AN all-female cast is taking the reins for the world premiere in Bolton.
Winter Hill is a new play from internationally acclaimed playwright Timberlake Wertenbaker, author of the Olivier award winning Our Country’s Good.
Set in the Bolton, in the near future, the play centres on a group of eight local women as they deal with the ramifications of land on nearby Winter Hill being sold to developers to create a luxurious skyscraper hotel – the largest in Europe.
The theatre has revealed a cast line-up for the show which includes some well-known female faces from the stage, and big and small screens.
Featured in what is believed to be the first of a number of annoucements are BAFTA and Golden Globe-nominated Cathy Tyson as Irene, who starred alongside Bob Hoskins and Michael Caine in the award-winning 1986 movie Mona Lisa as the high class call girl Simone.
She went on to star in shows including Band of Gold and most recently onstage in Nikolai Forster’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest.
Soap star Denise Black — Denise Osbourne in Coronation Street and Joanie Wright in Emmerdale — is no stranger to the theatre having toured as Mother Superior in Sister Act and stars as Dolly.
Louise Jameson has a legion of fans from her time starring in iconic television shows from Doctor Who as companion Leela alongside Tom Baker, to Susan Young in Bergerac and later as Rosa di Marco in Eastenders.
She will appear as Beth alongside Wolf Hall's Janet Henfrey, also known as Mrs Bale in As Time Goes By, as Felicity.
Souad Faress, who has starred in anything from My Beautiful Laundrette, Brief Encounters and Bridget Jones' Diary, will be appearing as Vivian while Octagon regular Fiona Hampton returns as Emma.
It will be directed by Elizabeth Newman, artistic director at the Octagon.
Timberlake's new play explores how a group of seemingly ordinary women endeavour to protect their local community, no matter the cost and questioning the lengths people go to for a cause they believe in and at what point does the fight for freedom become terrorism?
She said: "I wanted to look at what it means for women to resist, how far they’ll go and what the consequences might be.
"And then one day, I took a walk-up Winter Hill and found the broad lines of the play. I’ve always been fascinated by landscape, real and imaginary, its place in theatre, and how characters inhabit and affect it.
"When I was asked to write a play by Elizabeth it felt important to be inspired by Bolton. Since I started writing Winter Hill, the world has changed a lot and some questions feel even urgent than when I began."
One of Britain's foremost playwrights, Timberlake is the recipient of numerous awards including an Olivier award and the 1990 New York Drama Critics award for Our Country’s Good, the Writers’ Guild, Critics’ Circle and Susan Smith Blackburn awards for Three Birds Alighting on a Field and the Eileen Anderson Central TV Drama Award for The Love of the Nightingale.
Ms Newman added: "It is extremely exciting to be working with Timberlake Wertenbaker on her new play Winter Hill.
"We commissioned Timberlake four years ago; since then she has given a great deal of time to exploring and understanding our Bolton communities and has created a drama that will resonate; putting formidable women at the centre of an exploration of what it is to follow your beliefs, no matter the cost.
"Timberlake has written an important piece, which I am honoured to work on and to present for the first time to audiences here in Bolton."
Further cast to be announced.
Winter Hill will be playing at the Octagon Theatre Bolton from May 11 – June 3.
For more information visit octagonbolton.co.uk/whats-on.