Top culture organisation bringing pop-up theatre to borough for drama festival

A packed programme of theatre for all ages has been put together.

Thursday, 15th July 2021, 4:45 am
Updated Monday, 19th July 2021, 8:44 am
The Den, the Royal Exchange Theatre's pop-up drama space, is coming to Leigh
The Den, the Royal Exchange Theatre's pop-up drama space, is coming to Leigh

Leigh Spinners Mill is hosting a residency by the Royal Exchange Theatre, which is bringing its pop-up drama space The Den to the historic landmark.

An exciting programme of performances, workshops and family events gets under way next month, with tickets going on sale next week.

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The Local Exchange Leigh Ambassadors. Photo by Dan Carty

The programme at the mill has been put together in collaboration with the Local Exchange Leigh Ambassador team, made up of people from the local community.

The festival of drama, which runs between August 5 and August 14, includes the a world-premiere of a work by local playwright Kieran Knowles, a reimagined version of a hit show from the Manchester theatre, immersive family events and a film celebrating the Leigh area.

The festival marks the half-way point of the three-year residency in Leigh and celebrates the work developed and created by the theatre and the ambassadors’ team.

Royal Exchange joint artistic director Bryony Shanahan said: “It is very exciting to open The Den again, this time with the people of Leigh, the help of Spinners Mill and with a programme curated by the brilliant ambassadors.

“We’ve been working with the Leigh Ambassadors team for the past two years not only to programme The Den in Leigh festival but on a host of other creative projects like playwriting competitions, films, podcasts and writing workshops.”

Elizabeth Costello, one of the Leigh ambassadors, said: “The Royal Exchange is bringing to Leigh a wonderful programme of events that is accessible and inclusive for everyone to be a part of and enjoy.

It’s so important to a town like Leigh that we have the best in art and culture that will engage new audiences and inspire young people.”

Opening on Thursday August 5, the festival kicks off with KIT Theatre’s family adventure in the Mill involving a digital ghost hunt.

The Leigh Ambassadors will then officially open The Den with a special event inviting family, friends, local participants and guests to join them at an award ceremony for the winners of LocalTALE, a playwriting competition.

Their film Making Steady Progress, about the Leigh area, will have its first screening.

The 2020 and 2021 winners of LocalTALE will also have their works premiered across two evenings in The Den, with seven local creatives being showcased.

There will be storytelling sessions for under-10s, a hilarious lunchtime performance by award-winning stand-up comedian Katie Mulgrew and a new play called Fly Half about a rugby-playing steel worker from South Wales.

Local writer Kieran Knowles' work, Some People Feel The Rain, was especially written for The Den in Leigh and tells the story of a family sheltering from a storm and having to struggle to stay afloat.

There is also a spoken word night, a show called Catching Comets by Ransack Theatre and a number of workshops, talks and performances from local young people, A Will and a Way Theatre School, The New Garratt Theatre and St Joseph’s Players as well as a taster session with the Exchange’s award-winning Elders Company.

Leigh Spinners Mill general manager Jo Platt said: "It's really exciting that the Royal Exchange Theatre and The Den is coming to Leigh.

"It has already given opportunities to people wanting to get involved in working with the theatre and now there is the opportunity for people to see local productions and theatre they would normally have to travel outside of Leigh to see.

"The Royal Exchange Theatre is such an established organisation in the arts and creative world and it is very exciting to collaborate with them."

The Den in Leigh has been developed with dedicated partners from the town, including support from Wigan Council, and is also part of Wigan Arts Festival.

A pay-as-you-decide box office will open in the Market Hall on July 22. Find out more at

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