Theatre News

Oldham Coliseum rescue ‘very much back on the table’, Julie Hesmondhalgh states

The venue has been closed for over a year

Coli interior
The interior of the Oldham Coliseum, © Elspeth Mary Moore

The campaign to save Oldham Coliseum has continued to gain pace.

The historic venue closed its doors last spring amidst the loss of Arts Council England funding and financial concerns. Since then, a sustained initiative to support the venue and champion its reopening has continued to lobby on the theatre’s behalf.

Creatives from across the nation assembled at Valentino’s, a local restaurant in the heart of Oldham, to watch the short film Our Sleeping Beauty, featuring a poetic tribute by actor Julie Hesmondhalgh last week. The crowd of viewers for the screening included local councillors, trustees, board members of Oldham Coliseum, actors John Henshaw, Rob Mallard, and Mitesh Soni and more.

The film has garnered over 60,000 views across social media platforms and the Save Our Coliseum website in less than 24 hours. You can watch it here, with the film’s company including Suranne Jones, Sally Carman, Paula Lane, Christopher Eccleston, Paul Hilton, Annie Wallace, Mina Anwar, Lisa Riley, Antony Cotton, Siobhan Finneran, Sian Phillips, John Henshaw, Shobna Gulati, Jane Hazlegrove, Sally Dynevor, Andonis Anthony, Mitesh Soni, Maxine Peake, members of Blackshaw Lane School and Kenneth Alan Taylor.

“I’m thrilled to be able to tell you that putting Oldham Coliseum back on the table as a producing house of, and for, the people of Oldham is a real possibility again,” Hesmondhalgh announced at the event. “Since its closure a year ago, a dogged, passionate, devoted, ragtag bunch of theatre lovers – mostly Oldhamers or long-term fans of The Coliseum – started meeting fortnightly in this very room to fundraise, research, campaign, and petition, to laugh, cry, and occasionally row!”

The film, produced by Hesmondhalgh and Zoe Hodges, also includes historical footage spanning the Coliseum’s storied past, edited by Andonis Anthony and Grant Archer.

Following the screening, councillor Arooj Shah and Jim McMahon MP expressed their unwavering support for the campaign. Hesmondhalgh urged attendees to explore the Coliseum at the Roundabout’s event programme, taking place in a pop-up theatre in the town centre.

The Save the Coliseum campaigners continue to rally support for their cause, encouraging everyone to sign their petition, which has already amassed over 15,000 signatures.

Supporters are also urged to ‘blow a kiss’ to the Coli via email at saveourcoliseum@gmail.com, symbolising their commitment to preserving Oldham’s cultural heritage.