Oldham Coliseum is taking its activities online as the Coronavirus outbreak continues.
Since the Coliseum, in common with other theatres, closed mid-March, the theatre has launched a new Mini-Podcast series, and is preparing a Monologue Challenge for students of its partner schools and colleges.
The podcast features the results of an invitation to writers of all kinds last year to create 100-word plays inspired by the town. The podcast features 17 of the submitted plays, written by the likes of Julie Hesmondhalgh, Ian Kershaw (the local playwright responsible for Coliseum shows The Mist in the Mirror and Star-Cross’d and Lindsey Williams (co-creator of Meat Pie, Sausage Roll and Dreamers) as well as emerging local writers.
The plays were recorded (remotely) by a cast of Greater Manchester actors including John Askew and Natalie Gavin (both from Netflix’s The English Game), Coliseum panto actor Sam Glen and others.
Coliseum artistic director Chris Lawson said: “It’s vital we continue to serve our audiences and communities while our building is closed. It was always our intention to record some of the 100 Word Plays as a podcast, but now we can use these wonderful short plays to not only bring art that celebrates our town into people’s homes, but also to provide opportunities for twelve brilliant actors from our region.
“We have plans for the next mini-podcast episodes, so keep an eye on our social media channels for the next instalment. We are also making plans with other organisations in Oldham, the North West and nationally - more details soon.”
The “Off Out” Monologue Challenge is being launched by the theatre for the 15 or more local schools and colleges it works with across Oldham, Rochdale and Tameside.
Students from the Coliseum’s partner schools and colleges have been invited to write monologues about a character’s once-daily trip out of the house for exercise or essential shopping, focusing on characterisation, creativity and how our relationship to the "outside" has changed.
Chris continued: “We work with over 500 students, using drama as a tool for learning as well as teaching theatre practice. We’re quickly putting new plans into action to continue engaging with these students.
“There are also many people aged over 70 who also have a long-standing relationship with the theatre, and we’re making sure we keep in touch with them to help prevent loneliness”.
The theatre is otherwise working to reschedule events cancelled due to the virus. All ticket holders are being contacted by email in event-order.