In 2017 we partnered with the Octagon Theatre, it was an easy and exciting decision to make for us because it’s a huge part of the Bolton community and something that we’re always proud to be a part of.
The Octagon Theatre opened in Bolton town centre in 1967 and has been producing brilliant productions ever since. The home of the theatre is currently undergoing a renovation and we can’t wait to see what it looks like in 2020 when it reopens again. In the meantime, it’s going on tour – you’ll find out more about that in this post.
We’ve had a chat with Alex Joynes, Artistic Assistant Director at the Octagon Theatre to find out a little more about the history of the theatre, its place in Bolton and its work within the community.
- How many shows has the Octagon produced since it opened?
So far, the Octagon has presented 505 productions in the 50 years since it opened in 1967. The first production at the Octagon was Annie and Fanny by Bill Naughton – a playwright from Bolton who also wrote The Family Way and Alfie. The 500th production was A Christmas Carol which broke our Box Office records for selling the most tickets for any show.
- Which well-known faces have worked at the Octagon over the years?
The Octagon has seen many artists of all capacities working together to make theatre in Bolton. Jim Cartwright’s Two premiered at the Octagon featuring Sue Johnston and John McArdle. Deborah McAndrew and Les Smith have both been part of the Octagon over the years – Deborah as actor and writer. Vicky Featherstone was a director here, too – she now runs the Royal Court Theatre in London. Actors including Maxine Peake, Andy Serkis and Robert Powell have performed at the theatre over the years.
- What’s been your proudest moment while working at the Octagon Theatre?
Ben Occhipinti and myself had the opportunity to interview Alan Bennett when Ben was directing Talking Heads. He was fascinating to talk to and shared so many great memories from his career. Working on our community production of The Railway Children was also a highlight – it involved 95 young people from across Bolton working with professional actors. It was such fun.
- Many people don’t know what the Octagon Theatre is a charity, can you tell us more about that?
We believe that theatre can enrich a community and change peoples’ lives for the better. We aim to do this through creating a range of entertaining and thought-provoking theatre that inspires and ignites the curiosity of people in Bolton. We provide opportunities for learning and participation to enable people to realise their potential and express themselves, whether they are 5 years old or over 50. This could be through one of our weekly theatre groups or on one of our Open Days, when special events and workshops take place throughout the building.
- What are you excited about for the future of the Octagon in Bolton?
It’s a very exciting time for the future of the Octagon Theatre as the building is currently undergoing a redevelopment to make our 50-year-old building more accessible. The building will reopen in 2020 with better facilities to welcome all artists and audiences and we’ll have more space for our community work. We’re currently looking forward to our Out and About season where we’re taking theatre on the road to different locations in Bolton – our next production, Gulliver’s Travels, will take place in Queens Park. Carrs Pasties will be onsite providing refreshments – I’ll be sure to have a pasty or two!
The Octagon Theatre’s next production is Gulliver’s Travels at Queens Park – if you can’t wait to see it and you fancy trying to win some free tickets keep an eye on our Facebook page over the next few weeks!
We can’t wait to see what the Octagon Bolton has in store for the future!