Paines Plough and Theatre Royal Plymouth present a new play about friendship, class and leaving home

Sorry You're Not a Winner

Today Paines Plough and Theatre Royal Plymouth have announced a new play SORRY, YOU’RE NOT A WINNER by Samuel Bailey.A coming of age tale navigating class, friendship and new surroundings, SORRY, YOU’RE NOT A WINNER will debut at Theatre Royal Plymouth from 24 February for a limited 2 week run before touring around the UK, including Bristol and Newcastle with further dates to be announced. Tickets for the Plymouth run are now available to members and will go on general sale from 29 October. Full information here:

Writer Samuel Bailey said: “For me, SORRY, YOU’RE NOT A WINNER is a play about home and the conflict we might have about leaving. Especially if where you’re going looks nothing like where you’re from. It comes from a pretty personal place but I think a lot of people can relate to that feeling.”

Joint Paines Plough Artistic Directors Charlotte Bennett and Katie Posner said: “We have been working with Sam on this play throughout the pandemic and we are so delighted to finally be able to bring it to audiences in Plymouth and on tour across the UK. Sam’s play is a sharp and powerful story about the complexity of friendship, loss and aspiration. Through Liam and Fletch’s eyes we discover what home means to us, how it influences us and who we leave behind when we seek to find ‘something better’ It is a brilliant piece of work about social mobility that will speak to so many of us and we are proud to be collaborating once again with Theatre Royal Plymouth.”

Liam and Fletch grew up together. Born on the same street. Best mates since primary. Inseparable. The only difference was while Fletch was getting suspended from school, Liam was studying. And now he’s going to Oxford. But with Liam gone, who’s going to keep Fletch out of trouble?

SORRY, YOU’RE NOT A WINNER is a play about aspiration, social mobility and getting caught between classes. It asks; if ‘making it’ means leaving everything you know and everyone you love behind – what’s the point?

Samuel Bailey is a writer born in London and raised in the West Midlands. His play SHOOK won the Papatango Prize in 2019. After a sold-out run at the Southwark Playhouse, Papatango created a digital version of the play in collaboration with James Bobin. The film was a NY Times Critic’s Pick and won Samuel the Times Breakthrough Award at the South Bank Show Sky Arts Awards. Previously, Samuel has been part of Old Vic 12, the Orange Tree Writer’s Collective and a recipient of an MGCFutures bursary.

Pop-up theatre to come to London this summer

Directors and Cast (Black Love)- Nathan Queeley-Dennis, Chinonyerem Odimba, Katie Posner, Kaleya Baxe, Leah St Luce, Eleanor Sutton

Artistic Directors of Paines Plough Charlotte Bennett and Katie Posner have today announced the UK tour dates for Roundabout 2021, as part of this year’s programme A Promise to 2021. The pop-up venue, which usually premieres its work at Summerhall as part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe, has announced an alternate plan for this year. The venue will premiere its four shows in rep as part of Belgrade Theatre’s Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 from 27 July to 8 August, before touring to Northern Stage in Newcastle and then heading to South London, popping up in Slade Gardens, Brixton from 19 to 29 August. Tickets for Roundabout: Brixton are now on sale via the Paines Plough website. The award-winning, portable, in-the-round auditorium will then tour across the UK to cities including Salford, Ramsgate, Doncaster, Lincoln and Bournemouth throughout the autumn.  

The line-up of four world premieres includes a new musical by Chinonyerem Odimba (Princess & The Hustler, Medea)BLACK LOVE with music by Ben and Max Ringham, which will be co-directed by Chinonyerem Odimba and Katie Posner, in Association with tiata fahodzi. This will play in rep with Chris Bush’s (Steel, The Changing Room) new play HUNGRY, a playabout food, love, class and grief in a world where there’s little left to savour,  and Phoebe Eclair-Powell’s (Fury, Epic Love and Pop Songs) new family show REALLY BIG AND REALLY LOUD, both directed by Katie Posner. Paines Plough’s 2019 Playwright Fellow Frankie Meredith will alsopresent MAY QUEEN – a coming-of-age story about a young woman from Coventry on a quest to find her place in her city and in the world, directed by 2021 Co-Artistic Director of Belgrade Theatre Balisha Karra. Balishawas Paines Plough’s Trainee Director in 2018. The season will be part of Belgrade Theatre’s Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 Programme.

BLACK LOVE, HUNGRY and REALLY BIG AND REALLY LOUD will be performed in rep by Nathan Queeley-Dennis (Doctors BBC), Leah St Luce (Beautiful UK TOUR), Eleanor Sutton (Amadeus NATIONAL THEATRE), with  Yasmin Dawes (Underwater Love FUTURE THEATRE TOUR) joining as the central character in MAY QUEEN.

The 10-day Roundabout:Brixton programme will also include performances from visiting companies and artists including Rashdash, Nouveau Riche, Bonnie and the Bonnettes, Sukh Ojla and Sindhu Vee.  Roundabout lands in Brixton in partnership with Lambeth ELEVATE and will host a series of community events and as well as Paines Plough’s big and loud activity programme for young people in connection with REALLY BIG AND REALLY LOUD 23 – 27 August.

Paines Plough are planning to partner with food banks across the Roundabout tour to support those most affected by the pandemic and, alongside family show REALLY BIG AND REALLY LOUD by Phoebe Eclair-Powell, they plan to work with young people across the country to deliver an engagement programme that encourages them to use their voices after over a year kept away from their friends and peers.

Roundabout is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and has been additionally supported by the Theatre’s Trust. The Brixton Season is supported by the London Borough of Lambeth through #LambethELEVATE.



A Paines Plough and Belgrade Theatre production
by Chris Bush

Directed by Katie Posner

“I’d watch you eat. I’d eat you up. You’re not like them, are you? You’re real.” 

Lori is a professional chef. Bex waits tables to make ends meet. One night together in a walk-in fridge and the rest is history.

Lori has big plans, but Bex is struggling. If we are what we eat, then Bex is in real trouble. It’s not her fault though – the system is rigged. No-one on minimum wage and zero hours has the headspace to make their own yoghurt.

HUNGRY is a new play about food, love, class and grief in a world where there’s little left to savour.

Chris is an award-winning playwright, lyricist and theatre-maker. Her past work includes Pericles (National Theatre); The Assassination of Katie Hopkins (Theatr Clwyd); Standing At The Sky’s Edge, Steel (both Sheffield Theatres) and The Changing Room (NT Connections). Upcoming work includes Faustus: That Damned Woman (Headlong/Lyric Hammersmith/Birmingham Rep); The Last Noel (Attic Theatre) and a new musical adaptation of The Caucasian Chalk Circle (National Theatre).


A Paines Plough and Belgrade Theatre production in Association with tiata fahodzi
Part of Belgrade Theatre’s Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 programme
Book and Lyrics by Chinonyerem Odimba
Music by Ben and Max Ringham
Directed by Chinonyerem Odimba and Katie Posner

Introducing Roundabout’s first ever musical.

Love freely. Love freedom. Love. 

Meet Aurora and Orion: Sister and Brother. Constellations in time. More than blood. More than just fam. They look after each other in their small London flat, filled with the memories of their parents’ Black Love.

When that love is threatened, they have to find their way back to each other and to what it means to love whilst Black. Using real-life stories, imagined worlds and new songs inspired by an R&B heritage, they begin a journey to confronting their own worst fears.

BLACK LOVE is an explosion of form-busting storytelling, an ode to Black music, and those real stories we rarely hear.

Chinonyerem is a Nigeria-born, Bristol based playwright, director and poet. Her work for theatre includes The Bird Woman of Lewisham at the Arcola; Rainy Season, and His Name is Ishmael for Bristol Old Vic;  Joanne for Clean Break and Amongst The Reeds for Clean Break andThe Yard; a modern retelling of Twist (Theatre Centre). More recent work ranges from Medea at Bristol Old Vic, We Too, Are Giants for Kiln Theatre, Unknown Rivers at Hampstead Theatre, Prince and the Pauper at Watermill Theatre, and The Seven Ages of Patience at Kiln Theatre, and Princess & The Hustler’ which toured across the UK for Eclipse Theatre’/Bristol Old Vic/HullTruck. Her work has been shortlisted for several awards including the Adrienne Benham and Alfred Fagon awards. In 2015 her unproduced play Wild is De Wind was shortlisted to the final ten for the Bruntwood Playwriting Award. She is the winner for the 2018 Sonia Friedman Award (Channel 4 Playwright Bursary) for a new play ‘How to Walk on the Moon’.

She is currently working on theatre commissions for Young Vic, RSC, and Paines Plough.  She is also Writer-in-Residence at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Chinonyerem is the Artistic Director of tiata fahodzi.

Ben and Max Ringham’s credits include Cyrano De Bergerac (Playhouse Theatre);
When the Crows Visit, The Seven Ages of Patience (Kiln Theatre); The Man in the White Suit (Wyndham’s Theatre); Games For Lovers (Vault Theatre); Anna, Tartuffe (National Theatre); Betrayal, Pinter at the Pinter (Harold Pinter Theatre and Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, Broadway); Berberian Sound Studio, Belleville (Donmar Warehouse); Dick Whittington (Lyric Hammersmith); The Wolves (Theatre Royal Stratford East); King Lear (Duke of York’s Theatre and Chichester Festival Theatre); Quiz (Noel Coward and Chichester Festival Theatre); Strangers on a Train, Gaslight (ATG); Parliament Square, Our Town, The Mighty Walzer (Manchester Royal Exchange); Apologia, Lunch & The Bow of Ulysses, Doctor Faustus, The Maids (Trafalgar Studios); Twilight Song (Park Theatre); Gloria (Hampstead Theatre); The Importance of Being Earnest (Theatr Clwyd); Pygmalion (Headlong/West Yorkshire Playhouse/Nuffield); The Miser (Garrick Theatre); The Pitchfork Disney (Shoreditch Town Hall); The Dresser, Jeeves and Wooster (Duke of York’s); After Miss Julie (Theatre Royal Bath); Deathtrap (Salisbury Playhouse); The Government Inspector (Birmingham Rep); Raz (Assembly Theatre/Riverside Studios); Queen Anne (RSC/Theatre Royal Haymarket); Ben Hur, A Wolf in Snakeskin Shoes, Multitudes (Tricycle Theatre); La Musica, Ah, Wilderness!  (Young Vic); The Mentalists (Wyndham’s Theatre) and many more.


A Paines Plough and Belgrade Theatre production

Part of Belgrade Theatre’s Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 programme
by Phoebe Eclair-Powell

Directed by Katie Posner

This is a story. Charli’s story. 

It’s about losing your voice and going on a big adventure to find it again. It features a rageful rhino, a very helpful fly called Stephen and some really good songs about chips.

A show for all the family from award-winning playwright Phoebe Eclair-Powell.

Phoebe is a writer from South East London. Her latest play HARM was produced at the Bush theatre, opening to brilliant reviews (‘triumphant’, The Guardian) and the Telegraph deemed her ‘a blazing theatrical talent’ in May 2021. The play was also filmed by BBC Culture in Quarantine and aired on BBC4. Her episode of Sky / HBO Max’s Two Weeks To Live aired in late 2020 and she is currently writing on DOMINO DAY for BBC. She is the 2019 winner of the Bruntwood Prize for her play SHED: EXPLODED VIEW. In 2015 Phoebe’s debut play WINK at Theatre 503 received rave reviews and four Off West End Nominations including ‘Most Promising New Playwright’. Her play Fury was runner up for the Verity Bargate Award 2015, and subsequently won the Soho Young Writers Award and had its run extended at Soho theatre due to popular demand, it also received an Offie nomination for ‘Best New Play’. She is also currently under commission at Live Theatre Newcastle and writing on a TV show in New Zealand for Taika Watiti’s company, Piki Films.


A Paines Plough and Belgrade Theatre production
Part of Belgrade Theatre’s Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 programme
By Frankie Meredith
Directed by Balisha Karra

May Day in Coventry, 2022. Sixteen-year-old Leigh has been chosen as May Queen. She’s buzzin, as is the rest of the city.

The cider is flowing and St George’s flag is flying – but an encounter during the day’s festivities will soon change everything.

As the year moves on in the City of Peace and Reconciliation, Leigh must face up to the events of that hot May Day, and dig deep within herself to ask – how did she get here?

Frankie is a midlands-based playwright and theatre maker. Having gained a place on the Lyric Hammersmith Young Writers Programme she started writing short plays which were performed at various theatres around London.

She wrote her first full-length play Turkey while on the Soho Writers Lab which was produced at The Hope Theatre in 2017 to rave reviews and Off West End nominations. Finding Peter, a play for young audiences, was taken up to Edinburgh and had two subsequent runs in London and her play 17 was produced at Vaults Festival by Wildcard Theatre and is currently being developed for television.

Frankie is currently working on a musical-storytelling-ensemble piece about women from her area, along with Warwick Arts Centre, which will tour Coventry and Warwickshire in 2021.

Her film Clementines recently won ‘Best Short’ at the British International Film Festival and she has recently written and directed her own web-series Becoming Danish.

Frankie was Paines Plough’s Playwright Fellow in 19-20 during which time she had some of her work translated into Catalan and performed in Barcelona.




In Association with tiata fahodzi

Book and lyrics by Chinonyerem Odimba with music by Ben and Max Ringham
Age Guidance: 12+ 

Running time: 80 minutes 

Content warning: strong language, scenes of a sexual nature
Trigger warning: references to and themes around racism, death of a parent  


By Chris Bush
Age Guidance: 12+

Running time: 70 minutes 

Content warning: Strong language 

Trigger warning: References to eating disorders, death of a parent


By Frankie Meredith
Age Guidance: 12+

Running time: 70 minutes 

Content warning: Strong language, sexual assault 

Trigger warning: Description of sexual assault 


By Phoebe Eclair-Powell 
Age guidance: 5+ 

Running time: 60 minutes 







Designer – LYDIA DENNO



Sound Designer – KIERAN LUCASMovement Director – KLOE DEAN

Casting Director – JACOB SPARROW

Trainee Director – KALEYA BAXE



Dramatherapist – WABRIYA KING

Lighting Programmer – SAM OHLSSON

Company Stage Manager – AIME NEEME

Technical Stage Manager – BENJAMIN SMITH

Stage Manager MAY QUEEN Rehearsals- ELLA STEWART


Co-Produced with Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

27 July – 07 August: Moathouse, Wood End, Coventry

12 – 15 August: Northern Stage, Newcastle

19 – 29 August: Slade Gardens, Brixton, London*

9 – 12 September: The Lowry, Salford

16 – 19 September: Creative Civic Change Newington, Ramsgate

30 September – 03 October: Cast,Doncaster

07 – 11 October: LPAC, Lincoln

14 – 17 October: Lighthouse Poole, Bournemouth and Poole

*Venue subject to final licenses permissions

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Playwright, Elinor Cook interview: “If the dudes are pitching great plays — then those of us who aren’t the white men need go in there and nail those commissions.”

Elinor Cook is not some no-frills interviewee. My time with the feisty young playwright involved her batting my base level questions politely, while occasionally pouring herself a glass of water.


Elinor Cook

Not having arrived today with any sort of agenda, we simply had a chat. She tells me that yesterday she had an ‘impromptu Mexican dinner’ with the Lady From The Sea cast and Kwame Kwei-Armah to celebrate his recent appointment as Artistic Director of the Young Vic. ‘FYI’ she had pan-seared tuna tacos and a beer… And a margarita. “Two drinks — Mexican appropriate,” she says, laughing.

Her new version of The Lady From The Sea, directed by Kwei-Armah opens at the Donmar tonight. Ibsen’s play encompasses those familiar Ibsen themes: obligation, accountability, the role of women and how the past impinges on the future. How has she found adapting such a classic text? “I’ve found it a complete joy,” says Cook. “I’ve loved it and I definitely want to do more of this sort of thing because there is something about having the map in place. It’s gone through a couple of permutations in terms of the setting of it. The first draft was all set contemporary, in time of the second draft we had a conversation and decided it would be more helpful to make it post-colonial and that mirroring Ellida’s own restless and need to be independent herself.”


The Lady From The Sea at The Donmar Warehouse

Cook is revelling the opportunity to work with the new Artistic Director of the Young Vic. “He has this ability to facilitate an incredibly open rehearsal room,” she says, smiling. “He’s able to make people trust him and each other. There’s a beautiful lightness and airiness with the work and with what is happening on stage and it’s all there because of his attention to detail. He’s really big on psychology and emotion and my God you can really see that. It’s just extraordinary. He’s incredibly generous and honest.”

Every Playwright has a unique approach to writing. Where does she work best? “I work in the library – I go to the Wellcome Collection Library, which I’d highly recommend as a place to work,” she says. “I try and do a full work day because I need the structure and just to have other people around. It’s nice to feel that you are part of something.”

We talk about the lack of female writers on our biggest stages. “You can’t ignore that conversation because everyone’s having it”, she shrugs when I suggest that the scenario is not exactly ideal. “It does anger me, but I’m reluctant to go: ‘The reason it’s taken me 10 years is because I am a woman.’ However, I am conscious of the fact that I am white, privileged and straight. I think it’s more about how you get into those rooms in the first place.”

Not, she hastens to add, that she’s had it easy. “As someone who’s had every opportunity, but struggled so much with confidence for a long time and that feeling that I didn’t know how to hold my own in the room the way my male counterparts did. I wrestled with the feeling that at any second I’d be chucked out because I had nothing of interest to say.”

How can we ensure a real shift toward gender equality? “It starts before the theatres are making those decisions,” she says.

“If the dudes are pitching great plays — then those of us who aren’t the white men need to make sure that we are enabled to go in there and nail those commissions. There are so many reasons why I would struggle to pitch something and if I find it hard then how hard would those who hadn’t had those privileges and opportunities to get on?”


Out of Love – Paines Plough

Does she feel obliged to write about politics, I ask. “The whole gesture of playwriting is political in itself,” she states. “With a play like Out of Love, I wanted to write something very human, getting to the complexity of the relationship between two women. I wanted to excavate something that I hoped would touch people on a human level. If you succeed with something like that then you are asking the audience for their imagination and empathy. In this increasingly fractured world, where the divisions are widening, if we are not able to imagine what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes then we are kind of doomed.”

She continues: “A political play doesn’t have to be one set in the House of Commons, it can be perceived to be a smaller beast. My play Image of An Unknown Woman is my most overtly political play because it directly critiques a repressive regime and questions democracy. But I’d argue that Pilgrims or Out of Love, which are smaller in scale are political in a different way.”

Cook talks of the lucky opportunities that have come her way and in particular the pace at which she has progressed. “There’s something about being the age I am now and my career taking off that feels really right. I’m not sure I would have been prepared for the opportunities had I been younger… I was so crippled with a lack of self-confidence and self-consciousness… It was challenging.”

And now, following a storming debut at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Out of Love is on tour as part of Paines Plough’s pop-up space, the Roundabout. The play is a comic exploration of female friendship spanning 30 years. What are the challenges of writing for such a unique performance space? “When you are writing for Roundabout the work has to have a universality to it – it has to have something that is going to resonate in Poole and in Stoke and in Darlington or Edinburgh,” she says. “There is something about that space; being in the round and with no props. It demands a particular kind of playwriting, it has to be very front-footed. It has to be very clear about what it is from very early on.”

She looks to Tamara Harvey, Amelia Sears and Charlotte Gwinner, particularly at the start of her career, for inspiration. “I’ve had really great relationships with directors. The first skill of a director if they read a draft and are able to help you as the writer really get to the nub of what you have to say.”

Today, she is honest about her commitments beyond The Lady From The Sea. “I’m at that glorious stage where I don’t know what the next project is,” she says, with a glint in her eye.

“I am looking forward to being able to see where my brain takes me and where the world takes me. I’d love to do more adapting and having written two very intimate plays with Pilgrims and Out Of Love, I’d love to go back to a bigger Image Of An Unknown Young Woman size cast and with international heft. But what that actually is I don’t know and that’s really exciting!”

The Lady From The Sea is at the Donmar, London, until 2 December. Box office: 0844 871 7624.

Out Of Love is currently on a UK Tour as part of Paines Plough’s pop-up theatre Roundabout.