An incredible gift of £1 million given to The Royal Exchange Theatre by The Oglesby Charitable Trust enables the development of The Den, a new pop-up theatre space designed by award-winning architects Haworth Tompkins.

The theatre are producing a two week festival of art and culture, from 12 to 25 August, as part of their three-year partnership with Tameside.

Highlights of the festival include performances taken directly from the Royal Exchange stage including “There is a Light that Never Goes Out” which uses modern technology to bring the early 19th century Luddites into the zero-hours era, to family story telling featuring former “Coronation Street” actress Julie Hesmondhalgh actress and family theatre.

This is in addition to performances by local favourites, Stalybridge Old Band and communities the Royal Exchange has worked with throughout the borough.

The Den is part of the theatre’s newest strand of work Local Exchange which makes space to explore how the relationship between people, places and artists can shape the future work that the Royal Exchange Theatre makes.

Michael Oglesby and Kate Vokes, Trustees of the Oglesby Charitable Trust said…

Philanthropic gifts can often provide the space to innovate and take risks, we have found that this results in some truly ground-breaking projects with real and lasting impact. We were incredibly impressed by the breadth and depth of LOCAL EXCHANGE as an original and insightful way to develop sustained relationships with the communities of Greater Manchester. As part of this THE DEN felt like a ground-breaking design – a truly unique theatre space that would respond to the needs of the residents using it. We are delighted to support the growth of this very exciting project for Greater Manchester.

Designed with the award-winning architectural studio Haworth Tompkins the Den is a unique pop-up theatre space that will visit areas of Greater Manchester as part of Local Exchange. Sitting within a larger found space, it is designed to help reimagine an existing local building. It is a space where communities can come to share, learn and make their own work, and where the work of the Royal Exchange can be performed outside of the city centre.

The development of this new pop-up theatre has been inspired by the idea of de-growth. It is a sustainable space which creates the maximum amount of opportunity for creativity whilst always considering the minimum environmental impact. With a stripped back design this new theatre space will honour the essence of the found building, aiming for a genuine environmental and social equity between both spaces. With co-operation at its heart The Den will be constructed and operated with the residents of each community, they will help to raise the roof of this unique theatre space, become its ushers, its box office, its technical team and its audience.

Roger Watts, Director at Haworth Tompkins said…

We’re so pleased to be working with the Royal Exchange Theatre on this exciting and crucially important project. What attracted us to become involved was the chance to make architecture for our changing times: where communities are under pressure; where energy and resources are precious and where finding common ground across barriers of difference is essential. As architects, engineers, designers and theatre makers, we hope our team can rise to the challenge of creating a very-low carbon, super-lightweight, 180 seat portable auditorium that is capable of being built and dismantled by its audience.

After the  Den makes its first appearance in Tameside in 2020 it will be resident in Spinners Mill in Leigh.


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