Oldham Coliseum Theatre’s popular Studio programme returns for its third year this Spring with a mix of comedy, drama, new writing and musicals from artists across the country as well as talented companies closer to home.
Alongside 11 independent productions, the Studio will also play host to Scratch Nights and New Writing events, and in June the second annual Cultivate Festival for theatre makers takes over the building with a week of workshops, opportunities and industry insights.
Chris Lawson, Acting Artistic Director of the Coliseum commented: “Now in its third year, the Studio programme continues to grow running alongside our productions on the Main Stage. We’re extremely proud of the reputation our Studio has built and will continue to develop artists, showcase the best in new work and inspire conversations long after the show has finished.”
Hard-hitting productions inspired by real events and true stories feature throughout the season. Hiding Place Theatre’s Bottleneck by Luke Barnes tells the story of the Hillsborough disaster through the eyes of a 14 year-old football fan growing up in ‘the boot’ in Liverpool; Crowded Room’s The Listening Room tells the true stories of five people whose lives were transformed by three moments of violence; Coliseum Associate Company Fine Comb Theatre’s Not Yours, Mine looks at the complexities involved in the family court system and Useful Productions’ Three Mothers tells three stories of immigration.
We take a look inside ourselves and at modern day society with Holly Gallagher’s Tensile Strength (Or How to Survive at your Wits End) and Jess Gibson’s Work in Progress. Presented by Arc Stockton, Tensile Strength is a performance about stress and why so many people feel it to an unhealthy degree. In Work in Progress we meet Jess, a Scouse girl who struggles to manage her mental health, borderline personality disorder, anxiety and depression, but through a passion for dancing to Britney Spears, has learnt to feel comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Following the Coliseum’s Manchester Theatre Award winning 2017 production of The Father on the Main Stage, the Studio programme for 2019 features two independent productions which continue to explore the vital topic of dementia. In Other Words by Off The Middle is a moving and funny love story which highlights the effects of Alzheimer’s disease and the transformative power of music, utilising the songs of Frank Sinatra. Smashing Mirrors Theatre’s Three Emos is the story of three friends whose lives are changed when one of their grandparents is diagnosed with dementia. With an original rock soundtrack, generations clash and come together in a tale of finding inspiration in the most unlikely of places.
Further cross-overs between the Main Stage and the Studio include Drip by Tom Wells, the writer behind the Coliseum’s 2016 and 2018 hit productions of Jumpers For Goalposts and The Kitchen Sink, and Freedom Studios’ production of Adelle Stripe’s Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile, which is inspired by the life and work of Andrea Dunbar, writer of Rita, Sue and Bob Too.
Drip is a one-man musical comedy about 15 year-old optimist, Liam, who has just signed up for Bev Road Baths’ first ever synchronised swimming team to help out his friend Caz. The problem is, Liam can’t swim. Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile introduces us to Andrea Dunbar in 1990 as she struggles with her latest work with an aching head full of voices telling stories from her past.
The Coliseum’s commitment to developing emerging artists and their work remains at the heart of the Studio programme. Following on from Scripts Aloud, What The Dickens (a response to Hard Times) and A Taste of Home (a response to A Taste of Honey), the Coliseum’s relationship with Manchester ADP continues with two nights of their second full-length production, Purge. In this show about women, their bodies and their relationship with the internet we meet 16 year old Regina, who has gained 125million subscribers in 24 hours, and her mother, who knows her as ‘Sarah’. The Coliseum’s Associate Company Fine Comb Theatre present their first Scratch Night in the studio, showcasing brand new work from four companies in an informal and inclusive environment.
In June the Coliseum’s festival for theatre-makers, Cultivate, returns for the second year with a week dedicated to artist development and theatre upskilling. Taking place across the entire building Cultivate features opportunities including open auditions, scratch nights, funding application guidance and guest speakers and workshops covering acting, voice, movement and puppetry, with much more to be announced.