Octagon aiming to be named 'Britain's most welcoming theatre'
OSCAR-winning director Danny Boyle calls its work one of the wonders of the world, acclaimed actress Maxine Peake deems it atmospheric and TV favourite Sue Johnston hailed it as a jewel in Bolton’s crown.
Now the Octagon Theatre is hoping to add the title of Britain’s Most Welcoming Theatre to its list of plaudits.
Staff are asking for the public’s support as the theatre competes against 225 other arts venues across the country in the My Theatre Matters! campaign.
The winner will be announced at the annual UK Theatre Awards ceremony in London’s historic Guildhall on Sunday, October 20.
Roddy Gauld, chief executive of the Octagon Theatre, said: “Apart from the fact we’ve just modernised and improved the customer areas, I think the Octagon stands out as most welcoming because of the people.
“And I don’t just mean the staff. I started coming to the Octagon before I worked here and the audience around me were always friendly, chatty and welcoming.
“I enjoyed travelling to Bolton to see a show here, so I think this award isn’t just about what we do as the theatre to welcome people, but the part our audience play in making the Octagon and Bolton such a welcoming place.”
The Octagon has recently undergone a £650,000 refurbishment to modern-ise the theatre, bring the auditorium up to date, improve safety and make it even more welcoming.
It has a number of well-known supporters, includ-ing Silk actress Maxine Peake who recently described the Octagon as “the most intimate and atmospheric theatre, in the round, in the country”.
Danny Boyle, speaking at an event at London’s National Theatre in November to highlight the catastrophic effect arts cuts could have on Britain’s local playhouses, said: “My first experience of walking into a theatre – you didn’t go to the theatre in the background I came from – was when I went to be an usher at the Bolton Octagon.
“It was doing a play called Spring and Port Wine, Bill Naughton's play. And I was just, ‘if you haven't been to the theatre just go’.
“That live sense is one of the wonders of the world."
And Sue Johnston, Gloria Price in Coronation Street, recently lent her support to the theatre’s revamp fundraising campaign.
She said: “The Octagon is a wonderful theatre. I’ve enjoyed great performances there as well as the pleasure of acting on its stage.
“It really is a jewel in Bolton’s crown.”
My Theatre Matters! launched in March in a bid to attract public support for local theatres across the UK, in response to extreme pressures on local government funding.
To vote for the Octagon Theatre as the Most Welcoming Theatre in Britain, in association with Classic FM, visit mytheatrematters.com/vote-now. Voting is open until Monday, September 30.
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