Thursday, 23 July 2009

New faces...

Image: Joel Chester Fildes

As Monika has now gone off to have her baby (hi Mon if you are reading) we have a new Head of Communications. It is the very lovely Jon Gilchrist. I will hand over to him to tell you a bit about himself...

This feels a little bit too much like sales copy [once a marketing man always a marketing man eh?- Ed]. Or an entry to my diary. Not that I have a diary.

Today felt like a real homecoming for me. Not just because I live in Bolton, but because The Octagon was my first real job in a theatre. I was here for some really exciting times between 2004 and 2006 before going on to work at The Lowry in Salford and (most recently) The Dukes in Lancaster, and I always felt a real affinity to my hometown theatre. I have frequently been blown away by the quality of the work, and the ambition of the anniversary season really set a benchmark for theatre in the region with people from around the country taking note.

I was lucky enough to work with the former Artistic Director, Mark Babych, for a number of years and on some truly memorable productions. And now I am excited to be a part of an exciting new era with David Thacker, and from the moment I saw the upcoming season, I got quite excited!

I worked with the National Theatre on the original tour of Rafta, Rafta when it came to The Lowry in 2008. I remember sitting with a packed audience in hysterical laughter watching it in the Littleton Theatre in London and thinking: “this is a play set in Bolton, for Bolton – this should be on at the Octagon”. Two years down the line, this has come true!

But amongst the season, the one that caught my eye straight away was All My Sons. Arthur Miller is my favourite playwright and the Octagon’s productions over the years have never failed to realise these extraordinary plays with the drama that they deserve. But my favourite of all the Arthur Miller plays has always been All My Sons. I have seen three different productions and I have never failed to cry. And I’m not a wimp.

But it’s not about what I think. Your thoughts and comments on all aspects of what we do will be vital to us in the coming year.
Please feel free to drop me an e-mail at jon.gilchrist@octagonbolton.co.uk with any thoughts about the shows or on anything else for that matter.

Thanks Jon. Really excited you are here and for the coming Season...let's get the show on the road!


Tuesday, 21 July 2009

FREE creative workshops


This summer Find Your Talent are running a series of creative workshops and performances. Are you interested in dance, drama, art or design? Do you enjoy being outdoors and getting your hands dirty? Are you a budding artist with a fantastically wild imagination and bags of creative talent?

There's no excuse for getting bored over the summer holidays as we have a challenge for you...come and find your talent. It's FREE!

Challenge 1 - Find your talent with the MONSTER challenge

Your challenge is to create amazing creatures and magical monsters that are from the future!
To help get your creative talents working, join other young people in Bolton Museum, Aquarium and Archive and use the museum collections and live creatures as inspiration. Work with professional artists to develop your fantastic ideas for an eveolved 21st century being and learn new and exciting art techniques.

Date: Monday 27 July - Friday 31 July
Time: 10am - 3.30pm
Age range: 10 - 13 years
Venue: Bolton Museum, Aquarium and Archive, Le Mans Crescent, Bolton, BL1 1SE
Challenge co-ordinator: Alex McLearnan
To book: call 01204 332236 or email alex.mclernan@bolton.gov.uk

Challenge 2 - Space Invaders


We will be taking over and transforming an outdoor space to make it into something completely out of this world. If you enjoy the great outdoors, getting your hands dirty, dance, drama and design then this challenge is for you!

You will work with professional artists to create a big party, transform an outdoor space and maybe even become star of the show. Who knows what's out there?

Date: Monday 27 July - Friday 31 July
Time: 10am - 3.30pm
Age range: 10 - 13 years
Venue: Haslam Park Primary School, Wigan Road, Bolton, BL3 5QL
Challenge co-ordinator: Debbie McGuire and Anna Wood
To book: call 01204 333393

Challenge 3 - Arts Explorer


Are you ready for your biggest challenge yet?

Explore, discover and develop your talent to become the ultimate Arts Explorer and meet your Arts Hero. You will be set the challenge of achieving the new 'National Bronze Arts Award' in just 5 days. By sharing your creative skills with a team of young people, together with help from the Octagon Theatre, Bolton Library and Bolton's Playing for Success Team, you will become an Arts Explorer.

Date: Monday 27 July - Friday 31 July
Time: 10am - 3.30pm
Age range: 13 - 16 yearsVenue: Study@BWFC, Reebok Stadium, Burnden way, Bolton, BL6 6JW
Challenge co-ordinator: Lynsey Merrick

Monday, 20 July 2009

The Octagon Studio

On Friday I wrote about the changes to backstage here at the Octagon and in particular the dressings rooms. Next up, some less radical changes to the Bill Naughton Studio Theatre aka The Studio. We are putting in some permanent seating here. So here are the platforms for raked seating

Here they are with the beginnings of some carpet

And here is the carpet...

The chairs waiting patiently to be installed. I think we are aiming to increase capacity to 100 seats. Having seen some of the additional events we are doing next season in the studio I still wonder if 100 is enough but more of that later....

Essential building tools. Drill, dustpan and a cuppa...

Friday, 17 July 2009

Early Bird Saver - only two weeks left!

You only have two weeks left to take advantage of our Festive Early Bird special offers.


Family Offer

Book by 31 July and save £5 on your family ticket price. How about treating your family to a evening out to see Oliver Twist as a Christmas gift? It will make for a memorable evening.

Early Bird Family Tickets: £36 peak / £33 off peak*

*Family Ticket (before Early Bird discount): £41 peak / £38 off peakFamily ticket = 2 full price and 2 concessions


Group Offer
Book and pay by 31 July
and save 10% on your group booking

Early Bird Groups of 10 or more: £8.55 adult / £7.65 child**

**Prices shown with discount applied. Normal price £9.50 adult and £8.50 child. PLUS 1 adult free per 8 child tickets.
To make your visit as enjoyable as possible you can also take advantage of coach travel discounts and ahve your visit catered should you wish. Children's buffet menus start from just £3.90 per head and drinks and ices can be pre-ordered. More details are available via Ticket Office

Call the Ticket Office today on 01204 520661

The Octagon Spa

I mentioned in my last post about the building work we are doing here over summer. I knew about The Lab and The Studio but I wasn't aware of the work going on in the dressing rooms. Mainly, as I don't spend a lot of time back stage as I get lost. Fortunately, Richard, our Deputy Production Manager and Project Manager of The Octagon Grand Design project was on hand to help so we did a whistle stop tour (he is a busy man as you can imagine once you see the photos) of the dressing rooms. Here are a few snaps...

Here is Richard trying to escape the camera. He doesn't look scared at all! In fact considering the amount of work and the fact the toilet waste has been leaking into his office leaving rather an unpleasant smell and hole in the floor, he looks remarkably chipper...and clean...

You can see below why Richard being so clean is something of a surprise. It's a bit messy....

The new showers with lovely limestone tiles. They are almost going to be nice enough to encourage me to start biking to work again. Before, you took your life in your hands on the bike and your mental health and reputation into your hands when you used the showers. There wasn't a lock and very little room to get sudsy so it was a case of shower roulette. Anyone could walk in....

Considering health and safety at all times. I am sure it is not at its most effective when used like this. But I am sure the chair is glad its lungs are well protected!


Work in progress....I love 'before' and 'afters' so am looking forward to seeing this bit finished. Also, see how I manage to get in the photo whilst being behind the camera...

Oh the glamour of theatre....

Fingers crossed it will all be finished by the time people arrive for the new season.

Random Friday round up...

Although we are now 'dark' until the opening of our new season it doesn't mean things are quiet here at Octagon Towers. On Twitter, Out of Joint (our co-producer of Mixed Up North above) has highlighted that director Max Stafford-Clark is blogging for The Guardian no less! You can read what he has to say about young female playwrights here...

Thing are all change here in the Comms Dept as our leader, Monika, is leaving to have her baby today. I mean she is leaving today not having her baby today. However, I haven't yet seen her this morning so it is possible that she is having it as I type. I hope not as we haven't had our 'You're nearly having a baby' team lunch yet! Anyway, good luck Monika and Tom (but mainly Monika as she does all the work). With you two as parents, I am hoping you are bringing into the world a new generation of super marketing gurus!

So on Monday we will welcome a new/old face. This face belongs to Jon Gilchrist, who funnily enough used to do my job before going off to the The Lowry and then The Dukes in Lancaster. But Bolton is his home and we are delighted that he is coming back to keep an eye on things in Monika's absence. I will get him to introduce himself when he starts on Monday....

However, the changes are not just afoot in the Comms team but there are a few changes around the building too. What was the rehearsal room is being given a bit of a facelift and a new name 'The Lab'. Now as far as I know we will not be carrying out scientific experiments (the thought of David running around in a white coat in a Doc Brown from Back to the Future stylee amuses me plenty) The Lab is a place for experiments of the creative variety. Can't say much more about this at the moment but watch this space for what's coming up.

The Bill Naughton Studio Theatre (The Studio) is also getting some attention with a new permanent seating arrangement which creates more seats for all the exciting stuff that is coming to The Studio from September. We'll be launching our special events programme (it has a brand new name and everything) in a few weeks so either sign up to our enews letter, keep an eye on the blog or follow us on Twitter to be the first to know.

I will post photos of the building progress so you can have a look...

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

New Faces...

We are delighted to welcome a new face here at Octagon Bolton. The very lovely Elizabeth Newman will be working at the Theatre for the next 12 months, as part of the ITV Theatre Director Scheme 2009. Octagon Bolton is one of the three participating theatres that are taking part and every year up to three young directors are awarded a bursary enabling them to spend one year in a UK theatre. The scheme enables young directors to gain exceptional training and experience in all aspects of the theatre’s operations.

Elizabeth said, “I am thrilled to be the Octagon Bolton’s new Trainee Director. I have arrived at the Theatre during exciting times; everyone is celebrating the Theatre’s past whilst looking forward to a rich artistic future. I have been working in London for several years now but I wanted to broaden my horizons, which is why I am so grateful to the ITV Theatre Director Scheme for giving me this opportunity.

My first experience of theatre was performing, which is why I am so excited about assisting on Oliver Twist. I will be working closely with the young company; I am sure we are going to have lots of fun and it’s guaranteed to be dramatic! During my time at Octagon Bolton I will be assisting, directing, working on casting and other preparatory elements of producing shows, as well as co-ordinating extra events as part of Bolt On, a new programme of work to support and run alongside the main house programme.”

She is already having quite an impact here although you tend to only see her as a blur as she rushes past on her way to another meeting / casting / rehearsal / read through. She managed to take some time to talk to Bolton FM this morning about her post and her involvement in casting for Oliver Twist...thanks Lizzy!

Monday, 13 July 2009

Shining Example

News just in from activ8....

On Friday, 3 of activ8’s new ‘young leaders’ (reps from youth theatre) were invited down to the National Shine Festival at the Southbank Centre to lead a workshop with other young people about what makes an arts experience ‘quality’. They did us and themselves proud. Here's what they had to say...

video

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Fantastic Festive special offers


Family Offer

Book by 31 July and save £5 on your family ticket price. How about treating your family to a evening out to see Oliver Twist as a Christmas gift? It will make for a memorable evening.

Early Bird Family Tickets: £36 peak / £33 off peak*

*Family Ticket (before Early Bird discount): £41 peak / £38 off peakFamily ticket = 2 full price and 2 concessions


Group Offer
Book and pay by 31 July
and save 10% on your group booking

Early Bird Groups of 10 or more: £8.55 adult / £7.65 child**

**Prices shown with discount applied. Normal price £9.50 adult and £8.50 child. PLUS 1 adult free per 8 child tickets.
To make your visit as enjoyable as possible you can also take advantage of coach travel discounts and ahve your visit catered should you wish. Children's buffet menus start from just £3.90 per head and drinks and ices can be pre-ordered. More details are available via Ticket Office

Call the Ticket Office today on 01204 520661

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Casting for Oliver Twist - Calling 8-18 year olds

The Octagon Theatre Bolton is looking for local young people, aged 8-18 years, who might want to audition for the upcoming production of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, new version by Deborah McAndrew. This is a great opportunity for young actors, for those wanting to get into the profession, for anyone who’d like the experience of working with professional actors and a world class director.

No previous acting experience is required, but plenty of enthusiasm is essential. Applicants must be prepared to make a weekly commitment from Saturday 10 October, increasing to four weekly sessions (3 evenings and Saturdays) from Monday 2 November. You will need to be available to perform every other day from Friday 27 November 2009 through to Saturday 23 January 2010 including Christmas Eve, Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve. A full rehearsal and performance schedule will be included in your information pack.

For an information pack and an application form please email info@octagonbolton.co.uk or call 01204 529407

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Step Onto the Octagon Stage this Summer

Well Swung - activ8 Summer show 2008. Image: Zoe Keenan

Our participatory department, activ8, is offering a fantastic opportunity for young people aged 14 – 25 to be part of a theatre and music production at the Octagon Theatre Bolton this summer.

A brand new piece of music theatre has been commissioned and we need 20 young actors and 20 young singers to take to the main-stage for its world premiere.


Selected cast members would need to be available on the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th August and the 10th – 15th August to take part in a summer school during which the performance will be rehearsed. This provides an opportunity to work alongside professional writers, directors, designers and musicians. The summer school costs £75. A number of free places are available. Please ask the activ8 team for further details.


Performances would take place on the evening of the 14th and afternoon and evening of 15th August.



AUDITIONS

When: 14th July

What time: 7pm -9pm

Where: Octagon Theatre Bolton.



To book your audition slot ring 01204 556501 and speak to a member of the activ8 team. There are further opportunities in the pipeline so keep an eye on the blog or if you are under 26 sign up for our enewsletter here. If you are over 26 then your can keep in touch by signing up here.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Bolton Wanderers in The Stage part 2

The very kind Joanna has been in touch again and kindly scanned and sent David's section of the recent interview with him and Mark in The Stage. You can read Mark's bit here.