New writing at the Octagon

"The play’s the thing!"

Hamlet, William Shakespeare

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

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

This fantastic celebratory annual festival of local talent showcases the very best of writing from home grown Bolton writers. We’d love to hear your story! Submissions can be in any short form – story, poem, monologue, sketch, a short extract from a novel or play, but no more than three minutes long (approximately 400 words).

The next Best of Bolton event will scheduled soon please check back for more details.

Please submit your work marked Best of Bolton by email to

Top Five Festival

We simply cannot read all the scripts that are sent to us, so for most of the year we do not accept unsolicited scripts. But once a year we open a script-reading window during 2 months for people who have just started writing, to professional scriptwriters, to submit scripts - and these scripts will all be read.

From the open window we will select five of the best to be performed in our Studio by professional actors script-in-hand in our annual Top Five Festival.

“The Octagon provides unique and real opportunities for local writers at all levels - from beginners to the more experienced. I've been fortunate enough to develop work with the artistic team, to see it performed, to attend rehearsals and workshops, and to build a solid and, I hope, long-lasting relationship with the theatre.” Ian Townsend (featured writer from 2016 Top 5 Festival).

Discover Top 5 2017

National Octagon Prize

For those of you who want to have a go at becoming the new Naughton, Churchill, Agbaje or Miller, we are thrilled to host our annual National Octagon Prize!


We're delighted to launch the second year of our National Prize, encouraging new and original writing for the stage.

In celebration of the Octagon producing one of the most famous duologues in the theatrical canon Jim Cartwright’s TWO, entrants this year are invited to submit duologues on any theme or any genre. Plays should be between 7,500 and 15,000 words long and must be original, unperformed and unproduced pieces of work. Entrants over 16 with any level of experience are eligible to submit their work and the winning submissions will be performed in the Octagon Studio by professional actors during the theatre’s 50th anniversary season.




First words

Join us for the performance of three brand new monologues, selected from hundreds of submissions from across the globe from first year of our National Prize.