In Lotte Wakeham’s first season as Artistic Director, we are thrilled to announce a season of popular, bold and adventurous productions in venues across Bolton.
Our season of theatre ‘out and about’ continues this autumn as construction of the multi-million pound redevelopment of the town centre building continues. In the final months ahead of the new building opening in spring 2020 the theatre will be producing shows in Bolton Library Theatre and the University of Bolton Stadium with other events at the theatre’s base in the Market Place shopping centre.
“I’m delighted to announce my first season as Artistic Director. I want the Octagon to produce popular, bold and adventurous work, giving our audiences the best theatrical experiences possible. Putting together this season has been a wonderful experience and I’m very excited about the variety of productions. From a brilliant play by Maxine Peake, to the world premiere of a new musical, to our annual festive treat for families, I can’t wait to share this wide range of shows and events with our fantastic audiences. I’m confident that there’ll be something for everyone this season, whether you’re an Octagon regular or whether it’s your first visit; we look forward to welcoming you this autumn!” Artistic Director Lotte Wakeham
Beginning the season is the critically acclaimed BERYL (Thu 19 Sep – Sat 19 Oct 2019) which tells the extraordinary true story of the unsung sporting hero Beryl Burton. Written by award winning actress and former Octagon Youth Theatre member, Maxine Peake, this energetic play tells the tale of how in the 1960s, Yorkshire lass Beryl Burton became a record-breaking world champion and cycling legend. Brought to life in the intimate setting of Bolton’s Library Theatre this fast-paced, funny and moving play will be directed by Kimberley Sykes (As You Like It, RSC).
The Octagon are excited to announce the world premiere of a new musical SEAGULLS (Thu 24 Oct – Sat 16 Nov 2019). Loosely inspired by Chekov’s The Seagull, this is a punchy 21st century adaptation by Beth Hyland. On the precipice of adult life and feeling like anything and everything is possible, four students in Bolton believe their band will one day make its mark on the music industry. But when complicated romances and artistic differences threaten to tear them apart, cracks appear and reality hits hard. With live original music combined with the passion of first love and heartbreak this will be Lotte Wakeham’s directorial debut at the Octagon. Seagulls will be presented in association with the award-winning Middle Child Theatre who specialise in “gig theatre” – theatre that makes a noise. This production is also produced with our partners at the University of Bolton.
As part of the autumn 2019 season the Octagon are delighted to present a visiting show from two incredible theatre companies: I WANNA BE YOURS (Mon 11 Nov 2019) is presented by Tamasha who originally developed East is East, and Paines Plough who have been making waves nationally with their ROUNDABOUT season. In this funny and moving debut play by emerging writer Zia Ahmed we follow the tender story of Ella and Haseeb.
We then close the season with the classic tale of buccaneers and buried gold, TREASURE ISLAND (Sun 8 – Fri 27 Dec 2019), in a rip-roaring new stage adaptation by writer Kate Ferguson with music and lyrics by Susannah Pearse, based on the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson. Following the success of last year’s festive show this year we'll be sailing into the Premier Suite at the University of Bolton Stadium as a fearsome cast of actor musicians bring to life this fun-filled family adventure bursting with music, mutiny and talking parrots! Directed by West End Regular Tim Jackson, expect festive magic and toe-tapping tunes.
In addition there will be an exciting programme of rehearsed readings in the Octagon’s base at the Market Place shopping centre. FIRST BITE will be a chance for audiences to see actors perform three new plays “script in hand” followed by a Q&A session. The first play FAMILY TREES (Fri 15 Nov 2019) by Clare Bayley - a gripping family drama about secrets and lies, from the 1950s to the present day. Next up WILT (Fri 22 Nov 2019) by north-west playwright Kieran Knowles is a funny and moving ‘state of the nation’ play about a group of local park rangers. Finally BURKAS AND BACON BUTTIES (Fri 29 Nov 2019) by Shamia Chalabi and Sarah Henley is a comedy set in Wigan following a father-daughter relationship over a course of a year. This will be a unique opportunity to hear these plays which might one day become full productions.
For families there will be a series of STORYMAKER events – storytelling with a difference for children and the grown-ups who look after them. THE GINGERBREAD MAN (Fri 23 & Sat 24 Aug 2019), HANSEL AND GRETEL (Tue 22 Oct 2019) and THE SNOW QUEEN (Sat 7 & Sat 14 Dec 2019) will all be read aloud by a professional actor. Also featuring live music and creative craft activities, children will be able to see these classic tales come to life.
Connected to Beryl and Seagulls there will be the theatre’s popular INVESTIGATE DAYS. An opportunity for audiences to explore the themes of the plays with the director and cast and discover more about the process of producing the play. There will also be two open-mic events to help celebrate the new writing and live music of Seagulls. On Mon 4 November there will be a spoken word open-mic event in Lecture Theatre Two at the Museum and later that week the Octagon will be hosting several young bands from ROCK IT! – a Bolton project focusing on young musicians – on Fri 8 November.
"I’m really excited with the programme we have coming up. I’m sure existing and new audiences alike will enjoy this season of fresh, new work. We’re ‘out and about’ as we continue construction work on the theatre, and both the Library Theatre and the University of Bolton stadium will be great venues that audiences are now familiar with. Our new building will open in spring 2020, along with a new artistic vision from Lotte for popular, bold and adventurous theatre. This season is a fantastic taster of what’s still to come.” Roddy Gauld, Chief Executive