Our Story

Actor Jospeh Black as Tunde in Sessions. Tunde sits on his rug in this flat as he takes a phone call from his sister.

Hello! We’re Paines Plough. We create new stories and perform them wherever you are.

Founded in 1974, we have worked with over 300 outstanding British playwrights including James Graham, Sarah Kane, Dennis Kelly, Mike Bartlett, Sam Steiner, Elinor Cook, Vinay Patel, Zia Ahmed and Kae Tempest.

Our plays are nationally discovered and locally heard. As a touring theatre company dedicated to new writing, we discover, develop and empower writers across the country and share their explosive new stories with audiences all over the UK and beyond.

We tour to over 40 places a year and are committed to bringing work to communities who might not otherwise have the opportunity to experience much new writing or theatre.

Our shows might appear in your local theatre, park, community centre, market square, university campus, on the seafront, or online. We even tour our own pioneering pop-up theatre Roundabout; a state of the art, in the round auditorium which travels the length and breadth of the country.

Wherever you are you can experience a Paines Plough production.

Paines Plough was formed in 1974 by writer David Pownall and director John Adams over a pint of Paines Bitter in The Plough pub.

Stephen Jeffreys began a long-term association with Paines Plough with his play JUBILEE TOO. A decade later we also produced his play THE CLINK, which was staged at London’s Riverside Studios.

Sarah Kane was appointed Writer-in-Residence at Paines Plough, where she ran the Wild Lunch series of writers’ groups.

Paines Plough produced the first performance of CRAVE by Sarah Kane at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh. She remains one of the UK’s most celebrated playwrights.

A young Ben Whishaw performed in MERCURY FUR by Philip Ridley as part of Paines Plough’s THIS OTHER ENGLAND season.

It was reported that at least ten audience members a night left every show, unable to take the atmosphere of threat and violence portrayed on stage.

James Grieve and George Perrin took over artistic leadership of Paines Plough, and our pop-up theatre Roundabout was commissioned.

Roundabout opened for the first time, and the first shows performed in the space were LUNGS by Duncan Macmillan, ONE DAY WHEN WE WERE YOUNG by Nick Payne and THE SOUND OF HEAVY RAIN by Penelope Skinner.

Paines Plough and Theatre Royal Plymouth co-produced  LOVE LOVE LOVE by Mike Bartlett, directed by James Grieve. The production toured and then transferred to the Royal Court, where it won Best New Play at the UK Theatre Awards. The cast at the Royal Court included Claire Foy, Victoria Hamilton and Ben Miles.

SEA WALL by Simon Stephens, directed by George Perrin and starring Andrew Scott, was performed at the National Theatre.

Paines Plough’s 40th anniversary! Roundabout was re-imagined to allow for touring. The plays debuted at Edinburgh Festival Fringe included EVERY BRILLIANT THING by Duncan Macmillan and OUR TEACHER’S A TROLL by Dennis Kelly.

Roundabout also won Theatre Building of the Year at The Stage Awards.

Paines Plough was first granted funding by Arts Council England to tour Roundabout around the UK. Our seven partner venues were: The Civic in Barnsley, Margate Theatre Royal, RevoLuton, Hall For Cornwall, The Lowry in Salford, Lincoln Performing Arts Centre, Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal and Appetite in Stoke.

Paines Plough launched the COME TO WHERE I’M FROM App.

Paines Plough set up a small-scale touring network of 30+ venues across the UK keen to increase appetite for new writing where they are. Since then we have toured GROWTH by Luke Norris, POP MUSIC by Anna Jordan and I WANNA BE YOURS by Zia Ahmed to the network, SESSIONS by Ifeyinwa Frederick, and REASONS YOU SHOULD(N’T) LOVE ME by Amy Trigg.

The small-scale touring network was generously funded by Esmée Fairburn Foundation and Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

Charlotte Bennett and Katie Posner took over as Joint Artistic Directors of Paines Plough.

Outgoing Artistic Directors James Grieve and George Perrin were awarded MBEs for services to theatre.

Paines Plough launched The Women’s Prize for Playwriting with Ellie Keel Productions, with two playwrights winning the prize: Amy Trigg for Reasons You Should(n’t) Love Me and Ahlam for You Bury Me.

Katie Posner and Charlotte Bennett made a promise to 2021, returning to the theatre with a new Roundabout season (Black Love, Hungry, May Queen, Really Big and Really Loud), the world premiere of Amy Trigg’s Reasons You Should(n’t) Love Me at Kiln Theatre, and the small-scale tour of Sessions by Ifeyinwa Frederick.

The company launches Tour the Writer, a multi-year programme in partnership with seven organisations around the country to strengthen writer networks and develop writers who want to write for the theatre.

Strategic Love Play by Miriam Battye, directed by Katie Posner, wins a Fringe First at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.