Oldham Coliseum appoints seven Associates for 2022

Oldham Coliseum Theatre is welcoming seven passionate and innovative artists/companies as Associate Artists in 2022. New Associates are Billie Collins, Dare to Know Theatre, Maz Hedgehog, afshan d’souza-lodhi, Lauren Nicole-Mayes and troublehouse theatre, while Grant Archer continues as the theatre’s Digital Associate.


Associate Artists are embedded in the Coliseum company and have access to individually tailored experiences to support their development and strengthen their networks. Over the course of a year, Associates will receive regular support from the Coliseum’s staff, space in kind, financial investment, development opportunities and performance space.


Coliseum Artistic Director Chris Lawson said: “The Coliseum is proud to open its doors to a wide range of artists at different levels of their careers from across the region. We look forward to supporting them in making work and to them contributing to the life of the Coliseum and the town of Oldham to ensure high quality relevant work is available to all.




Billie Collins is a writer for stage, screen and audio. Her work often explores themes of queerness, growing up, family, nature and folklore. Her debut play Too Much World At Once is being developed by Box of Tricks Theatre for production in a future season, following rehearsed readings at Stephen Joseph Theatre and HOME Manchester. She is also working on a new stage project with ThickSkin, as well as Rathbone's Antiques – an original children’s animated series in development with Toastie Animation, funded by the BFI’s Young Audiences Content Fund. Billie has previously written audio drama for BBC Sounds, been shortlisted for the 2021 Papatango Prize and selected for Film Hub North’s 2020 Script Lab. 




Dare to Know Theatre, aka Jake Talbot and Miranda Parker, are an Oldham based theatre company committed to making work with and for the local community. They will be presenting their new play The Forgotten in the Coliseum Studio later this year.


In 2021 Dare to Know received a Micro-Commission from the Coliseum, with which they produced A Broken Family, Together, a digital verbatim play that follows three nurses at different stages of their career. The play was a culmination of discussions with healthcare professionals working at The Royal Oldham Hospital, celebrating and documenting the dedication and heroism that nurses, doctors, porters, managers, volunteers and more have shown throughout the pandemic.


Jake and Miranda said:We’re looking forward to continuing our community work with the Coliseum and telling more stories that interest us, as Oldhamers.




Maz Hedgehog is a writer and performer working in the spaces between real and unreal, poetry and theatre, self and other. A founding member of Ink and Curtains, their work is lyrical and imaginative, frequently inspired by folklore and mythology. Their latest book, The Body in Its Seasons, is out with Burning Eye in April 2022 and their debut solo show, Let Me Count the Ways will be touring in partnership with HER Productions in 2022.




afshan d’souza-lodhi is a writer of scripts and poetry. Her work has been performed and translated into numerous languages across the world and she is currently a LabFellow for Global Performance and Politics at Georgetown University. As well as her own writing, afshan is keen to develop other younger and emerging artists and sits on the boards of Manchester Literature Festival and Pie Radio. 


afshan has been commissioned to write and direct short film, An Act of Terror, for Channel 4 and radio play, Chop Chop, for BBC Sounds. In 2021, afshan was a Sky Writes writer-in-residence for Rotherham, a partnership between Sky Studios and New Writing North. She is also currently developing a TV series with Sky Studios. Her debut poetry collection re:desire (Burning Eye Books) was longlisted for the Jhalak Prize in 2021.




Lauren-Nicole Mayes is a writer and actress whose Blackpool home town’s brash nature and vibrant tone has heavily influenced her voice as a writer. Inspired by her own experience of being raised/surrounded by a family of women, she is keen to question society's expectations of the female voice and the stories we expect women to tell. 


Lauren was chosen as one of the five finalists for the Screenplay Award in partnership with Sky Studios and Box Of Tricks and is now on their cohort of underrepresented northern writers. In 2021 she was chosen as Very Rascals Theatre’s writer on attachment for her poetry: Might Love Be For All Of Us and was awarded The Arvon Foundation’s poetry scholarship for their writer’s retreat. She was commissioned by Burn Bright Theatre: Hear Me Roar for her piece, Dear Little Loz in June 2021, which has since been commissioned for a full run at Edinburgh Fringe 2022. Her short film, LADS LADS LADS in partnership with Hotel Football UK and several mental health charities was released this January and in April 2022 she will be sharing her latest piece, BABYNUN X0, supported by ACE at The Lowry.


Lauren said:I am so excited to be an Associate Artist at Oldham Coliseum. Part of my process as a writer and one of my favourite parts about writing is connecting and having conversations with individuals whose voices are at the forefront of my work. This opportunity gives me valuable time and space to do that.  I can’t wait to be a part of a collaborative team and community that puts ‘people’ at the heart of their work. Too often the door isn’t open for discussions, this opportunity offers a chance to develop my practise amongst other creatives in a supportive environment.” 




troublehouse theatre is a site specific theatre company founded by Rick Bithell and Heather Carroll upon graduating in 2012 as part of the first postgraduate class from ALRA North. Passionate about supporting the arts in the North West as well as making work that is accessible and available to all, their previous productions have been staged across Greater Manchester in a range of venues including the basement of a pub, a warehouse and a social housing property in Bolton. The latter was in collaboration with the Octagon Theatre, Bolton as part of their Reveal Season and was produced in partnership with charities Missing People and The Children’s Society. In 2019 troublehouse were awarded their first Arts Council grant as they worked with The Dukes, Lancaster and Plough On Sunday productions on an adaptation of Edward Gorey’s The Doubtful Guest.


Rick and Heather said: “We’re very grateful to Oldham Coliseum for the chance to work with them as an Associate Artist. During our time at ALRA North we worked with Kevin Shaw on a production of Jane Eyre that toured to Oldham Library during the Coliseum’s refurbishment. Because of that, Oldham as a place has always meant a great deal to both of us and to come full circle to work with the Coliseum is an amazing opportunity.”




Grant Archer became an Associate of the Coliseum in 2020 and has collaborated with the Coliseum’s artistic and learning teams frequently on digital projects over the past two years, including filming and editing the theatre’s Spring 2021 digital production Whodunnit at the Coliseum?. In 2021 Grant also received a Micro-Commission from the Coliseum, creating short film Angel of History in collaboration with ballerina Nicky Henshall, actress Shobna Gulati and composer Akshay Gulati, exploring what it has meant to be a performer during the Covid-19 pandemic.


Grant is a digital artist creating theatrical installation work that explores the relationship between live and recorded media and storytelling. In 2015 he co-founded Take Back Theatre with actor Julie Hesmondhalgh and writer Rebekah Harrison, responding to social and political issues.


His recent works include: Connect - a series of phone conversations at HOME, Manchester; Patient - an audio/visual installation at the Coliseum and Virtual Reality films at The Lowry, the Coliseum and various site specific locations.


Grant said: It’s been a real pleasure working with the Coliseum over the past two years and they have really helped to develop me as an artist and support me in the projects we have created. The building and staff are so enthusiastic and inspiring and I’m excited for future collaborations with the other Associate Artists.”




The Coliseum plans for Associates to join a peer-to-peer support network with the theatre’s Associate Alumni, and act as mentors for aspiring creatives working with the theatre.


Associate and Supported Artist alumni include Nana-Kofi Kufuor, whose debut play My Voice Was Heard But It Was Ignored toured across the North West with Red Ladder Theatre Company in 2021; Hafsah Aneela Bashir, who created The Poetry Health Service in a co-commission with Oldham Coliseum and HOME Manchester as part of the Homemakers programme in 2020; and Fine Comb Theatre, who have undertaken Arts Council funded research and development then presented their new piece Not Yours, Mine in the Coliseum studio.


Learn more about the Coliseum's Associate Artists & Companies

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