The Coliseum held a Fun Palace on Saturday 7 October, inviting people of all ages to come and have a peek behind the scenes to explore the science of theatre and the theatre of science. We had a wonderful day with people from across Oldham and beyond enjoying the activities on offer, which ranged from presentations about programming plays to taking part in a balloon race in the foyer.
Kids and not-so-grown-up grown-ups enjoyed face painting in our Stalls Bar, which meant the theatre was packed with tigers, cats, spider men and fairies, plus many sporting a face paint Manchester Bee. Daisy the Pantomime Cow was ready and waiting for all those wanting to put her on and have a moo about and little ones made their very own plays with our puppet theatre. Those in need of refreshment had the opportunity to sample science themed drinks and sweets in the bar to add a little pop-fizz-bang to their day. Through in the Education Suite we got even more creative making our own space crafts, musical instruments and costumes out of cardboard, with comfy cushions to lie or sit on for a spot of colouring in.
In the auditorium our LX department put their skills on show, inviting people of all ages to have a go at lighting and sound – which lead to some spectacular colours, lightsabre sound effects and hilarious voice overs. Down towards the stage is where you found our Stage Management team waiting take people through the Coliseum’s historic backstage area on a tour that unveiled some theatre magic and gave a glimpse at what goes on behind-the-scenes, while on the stage itself our Technical Stage team had a trebuchet ready for firing tennis balls through the rugby goal of the Up ‘N’ Under set – it was a game of physics, with a dash of luck – and with three tries each it got a little competitive!
Upstairs in the Studio The Steering Group presented an interactive play learning all about the human body in Fun Palace Surgery, Chief Executive and Artistic Director Kevin Shaw gave an insight into programming and casting plays, and Associate Director Chris Lawson spoke about devising new pieces of theatre. With another glimpse into backstage life our dressing rooms were open for presentations about our new building set to open in 2020 and the chance to ask any questions, a production presentation allowing people to prop their own sets using the set models for Oh What A Lovely War and Up ‘N’ Under and a Selfie Station full of fabulous fancy dress.
On their way out everyone had the change to take part in our balloon race in the foyer – the balloon that travels farthest wins a prize! We’ll be contacting winners after 31 October, so if you took part in the race, keep your eyes peeled and your ears open! Those who encounterd our Mad Scientists wandering around the theatre throughout the day also had the chance to win four tickets to this year’s pantomime, Dick Whittington. Winners of the prize draw will be selected at random and contacted on 31 October.
The Fun Palace was originally conceived by theatre legend, Joan Littlewood (Oh What A Lovely War) and architect Cedric Price in the 1960s as a ‘laboratory of fun’. We were thrilled to see so many people enjoying our Fun Palace and there is a collection of photographs from the day available to view online HERE.
If you’d like to send us your photos or comments about your time at the Fun Palace please contact firstname.lastname@example.org