Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Octagon Theatre Bolton announces its 2009-10 season with nine productions

David Thacker, our new Artistic Director of the Octagon Theatre Bolton, today announced his first season of nine plays.

Introducing David Thacker in the Octagon’s new programme in our spangly new brochure for the 2009 -10 season is no less than Mr Make It So, Patrick Stewart himself, who writes:

‘I know of no other theatre in the country that is producing an eleven month season like this’

Building on the success of the Octagon’s 40th anniversary season David has planned a year long programme of work. The wide-ranging repertoire of productions includes plays by Shakespeare, Ibsen and Miller, a world premiere, a co-production, a revival of one of Mark Babych’s most successful productions, contemporary classics and a musical. David brings experience of the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre, the Young Vic, the Dukes Playhouse Lancaster and many other leading regional theatres as well as ten years of outstanding television productions.

David said today, ‘It is an honour to follow in Mark Babych’s footsteps. He will be a very hard act to follow. John Blackmore, Executive Director, and Mark have made the Octagon one of the leading producing theatres in the UK and I hope to build on their impressive achievements’.

The season opens with the World Premiere of Mixed Up North (10 – 26 September 2009). This new play by Robin Soans, directed by Max Stafford-Clark, is a co-production with Out of Joint. Based on verbatim accounts of real events, the play explores, with wit and humour, the difficulties of uniting divided racial communities in the Lancashire mill town of Burnley.

The Octagon has established a reputation for its productions of plays by Arthur Miller and All My Sons (1 – 24 October 2009) will be the first play that David Thacker will direct. All My Sons is the work that launched Arthur Miller’s long and distinguished career in theatre. David has directed many of Miller’s plays and had a close working relationship with him. All My Sons is an unbearably moving and powerful family drama, about truth and denial, integrity and corruption, and personal responsibility during the extremes of war.

It was partly through the influence of Henrik Ibsen that Arthur Miller developed as a playwright and Ghosts by Ibsen (29 October – 21 November 2009) is the second play that David will direct at the Octagon. David has paired All My Sons and Ghosts to bring out the thematic connections between the two plays. Explaining this David said, “All My Sons and Ghosts are both plays in which, as Arthur Miller put it, ‘The chickens come home to roost’”.

The festive production will be a new adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist (27 November 2009 – 23 January 2010). This specially commissioned version by Deborah McAndrew delves into the heart of Victorian London and features original music and songs. The cast for Dickens’ masterpiece again includes local children, which was a winning element in the success of the hugely popular A Christmas Carol.

Known for his accessible and dynamic productions of Shakespeare, David starts the New Year with a production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream set in 1968 (4 February – 6 March 2010). David’s many modern dress productions of Shakespeare include Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet for the Young Vic, Measure for Measure for the BBC and The Two Gentleman of Verona, Julius Caesar and The Merchant of Venice for the Royal Shakespeare Company. He received Olivier Awards for Best Director and Best Revival for his RSC production of Shakespeare’s Pericles.

The Bolton Wanderers’ 1923 Cup Final triumph against West Ham United is often remembered because the match could only begin once the spectators were cleared from the new Wembley Stadium pitch by a policeman on a white horse. And Did Those Feet (11 March – 10 April 2010), by Les Smith and Martin Thomasson, which won the Manchester Evening News Award for Best New Play in 2007, is the story as told through the lives of the team’s supporters.

In the context of the current heated public debate about humour, censorship and the freedom of expression David has decided to revive Trevor Griffiths Comedians, which is widely believed to be one of the greatest plays of the 20th Century (15 April – 8 May 2010). Very funny and very challenging, Comedians deals with comedy, politics and the responsibilities of an artist in society.
To celebrate the centenary of the birth of Bolton playwright, Bill Naughton, David has chosen to present the regional premiere of Ayub Khan-Din’s warm-hearted and often hilarious play Rafta Rafta based on Bill Naughton’s play All in Good Time. Set in a terraced street in Bolton, Rafta Rafta tells the story of a newlywed couple in an Asian family. Sibling rivalry and tension between the father and son wreak comedic havoc with the start of their marriage (13 May – 5 June 2010).

David ends his season with the musical The Hired Man, which tells the moving story of an emotional love triangle that takes us right to the heart of Cumbrian life during the cataclysmic events that took place at the turn of the last century (10 June - 3 July 2010). The Hired Man is acclaimed for its epic, nostalgic and beautiful score. Based on the novel by Melvyn Bragg it became an award-winning musical when he collaborated with composer Howard Goodall.

A full programme of special events will be announced to the media soon. For more information aon any of these show click on the pictures or click here to visit our website.


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