This year brought so much joy with the restarting of live performances, working with artists and meeting audiences in person and we hope that all continues in 2022. Here’s a quick rundown of all the fantastic plays and writers we have worked side by side with and celebrated this year:

We opened at the Kiln Theatre in May 2021 with Amy Trigg’s brilliantly funny and moving play REASONS YOU SHOULD(N’T) LOVE ME directed by Charlotte Bennett and playing to socially distanced and online audiences. Amy’s play was the smiling start we needed as theatres opened up after lockdown.

Amy was one of our winners of the inaugural Women’s Prize for Playwriting alongside Ahlam, whose play YOU BURY ME we took up to Edinburgh to present as a staged reading, directed by Katie Posner, as part of the International Festival. This presentation was also streamed online as part of their digital festival.

The summer saw us brushing the cobwebs off our pop-up space Roundabout, opening in Coventry as part of the City of Culture. We then visited Newcastle, Brixton, Salford, Ramsgate, Doncaster, Lincoln and Poole with our plays HUNGRY by Chris Bush, MAY QUEEN by Frankie Meredith, REALLY BIG AND REALLY LOUD by Phoebe Eclair-Powell and musical BLACK LOVE book and lyrics by Chinonyerem Odimba and music by Ben and Max Ringham.

Roundabout also hosted a UV children’s rave, live comedy, scratch music gigs and capoeira classes. The sun shone, the rain rained (really hard at times) but our yellow dome welcomed communities in safely and we were so pleased to be back meeting artists and audiences again. You may have seen that BLACK LOVE will return in 2022 to Kiln Theatre for a limited run and Chinonyerem has been nominated for a Writers Guild Award.

Ifeyinwa Frederick’s play SESSIONS also made its way around the country on our small scale tour. The play, brilliantly directed by Philip Morris, saw performer Joseph Black giving an outstanding performance as Tunde, resonating with people of every age. Philip’s company Trybe House delivered workshops that explored creativity in young men to address their mental health. Joseph has been nominated for an Offie for his performance and do keep an eye out for some exciting news about SESSIONS coming in the new year.

If that wasn’t enough, in 2021 we launched our Open Submissions programme receiving an astonishing 724 plays – we have committed to meeting everyone who submitted. We’ve started a series of national focus groups to hear from writers in every corner of the country to find out how Paines Plough can best serve writers of today and the future. We delivered a writer’s programme in partnership with Belgrade Coventry in the summer with 11 writers creating their own piece of work inspired by Coventry. We finished working with our Re:Assemble dramaturgs and Re:Build companies Bonnie and the Bonnettes and Nouveau Riche and we are days away from announcing the shortlist for this year’s Women’s Prize for Playwriting, which this year received 816 entries.

So, that’s seven plays, two digital productions, 71 different events in Roundabout, 1,540 submitted plays read, over 50 artists engaged on our programmes and 100 creative artists employed across 2021.

Our team have worked their socks of this year and, along with industry friends, have overcome so many challenges to deliver this brilliant programme. We’re taking a well-earned rest and will be back in the New Year with some more new plays including SORRY, YOU’RE NOT A WINNER by Sam Bailey in Plymouth, Newcastle and Bristol and BLACK LOVE at the Kiln Theatre with more to be revealed and, of course, the announcement of this year’s winner of the Women’s Prize for Playwriting in February 2022.

From all of us to you, take care, have a wonderful time with the ones you love and we can’t wait to see you in 2022.