Artistic Directors of Paines Plough Charlotte Bennett and Katie Posner have launched Roundabout 2021, as part of this year’s programme ‘A Promise to 2021’. Rosanna Head
The pop-up venue in Slade Gardens, Brixton from 19-29 August has a line-up of four world premieres that includes; a new musical by Chinonyerem Odimba (Princess & The Hustler, Medea). BLACK LOVE with music by Ben and Max Ringham, which will be co-directed by Chinonyerem Odimba and Katie Posner, in Association with Tiata Fahodzi. Chris Bush’s (Steel, The Changing Room) new play HUNGRY, a play about food, love, class and grief in a world where there’s little left to savour, and Phoebe Eclair-Powell’s (Fury, Epic Love and Pop Songs) new family show REALLY BIG AND REALLY LOUD, both directed by Katie Posner.
Paines Plough’s 2019 Playwright Fellow Frankie Meredith will also present MAY QUEEN – a coming-of-age story about a young woman from Coventry on a quest to find her place in her city and in the world, directed by 2021 Co-Artistic Director of Belgrade Theatre Balisha Karra. Balisha was Paines Plough’s Trainee Director in 2018. The season will be part of Belgrade Theatre’s Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 Programme. We spoke to Frankie Meredith the writer of May Queen and you can watch the interview here.
We also had the pleasure of interviewing Matt Maltby, producer of Roundabout programme.
Here’s our SpotlightOn interview with Matt.
Tell us about Paines Plough Roundabout?
Roundabout is an in-the-round tourable, pop-up venue. It goes anywhere that doesn’t have a theatre, gets built every week in 3 days, and hosts plays, musicals and community events.
How did this project come about?
Paines Plough built Roundabout in 2014 because there are so many places around the UK that don’t have a theatre or live venue, and we wanted to meet communities all around the country, bringing brilliant new plays with us.
Tell me about your background, how did you get into production?
I started as an actor, and became a producer totally by accident; a friend asked me to run an event with him, and we found that we quite liked doing it. We made a slightly bigger event, and then a slightly bigger one, and somehow I’m here, nearly a decade down the line.
How do you select the shows?
Our brilliant artistic directors at Paines Plough, Katie Posner and Charlotte Bennett, spend their whole lives meeting and supporting artists whose work they love, and then each year have to choose 3 or 4 writers to offer a commission.
This year we chose Chinonyerem Odimba, who’s written the brilliant musical BLACK LOVE with Ben and Max Ringham, Chris Bush, who explores food and class in HUNGRY, Frankie Meredith, who’s dived really deep into being a young woman in her home town of Coventry, and Phoebe Eclair-Powell, who wrote the joyful REALLY BIG AND REALLY LOUD, our play for young people.
We also have some of our favourite friends coming with their own shows, including the award-winning RashDash, Sindhu Vee, the drag icons Bonnie and the Bonnettes, and the wonderful Nouveau Riche. Alongside that there are community events and experiences, as we welcome the whole of South-East London inside our dome – we can’t wait.
What can visitors to the shows expect to experience?
We’re really excited about the huge range of experiences inside Roundabout this year – from capoeira displays to top-class plays, via workshops with veterans and top-class comedy shows. There’s something for absolutely everyone.
What is planned for the next few months?
After Brixton, Roundabout goes on the move – we’re in Salford, Ramsgate, Doncaster, Poole, Burton and Lincoln, all in 6 weeks! Then we’ll be back in London with SESSIONS at Soho Theatre, Ifeyinwa Frederick’s brilliant deep-dive into masculinity and therapy.
What are your favourite #SELondon spots?
I spent my lockdown in Nunhead, and spent a lot of time walking in Nunhead Cemetery and Brockwell Park. Borough’s been home for a long time, and there’s nowhere quite like The Roebuck on Trinity Street.
What piece of advice would you give to an upcoming producer?
Be kind, start small and build up, and if you don’t know what to do (which will be often), ask someone who does. My favourite work was always co-producing with a close friend – someone to turn to and ask where to go next. If they don’t know either, at least you’re in it together.
And just for fun, who would be your ideal fantasy dinner guests?
My best friend lives in Canada, and I miss living with him off Bermondsey Street; as I write this, my partner is in the Caribbean, working on a TV show. Right now, I can think of little I’d like more than to see them both, probably in The Roebuck.
Paines Plough are planning to partner with food banks across the Roundabout tour to support those most affected by the pandemic and, alongside family show REALLY BIG AND REALLY LOUD by Phoebe Eclair-Powell, they plan to work with young people across the country to deliver an engagement programme that encourages them to use their voices after over a year kept away from their friends and peers.
Roundabout is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and has been additionally supported by the Theatre’s Trust. The Brixton Season is supported by the London Borough of Lambeth through #LambethELEVATE.
Tickets for Roundabout: Brixton are now on sale via the Paines Plough website. The award-winning, portable, in-the-round auditorium will then tour across the UK to cities including Salford, Ramsgate, Doncaster, Lincoln and Bournemouth throughout the autumn.
Co-Produced with Belgrade Theatre, Coventry
27 July – 07 August: Moathouse, Wood End, Coventry
12 – 15 August: Northern Stage, Newcastle
19 – 29 August: Slade Gardens, Brixton, London*
9 – 12 September: The Lowry, Salford
16 – 19 September: Creative Civic Change Newington, Ramsgate
30 September – 03 October: Cast, Doncaster
07 – 11 October: LPAC, Lincoln
14 – 17 October: Lighthouse Poole, Bournemouth and Poole
*Venue subject to final licenses permissions