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Paines Plough pop-up in a Roundabout for their Fringe programme

By | Published on Thursday 7 August 2014


Paines Plough will be familiar to anyone with even a passing interest in the Fringe’s theatre strand, the acclaimed new writing theatre company having presented countless shows at the Festival over the years.

Though this year the company is doing something extra special at the Fringe by bringing their own performance space with them, called Roundabout. And while it’s become fashionable of late to refer to all the temporary theatres built in Edinburgh for the Fringe festival as ‘pop-up venues’, this one really is.

“Roundabout is a completely self-contained, 168-seat in-the-round auditorium”, Paines Plough Co-Artistic Director James Grieve explains. “It flat packs into a single lorry and pops up in a day, requiring no tools or specialist skills to assemble. The lighting and sound systems are bespoke designed and utilise completely new technology which is incredibly energy efficient. It’s a dynamic, immersive space which wraps the audience around the action and creates a bear pit atmosphere”.

The new venue is popping up for the very first time at the Fringe this year, in the Summerhall complex, hosting shows presented by both Paines Plough itself, and guest companies including Northern Stage. After which the Roundabout venue will go on tour. “We’re working with local organisations everywhere we visit to programme a festival of community work around our own productions” Grieve continues. “The venue will host everything from local amateur and youth theatre productions to concerts, dance, talks, comedians. There’s even a wedding in Barnsley!”

While giving the theatre group their own Edinburgh space is an added bonus, Paines Plough have really invested in creating the Roundabout construction so they can take theatre to places where there are no suitable venues to perform. “We’re lucky to have the best playwrights in the world here in the UK”, Grieve says of the motivation behind the project, “and we think everyone should have the chance to see brilliant new plays. But in many parts of the country there are no theatres. Roundabout means we can take a theatre to those places and pop it up in a school hall or sports centre or warehouse, bringing a unique venue and a host of great new plays to people’s doorsteps”.

But staying with the Edinburgh season for now, Grieve talks through his programme. “We have four of our own productions: the multi-award winning ‘Lungs’ by Duncan Macmillan, a new thriller from George Devine Award winner Alexandra Wood called ‘The Initiate’, a magical show for children seven pluss which we’re co-producing with Half Moon called ‘Our Teacher’s A Troll’ by ‘Matilda The Musical’ writer Dennis Kelly, and ‘Every Brilliant Thing’, also by Duncan Macmillan, which we’re co-producing with Pentabus. We’re also hosting new work from The Royal Exchange Manchester, Northern Stage, Greyscale and The Lyric Hammersmith’s Secret Theatre Company”.

As previously reported, Northern Stage have this year moved their own Edinburgh Fringe venue operation to Kings Hall, putting them just around the corner from Roundabout’s Summerhall home. On that tie up Grieve concluded: “We really admire what Northern Stage has been doing in Edinburgh these past few years. Their artistic director Lorne Campbell saw the potential in Roundabout, and the opportunity to curate work from other companies in the space. With the wonderful Summerhall hosting us, it’s a multi-partner collaboration we’re thrilled to be involved in. Companies we admire, all working together, with a shared passion for new writing”.

LINKS: www.painesplough.com