We’re thrilled to announce our reopening programme and can’t wait to welcome you all!
As the lockdown restrictions ease and arts and culture venues are allowed to open their doors, we are thrilled to finally unveil our exciting reopening plans after a 2-year redevelopment and further postponements due to Covid-19.
Following the Government roadmap we will open our doors from May 2021, with an exciting summer of ‘Warm Up’ events.
A specially commissioned monologue, stand-up comedy, live music, play readings and family entertainment all form part of the unmissable programme.
We can also reveal details of our opening production, the smash hit comedy, THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, which will run from Thu 1 July – Sat 7 August.
World renowned detective Sherlock Holmes and his colleague Dr Watson are assigned to unravel the mystery surrounding the untimely death of Sir Charles Baskerville in this brilliantly farcical adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic novel. Adapted by Steven Canny and John Nicholson and directed by the Octagon’s Artistic Director, Lotte Wakeham, The Hound of the Baskervilles promises a fast-paced and hilarious night out.
Ahead of the first production opening, we will “warm up” the new building with a number of events throughout May and June.
Opening the Warm Up season is a wonderfully poignant, heartfelt and moving new one act play, SEE YOU AT THE OCTAGON (Wed 26 May – Tue 15 June) by local stage and screen writer Becky Prestwich. This specially commissioned monologue is a story about the people and the town of Bolton, inspired by the public responses to our Eight Questions questionnaire, which draws on memories shared of the past year and hopes for the future. See You at the Octagon captures the laughs, friendships and overwhelming community spirit that has touched people’s lives and celebrates audiences coming together to experience live theatre.
A great night of live comedy is guaranteed with JUSTIN MOORHOUSE AND FRIENDS WARM UP THE OCTAGON (Fri 11 June). Manchester-born comedian, actor, writer and radio presenter Justin Moorhouse hosts a line-up featuring some of the finest and funniest up and coming local comedians, including: Tez Ilyes, Jamie Hutchinson and Rachel Fairburn, for what promises to be an unmissable night of pure comedy gold.
Our hugely popular FIRST BITE play reading series makes a welcome return. The ‘script-in-hand’ readings give audiences the opportunity to see actors perform brand new plays. The latest instalment includes: THIS TREE IS FOR THE CHOP (Fri 28 May) by Hannah Wilkin, FAKE (Tue 1 June) by Robert Hudson, BROWNBALLED (Wed 9 June) by Adam Kotwal produced in association with Tamasha (I Wanna Be Yours), INDIA PALE ALE (Wed 16 June) by Jaclyn Backhaus and OR, (Fri 18 June) by Liz Duffy Adams.
In partnership with MACFEST (Muslim Arts and Culture Festival), we have commissioned three artists of Muslim heritage: actor and writer Shamia Chalabi, writer Shahid Iqbal Khan and actor, musician and writer Maimuna Memon, to create an exciting range of digital work which will be available to watch online from Mon 14 June. Further details of these exciting commissions will be announced very soon.
Enjoy a wonderful night of live music with FEELS LIKE HOME WITH MINA ANWAR & THE DAVE BINTLEY TRIO (Sat 5 June). This intimate evening of song and chat features a dazzling repertoire of musical numbers from jazz to show tunes, as Mina shares some of her favourite songs.
Audiences can expect a truly unique musical extravaganza with SHOWSTOPPER! THE IMPROVISED MUSICAL (Sat 19 June). Taking suggestions from the audience, this Olivier Award-winning touring improvisational troupe will weave a brand new musical live on stage, complete with hilarious characters, fabulous dance routines, beautiful songs, epic storylines, all sprinkled with the pizzazz of a Broadway show where every night is a world premiere.
We are also a partner venue for the inaugural RIGHT TO ROAM FESTIVAL (Fri 16 & Sat 17 July) a new multi venue music and arts festival coming to Bolton this summer, featuring a spectacular line-up of live music from the region’s brightest rising musicians, bands and artists.
As well as throwing open our doors, we will also be touring to communities across Bolton when later in the summer there will be fun for all the family as vibrant and exciting outdoor performance company The Fabularium bring their acclaimed show REYNARD THE FOX (Fri 30 July – Sun 8 August) to outdoor spaces across Bolton. Telling the tale of Reynard, the animal kingdom’s most infamous scoundrel, it combines exciting visuals, storytelling, puppetry and original live music that is certain to entertain audiences of all ages. Full details of performance venues and dates will be announced soon.
Artistic Director at the Octagon, Lotte Wakeham commented: “It’s a joy to finally be able to share the full details of the Octagon’s reopening. Our summer Warm Up season promises plenty for audiences of all ages to look forward to with a wide-ranging programme of new writing, comedy, music, play readings and family entertainment. I’m delighted to announce that our first full production in the reimagined Octagon will be a hilarious adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles, in which the classic Sherlock Holmes story will be reimagined as an incredibly funny, fast paced, knockabout comedy. I’m confident it will be exactly the kind of show that will delight audiences, having being away from live theatre for so long, and we look forward to welcoming everyone to experience a great night out at the Octagon. I’m thrilled to be working with many exceptional artists across this season both on stage and off, some of whom are established names but many of whom are up-and-coming and represent Bolton and Greater Manchester talent at its finest.
“Our Warm Up season will give us the first opportunity to showcase our brand new building, as well as present some wonderful outdoor performances and activities taking place at locations across Bolton this summer. This past year has reminded us more than ever of the importance and need for live theatre and with restrictions now lifting and theatres able to resume live performances we cannot wait to share the laughs, drama, fun and sheer joy that comes from being part of that experience.”
The Octagon Chief Executive, Roddy Gauld added: “After two years of redevelopment and then a global pandemic, we are really excited to now reopen our doors and welcome our audiences, participants and the community back to the Octagon.
“The last couple of months have been really busy behind the scenes as we added the finishing touches to the building and finalised our opening plans. We’re really grateful to everyone who has supported the Octagon during our redevelopment and then Covid-19. From Bolton Council and Arts Council England, through to every individual donor, people have come together to secure the future of Bolton’s theatre for generations to come.
“We are happy to announce that we will be opening from May with a fantastic summer programme which will be a great opportunity to give everyone a first look inside their brand new Octagon.
“We’ll be constantly reviewing how we work so that we can provide the best experience, and ensure everyone’s safety through a range of Covid-secure measures. With social distancing in place it will mean all the events will have a smaller capacity so early booking is absolutely essential to get what is sure to be Bolton’s hottest ticket this summer.”
Our Warm Up season will go on sale on Sat 8 May at 9am with priority booking available for Members from today (Thu 6 May).