Look back on the year: 2018

Look back on the year: 2018

It's been a big year for the Octagon, here's a look back at some of our achievements in 2018. Thank you for being there with us and supporting us along the way!


"I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”

Whilst we were still in the building, we kicked off in January with a new adaptation of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre written by Janys Chambers and Lorna French, and directed by Elizabeth Newman. This was followed by our "Fast-paced, gripping and utterly compelling" (Opening Night) Hamlet directed by David Thacker.

From March to April we were keeping up with the Kahns at our favourite Fish & Chip shop for our production of Ayub Kahn Din's East is EastReturning to complete the 50th anniversary season Lawrence Till brought us the World Premiere of The Big Corner, a new play based on the short stories of Bill Naughton. 

Our Out and About season began with Summer Holiday, starting at the new Bolton Interchange and taking passengers on a special Vision Bus trip to Victoria Square via Le Mans Cresent, finishing up as the final production in our Octagon building. Then we headed out on the road to Queens Park for Gullivers Travels, transforming the park into the magical land of Lilliput for a magical promenade production with a GIGANTIC young company and puppet. 

And Did Those Feet took us to the home of the Wanderers for "a timely reminder of how lucky we are to have two wonderful institutions directly on our doorstep: the town’s theatre and its football club" (The Bolton News). And finally, The Wonderful Wizard of Ozour special Bolton adaptation in the Premier Suite at the University of Bolton Stadium.

The Studio

Selected from hundreds of submissions, this years Octagon’s National Prize winners had their worked performed in the Studio this year in March and April. Written and performed by Sarah McDonald Hughes and Curtis Cole Sherbet, a new play about childhood, responsibility and control was directed by Elizabeth Newman. Celebrating new and original writing for the stage, a brand new play about forbidden love in the Sixties Kathrine Smith's All I See Is You was directed by Ben Occhipinti and performed by Christian Edwards and Ciaran Griffiths.


 This year's REVEAL Festival took place inside, outside and online. Online, Boys Don’t Cry featured performers in Bolton and France broadcasted live and two short, online films were presented: Letter to My Daughter  an experience of seeking asylum and What Matters? a challenge on the attitudes towards social media. 

Penguins by Prime Theatre was performed live at Bolton School, alongside a brilliant selection of site-specific performances taking place around Bolton. When We Were Brothers by Freedom Studios at The Venue Bar, Trial by Monkeywood Theatre in the Bolton Council Chambers, Flight performed on the rooftop of the Institute of Management and Dear Nomad directed by Cara Novotny performed at Odessa Cafe.

young people and the community

This year we have been privilidged to work with RiRi's Dance Academy on Thunderstruck at the Holiday Inn and 20 Stories High production BLACK by Keith Saha at Castle Hill Young People's Centre.

The Octagon's Academy wrote, produced and toured their own production of Lena Logged Off to hundreds of people at venues across Bolton.

The Best of Bolton new writing showcase saw 50 selected new works performed by professional actors over a day in the Lecture Theatre at Bolton Library, and December saw the festive showbacks from the autumn term of theatre groups at Tales From Over the Rainbow in the Market Place Shopping Centre.


As the building has closed for the most major redevelopment in the theatre's history we've been working hard to secure funding for facilities in the new building. Earlier in the year we were awarded 425k from funders which took us one step closer to our Octagon Reimagined target. After surviving an unexpected flooding during Summer Holiday we closed the building and opened up our Cafe and Box Office in the Market Place Shopping Centre.

This year we were nominated for the Community Award at the Bolton Business Awards, Summer Holiday was nominated for Best Musical Production at the UK Theatre Awards and Summer Holiday won the award for Best Production at the Northern Soul Awards.

Also, this year the Octagon Theatre was very proud to receive a Theatre of Sanctuary Status Award from UK City of Sanctuary, recognising ongoing work with refugees and asylum seekers in Bolton. Most recently we have secured three years of funding to continue the delivery of the The Academy, the landmark project for young people in Bolton.

This year our Artistic Director Elizabeth Newman stepped down to take up a new role in Pitlochry and we are delighted to announce that Lotte Wakeham will be joining us as our new Artistic Director from February 2019.