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Paines Plough is 50, and we announce our new show for 2024…

Posted on: March 17th, 2024 by ppEditor

This year, Paines Plough turns 50.

To celebrate, we announce a brand new show, and a new home in Coventry.

Since 1974 we’ve worked with over 500 playwrights and produced, commissioned or supported more than 400 plays.

We are turning 50 at a time where we remain one of the last subsidised new writing touring theatre companies in the UK. With programming priorities being forced to shift and costs increasing, the landscape for new writing is more challenging than it has ever been.

In this context, we’re proud to even be here to talk about a fiftieth year, and to continue to be an advocate, a voice and a thriving platform for writers and the future of new writing around the country.

This year will be about future-proofing our commitment to writers, who remain at the beating heart of everything we do. We can’t wait to find a new home at the glorious Belgrade Theatre in Coventry, where we will also preview our new show as a ‘see it first’ opportunity for Coventry audiences.

Our new show will be My Mother’s Funeral: The Show, a play by Kelly Jones, directed by Charlotte Bennett. Exploring the experience of being a benefit class artist and different approaches towards trauma stories, Jones’ new play asks us: if death is unifying, why are we not all afforded the same dignity? The show will preview at the Belgrade on 25-27 July, before opening at Roundabout at Edinburgh Fringe ahead of a UK tour. More info and tour dates to come…

We can’t wait to also welcome the return of last year’s runaway success Strategic Love Play at Soho Theatre, and continue with our Tour the Writer and writers-on-attachment activity; all of which supports new, bold, brilliant work to be created, just as the company has done in the last 50 years, and which we intend to do in the 50 years to come.

We will also launch our #50for50 fundraising campaign. #50for50 aims to raise £50,000 over the year to enable us to continue platforming, producing and touring ground-breaking new plays, and nurture the next generation of writers. You can donate to our fundraising campaign here: 

Thank you for being part of our journey, and we hope you’ll join us for the celebrations throughout the year.

My Mother’s Funeral: The Show
Written by Kelly Jones
A Paines Plough, Mercury Theatre, Belgrade Theatre, Landmark Theatres, and Royal & Derngate, Northampton co-production.
The commissioning of My Mother’s Funeral: The Show was enabled by a grant from the New Play Commission Scheme, a project set up by the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, UK Theatre and the Independent Theatre Council, and funded by Arts Council England, the Theatre Development Trust and donations from actors, directors, playwrights and producers.

The winner of the Women’s Prize for Playwriting 2023 is…

Posted on: January 19th, 2024 by ppEditor

Intelligence by Sarah Grochala is today announced as the winning script for The Women’s Prize for Playwriting 2023.

The winning play was announced at an awards ceremony held at the iconic London Library in front of an audience of invited guests and leading lights within the UK theatre industry.

This year’s competition opened on 16 January 2023 and received over 1000 entries which were judged by the newly appointed Director of the National Theatre Indhu Rubasingham (Chair); journalist Samira Ahmed; playwrights April de Angelis and Chris Bush; actor Noma Dumezweni; literary agent Mel Kenyon; journalist and critic Anya Ryan; Head of Play Development at the National Theatre, Nina Steiger; and Guardian Editor-in-Chief Katharine Viner.

Ellie Keel, Founder Director of The Women’s Prize for Playwriting, today said, “Sarah Grochala’s Intelligence is one of the plays I’ve been dreaming of finding since the idea for this prize first came to me. It is powerful, original, expansive, ambitious – all the things that audiences hope for and deserve when they book to see a new play. Sarah’s writing is witty and luminescent, vividly bringing to life her detailed research into the story of a fascinating and overlooked scientist and computing pioneer, Ada Lovelace, whose struggle to be recognised and fulfil her full potential sadly is, or has been, shared by so many women throughout history.

“It feels particularly poignant for the Women’s Prize for Playwriting to be awarding the prize to Intelligence in the building next door to Ada’s London home for many years, 12 St James’s Square. Thank you to all of the judges, readers, partners, sponsors and supporters who make this prize possible, and particularly to our Chair of Judges, Indhu Rubasingham, whose contribution to the Women’s Prize for Playwriting in our first three years has been immeasurably valuable.”

Katie Posner, Charlotte Bennett and Debo Adebayo, Joint Artistic Directors and Deputy Artistic Director of Paines Plough, added, “We are thrilled to be celebrating the finalists and the winner for the third year of this incredible prize, which not only champions outstanding talent, but continues to actively diversify our national theatrical landscape. We feel so lucky to have read these plays, and to consistently be bowled over by the talent, uniqueness and imagination of so many writers. At Paines Plough, we are so proud of these finalists, and thrilled to celebrate Intelligence by Sarah Grochala as this year’s winner. It blew us away with its boldness of storytelling and ambitious structure, which sees a central character cross centuries and discover what continues to inhibit female success. Sarah is an outstanding writer, and we are looking forward to working with her to produce and platform this play.”


by Sarah Grochala

When a Victorian female computing pioneer tries to make a career for herself as a serious scientist, her path is blocked by men in every direction.

She gets the chance to try again – in different times and places – but realises that there’s more at stake than her own thirst for fame…

London. 1840s. Ada Lovelace (inventor of computer software and AI pioneer) is determined to forge a career for herself as a serious scientist, but finds every path blocked by men. Even when they work with her, they’re against her. Ridiculed and desperate, she dies with all her ambitions unfulfilled. But this, it turns out, is only one of many ends. In an unexpected twist of fate, she finds herself repeatedly reincarnated and gets the chance to try for fame again, first as Grace Hopper (creator of COBOL) in 1940s America, and then as Steve Jobs in 1980s Silicon Valley. Eventually, confronted with the destruction of all her work by a shady tech billionaire, she realises that it’s the very nature of intelligence (artificial or not) that she should be fighting for.

Sarah Grochala is a neurodiverse Anglo-Polish playwright who writes female-led dramas exploring the darker aspects of life with humour and heart. She’s best-known for her Amnesty award-winning play S-27, but also writes audio episodes of Doctor Who, specialising in stories featuring alien invasions in historical settings, and robots – sometimes both.

Here is the Final Five of the Women’s Prize for Playwriting 2023

Posted on: December 19th, 2023 by ppEditor

From 1002 submissions, we’re thrilled to present our Final Five plays for the Women’s Prize for Playwriting 2023.

The plays are:

Reading for the Prize this year has been a truly enriching experience and a privilege. Over 1000 writers shared their work, writers of unquestionable talent who we will continue to champion outside of the parameters of the Prize.

Getting to the final five was never going to be an easy task, especially from a shortlist of plays that were superb, ambitious and thrilling. We could not be prouder to submit these five plays to our esteemed panel of judges who now have the task of selecting a winner. They are of astounding quality, from edge of the seat thrillers, to highly provocative, visual and magically real dramas.

A huge congratulations to all the finalists. To us, they are all winning plays that we know would bring joy to audiences and fill theatres.

Lastly, another thank you to the shortlisted writers and all the writers who submitted this year, and to the incredible team of readers we have worked with, we are emphatically grateful to you all for sharing your work with us.

Our new writer on attachment for 2024, Shahid Iqbal Khan

Posted on: November 27th, 2023 by ppEditor

We’re delighted to announce that playwright Shahid Iqbal Khan will join Team Paines Plough on attachment in 2024.

We fell in love with Shahid’s writing when reading and seeing his play 10 Nights (a Tamasha / Graeae and Bush Theatre co-production) and have hoped to work with him ever since. While on attachment to us, he will write one full-length play, and via his base in Bury, will extend our team’s reach in seeing and championing new plays around the country.

Shahid joins our Fellowship recipient Somebody Jones as a new addition to Team PP. Both of them will bring their bold and brilliant voices to represent writers at the heart of our company over the next year.

Find out more about Shahid at this link.

This attachment was made possible by the Peggy Ramsay Foundation and the Film4 Awards scheme, which celebrate and support emerging British writing talent.

Shortlist announced for the Women’s Prize for Playwriting 2023

Posted on: November 24th, 2023 by ppEditor

The Women’s Prize for Playwriting, produced by Ellie Keel and Paines Plough, today announces the 20 shortlisted scripts for The Women’s Prize for Playwriting 2023, selected from 1,002 entries. Launched in 2019, the Prize is designed to celebrate and support exceptional playwrights who identify as female or non-binary by providing them with a national platform.

In this third year of a prize celebrating the extraordinary talent of female and non-binary playwrights, the standard of work continues to inspire us. It was an enormous pleasure to read plays from such an impressive longlist making it extremely difficult to select just 20. This superb shortlist, a varied power house of wildly visual and epic story telling, is truly thrilling. We continue to feel so proud to have been able to read so many brilliant stories, and to celebrate the depth of writers in the UK. We are so excited to move forward in selecting this year’s finalists.

The shortlist in full is:

Find out more about the writers and their plays at this link.

The finalist plays will be announced in December. The winner(s) will be announced at a ceremony in London on Wednesday 24 January 2024.

The Prize is for a full-length play (defined as over 60 minutes in length), written in English, and the winning playwright wins £12,000 in respect of an option for Ellie Keel Productions and Paines Plough to co-produce the winning play. The Prize is sponsored by Samuel French Ltd, a Concord Theatricals company, who are the official publishing partner of the prize, and by commercial theatre producers Fiery Angel. The Founding Sponsor is the leading recruitment agency, PER.

The judges for this year’s Prize, chaired by Artistic Director of Kiln Theatre Indhu Rubasingham, are journalist Samira Ahmed, playwrights April de Angelis and Chris Bush, actor Noma Dumezweni, literary agent Mel Kenyon, journalist and critic Anya Ryan, Head of Play Development at the National Theatre, Nina Steiger, and Guardian Editor-in-Chief Katharine Viner.

Announcing the recipient of our 2023 Playwright Fellowship, Somebody Jones

Posted on: November 16th, 2023 by ppEditor

We’re delighted to announce the recipient of our 2023 Playwright Fellowship, Somebody Jones.

We were blown away when we first read Somebody’s play How I Learned to Swim in 2021 for the Women’s Prize for Playwriting and have followed her other work closely since then, championing her development as a playwright.

We’re delighted to now be announcing Somebody as our Fellowship writer, where during her attachment with Paines Plough she will have some time and space to explore new ideas and use this time to write a new play. She will also receive a bursary, mentorship from our Artistic Directors, and will be part of our office and programming team.

Somebody Jones is a Los Angeles native playwright/dramaturg, currently living, working, and dreaming in London. Jones’s work celebrates and champions Black culture in all of its charms and complexities. She primarily works within the genres of horror, magical realism, verbatim, and recently, Black fantasy. The name Somebody Jones means the more you run from your past, the more you’ll run into it.

Find out more about Somebody on her website: 

Longlist announced for the Women’s Prize for Playwriting 2023

Posted on: October 26th, 2023 by ppEditor

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