Hope Mill Theatre’s popular play-reading club celebrates third birthday


Paul Genty

21 Feb 2021

Open to actors and the public alike, group is free online

Hope Mill Theatre’s play-reading club has marked its third birthday as one of the Manchester theatre’s pandemic hits.

Established in early 2017, the drop-in group’s two-hour sessions run from 11am on the last Friday of each month and now boast over 40 participants.

Members read a large variety of different plays, from Shakespeare to Arthur Miller and from adaptations to new plays by local writers. Open to all, the group is a way for theatre fans to enjoy culture and make friends.

Before the pandemic, the group met at the Ancoats theatre for tea and coffee before each reading session. After the building closed, the group was immediately taken online by way of Zoom and has continued to thrive

Though originally the theatre charged a small fee, a grant from I Love Manchester and Culture Recovery Fund assistance means the sessions, hosted by Manchester-based actress Janelle Thompson, are now free (though donations are welcome).

Hope Mill's artistic director Joseph Houston said: “It has been incredible to see how our club has grown. I’m glad we have managed to maintain the group though the pandemic and have received much-needed funding to make it free.

“As soon as it is possible and safe to do so we will be hosting our group live again from the venue.”

The next meeting is on February 26 at 11am (over the free app Zoom) and the play will be Our Country’s Good by Timberlake Wertenbaker. Information here.