Paines Plough Theatre Company Archive

Scope and Content

This archive contains administrative records relating to the running of Paines Plough; production records relating to plays produced by the theatre company; literary records containing prompt scripts, drafts of scripts, scripts submitted to Paines Plough, correspondence, and readers reports; photographs of Paines Plough productions and people associated with the company; press and marketing records containing press cuttings and marketing information; film and sound recordings of Paines Plough productions; and education and workshop materials which were used by the company.

Administrative / Biographical History

Paines Plough was set up in 1974 by writer David Pownall and director John Adams, the company took its name from the pub they were sitting in (The Plough) and the beer they were drinking (Paines bitter). One of the many touring companies established in the 1970s, Paines Plough is now one of the most enduring. The company specialise in developing and producing plays by contemporary writers at all stages of their career, and as a result, have worked with many of Britain's most significant contemporary writers including Gregory Burke, Moira Buffini, Pam Gems, David Greig, Sarah Kane, Terry Johnson, Mark Ravenhill, Philip Ridley and Enda Walsh. Another key feature of the company's work is active collaboration with other theatre organisations. The company has produced a large number of innovative commissioning and showcasing projects such as, Wild Lunch (script-in-hand lunchtime readings), Later (playwright-curated readings of recent work/work-in-progress), and Come to Where I'm From (commissioning playwrights to return to and write about their home times).


The original order has been maintained as far as possible. Where the original order has been disturbed in order to aid researchers this has been indicated. The archive has been divided into 7 series:

  • THM/372/1 - Papers relating to the running of Paines Plough Theatre Company
  • THM/372/2 - Production records
  • THM/372/3 - Literary records
  • THM/372/4 - Photographs
  • THM/372/5 - Press and marketing records
  • THM/372/6 - Film and Sound recordings
  • THM/372/7 - Education and Workshop projects

Access Information

This archive collection is available for consultation in the V&A Blythe House Archive and Library Study Room by appointment only. Full details of access arrangements may be found here:

Access to some of the material may be restricted. These are noted in the catalogue where relevant.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Paines Plough, Feb 2010.

Conditions Governing Use

Information on copying and commercial reproduction may be found here:

Custodial History

This archive was held in the offices of Paines Plough until its transfer to the V&A Department of Theatre & Performance.


Further accruals are expected.

Related Material

See also the core collections of the V&A Theatre and Performance Department. Material relating to Paines Plough may be found in several collections, including the biographical, productions, company and photographs files.

The following archive collections hold material relating to Paines Plough and new writing theatre:

  • THM/271 - Roundhouse and Open Space theatre companies: records
  • THM/273 - English Stage Company (Royal Court Theatre) Archive
  • THM/317 - Tricycle Theatre Archive
  • THM/322 - Sphinx Theatre Company Archive
  • ACGB - Arts Council of Great Britain Archive

Please ask the Department of Theatre & Performance enquiry team for further details.