Paines Plough


Paines Plough was founded by a playwright, David Pownall, and a director, John Adams in 1974. They were drinking Paines Bitter in The Plough pub. The company's mission then remains the same today: to the produce the best new plays on tour, and to help playwrights develop their craft.

Initially the company produced David’s plays which John directed. In the early 80s the company started producing the work of Stephen Jeffreys, and the debut play by an aspiring writer called Terry Johnson. Since then it has been Paines Plough’s raison d’être to discover brilliant young writers and produce their early work.

Paines Plough has premiered many plays that were ahead of the curve and changed the landscape, like CRAVE and MERCURY FUR. But its impact resonates beyond its own programmes, in the work of the playwrights the company championed at the start of their careers, who go on to be world-beaters. Abi Morgan’s films SHAME and THE IRON LADY have been seen by cinema audiences worldwide. Dennis Kelly’s MATILDA: THE MUSICAL has taken the West End and Broadway by storm. Writers like Jack Thorne, Nick Payne, Penelope Skinner and Tom Wells came through our Future Perfect playwright attachment programme. Vicky Featherstone now runs the Royal Court, John Tiffany is the toast of Broadway. PP has launched the careers of some of our nation’s greatest artists.

We strive to be a truly national theatre of new plays by travelling to every corner of the country to give as many people as possible the chance to see the best of British new writing. Our Programme 2017 sees eight extraordinary new plays touring the nation and internationally. You’ll find us everywhere from Aberystwyth to Adelaide, in tiny village halls and cavernous concert halls, at music festivals and student unions, online and on TV, and in our pop-up auditorium Roundabout.

Roundabout is a 168-seat, fully self-contained, in-the-round theatre that flat packs into a lorry and pops up anywhere from school halls to warehouses. We built it because there are so many places around the country that don’t have theatres, and we want to reach new people in new places with great new plays in a surprising and exciting theatrical context. We think Roundabout will offer people a unique, dynamic live experience, whether they are theatre fans or not.

Paines Plough has been a member of ITC since 1974. As a touring company we never work alone. We co-produce everything, and we are reliant on our partners in theatres nationwide to book our work. So we are deeply embedded in the Independent Sector and greatly value its energy and ingenuity in the face of an ever-changing economic and social climate. The vitality of the independent sector, and the passion, dedication and skill of those who work within it, make it an essential creative force. An eco-system spreading across the country. We are proud to be a part of this ingenious, resilient sector, and look forward to playing a part in many more years of world class independent theatre making in Britain.


  • Drama


  • New Writing
  • Rural Touring

Organisation Type

  • touring