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Paines Plough commits to improving conditions for actors in auditions

Sally Messhum and Katie Elin-Salt in Out of Love. Photo: Jonathan Keenan Paines Plough's Out of Love was performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017. Photo: Jonathan Keenan
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New writing company Paines Plough has drawn up a list of pledges it will adhere to in a bid to provide better conditions for actors during auditions.

Performers will always be told whether or not they have been successful at audition, according to the list, and will be able to audition for any part, as well as be given breakdowns of who they will be meeting and what to prepare.

Joint artistic director James Grieve said he had been prompted to create a set of promises for auditions after realising “how often the process is stacked against the actor”.

“For any normal job interview, there’s a job description: you’ll get sent some information about the company, you’ll be told who you’re meeting, you’ll have time to prepare and present the best version of yourself,” he said, arguing that this is not the case in theatre, where actors often get told little about the people they will be auditioning for or what they will be expected to do.

He said the company was making a formal pledge both to hold itself to account but also in the hope that others might follow.

The pledges include publishing breakdowns online for every part that is being cast, promising that anyone can put themselves forward and will be considered, and giving detailed information about what to prepare, who will be in attendance and what format the meeting will take.

The company has also promised to contact every individual after an audition, regardless of whether they are successful or not.

Actors have previously expressed frustration at receiving “radio silence” after an audition or at only finding out a role has been cast when a public announcement is made.

Grieve said this was a practice he was aware actors found difficult, along with feeling that auditions can be hard to access.

Paines Plough already holds open auditions for its productions and has pledged to continue doing so, promising to accept applications for performers that are not signed with an agent, not on Spotlight or live far from London.

The new auditions pledge comes as Paines Plough announces its season of work for 2018, including a new play by Bruntwood Prize-winner Anna Jordan, who won the award in 2013 for Yen. Pop Music will be co-produced with Birmingham Repertory Theatre and will tour this autumn.

The company’s pop-up theatre, Roundabout, returns with three new plays by Georgia Christou, Simon Longman and Vinay Patel, produced with Theatr Clwyd.

Paines Plough 2018 season at a glance

Island Town by Simon Longman
Dates to be confirmed
Produced by Paines Plough and Theatr Clwyd

Sticks and Stones by Vinay Patel
Dates to be confirmed
Produced by Paines Plough and Theatr Clwyd

How to Spot an Alien by Georgia Christou
Dates to be confirmed
Produced by Paines Plough and Theatr Clwyd

Pop Music by Anna Jordan
Directed by James Grieve
Dates to be confirmed
Produced by Paines Plough and Birmingham Repertory Theatre

I Wanna Be Yours by Zia Ahmed
Directed by Anna Himali Howard
April 18 to 21
Produced by Paines Plough and Tamasha

Albatross by Isley Lynn
Directed by Anna Himali Howard
Dates to be confirmed
Produced by Paines Plough, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and the Gate Theatre


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