On Stage, Online and Outdoor: Oldham Coliseum launches summer season

OLDHAM Coliseum Theatre is preparing to welcome audiences back from June 24 for an eclectic summer season combining live theatre, innovative online events and an outdoor Pride celebration. 

After more than a year of closure due to the pandemic, the first live theatre show at the Coliseum will be the award-winning Edinburgh Fringe sell-out one-woman show The Greatest Play in the History of the World…

The Greatest Play in The History of the World (Pic: Savannah Photographic)

The show takes audiences on a heartfelt journey that starts and ends in a small, unassuming house on a quiet suburban road.

Julie narrates this story of two neighbours and the people on their street, in a universal love story that celebrates the human race in all its glorious messiness, confusion and joy.

Starring BAFTA nominated Julie Hesmondhalgh (Coronation StreetBroadchurch) and written by Ian Kershaw (the Coliseum’s productions of Star-Cross’dThe Mist in the Mirror and Bread & Roses), The Greatest Play… is squashed full of exquisite observation and heart-breaking beauty.

The Greatest Play in the History of the World runs from June 24-26.

The Coliseum joins forces with Canadian theatre company Impel Theatre in cross-Atlantic collaboration, An Acorn. 

Starring Mina Anwar (The Thin Blue Line, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie) and Darren Jeffries (Hollyoaks) alongside Canadian actors Blythe Haynes and Ryan G Hinds, An Acorn is a live digital performance over Zoom with an interactive twist.

More than one year on from the beginning of the first lockdown we continue to be isolated and, while vaccine rollouts mean some semblance of ‘normal’ life will return, the experience of isolation, fear and upheaval will linger.

The two pairs of actors have never met before – from Canada Blythe and Ryan will appear fully rehearsed while here in the UK Mina and Darren will receive a script with specific instructions just an hour before the performance. The audience will also receive instructions on the day on how to interact with the piece.

An Acorn takes place live on Zoom on Thursday, May 6 at 8pm, with a recorded version available from May 7-17.

Coliseum regulars LipService make a virtual return in multimedia haunted house thriller Château Ghoul.

Château Ghoul is East Yorkshire’s go-to boutique hotel offering themed weekends. Hosts Brian and Brenda Binns, or B&B as they are known, introduce a cornucopia of events: their supernatural sensation – Psychic Attraction, (like Fatal Attraction but without the rabbit), their Upcycling weekend (not to be confused with the Tour de Yorkshire Lycra Festival), and the ever-popular 1970’s Shanga Langa Waddy Ding Dong experience. Guaranteed fun for all the family, the only trouble is – the guests keep dying…

Château Ghoul runs on Zoom on Saturday, May 8.

Back on stage, Dare to Know Theatre’s Drowning is a semi-autobiographical one-man show following an intelligent but naïve teenager with extreme views on mental health. As Josh’s world crumbles around him his life begins to spiral out of control.

Writer and performer Jake Talbot said: “I suppose at its core, Drowning is me trying to better understand my own experiences with grief, and better understand mental health and suicide as a whole. That’s what I hope audiences take away from the show.”

Drowning was originally due to take place in the Coliseum’s Studio theatre in May 2020 and then as part of the theatre’s covid-secure November 2020 season which had to be cancelled following the announcement of the second lockdown.  It now comes to the Coliseum on Saturday, July 3.

Third year students from ALRA North take over the Coliseum stage for their final performances: The Oak Tree and Dinosaur Wine by Sorcha McCaffrey.

The Oak Tree is a story about a woman torn between her life in the city and the woods where she grew up, local legends, belonging and how far we will go to prove what we believe in.

Dinosaur Wine tells the tale of four siblings who run a petrol station in the middle of nowhere, welcoming lost souls and runaways.

The Oak Tree and Dinosaur Wine double bill runs from July 15-17.

Previously rescheduled from 2020, children’s favourite Zog flies onto the Coliseum stage in August. Based on the book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, the smash-hit stage adaptation promises to be bigger, brighter and more roar-some than ever before.

Large in size and keen in nature, Zog is eager to win a golden star at Madam Dragon’s school, where dragons learn all the things that dragons need to know.

Zog runs at the Coliseum from August 12-14.

The Coliseum is thrilled to celebrate Oldham Pride with three fantastic events over the week of July 19-25.

Riot Act by Alexis Gregory is a critically acclaimed solo verbatim show created from interviews with three key players in the history of the LBGTQ+ rights movement: Michael Anthony Nozzi – a survivor of the Stonewall Riots; Lavina Co-op – an alternative ‘70s drag artist; and Paul Burnston – ‘90s London AIDS activist.

A celebration of activism across six decades, Riot Act is provocative, tender, truthful, funny, political and personal, pulling no punches, hilarious and inspiring. It comes to the Coliseum on Wednesday, July 21.

Then on Friday, July 23 Oldham Pride and Oldham Coliseum Theatre present Queer Cabaret.

Drag artist, activist and academic Cheddar Gorgeous explores the experience and ‘blitz spirit’ of the pandemic in Oh What A Lovely Lockdown – a new performance using spoken word, comedy and a tune or two; while triple-threat vocalist, dancer and choreographer Jason Andrew Guest celebrates Black, Queer artists, musicians and icons through vocal house, Vogue and high fashion, in a showcase of QTIPOC Excellence – Welcome to the Haus of Myztique.

Plus Lily Savage’s former drag partner and the original Lucy Fur David Dale, Drag Queen Felicia DuPaul, Australian Diva Kelly Wilde and more. Hosted by Terri Fox.

ThickSkin Theatre take to the streets of Oldham with their outdoor celebration of difference, SHADE.

An explosive dance party, SHADE is a bright, loud and vibrant movement performance that explores moments of self discovery and empowerment through a series of vignettes, against the backdrop of contemporary Queer culture. Amplifying and illuminating the value of difference, join the party and step out of the shade and onto the dance floor.

SHADE is being created at the Coliseum in May for free outdoor performances during Oldham Pride.

Oldham Coliseum closed its doors to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday, March 16, 2020. Visit www.coliseum.org.uk/welcome-back to see the theatre’s covid-secure procedures and policies as it re-opens.

Since its closure the theatre’s teams have been working remotely to create and share great art and opportunities, and making regular phone calls to participants at risk of experiencing loneliness due to lockdown.

Find out more about all the Coliseum’s shows and projects on their website: www.coliseum.org.uk

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