Manchester Venues

Today I attended an afternoon of eight short plays as part of the Gap Project at Halle St Peter’s.  From their website:

Manchester has a buzzing, passionate and talented theatre scene, from the vibrant fringe to our flagship Royal Exchange and HOME venues. It seems there is almost everything. But is there a Gap?

Are we missing provision for new plays, which bridge the fringe and the established larger venues? If so, how do we address this ‘gap’ to serve the writers, actors, directors and theatre makers in the North West?

As an afternoon of theatre, the work was impressive – eight plays including works by Simon Stephens and Jim Cartwright, talented directors and top regional acting talent.  There clearly is a ‘Gap’ in Manchester theatre – I think most people would acknowledge that.  But it did make me wonder just how many theatre spaces are there in Manchester?  I looked back through my posts over the last year.

There are several significant theatres in Manchester.  The Royal Exchange includes the magnificent main theatre, along with its Studio, and the new space at Swan Street.  The Lowry also contains three main theatres, the Lyric, Quays and also the Lowry Studio.  HOME has both the 450 seat main space and the studio.  Occasionally we see theatre at the Palace, and the Opera House.

We are of course blessed with several fantastic regional theatres including the Bolton Octagon, which includes a flexible studio space.  The Oldham Coliseum has recently been refurbished, and Bury Met has a strong reputation.

Within Manchester itself, there are several ‘medium size’ spaces for theatre.  Contact has a superb main auditorium as well as other smaller spaces.  The RNCM performs predominantly music in the main spaces, but I have seen theatre in the reasonably sized studio space.   The Dancehouse is a lovely venue seating around 400.  Sale Waterside presents a good range of theatre, as does Z-Arts although the focus is more on family theatre.

We have ALRA North at Wigan, the Martin Harris Centre for Manchester University, and the Capitol Theatre at MMU (admittedly undergoing redevelopment for the next couple of years), all of which offer quality theatre space.  There are good facilities at Salford University, including studio space.

Slightly smaller venues include a number of pubs.  The Kings Arms contains one main theatre space, a second smaller venue and a very intimate cellar.  Joshua Brooks has a large space in the cellar, the Swan at Dobcross has a lovely upstairs room, the Eagle Inn and Gullivers decent sized fringe spaces.

On top of all that we have Halle St Peter’s, used for the Gap Theatre project itself, the Salford Arts Theatre, Oldham Library, and the Anthony Burgess Foundation.

I am certain others could add to this list.  What is certain is that as far as venues go, Manchester has an amazing provision.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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