Octagon launches Bolton-wide creative writing competition

Octagon launches Bolton-wide creative writing competition

To encourage creativity during lockdown we are launching a new writing competition for anyone aged 11 and over.

This new opportunity is inspired by our upcoming production of One Night in Bolton by Becky Prestwich (dates to be confirmed), a play about two audience members who were at the opening night of the original Octagon back in 1967. It follows them through the decades to the present day, celebrating Bolton and its community, and how theatre and stories can bring people together.

Inspired by these themes, we are asking people to write their own “One Night in Bolton” stories and memories, set in Bolton at any time between the 1960s and the present day. We are inviting people to send a short story, monologue script or poem based on a memory, a real event or even a fictional event. There is a word limit of maximum 500 words.

The winning pieces will be selected by a judging panel, from two categories: a young people’s category for 11-17 year olds and an adults’ category for those aged over 18. The winning pieces will be recorded by a professional actor and shared online and a selection will be broadcast on BBC Radio Manchester.

This is a competition for non-professional writers, and the judges are looking for a variety of stories and memories about nights in Bolton. The judging panel includes the Octagon’s Artistic Director Lotte Wakeham, writer Becky Prestwich (whose credits include One Night in Bolton for the Octagon, and Holby City and Doctors for the BBC), BBC Radio Manchester presenter Becky Want and best-selling novelist Monica Ali (Brick Lane, Alenjejo Blue, In the Kitchen, Untold Story).

Monica Ali comments: “I’m delighted that Octagon Bolton has asked me to be one of the judges for their new writing competition. Having grown up in Bolton I know there’s plenty of talent there! I can’t wait to start reading the entries and even if you’ve never written before - have a go! Especially if you have more time on your hands than usual. My advice would be: don’t worry about polish and writing style, write what’s on your mind, dig deep inside yourself, honest writing is always the most powerful.”

Judge Becky Prestwich adds: “One of my favourite parts of researching One Night in Bolton was listening to people recounting their memories of nights out in Bolton - from a lime and soda at the Beach Comber after school to wild nights at Cinderella Rockerfellas. Bolton is a town bubbling with stories and I can’t wait to read yours.”

Artistic Director Lotte Wakeham comments: “I am thrilled to be launching this Bolton-wide creative writing competition. In my experience, everyone in Bolton has a great story to tell about the town, so I really encourage anyone and everyone to give it a go and apply. Your story might feature a night-time hike up Rivington Pike to watch the fireworks on Bonfire Night, or a memorable summer evening at the Food and Drink festival. Perhaps you remember getting the Atlantis bus to the Valley for a night out, or maybe memories of a family celebration or sporting event will get your creative juices flowing. We want to hear a huge range of stories from people of all ages.

Along the way we will be producing blogs and videos with tips on how to get started, so whether you’re a keen amateur writer or completely new to creative writing – we want to hear from you!”

The competition is now open for entries and the closing date for entries is Mon 1 June 2020. 

Find out more & how to enter

Watch Artistic Director Lotte Wakeham launch the competition: