THE Octagon theatre has announced its new season for 2014/15.

The plays range from dramas about World War One to comedies by Noel Coward and Michael Frayn.

Here artistic director David Thacker talks about the productions in detail.

  • Journey’s End, by RC Sherriff, September 4 to October 4; director David Thacker.

The first play of the season is probably one of the greatest plays ever written about war which is Journey’s End, by RC Sherriff.

It’s set in a dugout in World War One. It’s a very famous and moving play.

Sherriff himself fought in the war, so it’s very much based on his experiences and people that he knew serving with him.

  • Early One Morning, by Les Smith, October 9 to November 1; director David Thacker.

Early One Morning, by Bolton writer Les Smith, was done hugely successfully 14 years ago when it was commissioned for the Octagon.

It’s about a young man from Bolton, Private James Smith, who was shot for desertion during World War One.

It’s the true story of this young man and the tragic circumstances of his execution.

  • Alice in Wonderland, by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, November 14 to January 10; director Elizabeth New-man.

Our festive season show is Alice in Wonderland that’s being written by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm who wrote the very successful Robin Hood, the version staged at the Octagon last Christmas. That’s being directed by Elizabeth Newman again and will have many of the ingredients that people have come to really enjoy in our festive season shows.

  • A View from the Bridge, by Arthur Miller, January 15 to February 14, 2015; director David Thacker.

We are opening 2015 with one of Arthur Miller’s greatest plays — A View from the Bridge, which centres on a Brooklyn working class family who invite into their home members of their family from Italy who are illegal immigrants.

The young men are trying to earn money to send back to their starving families in Sicily. It’s a fantastic play, very moving, very powerful.

  • Hindle Wakes, by Stanley Houghton, February 19 to March 21, 2015, a co-production with Oldham Coliseum; director David Thacker.

Hindle Wakes is set in a Northern town and it’s set at wakes weekend. A young mill worker goes away, unknown to her family, with the son of a wealthy mill owner.

The parents find out about this and there’s a great deal of pressure placed upon the young couple from both sets of parents.

The young man is actually engaged to be married to the daughter of a wealthy and important man in the town.

The play really deals with the extent to which this young woman is able to face this pressure that’s put upon her.

  • Private Lives, Noël Coward, March 26 to April 18, 2015, a co-production with New Vic Theatre Newcastle-under-Lyme; director Elizabeth Newman. Noël Coward’s great comedy. This is about two married couples who are on honeymoon in France and they are very affluent couples.

One of the husbands and wives have been married before. What they don’t know is their former wife and former husband are staying in the same hotel.

  • The Ancient Secret of Youth and the Five Tibetans, world premiere by Jim Cartwright, April 30 to May 23, 2015; director David Thacker.

It centres on three people who are in their late 50s, probably.

The outline of the story is they meet, they’re old friends of many years. They have a dinner together.

It’s a married couple and their friend and the friend runs an old bookshop.

He brings along a copy of a book he has discovered called The Ancient Secret of Youth.

It’s a book that shows an exercise programme that is called The Five Tibetans.

As well as the exercise programme, it has advice on food and diet and lifestyle considerations.

The book claims to be able to bring about remarkable rejuvenation so that you become young again or discover your youth.

  • Noises Off, by Michael Frayn, June 4 to July 4, 2015, director David Thacker.

It’s about a theatre company doing a touring production of a farce. The first act takes place at the technical rehearsal.

All kinds of things go wrong. The second act is a month later when the play is on and this time you see the action from backstage.

The third act is a month further on and you see them this time from the front, what the audience sees.

  • Tomorrow: an interview with David Thacker.