New writing

Photo credit – Ray Jefferson, Bolton Camera Club
Photo credit – Ray Jefferson, Bolton Camera Club

We are passionate about telling stories at the Octagon and at the beginning of many of the greatest stories is a piece of paper, a pen and, most importantly of all, a writer.

Theatres need new work to thrive and grow, and we believe that participating in writing has the power to enrich and change lives for the better. We develop talent across all levels of writing, from our proud tradition of commissioning new work in our main auditorium to encouraging local novice writers to share their scripts for the very first time.

Best of Bolton

Best of Bolton 2017
Best of Bolton 2017

The Octagon is passionate about developing new writing. Every year we run a competition called Best of Bolton, that celebrates outstanding original work by writers of all different ages, backgrounds and experiences.

We are now open for entries for Best of Bolton 2018!

The next Best of Bolton will be Sat 10 November 2018.  Why not have a go at taking part?

You can submit your writing for Best of Bolton in any short form – story, poem, monologue, sketch, or a short extract from a novel or play, but it must be no more than 700 words in length or for poetry no more than 30 lines.

Everything we receive will be read, and, although we cannot return manuscripts or feedback on work that isn't selected, the forty best pieces will be read onstage in one of two performances by professional or trainee actors - (whilst our theatre across the road is being excitingly re-created) – in the beautiful Lecture Theatre at Bolton Library.

How To Apply

The competition opens on Tue 12 June with the deadline for entry being 5pm Fri 27 July. 

All entries must be accompanied by a completed copy of the entry form which includes full contact details and agreement to abide by the terms and conditions, which can be downloaded below. 

Entries can be submitted either:

* by (signed for) post to the following address: Best of Bolton, Octagon Theatre, Howell Croft South, Bolton BL1 3SP

* or by email to the following email address:


Script Guidance

  1. Work submitted must be original, unperformed and unproduced.
  2. Length: For drama, monologue and prose (extract of novel/short story) the submission must be no more than 700 words. For poetry, the submission must be no longer than 30 lines.
  3. Copyright: The entrant must exclusively own and control all copyright and all other related rights to the submitted script.
  4. The submitted work must be available for production and unattached to any other theatre or company. 

Judging and Prizes

  1. All winning entries are automatically under option to The Octagon Theatre for a period of eighteen months after the announcement of the awards.
  2. If the Octagon Theatre chooses your work(s) as a winning entry/entries, then it/they will be performed by a professional or trainee actor(s) in the Best of Bolton showcase on Sat 10 November in the Lecture Theatre at Bolton Library. 
  3. No payments will be made, including travel or subsistence expenses in the event of the writer(s) visiting the theatre throughout the production and performance periods.
  4. We regret that no correspondence can be entered into regarding any part of the judging process.


National Octagon Prize

First Words 2017: Blue, Being Amazing, Nobody Can Never Get Us Back
First Words 2017: Blue, Being Amazing, Nobody Can Never Get Us Back

The Octagon National Prize is a competition celebrating new and original writing for the stage.

Every year we ask for submissions from writers with any level of experience. The submissions are then reviewed by an esteemed panel of judges and the winning submissions will be performed in the Octagon Studio by professional actors. 


For the inaugural year of the prize we asked writers to submit monologues of any genre. From hundreds of entries from across the globe we selected 3 winning monologues that were performed in our studio in July 2017. 


For the second year, in celebration of the Octagon producing one of the most famous duologues in the theatrical canon Jim Cartwright’s TWO, entrants this year were invited to submit duologues. 

Selected from hundreds of submissions we selected two new powerful plays which were performed in our studio during our 50th anniversary season.