This summer the award-winning Royal Exchange Theatre will set up its eco-friendly mobile theatre, the Den, at the Ukrainian Cultural Centre in the Manchester wards of Cheetham Hill and Crumpsall. For two weeks this unique pop-up theatre will host a wide variety of events from family fun-days to community shows, theatre, dance and visual art. Part of the Royal Exchange’s wide-reaching community programme, LOCAL EXCHANGE, the Den was developed to ‘pop-up’ in existing buildings and spaces across Greater Manchester providing a distinctive local theatre where communities could come together to celebrate, create and share some incredible live experiences right on their doorsteps. THE DEN IN M8 will take place this summer from 28 July – 6 August. 

For the past 4 years the Royal Exchange has been working in partnership with the Cheetham Hill and Crumpsall communities developing key partnerships, running creative workshops, making beautiful work such as the UP THE HILL audio-plays, and bringing together a 12-strong Local Exchange Ambassador team to help shape and deliver the summer festival for the Den. This team of Cheetham and Crumpsall residents includes Poppy a Cheetham Tesco Champion, Crumpsall parish priest Rev. Daniel, local business managers and a number of incredible local artists, including Mary who has been sketching and creatively documenting the Ambassador’s journey since the very beginning.

Over the past year they have been working together to create a vivid and varied programme for the Den including professional performances, spoken word events, music and a community theatre show created by local makers and performers, as well as local food offers and workshops delivered by talented M8 residents.   

Royal Exchange Joint Artistic Director Bryony Shanahan said, 

‘We are very excited about bringing the Den to Cheetham Hill and Crumpsall. We have been working with these communities and our brilliant Ambassadors for years now and the enthusiasm and passion that they bring to everything they do is intoxicating – this festival promises to be lots and lots of fun. The power that theatre has to bring people together is perhaps heightened this year because the festival will take place at the Ukrainian Cultural Centre. We are in awe of their response to the War, having witnessed the articulated lorries arrive to collect deliveries of food, clothing, sleeping bags and so much more. Their continued support for this festival, the recognition that sharing a live experience with someone else is empowering or can simply transport you somewhere else for a short moment of time, is extraordinary. We are delighted that they are welcoming us with open arms and all funds raised from the Den ticket sales will be donated to Ukrainian aid agencies’  

Bob Sopel, Chairman of AUGB, Manchester Branch, based at Ukrainian Cultural Centre, added...  

‘It is really important that life goes on and that we continue to live fully, and what better way to do that then welcome the Royal Exchange’s Den Theatre to the Ukrainian Centre this summer. Being able to bring the communities of Cheetham Hill and Crumpsall together, here, is a celebration of everything we have to offer as a community of people, it is a celebration of life, that feels more important than ever. We are really pleased to host this event and can’t wait for people to join us in July and August.’ THE DEN is one part of a series of in-depth creative residencies that form the backbone of the Exchange’s LOCAL EXCHANGE programme. Designed to reframe the way the Royal Exchange makes work with, by and for the people of Greater Manchester LOCAL EXCHANGE has been developed to create long-lasting and sustainable relationships between communities and artists.

Poppy, Cheetham Hill Local Exchange Ambassador said...

“It’s going to be the highlight of the year!! Summer 2022 the Royal Exchange theatre is bringing the Den to M8. I can’t contain my excitement for all of us to share this unique experience. Something for everyone!! Something for all ages to enjoy, take part, be creative and transport themselves to what it’s like to be part of a theatre. Learn new skills and maybe spark something inside them they didn't know they had. Workshops, art and photography competition, music, dance, poetry and much more. Let’s do this!!! ‘Camera…lights…action!! (ps: let's not forget the food!)” 

The Royal Exchange will be holding pop-up promotional events around Cheetham Hill Road throughout July to let local people know more about the festival, the programme and encourage them to join a summer celebration of arts and culture in M8.

the den in m8 1

Live in M8? Here's some more opportunities to get involved: