Friday, July 1

First look at the revamped Octagon Theatre in Bolton

The creative team at Bolton’s Octagon Theatre have released the first photos of their new building revamped after a £12 million redevelopment programme.

Over the last two years the town centre theatre has been completely modernised with updated performance spaces, brand-new participation facilities, improved front-of-house experience and expanded backstage facilities.

Like all other theatres the space has been dark for the last year, and they will confirm a reopening date in the coming weeks following the recent announcement of the Government’s roadmap of when theatres can reopen their doors.

“The reimagined Octagon benefits from more internal space, is more environmentally friendly, has vastly improved accessibility and enhanced customer and backstage facilities for everyone’s comfort,” says Octagon Chief Executive Roddy Gauld. “The building needed a new roof and major modernisation of its electrics and plumbing, and I’m pleased to say is now fit for generations to come.

“The pandemic has hit Bolton particularly hard, and the Octagon is now ready to play a leading role in our town’s recovery and future. We know people are looking forward to live entertainment and I don’t think the theatre could be more needed, or more capable, than it is right now.”

Since going dark on 16th March last year, the Octagon’s creatives have continued to connect with the community by moving their programme to digital online platforms. Audiences have been able to enjoy live performances and events including a live Zoom production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and a broadcast reading of A Christmas Carol.

Their engagement programmes have continued to provide creative opportunities online with over 3000 participants taking part in workshops, youth theatre, over 50’s Theatre Club and music sessions, as well as delivering Creative Care Kits to support wellbeing for those without internet access.

The venue has also continued to support local freelance artists through its Incubation Residencies, open auditions, participation in the Freelance Task Force and by teaming up with other local theatres to create Greater Manchester Artist Hub.

With the roadmap for theatres to reopen now looking clearer, the Octagon prepare to raise the curtain on the next chapter in their story complete with a brand new building.

“Given that it is 12 months since theatres across the country had to close, it is heartening to be able to look back at what we have accomplished in such challenging and exceptional circumstances,” notes Artistic Director Lotte Wakeham.

“From sewing scrubs for the NHS and lending our building to the rollout of the Covid vaccine, to developing projects to support local artists, to keeping our audiences entertained with our online content, we tried never to lose sight of our desire to bring our audiences and our community together.

“After what has been a difficult year we are really excited to now finally share pictures from inside the brand new Octagon which will offer a warm and welcoming environment for the whole community.”

Find more info about the Octagon by visiting www.octagonbolton.co.uk

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