News Story

Following Peter Kay’s Christmas Octagon fundraiser, this month, we thought we’d take a brief blast through the past and check in with some of the familiar faces who started their careers at the Octagon!

Peter Kay

You can’t speak about Bolton without mentioning Peter Kay! After adapting plays and performing with our Youth Theatre and a short stint working on the Box Office before being “let go” (as he reminded us last week!). It was a joy to have Peter back in Bolton and on the Octagon stage!

Peter Kay

Danny Boyle

Danny worked with us as an Usher, but had experiences here at the Octagon before he worked here. Check out what he said on BBC Radio 4 earlier this year:

“The first time I went in a Theatre I was 16. Theatre didn’t belong in the culture of my life or my family. I went along to the Bolton Octagon, I benefited from that enormously, it set the course of my life.”

Danny Boyle

Es Devlin

Award-winning designer, Es Devlin, designed her first ever show here at the Octagon – Edward II (1996, Winner of the Linbury Prize for Stage Design). Es recently designed Free Your Mind at Factory International and has worked extensively on the global stage design for Beyonce’s Renaissance World Tour, the Olympic 2012 Closing Ceremony and an array of theatrical productions.

Es Devlin

Freddie Mercury

One of the most unexpected stars to perform at the Octagon earlier on in their career is Freddie Mercury! Freddie performed with his band IBEX here in 1969, he then went on to form Queen, and the rest is history!

Ibex poster

Sharon D Clarke

Acclaimed actor Sharon D Clarke performed at the Octagon twice in In the Midnight Hour (1988) & Choo Choo Ch’boogie (1989). Here is what Sharon had to say about her experience: “Everyone in the building was so warm and welcoming. It was and still is a vibrant, creative, fun place to work, I had an absolute blast. Over those I found my Northern family – I remember that time vividly and so fondly.”

Sharon D Clarke

Andy Serkis

Best known for his work as a Motion Capture actor, bringing animated characters to life on the big screen such as Lord of the Ring’s Gollum and Ceaser in the Planet of the Apes films. But Andy has also trodden the boards here at the Octagon, in which he performed in Privates on Parade (1985) & Decadence (1991).

Andy Serkis

Fiona Shaw

Multiple award-winning actor Fiona Shaw once performed in Love’s Labour’s Lost (1982) here at the Octagon. She then went on to perform in blockbusters such as the Harry Potter franchise and TV series such as Killing Eve.

Fiona Shaw

Vanessa Kirby

Oscar nominee Vanessa Kirby performed in three shows very early in her career here at the Octagon; All My Sons (2009) Ghosts (2009) & A Midsummer Nights Dream (2010). You may have seen her recently in Ridley Scott’s Napoleon or her brilliant portrayal of Princess Margaret in The Crown.

Vanessa Kirby performing at the Octagon

Kwame Kwei-Armah

Kwame has a multifaceted career in entertainment, including acting, directing and writing – and is now the Artistic Director of London’s Young Vic Theatre. He performed here twice in Choo Choo Ch’boogie (1989) & Cricket at Camp David (1988).


Maxine Peake

Maxine Peake was part of our Youth Theatre, made her stage debut on the Octagon stage in Early One Morning, AND has written a play that has been performed here! Maxine’s play Beryl was performed at the Bolton Library & Museum while the Octagon building was closed for our major redevelopment.

MAxine peake with cast of Beryl

Bhavna Limbachia

Best known for her roles in Citizen Khan and Coronation Street Bhavna performed in our 2010 production of Rafta Rafta directed by Iqbal Khan – who returns to the Octagon this February with a production of Orwell’s Animal Farm.

Bhavna Limbachia - Rafta Rafta

Sue Johnston

The Royle Family’s Barabara Royle, played by Sue Johnston performed here at the Octagon in Jim Cartwright’s Two (1989). When asked about her experience at the Octagon she said: “Well it’s my favourite theatre, both to perform in and to sit in the audience. It’s atmosphere is warm and wonderful and I suppose it reflects the people of Bolton.”

Sue Johnston in To

So, you never know who you’ll meet when you book a ticket or see a show at the Octagon!