Theatre News

Paines Plough announces autumn festival including Sharon D Clarke and Travis Alabanza

The two-week festival celebrates international collaborations

Sharon D Clarke and Travis Alabanza
Sharon D Clarke and Travis Alabanza
© left: Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage, right: Holly Revell

Paines Plough has announced its 2020 autumn season with a two-week festival The Place I Call Home, which will feature new international plays and stream across multiple digital platforms.

Joint artistic directors Charlotte Bennett and Katie Posner commissioned three bilingual, international collaborations in March at the start of lockdown to connect writers and theatres across Europe. The festival will run from 19 to 31 October.

A Brief History of Struggle is a collaboration by Dipo Baruwa-Etti (London) and Calle Fuhr (Dortmund). The play spans 1928 to 2020 across both countries and contains six short stories in English and in German. Audiences will receive five-minute snapshots of imagined conversations between people in both London and Dortmund through WhatsApp. The UK-based cast includes Bella Maclean, Daniel Adeosun, Martyn Hodge, Phia Saban and Sophie Doyle. German cast includes Cosima Shaw, Jan Pohl, Kristin Atherton, Markus Von Lingen, Nenda Neururer and Peter Stark.

In Tandem by Travis Alabanza (London) and Magdalena Zarębska-Wegrzyn (Krakow) tells the stories of lockdown couples in English and Polish. In London, the conversations are about online Drag Queen Zumba lessons, keeping plants alive, a drastic lack of PPE and family relationships maintained via video calls. In Poland, a couple stuck in the same home try to find a way through lockdown together. Audiences will receive personal email invites of these two couples' lives over the course of a week. Cast includes Sharon D Clarke, Patrycja Durska, Leanne Henlon and Paweł Kumięga. In Tandem is a co-production between Paines Plough and Theatre Ludowy, Krakow

Posta Aerea is by Giuditta Mingucci and Rosie MacPherson and is produced by Paines Plough, Elsinor Centro di Produzione Teatrale in Milan and Stand & Be Counted Theatre. Audiences will receive a package from two teenagers – Aisha and Tania – who first met on an Italian beach and a year later are living in Sheffield and Riccione, reconnecting as pen pals. The stories are told in English and Italian.

All works are co-directed by Bennett and Posner. The duo commented: "At the start of lockdown none of us anticipated the enormity of the impact that these times would have on each and every one of us. This unimagined world we now live in has highlighted that there is no same experience for anyone. This playful new digital festival celebrates difference; sharing how this time has been for different artists across Europe as well as allowing us to experiment with how we can create different theatrical digital experiences to continue to tell stories."