Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Comedians in training

Rehearsals for Comedians are now in full swing. There are a few members of the company still to arrive but we should have a full compliment next week. I am delighted to hear that we may also be joined by Trevor Griffiths [Comedians writer] which is very exciting. You can see some more images of the rehearsals below.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Job vacancy - Development Manager

Following a period of unprecedented success, we are looking to make a major appointment in what promises to be one of the most exciting times in the Theatre’s history. The role will involve working closely with the Theatre’s new Artistic Director, David Thacker, and the Executive Director, John Blackmore, to expand the current fundraising programme and devise and spearhead a new development strategy. The role requires significant experience in all areas of arts fundraising. It will initially be offered as a year-long contract.

For further details and an application form telephone 01204 529407 or email info@octagonbolton.co.uk

Closing date for applications 12 noon on Tues 4 May 2010
Interviews will be held at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton on Tues 11 or Weds 12 May 2010

Job vacancy - Press and Communications Manager

We are seeking an experienced Press and Communications Manager to help expand the profile of the Theatre on a regional and national basis.

The role requires an individual with a comprehensive knowledge of press and media relations and a thorough understanding of theatre and the arts. The candidate will have outstanding copywriting skills and an up to date understanding of developments in online media. The position will be on a fixed-term contract until 14 January 2011.

For further details and an application form telephone 01204 529407 or email info@octagonbolton.co.uk

Closing date for applications: Mon 12 April 2010
Interviews will be held at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton, w/c 19 April 2010

Thursday, 25 March 2010

The Hired Man - cast news

There is a nice piece in The Bolton News today about Amy Nuttall coming to perform in our upcoming production of The Hired Man. She talks a bit about why she wants to perform in Bolton and what attracted her to this production.

As she says in her interview:

"The score is very beautiful - it's very different to a lot of musicals out there..I like something that has got guts to it, that packs an emotional punch".

You can read the full article here.

As you can see from the photoshoot, Amy will be performing alongside Kieran Hill who recently appeared as Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream and will soon be seen on stage (with an interesting new haircut) as Gethin Price in Comedians.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Comedians - an update

After And Did Those Feet we will welcome Trevor Griffiths’ landmark play Comedians to Bolton.

Set in Manchester in the mid-1970s, the play broke exciting new ground and is considered by many to have signalled a revolution in stand-up. It asks the question: is comedy just about the laughs? A group of ordinary men gather in a school for a night course in stand-up comedy. It’s run by ‘The Lancashire Lad’ Eddie Waters: once known as the hardest-hitting comedian on the circuit. He is determined to promote comedy as an art form and believes that comedians deliver more than just gags. On the night of his apprentices’ big performance, an agent arrives from London to open the door to fame and fortune for the lucky few. But at what price?

The role of Eddie Waters will be played by Burnley born and bred Richard Moore [above], who is celebrating his fiftieth year in the entertainment industry. He is best known for playing the popular Jarvis Skelton in Emmerdale and Curly in the hit drama Band of Gold. He said:

“The North West, and Bolton in particular, is rightly viewed as a spiritual home of comedy. It’s not a coincidence that while Comedians is on at the Octagon, Peter Kay is playing some o the biggest comedy gigs in stand-up history just up the road in Manchester. He’s very much a comedian in the mould of my character, Eddie Waters – a man of the people, in love with the craft of making people laugh.

“But the play is not just a comedy; it looks at what is an acceptable source for jokes. Has the time of the mother-in-law joke or the Englishman, Irishman and Scotsman joke passed? What is it okay to laugh at? In light of the national debate around Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross, this is clearly an issue that will run and run!”

He is joined by Huw Higginson and Mark Letheren who are also appearing in the Octagon’s production of And Did Those Feet, and Kieran Hill and Russell Richardson who recently appeared at the Theatre in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The cast also includes Colin Connor, Howard Crossley, Brendan Foster, Simon Nagra, John Bramwell and Sevan Stephan.

Comedians will play from Thursday 15 April – Saturday 8 May 2010. Tickets are from £9 on 01204 520661, or at http://www.octagonbolton.co.uk/

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Job Vacancy - Cleaner

Cleaner required for the Octagon Theatre

Hours: 7.00 – 9.30 am Mon to Sat and 2 or 3 afternoons per week 3.30 – 5.00 pm on a rota system, minimum of 15 hours per week

Pay: £5.80/£4.83 per hour. Telephone 01204 529407 for an application form and further details or email info@octagonbolton.co.uk

Closing date for applications 5 pm on 30/03/10
Interviews to be held on 01/04/10

The Octagon Theatre positively welcomes applications from all sections of the community.

Monday, 15 March 2010

And Did Those Feet - reviews

Although in reality it isn't that long since And Did Those Feet graced the stage as part of our Anniversary season, seeing it again (despite having seen it four times in 2007) felt good. Really, really good. Despite knowing sections of the script almost by heart I still, genuinely, laughed at the comedy. Particularly, at most things delivered by the wonderful Martin Barrass and also Naomi Radcliffe's dismay at the lack of opportunity to make her perfect day just that.

I think a fair few people in the audience find "something in their eye" when Jerusalem is played at the end, the difference with seeing the show the revival was the emotional impact of the scenes focused around Sue Twist [as Hilda] and her on stage and completely bereft husband, Alf, played by Huw Higginson. I never thought that seeing a grown man bouncing a football with a far away look in his eye and a trembling lip would bring me to tears but it did. I could blame that on being pregnant but it wouldn't be fair to do so. It is due to the heartfelt and very real performances of these great actors. Anyway, enough from me. Here is what the press are saying...

"Mark Babych’s revival of Bolton’s very own play, with universal themes, is an utter joy to behold." THE STAGE Read more here...

"...it is the comedy that is most successful in this play, both in the writing and the performances. Martin Barrass... achieves perfect comic delivery... The comic banter between Mark Letheren as Ted, the superb Naomi Radcliffe as Martha and Curtis Cole as Jim also works very well... Mark Babych keeps the pace well and adds some lovely little touches... great use of sound from sound designer Andy Smith... great fun and at times hilarious, tightly and imaginatively directed and very well performed." BRITISH THEATRE GUIDE Read more here...

"Foxton’s design is reliably wonderful, and it’s a real coup to have Arun Ghosh’s compositions... Naomi Radcliffe is a touching and confused Martha... Susan Twist (always excellent) and Huw Higginson are very impressive... Snappy and well-paced, the play is a copper-bottomed popular hit... a thoroughly agreeable night out." THE PUBLIC REVIEWS Read more here...

"At a time when, to many people, Bolton is struggling as a town, this is the sort of play that can make you really proud of where you live.This is a play for anyone who loves Bolton, its football team or who appreciates plays about social history. I could watch it seven nights a week - it really is that good." THE BOLTON NEWS Read more here...

"Former artistic director Mark Babych returns to the Octagon to deliver a wonderfully textured piece of work that never fails to entertain.And Did Those Feet certainly has that feel-good effect and leaves the audience feeling much happier and even moved by the experience, which, these days, is quite an achievement." WHAT'S ON STAGE Read more here...

"But if you saw the original production, as I did, you will surely welcome the chance to see it again. And if you didn’t, don’t miss it. You don’t have to be a Boltonian and football fan to enjoy it." CITYLIFE Read more here...

"This is an excellent production of a cracking script and a great evening’s entertainment with some moving performances. Having witnessed so many magnificent Octagon productions recently – not least the recent superb Midsummer Night’s Dream - I am sure it will go on to be yet another winner for the Bolton team. Go and see it..." WRITE OUT LOUD Read more here...

"The flashbacks to war are genuinely affecting... But there’s also a great deal of warm northern humour, notably from Martin Barrass reprising his role as eccentric newsagent Bob... revived by its original director Mark Babych... who seems to have added a lustre to an already highly polished product, aided by a revised script... Lesley Hutchinson’s slickly and imaginatively choreographed crowd scenes are a comic treat..." UKTHEATRENET Read more here...

"its appeal’s evident in the rousing cheers and standing applause at the end – not the predetermined yowls of first-night metropolitan cast-friends nor the relieved irony of school-parties, but genuine enthusiasm for a story that touches (indeed, hits fair and square) people’s hearts and minds." REVIEWSGATE Read more here...

And a transcript of the review from Clitheroe Advertiser...

Former artistic director, Mark Babych returns to the Bolton Octagon to direct a revival of a production of And Did Those Feet. He directed the world premiere of this play in 2007. The plot tells the story of the famous FA cup final of 1923 when Bolton Wanderers played West Ham in the first ever final at Wembley Stadium with its iconic twin towers. I have to confess I have little knowledge and even less interest in football. I was raised in a rugby playing family.

However I found myself drawn in and captivated by this play by Les Smith and Martin Thomasson. It is a pleasurable evening of nostalgia and humour with a great feel-good factor. All the Bolton references delight the home audience but even the visitors can enjoy the witty script. The story of Bolton’s triumph is told through the experiences of four men, Bob the endearing comic turn, (Martin Barrass)), brothers Ted, (Mark Letheren) and Jim (Curtis Cole) and Alf (Huw Higginson). Jim is an avowed communist who loses his job. Ted is planning his wedding to Martha (Naomi Radcliffe). Alf, despite the pleas of his wife Hilda (Susan Twist), cannot bear to watch the team since the death of his son Billy (Chris Finch) in the War. Billy appears as a ghost inspiring his father to recall just what the love of one’s team can be.

There are some clever tricks, such as the pastiche of early films and newsreels and some catchy clog dancing that enliven the action and as the climax approached I found myself thrilled with anticipation at the prospect of victory. For a little while I was a real footie fan. This is a heart-warming reminder of a splendid achievement by a Northern Football Team and the Town that made them. (Pippa Munro Henden)

You can book tickets by calling 01204 520661 or clicking here.

Friday, 12 March 2010

And Did Those Feet - production images

I am delighted to report that And Did Those Feet opened last night. I have to admit that I have a huge soft spot for this show and I still think that the press night for the show last time around (during our Anniversary Season in 2007 when the show premiered) was one of the most remarkable atmospheres of any press night I have attended at the theatre.

So here we are on press night afternoon for And Did Those Feet 2010 and I can't wait to see how the show is received this time round. If you have booked for the show but have to wait a few days before you see it here are the production photos...

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Job Vacancy - Activ8 Admin Assistant

Activ8 Administrative Assistant (Part-Time 15 hours per week)
Fixed Term Contract for 12 months

We are looking to recuit an experienced admin assistant to provide support for our community, education and outreach department. You will be highly organised, able to work on your own initiative and have experience of word processing and Microsoft Office. For further details and an application form telephone 01204 529407 or email info@octagonbolton.co.uk

Closing date for applications 22/03/10 at 12 noon
Interviews will be held on 01/04/10

The Octagon Theatre positively welcomes applications from all sections of the community.
This position is subject to a successful CRB Enhanced Disclosure check.

Monday, 8 March 2010

And Did Those Feet - behind the scenes

The cast are in the final week of rehearsals for And Did Those Feet this week or is that 'pre-match' training! Some of the photos look energetic enough. Joel Pammenter came in to grab a few snaps of them being put through their paces ready for kick off, I mean opening night, on Thursday.

They seems to be well into the spirit of it all and if you look at their attire they seem to have come over all Bolton Wanderers as most of them are wearing various shades of blue and white!

We bumped into a very nice gentleman in the foyer this morning buying his tickets for the show. Not only was he very excited about seeing the show again, he was also an authority on the Wanderers and Bolton's social history. All very interesting stuff.

Below is a review of Midsummer Night's Dream as written by Lindsay Wilkes. Lindsay is one of our youth theatre participants (see her in the promo shot for Well Swung above) and is currently working towards her Silver Arts Award. As part of the arts award she needs to review a show and ensure it is ‘shared with an audience’. So I thought as the readers of my blog were a worthy and kind audience, I would share it with you as it provides a different perspective on how Shakespeare is viewed by one of our young people.

Midsummer Night’s Dream, is one of Shakespeare’s comedies. This production at The Octagon Theatre is directed by David Thacker.

The two main themes of theshow that stood out to me are love and drugs. The four lovers act as if they have been drugged and when lovers get a love juice put into their eyes, the cast act as if they are tripping. A big part of this production feeling uplifting rather than boring was the technical aspects such as lighting, set, costumes etc.

The set design was really cool and funky. It wasn’t what I expected at all, it is very creative. When asked to describe it to someone, my answer was “full of big balls”! The lighting is always changing which makes the moment when Puck delivers his final monologue stand out. The lighting here stays the same, which helps you to focus in on it. One of the good things about the lighting is that it’s illuminous and the glow in the dark lights are mint -you end up looking around the audience to see who’s clothes are lighting up the most.

For me Titania's costume is to die for. I didn’t think that the costume would be 1960’s as I thought the play was a lot older! Whoever designed these clothes [It was Ashley Shairpe - Ed]chose brilliant costumes. The funniest costume for me was Nick’s, who plays Lysander, as the costume is flares and a multi coloured shirt, nothing like I have ever seen in my lifetime.

Also I think that David has picked a brilliant cast. The first time I saw it I loved Paula, who plays Titania and Hippolyta. She was outstanding, but for me Jake’s (Demetrius) and Vanessa’s (Helena) performances have been consistent and strong every single time. The way they act is outstanding and they draw your attention with all the running about and shouting that they do! I was very impressed with Rosie’s performance and how she had real tears in her eyes as Rob (Theseus) shouts at her in the first half. Also Vanessa’s performance for me was amazing as she wants Demetrius so much, that the more he refuses her, the more she wants him. This for me is something a young person can relate to…if we get told we aren’t allowed to do or have something, it makes us work all the harder to get it!

I personally didn’t know that Shakespeare did comedies but watching this show makes me want to watch more of Shakespeare’s plays. Before this performance I really thought Shakespeare was a load of old balls, turns out it is, but not in the way that I first thought!