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Paines Plough to celebrate 40th anniversary with four premieres and a pop-up theatre tour

An artist's impression of Paines Plough's new pop-up theatre, the Roundabout.
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Four world premieres, including new plays from James Graham and Mike Bartlett, and an increased touring schedule thanks to the launch of a pop-up theatre, are to feature as part of Paines Plough’s 2014 season.

The programme will see the new writing company mark its 40th anniversary by touring eight plays to 50 venues, visiting more under-represented locations with its 175-seat Roundabout auditorium.

The Roundabout was piloted in 2011, but has been created as a fully portable space. Designed by Lucy Osborne, the in-the-round venue – which can be installed in non-traditional spaces such as village halls and sports centres – will be launched at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

It will stage work in repertory using an acting ensemble and will open with a revival of Duncan Macmillan’s Lungs and a family show by Dennis Kelly called Our Teacher’s a Troll. In the future, the company hopes to programme four of its shows in the Roundabout per season, alongside events and work by local companies.

Paines Plough joint artistic director George Perrin said: “This tour will be in partnership with places we haven’t been before, the idea being that the Roundabout sits at the heart of the community for a week and becomes almost like a mini festival or residency.”

He added: “We’re not talking about big cities just yet, this is about bedding down in parts of the country where we don’t necessarily have a big audience. We realised we needed to create a space that is more permeable. It’s like a catalyst, where you don’t necessarily differentiate between the Paines Plough work and local work.”

Graham’s new play – The Angry Brigade – will tour in the autumn, beginning at Theatre Royal Plymouth’s Drum venue, which is co-producing. It is a fictionalised account of the anarchist student group of the same name who were behind bomb attacks in the 1970s.

An Intervention, by Bartlett, is a co-production with Watford Palace Theatre and will run from April. It is described as a personal drama about two friends, one of whom tries to force the other to acknowledge they are an alcoholic.

Elsewhere in the programme, the company will revive Kate Tempest’s Hopelessly Devoted from last year through a 16-venue tour and will also release a smartphone and tablet app featuring short pieces from more than 100 writers including David Edgar, Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti and Leo Butler.

The app will be launched at the Southbank Centre in October and is the culmination of a five-year project run by Paines Plough – called Come to Where I’m From – which involved writers performing monologues about their home towns.

Paines Plough will also jointly commission three new plays with BBC Radio 3 to be performed in front of a live audience and recorded for broadcast in the winter to mark the end of its 40th year.

Perrin added: “This is a celebration of Paines Plough work at 40. We have been talking to the BBC for a while after Lungs went on to the radio and did really well. So we talked about how we could work together rather than just do radio transfers [from the stage].

“We thought ‘Why don’t we have a Sunday night slot that is a celebration of Paines Plough work and try and explore a form that is theatrical and live but nonetheless for a radio audience?’.”

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