Paines Plough launches new digital projects connecting playwrights and audiences across the world

Paines Plough, one of the most celebrated new writing theatre companies in the UK who put the playwright at the centre of their work, is launching a series of new digital projects to connect national and international playwrights and audiences in response to the current global crisis.  With freedom of travel currently restricted, the organisation which is known for touring the whole nation, and building local ties wherever it goes, will explore how we can continue to experience the different places people call home, across counties and countries in isolation.

The company will use their wide-ranging and expansive app-based audio play library, COME TO WHERE I’M FROM, as a launching point for the new projects. Set up 11 years ago COME TO WHERE I’M FROM has seen over 160 playwrights from across the country write about the places they call home. Each play is performed by the writer for one-night only and then becomes part of the free app creating a vivid patchwork quilt of accents, experiences and impressions of the UK. Some of the nation’s most celebrated playwrights can be found on there, performing their own plays about the places that have shaped them. Recent additions include Alice Birch, Mike Bartlett, James Graham, Roy Williams, Vinay Patel, Lizzie Nunnery and Simon Stephens.

In response to a rapidly changing world, where all touring and live performance is currently on hiatus, Paines Plough will now launch COME TO WHERE I AM. In partnership with theatres across the UK they will co-commission 30  new short plays from writers about the places they call home and their relationship to home at this time. In a reversal of previous plays these will be recorded first and released as visual-audio pieces and then performed in partnering theatres when they reopen. Partner theatres include Derby Theatre, Eastern Angles, Open Clasp Theatre Company Newcastle, Pitlochry Festival Theatre, Reading Rep Theatre, Sheffield Theatres and Theatre by the Lake Keswick.

All of these new plays will be made available online and, for certain groups who may find it more difficult or even impossible to access digital content, Paines Plough will create a unique live readings of the plays over the phone, allowing isolated audience groups to access on-demand culture. Paines Plough are working in collaboration with celebrated actors to provide this caller service including David Bradley, Julie Hesmondhalgh, Lisa Hammond and Sally Dynevor – with more still to be announced. To deliver the service Paines Plough will work with the partner theatres to identify potential user groups within their communities.

In a further extension of the original idea and in association with European project ‘Play On’ funded by Creative Europe, the company’s second digital initiative to be launched today is THE PLACE I CALL HOME, a brand-new programme connecting international writers to create new work together, in isolation, across borders. Presented in collaboration with theatres across Europe, two writers will be paired up to co-author a new bilingual play about home that will be realised with digital artist collaborators and shared across digital platforms. The plays will be performed by British and international actors including working in collaboration with British Drama school students who have had projects postponed to provide alternative performance opportunities through these digital productions. Partnerships include Theatre Dortmund, with writers Calle Fuhr (INTO THE STARS) from Germany and UK playwright Dipo Baruwa-Etti (AN UNFINISHED MAN), Theatr Ludowy in Krakow with Polish writer Magda Węgrzyn (THE LAST 300 METRES) and UK writer Travis Alabanza (BURGERZ), Elsinor Theatre Milan, with writers Giuditta Mingucci (I WISH) from Italy and UK playwright Rosie MacPherson (WHERE WE BEGAN), working in partnership with Yorkshire-based company Stand and Be Counted (the UK’s first Theatre Company of Sanctuary).

Paines Plough have also announced the appointment of their 2020/2021 Trainee Director, their Big Room Fellowship Playwright and a new emerging playwright’s bursary.

Kaleya Baxe will be the 2020/1 Trainee Director for Paines Plough. Her directorial debut PATRICIA GETS READY (FOR A DATE WITH THE MAN THAT USED TO HIT HER) had a sold out run at The White Bear and won the VAULT Festival Show of the Week Award. As well as working on outreach projects with the Young Vic, Kiln and Arcola Theatre, she has directed short pieces at leading fringe venues. Her most recent project was WRITTEN by Alex Cooke, a new play that toured to schools, pupil referral units and other youth settings.

The Big Room Playwright Fellow this year will be Vickie Donoghue whose debut play MUDLARKS garnered critical acclaim in 2012. She has since collaborated with Theatre Royal Portsmouth, the Mercury Theatre and the Royal Court. The Big Room Playwright Fellowship is awarded annually to a writer of exceptional promise and invites the writer to spend nine months on attachment to Paines Plough. Playwrights are provided with a bespoke programme tailored to their specific needs, ambitions and circumstances. Previous fellows have included: Frankie Meredith, Charley Miles, Nathan Bryon and Sam Steiner.

For 2020 Paines Plough are also introducing the Playwright Bursary, which will be given for the first time this year to Ric Renton. Most recently Ric finished his debut play NOTHING IN A BUTTERFLY, which had been planned to premiere this summer.  He will use the bursary to write a play about his time inside prisons in the North-East and an intimate friendship he struck up with a prison guard over two years, through his cell door. The bursary will allow for paid time to work with the Paines Plough team to develop the project and provide a budget for Ric to further his own writing.

Artistic Directors of Paines Plough Charlotte Bennett and Katie Posner said: ‘We are delighted to share our new digital plans which expand on our existing app and project COME TO WHERE I’M FROM and see a brand new International project – THE PLACE I CALL HOME. We recognise that these are challenging times and we hope that this new programme which celebrates homes and places will enable audiences to be momentarily transported somewhere else – whether that be spending ten minutes in Derby or half an hour in Milan. Collaborating with our excellent national and international partners we are pleased to be providing employment for artists to still create thrilling new theatre for audiences.

We are also excited to announce our ongoing commitment to developing extraordinary artists through the appointment of our playwright fellow and trainee director and to also introduce our new playwrighting bursary. These three artists are incredibly gifted and we look forward to supporting them over the next year to develop and thrive.’

Paines Plough announce anniversary gala to celebrate a decade of Come To Where I’m From and a transfer of Sam Steiner’s You Stupid Darkness! to Southwark Playhouse, a co-production with Theatre Royal Plymouth

Paines Plough have today announced a special one-off event at the Criterion Theatre on 18th November and a transfer of Sam Steiner’s YOU STUPID DARKNESS! to Southwark Playhouse, a co-production with Theatre Royal Plymouth. The announcements mark the final programming from former co-Artistic Directors James Grieve and George Perrin.  Charlotte Bennett and Katie Posner are set to announce their new season for the company on Friday 4 October.

The one-off event at the Criterion Theatre on 18th November to celebrate 10 years of COME TO WHERE I’M FROM, their nationwide live and digital project which sees playwrights from across the country pen plays about the places they call home. The event will star some of the nation’s leading playwrights performing their own plays about the communities and times that have shaped them. With more to be announced, writers performing on the night include: James Graham, Dennis Kelly, April De Angelis, Simon Stephens, Roy Williams, Zia Ahmed and Chloë Moss. The event, in celebration of Paines Plough’s history of discovering and developing talented writers from across the country, aims to raise £25,000 to invest in to the next generation of playwrights. Tickets are now on sale.

Since 2010, Paines Plough’s nationwide project Come To Where I’m From has seen over 160 playwrights from across the country write 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.

The app is free to download from the Apple Store and Google Play. The 160-strong audio play library includes a huge range of playwrights, from Olivier Award winners to first timers. Recent additions include: Alice Birch, Mike Bartlett, Roy Williams, Vinay Patel and Lizzie Nunnery.

Paines Plough also announced today that Sam Steiner’s YOU STUPID DARKNESS! will run at Southwark Playhouse from 16 January – 22 February with a Press Night on Monday 20 January. An urgent play from Sam Steiner about the struggle for optimism and community amid the chaos of a collapsing world, the show opened with co-producer Theatre Royal Plymouth earlier this year. The production is directed by former Paines Plough co-Artistic Director James Grieve.

“I just think it’s, you know, important to look at the good things that are happening as well.”

Everything’s been falling apart for a while now. In a cramped, crumbling office four volunteers spend a few hours every Tuesday night on the phone to strangers telling them everything is going to be ok. As the outside world disintegrates around them, Frances, Joey, Angie and Jon teeter on the edge of their own personal catastrophes. Their hopes and fears become entangled as they try, desperately, to connect with the callers and with each other.

Details of Paines Plough’s Programme 2019 can be found here.

James Graham is from Mansfield and is an Olivier and Tony Award nominated writer. Credits include THIS HOUSE, INK and THE ANGRY BRIGADE, as well as the book of the Broadway musical FINDING NEVERLAND and numerous film and TV projects including Brexit: The Uncivil War starring Benedict Cumberbatch.

Dennis Kelly grew up in Barnet and is an internationally celebrates playwright. Credits include MATILDA THE MUSICAL, ORPHANS, UTOPIA and most recently GIRLS & BOYSstarring Carey Mulligan at the Royal Court Theatre.

April De Angelis is a West London writer of Sicilian descent whose 30-year career highlights include JUMPY, WILD EAST and PLAYHOUSE CREATURES as well as an adaptation of Ferrante’s MY BRILLIANT FRIEND due to transfer to the National Theatre.

Simon Stephens hails from Stockport and is the renowned author of over 15 major plays, including THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT TIME, HEISENBERG and SEA WALL starring Andrew Scott.

Roy Williams OBE grew up in Notting Hill, London, and is an Olivier and BAFTA award-winning playwright. His most celebrated plays include LIFT OFF, CLUBLAND, OFFSIDE and most recently SUCKER PUNCH. He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2008 and sits on the board of trustees for Theatre Centre. In 2018, he was a made a fellow of The Royal Society of Literature.

Zia Ahmed is a poet from North West London and is a London Laureate and former Roundhouse Poetry Slam champion. His debut play I WANNA BE YOURS was first produced by Paines Plough in 2018, and will be going on a national tour in autumn 2019, finishing with a five-week run at the Bush Theatre.

Chloë Moss is a Liverpudlian playwright whose work includes HOW LOVE IS SPELT, THE GATEKEEPER and THIS WIDE NIGHT which transferred to New York with actress Edie Falco and for which she was awarded the Susan Smith Blackburn Playwriting Prize.

Sam is a playwright and screenwriter from Manchester. His debut play, the award-wining LEMONS LEMONS LEMONS LEMONS LEMONS, was first produced by Walrus Theatre (a company he co-founded), and has subsequently been performed all over the world, in eight different languages. Since then Sam’s work on stage has included KANYE THE FIRST (HighTide) and most recently A TABLE TENNIS PLAY (Walrus Theatre) at the Edinburgh Fringe. Other pieces of Sam’s work have been showcased at the Royal Exchange, Soho, Southwark Playhouse, Sala Beckett in Barcelona, and the Cannes and London Film Festivals. He completed an attachment at Paines Plough as their Playwright Fellow and holds an MA in Screenwriting from the National Film and Television School. Sam is currently under commission at Paines Plough, and developing television and film projects with Euston North and Sunny March.

James Grieve was Joint Artistic Director of Paines Plough 2010-2019. He was formerly co-founder and Artistic Director of nabokov, and Associate Director of The Bush Theatre.

His forthcoming work includes GOD’S DICE by David Baddiel starring Alan Davies at Soho Theatre and a new production of CABARET for Gothenburg Opera in Sweden.

James’ directing credits for Paines Plough include YOU STUPID DARKNESS! by Sam Steiner, POP MUSIC by Anna Jordan, OUT OF LOVE by Elinor Cook, BLACK MOUNTAIN by Brad Birch, HOW TO BE A KID by Sarah McDonald-Hughes, THE ANGRY BRIGADE by James Graham, BROKEN BISCUITS and JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS by Tom Wells, HOPELESSLY DEVOTED and WASTED by Kate Tempest, AN INTERVENTION and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE by Mike Bartlett, FLY ME TO THE MOON by Marie Jones, TINY VOLCANOES by Laurence Wilson, YOU CANNOT GO FORWARD FROM WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW by David Watson, THE SOUND OF HEAVY RAIN by Penelope Skinner and HAPPINESS by Nick Payne for BBC Radio 3.

Further credits include the new musical THE ASSASSINATION OF KATIE HOPKINS (Theatr Clwyd – Winner Best Musical Production, UK Theatre Awards 2018), a new production of LES MISERABLES for Wermland Opera in Karlstad, Sweden, TRANSLATIONS (Sheffield Theatres / ETT / Rose – Winner Best Production, UK Theatre Awards 2014), 66 BOOKS: A NOBODY by Laura Dockrill, THE WHISKY TASTER by James Graham, ST PETERSBURG by Declan Feenan and PSYCHOGEOGRAPHY by Lucy Kirkwood (The Bush), ARTEFACTS by Mike Bartlett (nabokov/The Bush, National Tour & Off-Broadway); KITCHEN, BEDTIME FOR BASTARDS and NIKOLINA by Van Badham (nabokov), and the world premieres of OLD STREET by Patrick Marber (nabokov Arts Club) and THE LIST by David Eldridge (Arcola).


Monday 18th November, 7pm
The Criterion Theatre
18-223 Piccadilly, St. Jamess, London W1V 9LB
Tickets from £10

16th January –  22nd February
Southwark Playhouse
77-85 Newington Causeway, London SE1 6BD
Mondays – Saturdays, Tuesday and Saturday Matinees.
Tickets from £14
Press Night: Monday 20th January


“The lifeblood of the UK’s theatre ecosystem.” The Guardian

Paines Plough was formed in 1974 over a pint of Paines Bitter in the Plough pub. Since then we’ve produced more than 150 new productions by world renowned playwrights like Stephen Jeffreys, Abi Morgan, Sarah Kane, Mark Ravenhill, Dennis Kelly, Mike Bartlett, Kate Tempest and Vinay Patel. We’ve toured those plays to hundreds of places from Bristol to Belfast to Brisbane.

“That noble company Paines Plough, de facto national theatre of new writing.” The Daily Telegraph

In the past three years we’ve produced 30 shows and performed them in over 200 places across four continents. We tour to more than 30,000 people a year from Cornwall to the Orkney Islands; in village halls and Off-Broadway, at music festivals and student unions, online and on radio, and in our own pop-up theatre ROUNDABOUT.

Our Programme 2019 premieres the best new British plays on tour the length and breadth of the UK in theatres, clubs and pubs everywhere from city centres to seaside towns. ROUNDABOUT hosts a jam-packed Edinburgh Festival Fringe programme and brings mini-festivals to each stop on its nationwide tour. Our COME TO WHERE I’M FROM app features 180 short audio plays available to download free from the App Store and GooglePlay.

“I think some theatre just saved my life.” @kate_clement on Twitter