The Den is the Royal Exchange’s pop-up theatre - a space-within-a-space, this is a playful and fun creative hub where people can share, learn and make. It’s part of Local Exchange – which sees the Royal Exchange Theatre resident in communities across Greater Manchester.
Celebrating the local community over 8 days, THE DEN @ SPINNERS MILL hosted 27 socially distant performances, events and workshops. Resulting in 768 audience members, 80% of which were from Leigh & Atherton area.
Performances included BLOODY ELLE – THE GIG a new version of Lauryn Redding and Bryony Shanahan’s critically acclaimed show. SOME PEOPLE FEEL THE RAIN Written by Kieran Knowles, Directed by Hannah Sands. LocalTALE, the 7 wining plays from the Leigh Ambassadors playwriting competitions. FLY HALF THE PLAY a new play with original songs that tells the tale of a rugby playing steel worker from South Wales. DIGITAL GHOST HUNT, created by KIT Theatre in collaboration with the Leigh Ambassadors. Spinners Mill’s mysterious supernatural sightings were investigated in this promenade performance.
OUR PLACE, was the performance result of a week-long drama course with young people from around Leigh. LEIGH DRAMATICS showcased local talent with performances from A Will & A Way and St Joseph’s Players. We also had THE COMEDY DEN lunchtime comedy, THE STORY DEN, storytelling sessions for under 10s and a SPOKEN WORD NIGHT, an evening of spoken word and poetry.
The opening night event featured a screening of MAKING STEADY PROGRESS, a poem written by Kieran Knowles in collaboration with the Leigh Ambassadors filmed across Leigh, Atherton and Tyldesley. There was a prize giving ceremony for LocalTALE playwriting competition and a performance from EVERYTHING HUMAN RIGHT’S Kubatana Dance Group.
We offered an eight week Front Of House training course, developing confidence, communication and work skills, specifically targeting unemployed people within the area. With this, we were able to have local people welcoming local audiences to the Den and upskill people in the community. Here's some of the excellent participant feedback from the Front of House training course.
"Opening night, I came a few hours early because I was so excited. I’d tell everybody and anybody, I’ve been telling shopkeepers about this"
"I’ve done shadowing before, but this was so different, everyone at the Royal Exchange was so welcoming"
"Not one bit was my favourite, the whole process was varied enough to keep stimulated"
"As the sessions went on I felt myself becoming more confident"
Here are just a few of the many fantastic things our audiences had to say about The Den:
"What an amazing unique space! Thank you for bringing theatre to us!"
"Loving The Den! Community spirt at its best"
"Such an exciting place for our local talent to be nurtured and to thrive"
"The Den makes us feel like part of the theatre community"
Fri 6 August, 6.30pm - FREE
Following a week-long drama course in Spinner’s Mill, young people from around Leigh have created this performance from scratch based on their experiences of Leigh and what the town means to them.
Fri 6 August, 7.15pm | Fri 13 August, 6.30pm - PWYD
7 winners of the Leigh Local Exchange Ambassadors Group playwriting competitions 2020 & 2021 will show across 2 evenings in the Den.
6 August, 7.15pm - This performance includes 15 minute excerpts from GREEN LEAVES by Mary Berry, DREAMS FOR OUR DAUGHTERS by Pegeen Murphy, BATTERY LOW by Alison Ormrod and HOPE IS A FLOWER by Amy Drake. Directed by Maria Zemlinskaya.
13 August, 6.30pm - This performance includes 15 minute excerpts from THE TREE FROM YOU OR ME by Charlotte Kirton, 25 & OVER by Sarah Teale, ON THE STREETS OF COVID by Tom Stocks. Directed by Gitika Buttoo.
THE COMEDY DEN
Sat 7 August, 12.30pm - PWYD
Join award-winning writer, actor and stand-up comedian, Katie Mulgrew (heard on BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 2and seen on CBBC and ITV2) alongside Jessica Fostekew and Brennan Reece for a hilarious lunchtime treat.
A Royal Exchange Theatre production in association with Rebel Productions
BLOODY ELLE - THE GIG
Sat 7 August, 7pm - PWYD
Fresh from its run at the Royal Exchange, Bloody Elle – THE GIG, is a new version of Lauryn Redding and Bryony Shanahan’s critically acclaimed show and arrives in Leigh. Featuring the songs from the show as well as some special covers that inspired the work, Lauryn Redding will weave the story of Elle and Eve throughout the night and create an intimate and uplifting experience about falling in love for the very first time. Beautiful, funny, warm and inspiring, the show is stuffed full of those stomach-flipping-time-stopping moments – a touch, a glance, a kiss – that everyone will recognise.
**** The Guardian
**** The Stage
Sun 8 August, 3pm - FREE
With performances including A Will & A Way, performing a selection of monologues and St Joseph’s Players doing scenes from ‘Private Lives’, the afternoon promises to showcase local talent with an exciting variety of performances highlighting the best of Leigh amateur dramatics.
FLY HALF THE PLAY
Wed 11 August, 7.15pm - PWYD
A FATHER. A SON. A CLUB. A TOWN. A GAME. FLY HALF.
Fly Half is a new play with original songs that tells the tale of a rugby playing steel worker from South Wales. Set in an industrial town, this play is a celebration of working-class families who head out to the match each week, stand pitch side with pride, supporting their local team. A lyrical hymn to one man’s passion for his family, his town and his beloved game.
SOME PEOPLE FEEL THE RAIN
Thu 12 August, 6.30pm | Fri 13 August, 7.30pm | Sat 14 August, 6pm - PWYD
Sometimes it feels like the rain will never stop. That the world will wash away. Some People Feel the Rain is about a family sheltering from a storm, kicking as hard as they can to stay afloat. It’s about coming together while you're falling apart. It’s about love, community, and hope. Written by Kieran Knowles, Directed by Hannah Sands.
SPOKEN WORD NIGHT
Thu 12 August, 7.45pm - PWYD
Join us for an evening of spoken word and poetry. With performances from Afshan D’souza-Lodhi, Channique Sterling-Brown, and Nasima Begum.
Ransack Theatre Presents
Sat 14 August, 7.30pm - PWYD
After discovering a comet hurtling towards Earth, Toby snaps and turns into the action hero in his own movie on a mission to save the world. Flashback a year: Toby is knocked off course when somebody crashes into his life..
THE STORY DEN
Sat 7 August, 10.30am - PWYD
Storytelling sessions suitable for under 10s from Tupele Dorgu, Conor Glean and Gabriel Clark. Get comfortable and lose yourself in an adventure as they share their favourite stories and captivating tales.
DIGITAL GHOST HUNT
Sat 7 August, 11.45am & 3pm | Sun 8 August, 10.30am & 1.30pm - PWYD
Spinners Mill has many stories to tell of people who have worked there since it opened in 1912. For over 100 years, people have reported mysterious supernatural sightings.
This summer we’re looking for a team of young people to help us solve the mystery of these ghostly happenings.
Created by Elliott Hall of King’s Digital Lab and Tom Bowtell of KIT Theatre in a co-production with the Royal Exchange Theatre. Supported by King’s College London, The Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Arts Council England.
PLEASE NOTE: this will be a walking/promenade performance, so bookers should expect to be on their feet throughout.
LUNCHTIME TALK: SETTING UP A THEATRE COMPANY
Wed 11 August, 12pm - FREE
Ever wondered how companies begin? Maybe you and a group of people have creative ideas but you don’t know where to go from there. Or do you want to perform your show theatre but can’t understand how to do this? Come to this talk, hosted by Justina Aina, Assistant Producer at the Royal Exchange Theatre as she talks about how to set up a theatre company.
OPEN OFFICE HOURS
Thu 12 August, 12pm, 12.20pm & 12.40pm - FREE
If you’re trying to understand more about jobs in theatre or you want to ask specific questions about working in the arts, book onto our Open Office Hours surgeries with members of staff from the Royal Exchange Theatre. Have a cuppa, pull up a seat and we can chat 1:1.
The available staff members are:
ELDERS COMPANY TASTER WORKSHOP
Wed 11 August, 2pm - FREE
The Royal Exchange Theatre’s Elders Company is for people aged 60+ who want to take part in regular drama and performance workshops and learn more about theatre. The group of around 25 people meet weekly at the theatre to perform, socialise and expand their knowledge. Join us for this taster workshop to experience the work and see if you fancy joining our Company.
Wed 11 August, 6.15pm - FREE
Come along and meet local artists from all disciplines for a good chat over a drink. This informal event is the chance to share ideas and exchange opportunities with other artists from across Leigh.
SET AND COSTUME DESIGN TALK
Sat 14 August, 12pm - FREE
If you saw Bloody Elle – A Gig Musical or if you’re simply interested in theatre design and directing, this is the talk for you! Listen to Bloody Elle set and costume designer, Amanda Stoodley and Joint Artistic Director and Director of Bloody Elle, Bryony Shanahan as they talk about how they created the world for Bloody Elle and how a designer and a director work together to immerse an audience a show.