World premiere of Timberlake Wertenbaker's Winter Hill

World premiere of Timberlake Wertenbaker's Winter Hill

Octagon Theatre Bolton is proud to present the world premiere of Winter Hill, the new play from internationally acclaimed playwright Timberlake Wertenbaker, with an all-female cast.

Set in Bolton, in the near future, Winter Hill centres on a group of eight local women, as they deal with the ramifications of land on nearby Winter Hill being sold to developers to create a luxurious skyscraper hotel – the largest in Europe. To appease the local community, they are promised by developers that a new school and social housing will also be built on the hill. However, as the money begins to run out, these plans are scrapped leading to the group meeting up in a half-built hotel to discuss what, if anything, can be done about it and if power can ever truly belong to the people.

Timberlake Wertenbaker’s new play explores how a group of seemingly ordinary women endeavour to protect their local community, no matter the cost, and questioning the lengths people go to for a cause they believe in - at what point does the fight for freedom become terrorism?

The production’s cast will feature Cathy Tyson (BAFTA and Golden Globe-nominated Mona Lisa; Band of Gold, ITV and most recently onstage in Nikolai Forster’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest, Birmingham Rep) as Irene;  Denise Black (Denise Osbourne in Coronation Street and Joanie Wright in Emmerdale, Both ITV; Cucumber and Queer as Folk , Channel 4 and onstage in Pack at the Finborough Theatre and as Mother Superior in the UK tour of Sister Act) as Dolly; Louise Jameson (Doc Martin, ITV; Doctor Who, EastEnders and Bergerac, BBC) as Beth; Fiona Hampton ( Of Mice and Men, The Glass Menagerie and Private Live, Octagon Theatre Bolton) as Emma and Janet Henfrey (Wolf Hall, The Singing Detective and as Mrs Bale in As Time Goes By (all BBC) as Felicity. 

Joining them will be Souad Faress (Linda in Brief Encounters, ITV and Bridget Jones Diary, Bhaji on the Beach and My Beautiful Laundrette) as Vivian, Eva-Jane Willis (Magnificence, Finborough Theatre And We Really Should Do Something, Bush Theatre) as Alex and Susan Twist (Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Octagon Theatre Bolton) as The Fury.

One of Britain's foremost playwrights, Timberlake Wertenbaker is the recipient of numerous awards including an Olivier award and the 1990 New York Drama Critics award for Our Country’s Good, the Writers’ Guild, Critics’ Circle and Susan Smith Blackburn awards for Three Birds Alighting on a Field and the Eileen Anderson Central TV Drama Award for The Love of the Nightingale.

Timberlake Wertenbaker said about her new play: “I wanted to look at what it means for women to resist, how far they’ll go and what the consequences might be.  And then one day, I took a walk-up Winter Hill and found the broad lines of the play. I’ve always been fascinated by landscape, real and imaginary, its place in theatre, and how characters inhabit and affect it. When I was asked to write a play by Elizabeth it felt important to be inspired by Bolton. Since I started writing Winter Hill, the world has changed a lot and some questions feel even more urgent than when I began.”

Elizabeth Newman, Artistic Director at the Octagon Theatre, added:
“It is extremely exciting to be working with Timberlake Wertenbaker on her new play Winter Hill. We commissioned Timberlake four years ago; since then she has given a great deal of time to exploring and understanding our Bolton communities and has created a drama that will resonate; putting formidable women at the centre of an exploration of what it is to follow your beliefs, no matter the cost. Timberlake has written an important piece, which I am honoured to work on and to present for the first time to audiences here in Bolton.”

The production will be designed by Amanda Stoodley, with lighting by Chris Davey, sound design by Ben Occhipinti and movement directed by Lesley Hutchinson.

Winter Hill will be playing at the Octagon Theatre Bolton between Thu 11 May – Sat 3 June