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An interview with… Miriam Battye

Posted on: September 8th, 2023 by ppEditor

How would you describe Strategic Love Play?

It’s one scene, one first date, two strangers who met on their phones, now in a room with no guidance. And we’re off. It’s play with absolutely no stakes at all, because it’s a first date, so they can just piss off at any time. They don’t owe each other anything, they’re not allowed to ask anything of each other yet.

They don’t care about each other at all. In fact, this is just something that they have to go through, on the off chance it works out. It’s highly unlikely that it will work out. And there’s very little they can really do about it, other than being properly washed and normal enough.

But actually, if you stare at it, it’s very high stakes. You can break someone and get yourself broken. The experience can leave you completely bewildered and cored, and embarrassed that you allowed it to. It’s an uncomfortable tightrope walk, between something that you’re supposed be casual about, and something that can snap that last thread of dignity you have.

It’s about two people who have found themselves, for very different reasons, completely stuck in a dating loop. Always at another table, with another pint, and another stranger, no resulting love, no resulting calm, no way out. Maybe they need each other, to get out.

It’s maybe the most romantic thing I’ve ever written.

Can you discuss the development process, what inspired you to write this type of love story?

It is pretty unoriginal to write about love. However I have that tragic arrogant feeling that it has been uniquely more atrocious for me than for anyone else. I think a lot of people feel like that. I think that might be what dating feels like. I think that’s why I wanted to write about it, to work out why it is that I have felt so hard done by, and where on earth I got the wild idea it was supposed to be gorgeous and easy. Why should it be?

I think when I was young, I understood that lovers were fought for. I assumed I would be fought for, and I would fight for someone. But life arrived, and I found, to my surprise, dating lacks quite a lot of fight. I think this play started cos I wanted to see what happened if someone actually fought for something in this particular context.

As a writer, I am always interested in language games. I’m interested in the ways we lie to each other, the ways we fail to articulate ourselves, the ways we falsely present ourselves, the ways we bullshit without even really thinking about it. The realm of dating and quote unquote love is a fascinating place to look at this. We are trying to package a gorgeous version of ourselves, we are also trying to not try, to present ambivalence.

How do you feel dating has changed since the introduction of dating apps?

I think I wrote the play, to try and work this out.

I wonder if it’s overextended us a bit. I think apps provided an incredibly effective solution to something that is genuinely painfully difficult. So they made that initial painful part easier. No question there. But I wonder if, maybe, it isn’t supposed to be painless.

I think there are maybe some benefits to it being harder to get someone to take note of you, to try you out, to date you. And some benefits to being rejected, to properly bear yourself a bit, arse out a bit, know you tried, and deal with it. Perhaps if we front loaded the effort, everyone would try a little harder, and feel a little tried for. But of course, I have no idea.

The only thing I do know is that we’re all a bit more mortified than we used to be. There’s absolutely no way to be cool and beguiling if you’ve put your face in everyone’s phone and asked them to want you. And given them the brief idea that it’s totally their choice. You are totally available for their choosing.

And, of course, they are totally available for yours. It’s an illusion, but it’s a fucking powerful one. Maybe.

What is your number one tip for anyone heading out on a first date?


How is the cast getting on with rehearsals/the production?

The team are top tier people. I have the most gorgeous cast. I worked with Letty (Thomas) on Scenes with girls which was my last major play, and I love what she does on stage. She is genuinely original, hilarious and stunningly powerful. And Archie (Backhouse) was new to me but is completely undeniable, he’s a proper revelation. I am delighted that they are playing these parts. And I love Katie (Posner), her work and her passion and she, along with the excellent Dramaturg and writer Gill Greer have pulled this play out of me with their enthusiasm for it, and their very deep kindness to me.

There is no substitute for having great people telling you your work is something they want to work on, your weird, ungainly little thoughts are legitimate. This play, like everything I write, is personal to me. I have sometimes found talking about this subject matter is met with platitudes, sometimes hideous pity, pointless advice, and not much interrogation. But I made a play out of it. So that’s cool. I feel like I’ve thrown the thoughts in the air, and found what I hope to be true, and not bullshit.

What are you most looking forward to bringing this show to the Fringe and on tour around the UK?

I love the Fringe, I go every year as a punter. I haven’t had a show on there in a decade. I am a completely different person, and I’m so much braver than I was, and I’ve done big tv shows, and I’ve had my work ripped apart and got over it, but nothing is really more intimidating than the Fringe to me. It’s just, a lot of people, who care a lot about theatre, sitting in your show, and then moving onto the next. I want to astound people, reach out and grab their attention before they go on to the next thing.

Also I’ve wanted to have my play on at the Soho for genuinely years. That’s terrifying too. Also, as a Northerner, so any chance to take my stuff out of the capital is delightful to me.

ANNOUNCING… Strategic Love Play and Roundabout at the Fringe

Posted on: May 12th, 2023 by ppEditor

Callout for writers and storytellers!

Posted on: February 2nd, 2023 by ppEditor

We’re launching a new nationwide writer development programme in 2023 and we want to connect with storytellers and creatives with an interest in writing for stage and performance.

Alternative formats of the call-out are available below or you can scroll down for the full written version. If you require a different mode of communication or have access needs not met here, please email

Click here for a large text PDF with yellow background.

Click here for an Easy Read version.



The Women’s Prize for Playwriting 2023: submissions now open!

Posted on: January 16th, 2023 by ppEditor

We’re on the search for a Chair and Trustees

Posted on: August 24th, 2022 by ppEditor

We’re on the search for a Chair and Trustees to join us on the next chapter of Paines Plough’s journey.

Our current Chair is reaching the end of their term in December 2022 and we are now seeking a new inspirational Chair of the board. We are specifically seeking an active Chair with strong strategic skills, knowledge of the theatre industry and income generation and whose values align with ours.

We are also searching for new Trustees to join the board specifically with experience of one/ more of the following; commercial theatre, environmentalism and sustainability, diversity and inclusion, those with experience of place making, local authorities, and/or the public sector, people from non-theatre backgrounds and those with experience of regional networks. We also welcome hearing from candidates who do not meet these specific criteria but believe they could actively contribute to our thinking and future success.

Click here to download the Chair and Trustees Application Pack.

Download the Easy Read version of the Application Pack here.

The expression of interest period closes on 30 September 2022.

Here’s your lineup for Roundabout @ Summerhall 2022…

Posted on: May 19th, 2022 by ppEditor

Here are your Roundabout 2022 Plays…

Posted on: May 5th, 2022 by ppEditor

We’re on the search for an Executive Director

Posted on: March 4th, 2022 by ppEditor

We’re on the search for an Executive Director!

Looking for a new challenge? Want to join our mission to champion new writing?

If you’re passionate about our values and think this could be your next step, we want to hear from you.

Click here for more information and to download the Application Pack

Cast announced for Sorry, You’re Not a Winner tour

Posted on: January 26th, 2022 by ppEditor

We’ve announced the cast for SORRY, YOU’RE NOT A WINNER by Samuel Bailey – a new play about male friendship, class and leaving home.

The cast will see Eddie-Joe Robinson (Coriolanus at Sheffield Crucible) as Liam and co-founder of JAM (Just Add Milk) Kyle Rowe (Beast Of Blue Yonder) as best friend Fletch, with West End star Alice Stokoe (American Idiot, Mamma Mia!) as Shannon and Peter O’Toole Prizewinner Katja Quist (C-O-N-T-A-C-T) as Georgia.

SORRY, YOU’RE NOT A WINNER debuts 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. More info and booking details here.

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.

Jesse Jones is a Theatre Director from Bristol. He is a founding member of award-winning company The Wardrobe Ensemble who are associates of Complicité and Shoreditch Town Hall, they have toured nationally and internationally. Jesse was Resident Director at Royal and Derngate, Northampton having won the Regional Theatre Young Directors Scheme award. He is also an alumni of the Old Vic 12, NT directors program and Bristol Old Vic’s ‘Made in Bristol’ scheme. In 2011 Jesse founded the Wardrobe Theatre where he was Artistic Director until 2015, and before leaving he helped establish the theatre as the leading fringe theatre in the city. He is now also a trustee of Shoreditch Town Hall.

Photos by Justin Jones

Finalists announced for the 2021 Women’s Prize for Playwriting

Posted on: January 18th, 2022 by ppEditor

We are delighted to announce the 8 Finalist plays for The Women’s Prize for Playwriting 2021, selected from 850 submissions. 

The judges for this year’s Prize are Arifa Akbar, Mel Kenyon(Chair), Lucy Kirkwood, Jasmine Lee-Jones, Winsome Pinnock, Indhu Rubasingham, Jenny Sealey, Nina Steiger, Nicola Walker and Jodie Whittaker.

These 8 plays will be considered by the judges at their meeting on 27th January 2022:

By Abi Zakarian

When the horrors of the past are denied, who decides which histories are remembered?

Hugh and Liv Bryce have found their perfect (second) home: The Blue House sits on a remote hillside, isolated and beautiful. It’s a place to escape their busy lives and plan for their future family. But the house is haunted by secrets and Mariam and Davit Martirosian, the previous occupants, refuse to let go of their home without a fight. Exploring the denial of the Armenian Genocide, what drives the cycles of ethnic cleansing, and how blood can bind you to a place, Mountain Warfare asks what you’d be prepared to do to keep your home, your heritage, and your history alive.

Abi Zakarian is co-founder of Terrifying Women; a theatre company dedicated to women writing horror. Her work includes Found (45North), Perfect Myth Allegory (Jermyn Street Theatre), I am Karyan Ophidian (Shakespeare’s Globe), Fabric (Soho Theatre) and I Have a Mouth and I will Scream (VAULT Festival).


By Alison Carr

In this dark drama, a family fractured by an unforgiveable crime are reunited and no one emerges unscathed. 

Karen and her partner Lynn arrive at a tatty hotel to meet Karen’s younger sister Suzanne. The sisters haven’t seen each other for over 30 years and the difficult reunion is made even worse when Suzanne unexpectedly turns up with her thirteen-year-old daughter Della in tow.

It’s Della who forced her Mam to arrange this get-together after stumbling upon their family secret – that when Karen was her age she was convicted of an unforgiveable crime and spent over a decade in prison before being released with a new identity. Della is desperate to find out what makes Karen tick, and Karen is terrified she’ll tell her.

Alison Carr is part of the BBC writersroom writers’ development group for North East Voices. Her work includes Tuesday (National Theatre Connections Festival), The Last Quiz Night on Earth (Box of Tricks Theatre Company), Caterpillar (Theatre503) Iris and The Soaking of Vera Shrimp (Live Theatre).


By Isabella Leung

A darkly absurd parade through a silenced city. 

Set against the backdrop of Hong Kong’s skyscraper, the bouffons emerge from the swamp to tell the truth about their home.  They must be careful with their choice of words, they must conceal their fear and anger, they must put those who abandoned them in their rightful place, and their weapon is humour. Laughter helps the bouffons to find freedom in an absurd world where politicians are comedians, soldiers, and police are troubled poets, and at the centre of it all, a woman with all the power, living a glamorous life of empty daydreams.

Isabella Leung is an actor, theatre maker and writer. A Bouffon Play About Hong Kong is her first full-length play that was written in response to the political movement in her home city, Hong Kong. Her writing has been featured in Written on the Waves (45North), Freedom Hi, Tiananmen 30 (Papergang Theatre), Creating Apart (Exit Pursued by Panda), and Silence is Compliance (Young Blood Initiative).

By Isley Lynn

Sick of tweets and vigils, two young women take retribution into their own hands.

Meg and Ally do bad things to bad people. They’re not professionals, but when justice is unserved, they decide to address the balance themselves: no more tweets or vigils, it’s time for an eye for an eye and everything else.

They recreate the acts of violence exactly – an unorthodox attempt to save their souls and set protective boundaries. And they fast find supporters: sources for their targets in Maggie, a therapist who has heard too much, and Tim, a doctor who has seen too much.

But as the work begins to endanger and brutalise them all, one by one the team abandon the project, leaving Meg to reconcile with the insane ambition of what she wants to achieve: to freeze the seemingly endless wave of violence by directing that violence back on itself. It’s impossible for her to continue alone. But it’s unthinkable to her to go back.

Isley Lynn is currently under commission with the Donmar Warehouse. Her work includes The War of the Worlds (New Diorama Theatre/International tour), Albatross (Paines Plough) and Canace: A Good Story (Jermyn Street Theatre) 


By Karis Kelly

Four generations of Northern Irish Women: a house full of hungry ghosts, with more than one skeleton in the closet. 

Bangor, Northern Ireland. It’s Eileen’s 90th birthday, and her neurotic daughter Gilly is fussing, trying to organise her impending party. Gilly hasn’t finished unpacking the shopping when her high-flying daughter Jenny arrives from London with her worryingly thin daughter Muireann in tow. That makes four generations of Gillespie women in one room, and you could cut the tension with a knife. As the women prepare for a party that no one seems to want, the atmosphere turns decidedly sinister as deep-rooted recriminations and accusations fly out of the women like weapons. Obsessions and compulsions have spread through the lineage like poison. This is a house full of hungry ghosts and there’s definitely a few skeletons in the closet…

Karis Kelly is a playwright, theatre maker and educator. She has previously been the Literary Assistant at the Bush Theatre and Literary Associate at Theatre503 and has been awarded the 2022 Peggy Ramsay Bursary to be the writer in residence at The Lyric, Belfast. Her short plays have been performed at Hampstead Theatre, Gate Theatre and Arcola Theatre, and presented by Hightide Theatre and Headlong.


By lydia luke

Micaela is hardworking, nurturing and can push thru severe pain, but what happens when it hurst too much and no one is listening?

Michaela is experiencing severe pain in her womb. Each time she visits the doctor, they dismiss her concerns. And in turn, she dismisses it herself. But the pain persists until she has to reckon with it. 

Lydia Luke is a poet, playwright and facilitator. She was in the Royal Court Theatre’s Introduction to Playwriting 2020/21 cohort and is co-facilitator of Prism Writers; a writer’s group for Black women and non-binary people.


By Paula B Stanic

Four women, two wars, one referendum, four decisions and decades of the same questions – a play about love, betrayal and feeling anger for the country you were born in.

Leona is a patriot determined to prove her loyalty. Amy wants to keep what’s left of her family close. Esther’s just desperate to sing wherever she’ll get the change while teenager Amber’s anxious to follow her late mother and put the world right. Over decades, these black British women push to live the lives they choose as public events leave their mark and private relationships are shattered. Through two wars to the 2016 EU membership referendum, we experience the four most significant decades in the lives of the Cleary women.

Paula B Stanic is a previous winner of the Alfred Fagon Award and has been a writer in residence at Soho Theatre and writer on attachment at the NT Studio. She has written plays for Red Ladder, Theatre Centre, Soho Theatre, Tangle, Almeida Projects, and Mama Quilla. 


By Somebody Jones

A coming-of-adulthood play that explores Black people’s relationship to water, while finally answering the question: Are there really sharks in the deep end of the pool?

Jamie wants to learn to swim, which wouldn’t be so scary, except for the fact that she just turned 30. In an attempt to find closure after her brother’s disappearance, she decides to finally face her fear. 

Somebody Jones is a Los Angeles native playwright and dramaturg. Jones’ is currently a part of Soho Theatre’s Writers’ Lab and was previously Creative Associate at Jermyn Street Theatre and a part of Boston Court’s first Playwright’s Group.