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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA


 previews, reviews, interviews, and recommendations with Steve Cooke






Rochdale Rocks or FRAG meets the Flintstones – A talk by geologist Stephen Poole

Review by Dr Joe Dawson


FRAG (Friends of Rochdale Art Gallery) is ongoing even without a gallery to be friends of. However, the relationship between the Friends and Touchstones staff is stronger than ever whilst the building is closed for renovation. Along with the refurbished town hall, Rochdale will have an impressive Arts and Heritage quarter once that is completed. During their continuing season of talks and visits, the Friend will be involved in the planning and development of the re-opening of Touchstones in 2025. Meanwhile, they have found a welcome temporary home for their talks programme at another arts element in the town centre, Rochdale Music Service in the Butts.


This month’s speaker was archaeologist and geologist Stephen Poole MPhil, whose 40-year enthusiasm for interesting stones was undiminished and rock solid. His illustrated talk featured the fascinating range of flints and barbs that are indicative of prehistoric human activity and found particularly in this area of Lancashire. It has been said that all archaeological research is ground-breaking (!) and it turns out that Rochdale has played a significant part in the field. Several local and notable experts and collectors in the nineteenth century donated an impressive legacy of artefacts, now in the Touchstones collections.


Archaeology may not be a glamorous world to some, being literally down to earth. But just as humble fragments of rock and flint have added value when given context and significance, Stephen Poole’s talk turned out to be a diamond in the rough.

This flags up the convergence of FRAG’s interest in the whole of Touchstones’ arts and heritage collections. You can uncover more buried treasure at the website of the Arts & Heritage Resource Centre, itself a hidden gem: Museum Store Virtual Tour at


FRAG meets on each second Thursday in the month.

13:00 for 13:30 to 14:30 with visiting speaker.

Annual membership £10; talks £4 (£3 members) contact 01706 648872.



Vignettes returns in 2024 with six fresh new plays by female playwrights.

Preview by Steve Cooke


Written by Alex Keelan, Directed by Jess Gough

Teenager Bo live streams a marriage counselling session on Zoom with new clients, where she pretends to be her therapist mum. Her plan to impress her mates and piss off her mum doesn’t turn out to be as hilarious as she thinks.


Written by nasima bee, Directed by Nikki Mailer

Ranad, a passionate and outspoken activist contemplates on accountability, misogyny and standing in her truth.


Written by afshan d’souza-lodhi, Directed by Gitika Buttoo

If the Godfather was a South Asian woman with morals.


Written by Lauren-Nicole Mayes, Directed by Laura Woodward

When nestlings leave their nest too early, they fly poorly, or not at all, because their wings are small and underdeveloped. BIRDS DON’T RUN. THEY FLY explores what it means to go. To flee. To fly…. THINK Asic trainers, the strava elite and shitty whey protein combined with the beauty of female friendship. Women AND birds of prey have many uncanny resemblances for the nest was NEVER a forever sort-a home. But when danger and love is involved, running is so much more difficult.


Written by Obesi Osi-Iyere, Directed by Justina Aina

She hopes for success, she hopes for joy, she hopes for love.


Written by Christie Mackie, Directed by Joyce Brannagh

On the day of a Manchester RACE FOR LIFE two runners collide, each with a different finish line in sight.

Vignettes 6

17th April - 24th April 2024

Hope Mill Theatre, 113 Pollard St, Manchester, M4 7JA

Box Office: 0161 275 9141




Wednesday 03 April 2024

Rochdale Photographic Society

Tonight's session - annual competition print.

We meet every Wednesday at Rochdale Unitarian Church, starting at 7.30pm prompt (doors open from 7.15pm). The door is kept locked so please ring the bell on arrival.

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.

£2.50 for room fee

Doors open 7.15pm, 7.30pm start

Rochdale Unitarian Church, Clover Street, Rochdale OL12 6TP



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


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