A look back at the Octagon's 2017

A look back at the Octagon's 2017

A world premiere by an all-female cast, three brand new monologues, reaching 50 years old, and an extraordinarily cute border collie... this year has been great fun!


We welcomed in 2017 with Willy Russell's award-winning Educating Rita, starring Jessica Baglow and David Birrell. 

Then Katy Kavanagh and Colin Connors, who has previously worked on Two and Two2, returned to perform Ashes, a hard-hitting play that tackled sensitive issues about conception and parenthood.

In March and April, we took a trip to the Moors (physically and figuratively) with The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

In April and May, our co-production with Watford Palace Theatre I Capture the Castle came to life at the Octagon.

A world premiere came next, written by one of Britain's most influential playwrights Timberlake Wertenbaker. Winter Hill starred 8 women, including Denise Black, Janet Humphfrey, Louise Jameson, and Cathy Tyson, and tackled the subject of fighting for freedom.

Ending the 2016-17 season was Alan Bennett's iconic masterpieces, Talking Heads.

Beginning the 2017-18 season was Andrea Dunbar's seminal Rita, Sue and Bob Too, a co-production with Out of Joint and the Royal Court Theatre.

In October and November, Brecht was brought to life on stage with The Threepenny Opera, which saw a talented cast act, sing, and play many instruments. 

Finishing 2017's main house productions in style is A Christmas Carol, Dickens' classic story of redemption and festive cheer! 


We saw the second of our REVEAL Festival. Aiming to showcase new and emerging playwrights and theatre-makers , REVEAL presents work inside the Octagon, online, and outside in site specific locations.

This year, we had performances by the swimming pool at the Holiday Inn in Bolton, in a Church, an empty Bolton at Home residence, and in the University of Bolton's Court Rooms!

Young people and community

Each year, our Academy write, produce and perform their very own piece of work at the Octagon and at different locations across Bolton. This year, in July, they wrote and performance On Songbird's Wings which they took to community centres and schools across the town.

In August, the Octagon's main auditorium was transformed into the world of E. Nesbit's magical The Railway Children. 100 young people and 4 professional actors worked for three weeks to bring this beautiful story to life and received standing ovations for each of their three performances!


August sees Bolton come alive with the Food and Drink Festival, and this year we decided to throw open our doors once again - this time as a train station, complete with a train and an Ancient Egypt stop. We also had some wonderful actors perform the Mad Hatters Tea Party in the centre of town!

On November 27 2017, the Octagon reached its 50th anniversary! In celebration, on Sunday 26 November we invited the public into our theatre for lots of free theatre activities, including backstage tours, lighting demonstrations, and a costume exhibition. 

In The Studio

This year, our Studio has been a young company's dressing, a dog's dressing room (Evie and Tia from The Tenant of Wildfell Hall) and it has also been the home of the performances of our first ever National Octagon Prize winners. Charlotte Josephine's Blue, Shauna Mackay's Nobody Can Never Get Us Back and Ian Townsend's Being Amazing

good news

In March, we won 3 Manchester Theatre Awards. 2 were awarded to Singin' in the Rain for: Best Design and Best Ensemble. We also won the MTA for Best Newcomer (Jasmine and Lucy, who played Scout).

In December, we received a £5,000 grant from UKHealthcare Foundation to help us continue our dementia-friendly work.

Thank you to all of our audiences, staff, volunteers, actors, directors, supporters, and funders for an incredible 2017. We cannot wait to see you and share with you in 2018!