Classic drama, new adaptations and an exciting world premiere; the Octagon Theatre Bolton have announced its 2016 – 2017 season.
Artistic Director Elizabeth Newman commented on the season: “At the Octagon we strive to tell important stories to our audiences and this is an exciting season of great drama, from well-known classics to important new writing. We are sharing a collection of stories that will entertain, amaze and create worlds on our stage for our audiences to get lost in. We can’t wait to share this diverse collection of compelling works with our audiences.”
Beginning the season is Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird (Thu 8 September – Sat 15 October 2016), following the struggle of lawyer Atticus Finch as he strives to defend a wrongly accused black man in 1930’s Deep South. Told through the innocent eyes of his fiery daughter, Scout, we witness how her small town is ravaged by racial prejudice. Artistic Director Elizabeth Newman has received great critical acclaim with productions at the Octagon such as Love Story, Separation, Private Lives and, most recently, The Family Way.
They mark the 400 years since the death of Shakespeare with a production of arguably one his greatest plays, The Winter’s Tale (Fri 21 October – Sat 5 November 2016). With song, dance, laughter and one of the most extraordinary climaxes in any of Shakespeare’s plays, The Winter’s Tale is a powerful and deeply moving story of forgiveness. Directed by Associate Director David Thacker, who last year was awarded the Manchester Theatre Awards Special Achievement Award.
This festive season they bring to life the beloved story of Cinderella (Fri 18 November 2016 – Sat 14 January 2017) – but not as you know it! It’s got all the traditional elements for a fabulous festive treat – a feisty girl who dreams of dressing up and dancing, a wicked stepmother, mean older sisters, and a slightly geeky Prince – but this Cinderella has one big difference. The rats are in charge. Directed by Regional Theatre Young Director Scheme Resident Director Ben Occhipinti (Jack and the Beanstalk, Spread a Little Happiness, Salisbury Playhouse; Bugsy Malone, Calamity Jane The Egg, Theatre Royal, Bath), and written by Mike Kenny, whose adaptation of The Railway Children earned an Olivier Award for Best Entertainment in 2012.
In the New Year, they bring a Northern comedy classic to Bolton when they co-produce Educating Rita (Thu 19 January – Sat 11 February 2017) with Derby Theatre. Rita, a 29 year old hairdresser, has decided to earn herself an education, and walks into the life of Frank, a drunk academic who has given up on his dream to be a poet. Willy Russell’s award-winning play is an uplifting tale of self-discovery where we witness how the power of choice comes through education.
In February David Thacker directs David Rudkin’s critically acclaimed play Ashes (Thu 23 February – Sat 11 March 2017). Through dark humour and stark realism Ashes follows the story of Anne and Colin who desperately want a child, and try everything to achieve this dream.
The season continues with a new stage adaption of the 1848 novel by Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (Thu 30 March – Sat 22 April 2017) co-produced with York Theatre Royal. In 19th century Yorkshire a mysterious young widow Helen Graham and her son arrive at the desolate estate of Wildfell Hall. Isolating herself from the village, she soon becomes the subject of local gossip and speculation. This new adaption has been brought lovingly to life by award winning playwright Deborah McAndrew, author of An August Bank Holiday Lark (Best New Play, UK Theatre Awards, 2014).
Octagon Theatre Bolton, Watford Palace Theatre and Kevin Wallace Limited in association with Deborah Ward present I Capture the Castle(Wed 26 – Sat 6 May 2017), a new musical based on the novel by Dodie Smith. Book and lyrics by Teresa Howard, music by Steven Edis, directed by Watford Palace Chief Executive and Artistic Director Brigid Larmour. Set in the Bohemian England of the 1930s, Dodie Smith’s worldwide bestselling classic is a warm and sharply funny coming-of-age story.
The Octagon are excited to announce the world premiere of Winter Hill (Thu 11 May – Sat 3 June 2017) by one of the most influential British playwrights, Timberlake Wertenbaker, author of the award-winning playsOur Country’s Good and Jefferson’s Garden. In the near future a group of women gather in a half built hotel on Winter Hill where we witness how seemingly ordinary women endeavour to protect the landscape of Bolton forever, no matter what the cost. Commissioned by the Octagon and directed by Elizabeth Newman this new play questions the length people go to for a cause they believe in.
The Octagon will close the season with a production of Alan Bennett’s beloved series of monologues Talking Heads (Thu 8 June – Sat 8 July 2017) directed by Ben Occhipinti. This is a rare opportunity to see three of the original Talking Heads live on stage; A Chip in Sugar, Lady of Lettersand Cream Cracker Under the Settee. In these moving and affectionate pieces Bennett depicts the bittersweet tales of seemingly ordinary and uneventful lives.
In addition to the main house productions there is an exciting programme of new writing in the Studio Theatre. They welcome the return of the Top 5 Play Readings (Tue 28 February – Fri 10 March 2017), an exciting festival of brand new plays performed by professional actors, script in hand. They are also thrilled to announce that the winning monologues from the Octagon’s first National Prize will be performed as part of First Words (Tue 21 June – Fri 8 July 2017), a season of new writing performed inside, outside and online. We will also be continuing our series of Storyplay performances for families during which children will be transported on a literary journey of fun and adventure, brought to life by actors from the Octagon Company, in a relaxed soft-play area.
Join them for Elizabeth Newman’s first full season as Artistic Director of the Octagon following a great year of success for the Octagon both critically, winning six Manchester Theatre Awards (inc. Best Production and Best Ensemble) and at the box office with The BFG smashing box office records. Elizabeth comments: “This is an exciting time as we build on the success the Octagon has enjoyed with an extraordinary programme of main auditorium productions alongside opening up our building and nurturing new artistic talent right here in Bolton. From the intimacy of Alan Bennett’s timeless monologues to our new political mystery by Timberlake Wertenbaker, we are proud to bring a great array of stories to the people of Bolton and beyond.”
Too book and for more information visit http://octagonbolton.co.uk/