THE first professional theatre production in the UK to be cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic will get its premiere ­— online.

Former artistic director of the Octagon, David Thacker was due to open adaptation of the acclaimed Samuel Beckett play, Happy Days at the Bolton Library Theatre in March.

But now it will have its premiere, after a private performance of the play will be broadcast on Thursday, August 13 at 7pm, after which it will be available to watch on YouTube.

And it is proving to be a timely showing

David explained: "Those of us who love theatre have been deprived for the past few months, so this will give theatre-goers the rare opportunity of seeing Samuel Beckett’s wonderful play, albeit in film form for the moment.

“Throughout rehearsals we realised how powerfully the play’s themes resonate now. Beckett is imagining a future in which humanity is heading to extinction.“Almost every week the world’s leading scientists are warning us of the impending apocalypse.

“But Happy Days is a very human play. A play about relationships. About marriage. About the struggle to find meaning and purpose in our lives. It’s a very funny, moving, compassionate play. A play for the 2020s.”

The Bolton News:

(David Thacker)

He added: “We could never have anticipated how powerfully the play would speak to those of us experiencing lockdown.

“That’s why I’d like people to have the opportunity of experiencing a production of Happy Days created in the unique conditions presented by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Happy Days was sponsored by the University of Bolton, and students had the unique opportunity to follow a production from start to finish.

The play stars David's wife, Margot Leicester, star of stage and screen, as Winnie, who is buried in a mound of scorched grass. She spends the play’s 90 minutes talking to her largely silent husband, Willie, played by John Branwell.

When the University cancelled all public events, two weeks before the play’s scheduled opening in March, Happy Days became the first UK professional production to be cancelled.

Even though there would be no public performances, Margot and John agreed to work for another week to give the students the opportunity of working towards a performance.

David said: “Five students had placements on the original production

“These students were in their final year and were devastated by the cancellation of the production.

“ I know that our students are grateful to John and Margot because their commitment allowed the production to be re-conceived with three professionals working in collaboration with them.

“To work alongside experienced professionals on an equal footing, and to create a production with them, offered the students unexpected opportunities to develop their skills, which they grasped wholeheartedly.

“John, Margot and I were constantly impressed by the dedication, skill and commitment of the students who supported us during the week when the production was re-conceived."

The Bolton News:

(Margot Leicester)

Three Film and Media Production students to film the private performance.

He added: “Many theatre professionals have responded imaginatively to the challenges of the lockdown and Margot and John have shown great generosity in making this private performance possible.

“Their work, and the work of all the students involved, deserves a wider audience.”

To watch the performance visit

To watch the performance click here