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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA


previews, reviews, interviews, and recommendations with Steve Cooke


Diana: The Untold & Untrue Story

PREVIEW By Steve Cooke

A chance to catch one of this year’s Fringe hits.

Following a sold-out, award-winning run at the Edinburgh Fringe, ‘Diana: The Untold and Untrue Story’ is on at Hope Mill Theatre.

Join Diana in heaven as she shares the untold and untrue tale of her extraordinary life. Combining drag, multimedia, audience interaction, puppetry, and a lot of queer joy – this unique celebration of the people’s princess is as hilarious as it is tasteless.

The latest show from harbingers of theatrical chaos Awkward Productions, written and performed by Linus Karp and created with support from Arts Council England. The show follows previous productions How To Live A Jellicle Life: Life Lessons From The 2019 Hit Movie Musical ‘Cats’.

WINNER – The Laura Award RUNNER UP – Brighton Fringe Award for Excellence NOMINATED – OffFest Award at Edinburgh Fringe

Wednesday 04 October – Saturday 07 October: 8.00pm

Run time: 1 hour 10 minutes.

Flashing Lights, Strong Language, Audience Participation and Camilla Parker Bowles

£17 + £1.50 Transaction Fee


Suitable for ages 16 and over

Marie King Concert Pianist Extraordinaire

REVIEW By Dr Joe Dawson

Great classical music can also be great fun, as seen at TLC.

Maria King graduated from the RNCM, followed by study in Paris, before returning to work there as an accompanist for eight years. A keen fund-raiser, she also plays for several charities.

Maria has also honed her gift for entertaining for many years on first class cruise liners with her own show.

The programme brought together all these gifts. Her memory skills alone were enough to put her in the front rank of players.

The sparkle of her introductory piano matched the glitter on her microphone as Maria launched into a breathtaking hour of music and wit with irrepressible energy and fun.

Beautifully played works by Debussy established her classical credentials before Liberace’s hilarious version of Chopsticks pricked the bubble with its fragments of cartoon music and celebrated virtuoso passages.

A Rachmaninov prelude showed her power and phenomenal technique, followed by added vocals in the late Victoria Wood’s riotous ‘Let’s do it.’

Smile by Chaplin left everyone beaming as she closed with a seminal piece, the fantastic Mephisto Waltz by Liszt. Earning the accolade ‘concert pianist extraordinaire’.

The Queen’s Award-winning Toad Lane Concerts are every Wednesday at 12.30pm at the Grade 1 listed church of St Mary in the Baum, Toad Lane, Rochdale, OL16 1DZ. Entrance fee is £6. No refreshments available. Contact 01706 648872 for further information.


PREVIEW By Steve Cooke

Factory International has announced FACTORY WORKS, a new audio artwork created by artist Neville Gabie with musician and DJ Nabihah Iqbal in collaboration with construction workers and manufacturers involved in the creation of Aviva Studios, Manchester’s new landmark cultural venue. The album is available to stream for free on the Factory International website and can be purchased as a limited-edition vinyl record.

Known for creating work that responds to people and places in moments of change, Neville Gabie was commissioned by Factory International in 2019 to develop a project that would celebrate the construction workers, concrete pourers, steel workers and others involved in the creation of Aviva Studios. The artwork was made over a two-year period (spring 2020 - winter 2021) and focuses on the core materials that form the infrastructure of the building, such as steel, concrete, cloth, rubber, wood, and glass. The audio includes industrial sounds and snippets of conversations with workers at five factories involved in the manufacture of these materials as well as those working on the construction site, all underpinned with original electronic music from Nabihah Iqbal.

1,500 copies of the limited-edition record have been created, each one with a unique sleeve artwork by design agency North. Every worker involved in the construction of Aviva Studios, from those working in factories to the on-site team, will receive a copy of the record.

FACTORY WORKS is accompanied by a short film created by Neville Gabie in collaboration with Mark Thomas of film studio Soup Collective. The film is a celebration of the people, sound and skill involved in the creation of Aviva Studios and offers a glimpse behind the scenes of the build. The film features the whole workforce involved in the creation of the record.

Neville Gabie said: “When I was invited to make a new work celebrating the people who were fabricating and constructing this huge new building, I couldn’t have been more excited – and to be honest, I was also a little overwhelmed. This was a wonderful opportunity to meet engineers, builders, steel fabricators, project managers, concrete experts, timber workers, finishers, sewing machinists, glass fitters, acoustic engineers, crane drivers, security guards and office staff, and to make something as a tribute to their contributions to the city. The challenge was coming up with the right idea. It needed to be simple and unique – and, once complete, it needed to be something we could give to everyone as a tribute to their achievements.”

Nabihah Iqbal said: “With all this inspiration around us, Neville and I wanted to create something all-encompassing: a soundscape of the different workplaces, interwoven with voices and music. It’s been an impossible task to try and fit in all the sounds and stories that we collected over these two years or so, but I hope that what we’ve created offers a glimpse into the fascinating world of the people and the core materials that construct our buildings.”

John McGrath, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Factory International, said: “It’s humbling to witness a great building emerge from the ground and realise how many skills and specialisms, how much care and precision, and how much hard, determined work has gone into its birth and growth. As a cultural organisation embedded in the city of Manchester, we wouldn’t be doing our own work properly if we didn’t find a way to express and respond to this extraordinary effort.

“Neville and Nabihah’s collaboration with the workers who have built our new home honours their effort with an individualism reflecting the character of those workers – a joyous insight into their labour and thoughts. Factory Works is both a tribute to and an expression of these workers and is also a tribute to the work of those on whose shoulders we stand – the Manchester radicals of the past. It is fittingly strange, unexpected, and celebratory.”

Neville Gabie’s practice encompasses performance, film photography as well as drawing and sculpture. His practice evolves through building sustained and close relationships to specific landscapes and groups and communities. Much of his work includes collaborations with members of the public as well as other artists, writers, and musicians. From 2010-2012, he was artist-in-residence during the construction of the Olympic Park in London.

Nabihah Iqbal is signed to Ninja Tune and has toured the world extensively as both a live act and DJ. Her second album DREAMER was released to critical acclaim in April 2023. Comfortably navigating between music and art, she has been commissioned to compose music for the Turner Prize, collaborated with Wolfgang Tillmans as part of his Tate Modern exhibition and was recently involved in a group performance at the Barbican as part of its major Basquiat retrospective. Earlier this year Iqbal was guest director of the Brighton Festival 2023.

Programmed and operated by Factory International, the organisation who also deliver the world-famous Manchester International Festival (MIF), Aviva Studios will host a year-round programme by leading artists from across the world, creating a global destination for arts, music, and culture in the heart of Manchester. A space for invention and discovery, the design of Aviva Studios is led by Ellen van Loon of the world-leading practice Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA). Built with flexibility in mind, the building is based around large, open, adaptable spaces that can be constantly reconfigured, enabling artists to develop and create large-scale work of invention and ambition, of a kind not seen anywhere else in the world. The development is led by Manchester City Council, with backing of £99.05m from HM Government and £7m National Lottery funding from Arts Council England.

The organisations involved in the creation of FACTORY WORKS are:

· William Hare Group – Bury, Greater Manchester (Steel)

· Farrat – Altrincham, Greater Manchester (Rubber)

· Gariff – Trafford Park, Greater Manchester (Wood)

· Explore Manufacturing – Nottinghamshire (Concrete)

· J&C Joel – Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire (Cloth)

· Laing O’Rourke – led the construction of Aviva Studios

· Factory International – runs and operates Aviva Studios

The FACTORY WORKS album and short film is available to stream for free at

The limited-edition record is available to purchase online via and in-store at Aviva Studios.

Nabihah Iqbal will appear as a guest on Factory International’s Dream Space podcast on 6 October. Hosted by Gemma Cairney the podcast series asks some of the world’s most exciting artists to take listeners on a journey through an imaginary space where nothing is off limits. With infinite resources at their disposal and a blank canvas, each guest is invited to imagine their dream art extravaganza.



PREVIEW By Steve Cooke

Skylight Circus Arts, based in Rochdale near St Chad’s Parish Church on Sparrow Hill, provides circus arts for all ages and abilities.

Since 1990 Skylight has provided non-competitive and inclusive activities delivered supportively and with sensitivity in their friendly, warm circus school.

As you can see below there really is something for every one from young to old, whether physically challenged or highly athletic.

Silver Circus

Mondays 11am - 12.30pm

Weekly circus social for the over 60s.

Learn juggling, plate-spinning, diabolo, tightrope and more.

Aerial circus is also available in Silver Circus sessions.

Bring your lunch and stay and socialise with a warm, friendly group.

All abilities are welcome. No experience necessary.

Silver Circus has a huge range of benefits. Improve balance, coordination, general health, and wellbeing. Sessions are super social, and we have a lot of laughs!

Pay what you feel.

Aerial Adult Circus Club

Mondays 7.15pm - 8.15pm

Weekly aerial circus class for 18+ years.

Learn trapeze, hoop, rope and more with the friendly & welcoming, experienced aerial tutors.

All abilities welcome.


Midi Youth Circus Club

Tuesdays 6pm - 7.15pm

Weekly circus class for 8 - 12 years old.

Learn juggling, tightrope, unicycle and more with the friendly & welcoming experienced circus tutors.

All abilities welcome.


Adult Circus Club

Wednesdays 6.30pm - 8pm

Weekly circus class for 18+ years old.

Learn juggling, tightrope, unicycle and more with the friendly & welcoming experienced circus tutors.

All abilities welcome.


Youth Circus

Fridays 6.30pm - 8pm

Weekly circus class for 13 - 19 years old.

Learn juggling, tightrope, unicycle and more with the friendly & welcoming experienced circus tutors.

All abilities welcome.


Phone: Mick Chapman 01706 650676

Skylight Circus Arts, St. Chad’s Fold, Sparrow Hill, Rochdale OL16 1QT

What's on at EBOR - Autumn / Winter


Get your diary out and take a look at the exhibitions, workshops and events coming up over the next few months at EBOR & GALLERY FRANK

The Muxic Circle

The Muxic Circle is an artist-to-artist performance space for womxn, genderqueer and LGBTQIA+ musicians.

Next sessions: Monday 30 October, Monday 27 November. In December they will take a break.

Do you know the slope, the grain? This beautiful, sinking, fearless pain.

14th of October to the 5th of November

Opening Saturday the 14th of October 2pm

An exhibition by musical artist Burning Salt (a.k.a Hannah Hull). A collection of drawing, poetry, animation, and song exploring the somatic experience of trauma.

Somatic Drawing and Writing Workshop

Wednesday the 25th of October 3 - 4pm

An introduction to tapping into your body (soma) for drawing and writing inspiration.

Lead by Burning Salt (Hannah Hull)


Thursday the 26th of October 7pm

Recline with us as five creative powerhouses of Northwest sound share in a collaborative improvised performance exclusive.


9th of December to the 31st

Opening December 9th 7pm

A sensory media experience including sound, sculptures, video, costume, and performance art by Nat# exploring Intersectional environmentalism, queer ecology, and liminal space.

Ebor Studio, William Street, Littleborough OL15 8JP

A short walk from Littleborough train station and local bus routes.


Until Sunday 08 October

Wardle Scarecrow Festival

This year is the 4th Annual Wardle Scarecrow Festival!

The scarecrows will be up until the end of the day on Sunday 8 October.

Maps will be available at the following businesses:

Craft Cottage open Thursday and Friday 10am - 4pm, Saturday 10am - 2pm. There will also be Kids Craft Workshops here on Saturday 30 September and Saturday 7 October (Weather permitting)

Charlie's Coffee & Cakes open Wednesday to Saturday, 9am - 3pm

Wardle News open Monday to Saturday 7am - 8pm

Tattersalls Bakery open Monday to Friday 8am - 4pm, Saturday 8am - 12.30pm

Maps are priced at £2 each with all money going to the chosen charity this year, Jolly Josh.


Phone: Rebecca Hilton 01706 524141

Wednesday 11 October

Rochdale Photographic Society

Tonight's session - Swinton Battle Home (Hand In for Quarter 4 PRINTs and PDI’s).

If you would like to see the club for yourself and meet our members, you are welcome to attend as our guest for up to 3 weeks before committing to membership. Annual subscription is £36 for single or £46 for joint membership.

A weekly room fee of £2.50 is also payable on arrival at the meeting. Refreshments are 50p.

Visit the link below for a full 2023 syllabus.

Entry fee: £2.50 for room fee

Phone: Secretary - Ed Whitaker


Doors open 7.15pm, 7.30pm start.

Rochdale Unitarian Church, Clover Street, Rochdale OL12 6TP

Wednesday 11 October

Toad Lane Concerts - Rochdale's Weekly Music at Lunchtime

This week we have Richard Haslam guitar RNCM (& George Strickland piano for Rodrigo Concerto).

The concert series has been held at St Mary’s since 2001 and was granted the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2020… during the pandemic!

Running every Wednesday, Music at Lunchtime is a weekly live classical music concert series that has been going since the 1960s. The sessions were initially run at the old Rochdale Art Gallery by the local authority, but since May 2001 have been run by volunteer-enthusiasts and artistic director, Dr Joe Dawson


Phone: Dr Joe Dawson 01706 648872

Doors open 12noon, concert starts 12.30pm - 1.30pm

St Mary in the Baum, Toad Lane/St Mary's Gate, Rochdale OL16 1DZ

celebrating creative arts and artists - an oasis of positivity supporting individual and community wellbeing.

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