

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Never Properly Born: Do artists have to follow the industry model?

Posted on 17 May 2012 by Never Properly Born

“Is this really what I want to be doing?” As an actor not six months out of drama school, that is the question I was asking myself at the start of this year, although perhaps not for the reasons you might be expecting. I was well prepared for the rigours of the industry. Drama school had force-fed me the image of a Withnail-esqe existence and I was ready for the challenge (lighter fluid and all). I wasn’t thinking about giving up. I was considering the path before me and asking “is this the only route an actor can take?”

Five months ago I was where the majority of young actors find themselves: the road of drama schools, agents, castings, the day job, doing some work and of course eventually superstardom and lots of Dom Perignon. I was tiptoeing along that course and building up the old CV in the hope of impressing some people who apparently could offer me something. I was on a quest for creative fulfilment, but quite frankly I found the industry wanting.

This was around the time that Simon Stephens and others were scrutinising the industry for being too “conservative” and “taking fewer risks” (an argument recently revived by Dan Rebellato). I looked at what I was doing and I couldn’t help but agree. It all seemed so pointless. I wasn’t doing what I wanted to be doing. I was merely doing work for the sake of doing it and WHY? To appear ‘busy’ to those gatekeepers who supposedly hold all the opportunities.

Instead of squandering my youth trying to please people who need not be pleased I made the decision to go my own way and make things happen. In what feels like no time at all I started my own new writing company – Never Properly Born Theatre Ltd. I stopped going to auditions, dragged some trusted colleagues together and poured all my spare time/resources into the company. We then clarified our ideas and defined an aim:

To manifest the lives of our audience, and ask questions about the world we live in now and where we’re going in the future.

Before we could even walk I approached the Tristan Bates Theatre about staging a new (unwritten) play at their venue. To our collective wonder they said “yes.” As a company, we’re now creating a new piece of writing that explores themes of greed, belonging and security, as well as asking what it means to be young and part of our world in the twenty-first century.

In the future (as early as September) we want to accept unsolicited scripts from young people who have something truthful to say about our place in the world right now. We then intend to develop one script later this year and give it a full professional production.

Essentially this is my plea for young artists to consider the industry we’re in and not to unthinkingly accept the path that’s set out before them, because, let’s be honest, is it really the most artistically rewarding approach? Are we being made reliant on people we shouldn’t be? Do great things really await us if we just stick to the ‘yellow brick road’? Or, as Dorothy and her friends found in Wizard of Oz, is there an inconvenient truth waiting behind the curtain?

It seems relevant to end this blog with a recent quote from Dennis Kelly. In his opening speech at Stückemarkt he said:

“I believe young theatre makers need a very healthy dose of ‘go fuck yourself’. I think it’s useful for a young theatre maker to look at the things they’re being told, to think about them, assess them and then – if necessary – say ‘go fuck yourself.”

In many ways, I took a long look at what the industry model had to offer and after much consideration I decided to say ‘go fuck yourself.’

This is an open invite for you to do the same.

Written by artistic director Ash Rowbin. Shelter, the company’s first production, will be staged at the Tristan Bates Theatre as part of the Camden Fringe from 6-11 August.

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