While our pantomime continues to delight audiences of all ages, this month we’ve been making plans for a national tour of Whisky Galore, raising money for Give Local Oldham, and we’ve hosted community volunteers from across the globe as part of British Council’s Active Citizens project.
Read all about it – plus even more updates on what’s going on behind the scenes here at the Coliseum – below.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,
Chief Executive & Artistic Director.
We’re well into the swing of Christmas here at the Coliseum and Dick Whittington is going down a storm with audiences of all ages.
Dick Whittington is a traditional family pantomime jam packed with laugh-out-loud gags, thigh slapping songs and a generous helping of “it’s behind you!” Plus – not a cheesy celebrity in sight!
Call the Box Office 0161 624 2829 and one of our friendly team will help you find the best seats.
Pantomime at the Coliseum runs until Saturday 13 January and there are still great seats available on:
Boxing Day, 7.30pm
Wednesday 27 December, 7.30pm
Friday 29 December, 7.30pm
Saturday 30 December, 7.30pm
Tuesday 2 January, 2.15pm & 7.30pm
Wednesday 3 January, 2.15pm & 7.30pm
Thursday 4 January, 7.30pm
Friday 5 January, 7.30pm
Saturday 6 January, 7.30pm
Thursday 11 January, 7.30pm
Friday 12 January, 7.30pm
Saturday 13 January, 2.15pm & 7.30pm
Tickets are available from £13.50. Our Flexi Family Tickets (for four tickets – this can be a combination of one adult and three children or two adults and two children) are on sale from £55 for off-peak performances to £62 for peak performances.
There’s no need to break the bank for a magical Christmas pantomime experience as besides affordable ticketing, we pride ourselves on affordability:
“The perfect production to share with all of the family this Christmas”
– Upstaged Manchester
“A perfectly pitched traditional panto experience“
– The Stage
On Wednesday 10 January at 11am we’re presenting a Relaxed Performance of Dick Whittington.
Relaxed Performances are for anyone who would benefit from a more relaxed theatre experience: people with dementia or people on the autistic spectrum. Lighting and sound in the show is reduced and the auditorium never goes completely dark. Audiences are welcome to leave and re-enter the auditorium whenever they need to and a Chill Out Zone with activities and a TV screen to watch the show is available. We also have a Quiet Space for anyone who needs to take a break.
We provide a Relaxed Performance guide for anyone who is visiting the theatre for the first time or would feel better knowing what to expect. The relaxed performance guide for Dick Whittington can be found here (The guide contains an outline of the story so we advise not clicking the link if you want to keep the show a surprise!)
If you have any questions about the Relaxed Performance please email firstname.lastname@example.org. To book tickets please ring the Box Office on 0161 624 2829.
Last week a group of community workers from across the globe visited Oldham to see first-hand the great work the town’s organisations do to support our communities.
The British Council’s Active Citizens programme brings together people with different beliefs and perspectives to learn from and share with each other. Working with partners around the globe, participants are trained to affect social change in their communities.
Working with Najma Khalid from the CHAI Ladies Project, the Coliseum hosted Jina Kim from the Gyeonggi Cultural Foundation in Korea, which works to promote community cohesion in multicultural areas; Veronika Semeniuk, who works with NEETs (not in education, employment or training) at the Visagino sports centre in Lithuania; Tumuhiarwe Adinan from the Greater Bushenyi Muslim Women Association in Uganda, which helps to empower disadvantaged Muslim women who are at risk from early marriage, illiteracy and abuse; Arig Zarad who works with marginalised, disabled and visually impaired children at Development Solutions Think Tank in Egypt; and Syed Ahmed from Nottingham, UK, who works to support the development and aspirations of young pupils from BAME backgrounds in Nottingham through his social action project, Hidden Gems.
The international visitors were welcomed to Oldham by the Coliseum’s Chief Executive & Artistic Director, Kevin Shaw and Head of Learning and Engagement, Carly Henderson. They had a tour of our historic theatre before heading out into the town. As well as learning about the work the Coliseum does in the community, they visited Gallery Oldham, the CHAI Ladies Project, Greenhill Primary School, Positive Cycles and Hack Oldham.
During their stay the Active Citizens also had lunch with Mayor and Mayoress of Oldham: Cllr Shadab Qumer and Mrs Sobia Arshi, the leader of Oldham Council Jean Stretton, and the MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth Debbie Abrahams. They took a trip up to Uppermill to see the Christmas lights and experienced one of Britain’s greatest traditions with the Coliseum’s nationally renowned family pantomime.
Monomita Nag-Chowdhury, Active Citizens Global Programme Lead at the British Council, said:
“International Study Visits are about giving people that are working hard to make life better in their neighbourhoods the chance to learn from the experience of other parts of the world and to develop ideas, gather inspiration and get advice from the UK on how they can run projects that will really make a difference to their communities.”
Learn more about Active Citizens.
On Friday 15 December, we joined organisations across Oldham and Tameside to raise money for Tameside 4 Good, part of Action Together Oldham & Tameside. Action Together work with volunteers, groups and organisations across the two boroughs to promote skill sharing, empowering the community and learning together. It’s all about supporting young people, good causes and fundraising for local voluntary organisations. We had a great time wearing our silliest jumpers and costumes for a great cause.
You can have a look at all the silly costumes by searching #t4gsillysanta on Twitter.
Following its three-week run here in Oldham, the Coliseum’s production of Whisky Galore is hitting the road on a national tour, stopping off at The Haymarket Theatre, Basingstoke; York Theatre Royal, Hull Truck Theatre; New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme; Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds; Cast, Doncaster; Belgrade Theatre, Coventry and Salisbury Playhouse.
The Coliseum’s last national tour, The Mist in the Mirror, was nominated for The Renee Stepham Award for Best Presentation of Touring Theatre at the UK Theatre Awards in 2015. We asked Interim Executive Director, Mary Caws, and Head of Production, Lesley Chenery, about how Coliseum tours are planned and what it means to present a show made in Oldham up to 240 miles away.
Why do we take Coliseum productions on tour?
Mary: There are a number of reasons for taking our shows around the country; there’s a financial aspect, there are artistic benefits in that it’s a way of forging artistic collaborations with colleagues around the country but perhaps most importantly of all, it’s about getting the name of Oldham Coliseum Theatre around the country. It’s that ‘made in Oldham’ brand, and touring is a great way of demonstrating that we produce really high quality work that audiences want to come and see.
How do you decide which show goes on tour?
Mary: There are two slightly different forms of relationships with this tour, the co-producing partners – Hull Truck Theatre and the New Vic – and the touring venues. At a very early stage when we’re thinking about touring a show we’d get in touch with two or three like-minded theatres, asking whether they would like to create a partnership and produce with us, and quite often at this point the play itself hasn’t been decided. Our Artistic Director, Kevin Shaw, might say that he’d like to do a comedy, and there would be a handful of choices that are passed around the co-producing venues. In that case, the decision on what the show will be is a collaborative process. Then, sometimes, Kevin will already have a show in mind and ask potential co-producers whether they would like to be a part of it.
Once the show has been decided then I sit down and think about the kind of show it is and roughly how much it will cost to produce on a weekly basis, and I look at other theatres around the country that have similar audience capacity (seats in the theatre) as well as the size of the stage.
What are the logistics of touring?
Lesley: I’m currently talking to the designer for the tour who will be designing a set which will sit well in all the different venues. We know Whisky Galore is going to be funny, and often, those humorous tricks/devices which seem simplest, can be quite complex to achieve. We’re expecting to have to find a few solutions and looking forward to plenty of opportunities to be quite inventive. The interesting thing about this tour is that it’s a three-way co-production with Hull Truck Theatre and the New Vic, whose stages are completely different.
We’ll have rehearsal time in both of those venues to restage some of the action so that it fits really well into the performance space. When visiting other theatres on the tour we’ve got to consider the differences in all the venues.
We’ll be asking our set building company to make it more portable, which often means there are more parts, but all the parts are smaller so nothing is too heavy. Once we know what size the set is I’ll know what size of truck we’ll need. When you’re touring you also have to take an enormous amount of ‘things you might need’ with you, so there will be lots of flight-cases filled with spares of practically everything, including tights, hair rollers, an ironing board and an iron, kettle and tea bags, in addition to the programmes which will be sold in every venue.
Who goes on tour with the actors?
Lesley: Someone from the Coliseum’s Senior Management Team will visit all the touring venues – usually for the opening night performances, but the stage management and technical staff will be brought in specially to take the show on tour. While Whisky Galore is working its way around the country our team will be needed here for Relatively Speaking (which is transferring to Harrogate Theatre), A Taste of Honey, Bread & Roses and the Autumn-Winter 2018-19 Season Launch event on Monday 14 May. The touring team will come to the Coliseum and learn the show during our three-week run and then take it on the road.
Are there any other things to consider when taking a show on tour?
Lesley: The show finishes in each venue on a Saturday night and the team have the day off on the Sunday and travel to the next town on the Monday. When you’re away it’s always nice to have one day a week where the team can do something socially together, so one of the Company Stage Manager’s tasks is to research potential activities in each of the towns they’re visiting. Every location offers its own highlight, Harrogate is great because you can go to Betty’s Tea Room.
Launched on Tuesday 21 November, Give Local is a collaborative fundraising campaign from six Oldham charities raising money to help improve the lives of people across the borough.
The six charities have been fundraising with a series of bucket collections and raffles, including collections at supermarkets, at Oldham Athletic FC matches, and at the Coliseum throughout the run of our ever-popular pantomime, Dick Whittington.
Our Fundraising Officer, Caitlin Hawkins, commented: “Give Local is going really well but we still need your support. We’ve held a number of fundraising events so far, including raffles at New Charter Housing Group and at Oldham Council and a bucket collection at Tesco Chadderton on Giving Tuesday (28 November). All our volunteers were really involved and were so helpful. We hope the winners enjoy their prizes and to everyone who generously donated, thank you so much. It’s so lovely to see the support for local charities in Oldham. Keep your eye out for our volunteers with collection buckets when visiting the pantomime this Christmas.”
Thanks to Sir Norman Stoller CBE DL, all money raised for Give Local Oldham will be doubled by The Stoller Charitable Trust and split equally between each charity.
We offer an audio described performance for each Coliseum production, which is provided by Mind’s Eye. The company provides an excellent service and give our visually impaired audience members a bespoke experience every time. Mind’s Eye has just celebrated twenty five years of audio describing across the country for everything from theatre productions to galleries to museums and even zoos. We spoke to Anne Hornsby, Director of Mind’s Eye and Audio Describer, to learn more.
What is Audio Description and how does it work?
Audio Description increases access for people who are blind and partially sighted. The describer takes audiences on a tour of the stage, so that they can feel the set, props and costumes, and sometimes meet the actors. Describers then deliver a 10-to-15 minute introduction to the visual elements of the show, for instance, describing the characters and costumes, then, during the performance, they deliver descriptions of what’s happening on stage – all without talking over the dialogue.
What inspired you to start Mind’s Eye?
I was working at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton as Head of Marketing, when one of our customers, who was blind, suggested that we introduce a new service, which was then only being offered in the US and in one other theatre in the UK – Audio Description. With her guidance, we began audio describing our shows and also offering touch tours. The Octagon launched the service in 1990 and then in 1992, with so many requests from other theatres, and also from galleries and museums, I launched Mind’s Eye.
Could you give us an insight into what preparation you do for an audio described show?
An audio describer needs to study the script for a play, come and see it at least twice and make lots of notes on the costumes, the scenery, the action, especially sections of dance, fights, comedy and key dramatic moments, as well as facial expressions and gesture. We then work from a DVD of the show to develop our scripts, where we write our descriptions into the script with the cue points, and then we come in to rehearse. We also need to make arrangements with the Stage Management team about touch tours.
What has been your favourite Coliseum show to describe?
I really enjoyed audio describing Chicago, I had worked on a tour of it but I thought the Coliseum production was excellent. Years ago, I remember describing Me Mam Sez which had a great integrity about it, and of course, the pantomimes are always great fun. The costumes are wonderful to describe, and the pantos present a challenge because you never know quite what is going to happen!
Upcoming Audio Description Performances at Oldham Coliseum Theatre
Tuesday 3 April, 7.30pm
Saturday 28 April, 2.30pm
A Taste of Honey
Thursday 7 June, 7.30pm
Bread & Roses
Wednesday 4 July, 2.30pm
Sponsors and Partners of this year’s pantomime, Dick Whittington, were thanked in person by our Dame, Fine Time Fontayne, at a special meet and greet with sponsors and partners’ families last week.
Our pantomime is renowned as one of the best in the country, with years of talent and tradition making it the highlight in the borough’s theatrical calendar. The backing of local businesses and organisations helps spread the Christmas cheer even further.
As well as presenting over 80 fun-filled performances, the Coliseum provides pantomime workshops for local schools and produces a Relaxed Performance for those who benefit from a more relaxed atmosphere, including people with an Autism Spectrum Condition, sensory, communication disorders, learning disabilities or dementia.
John Edwards, Development Manager, Oldham Coliseum Theatre, commented: “As a charity, having the support of local businesses is crucial to the theatre. It’s wonderful to see a group of people come together in support of the Coliseum. The best thing about pantomime is that it brings so much joy to children who come along to see it. George Hill Timber, JD Williams and Oldham Hulme Grammar School all supported the 2016 pantomime, Sleeping Beauty, too. It’s wonderful to have their continued support.”
Introducing Lindsey, a regular Chaperone here at the Coliseum.
What does a Chaperone do?
Chaperones are needed for any shows with young people in them. We’re responsible for their health and safety and making sure they’re ready on time and don’t miss their cues! We also have to have a good knowledge of safeguarding and child licensing.
How many years have you worked as a Coliseum Chaperone?
This is my fourth year working as a Chaperone for Oldham Coliseum Theatre.
What’s been your favourite Coliseum production?
My favourite production was Mother Goose in 2015/16; I really liked the scene where they sang Defying Gravity from Wicked.
What’s your favourite aspect of working at the Coliseum?
I like working here because it’s like a family, everyone is really friendly.
What are you currently looking forward to?
I’m currently looking forward to spending Christmas with my family and our trip to Rome in a few days!
Can you tell us an interesting fact about yourself?
Not many people know but I’m a qualified tyre fitter.
The Coliseum’s Front of House team organised a special meet and greet for one audience member who has come along to see Dick Whittington a whopping seven times (so far) this year.
Anthony Collier met the cast of our pantomime following the performance on Wednesday 13 December, after our Front of House Supervisor, Jane Boardman, saw how many times he had already been to see the show and decided to surprise him.
Anthony said: “I really like panto and I’ve always loved the Coliseum’s pantomime especially. I think Dick Whittington is the best one so far, I’ll be back to see it again – probably next week! I’ve never met the actors before, it was really nice of them to come out especially to meet me.”
Anthony also received a signed poster from the cast, who were delighted to meet such a huge fan.
There are some changes to the approach to Terminal 2 at Manchester Airport as part of the exciting £1Bn transformation of the UK’s global gateway in the north.
Manchester Airport is transforming to deliver a world-class customer experience in state-of-the-art facilities. As they press ahead to deliver this project as quickly as possible there are some temporary changes to the area where passengers are dropped off outside Terminal 2 (usually up a ramp at the front of the building). The new temporary drop off area is at ground level in a specially commissioned forecourt.
Manchester Airport want all passengers to have a smooth and stress-free experience, so please take note of the changes before making your journey. There will also be signs and marshalls at the airport to help you find your way.
For more details and a map visit ManchesterAirport.co.uk
Pantomime is our busiest time of year and we’re very grateful for all the help we receive from our volunteers in making it run as smoothly as possible. This year is no exception and regular volunteers Megan and Gary took a quick break to speak to us.
“This is the fourth time I’ve seen the show and it just gets better and better each time! It’s lots of fun helping out and it’s so lovely seeing everyone enjoying themselves.”
We’re always on the lookout for friendly and reliable people to join our team of Customer Experience Volunteers, who help to look after our audiences from greeting them in the foyer, to selling programmes and ice creams, taking them to their seats and much more.
Customer Experience Volunteers must be 18+ and able to commit to a minimum of three months volunteering with us. No experience is needed as full training is provided.
Oldham Coliseum Theatre gratefully acknowledges funding from: