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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA



previews, reviews, interviews, and recommendations with Steve Cooke






Preview by Steve Cooke

The 2024 "Come and Sing" will be similar to those enjoyed in recent years when participants have experienced great music under skilled direction and enjoyed dipping into these great works such as choruses from Elijah: Messiah: Vivaldi Gloria & Zadok the Priest (from Coronation Anthems)

This year's work is Stainer’s “The Crucifixion" and Philip O'Connor by popular demand will again be directing the day with Philip Lowe as accompanist. The workshop day is an opportunity to - learn - enjoy company and leave with a feeling of achievement having taken part in a public performance at the conclusion of the day.


Start at 10 am (Registration 9.45am) with the performance at 3pm

Take a Packed Lunch - Drinks available between workshops

£10.00 (Pay on door) this includes loan copies of the music (or bring your own)

Further information from Jill Midgley

Phone: 01706 639162 



 Preview by Steve Cooke

Although the Coliseum Theatre venue closed its doors Oldham Coliseum Theatre is thriving! With a 2024 spring and summer programme of theatre, live performance and creative activities aimed at people of all ages and backgrounds, plus opportunities for aspiring theatre technicians and creatives.

Plans include Coliseum at the Roundabout, a 167-seater pop-up theatre that will host a variety of events between late April and July. Many events will be free to attend, and the opening week will offer local people the opportunity to look around and find out more about the new theatre space. Roundabout, a state-of-the-art pop-up theatre developed by new writing company Paines Plough, will also be celebrating its tenth anniversary as a touring venue this year.

As well as the artistic programme, individuals as well as artistic, community and other groups are invited to use the Roundabout for a range of activities. Already set to take place are facilitated activities for Full Circle, the Coliseum's over 50s group; Culture and Chips, where local people come together to discuss arts and culture in Oldham; and Roma Connections, a project for Roma women. Other groups are being invited to take part by Oldham Theatre Workshop as part of their partnership with the Coliseum.

These include LumenUS, for young people with special educational needs; Chrysalis, a company for adults with a range of physical and learning disabilities; and its creative youth council, a group to help shape the future of theatre in Oldham.

There will be opportunities for aspiring theatre technicians and creatives, including the return of the popular Cultivate Festival, the Coliseum’s unmissable opportunity for anyone wanting to get into the different areas of theatre. There will also be space for local theatre makers to develop and showcase their work through ‘Crafted at the Coliseum’, a new project where local theatre makers will be offered a bursary and given access to the theatre space for a week to progress work and new ideas they are developing.

This August will see the return of the Khushi Festival, named after the Urdu word for happiness, with local community groups working with specially commissioned artists to co-create brand new pieces of work. Poet Nasima Begum will be working with Werneth CHAI; actor and facilitator Perveen Hussain will be working with West Oldham CHAI and the Indian Association; and folk arts and craft visual artist Maryam Hussain will work with Yuvanis Foundation and a group from Greenhill Community Sports and Recreation Club.

Lauren Clancy, Interim Chief Executive, Oldham Coliseum Theatre says: "We've been working with local community groups as part of an engagement process to look at what they would like to see in Oldham, so we’re thrilled to unveil some of our plans for the year ahead, in which we’re bringing new opportunities for people of all ages to come and be creative. The Coliseum at the Roundabout is a lynchpin for those plans - a beautiful, theatrical space that will offer artists, community groups and audiences the chance to explore, develop and experience theatre in different ways."

Councillor Arooj Shah, Leader of Oldham Council, said: "I’m delighted that we as a council are working hand in hand with Oldham Coliseum on their spring and summer programme. The plans, including the pop-up theatre set to open next month, will give local people and community groups the chance to take part in new and exciting activities, as well as giving us all the opportunity to go and enjoy some brilliant performances.

"As we move forward with the Coliseum on our joint plans for Oldham’s new theatre, it’s so important that we keep working together to provide cultural, artistic and educational

opportunities in the meantime – keeping the Coliseum’s proud legacy of producing theatre beating in the heart of our town."

Jennifer Cleary, Director, Combined Arts & North, Arts Council England, says: "It's good news to see Oldham Coliseum bringing a variety of cultural activity for the people of Oldham to enjoy. We're proud to be able to support the ambitions that they and the council have for the town whilst a new theatre space is in development, and to ensure that people living here continue to shape and have access to culture. Last year we awarded £1.85 million to Oldham Council to commission exciting creative collaborations and activity for everyone to enjoy, and it’s exciting to see this investment coming to fruition. We’re committed to working with partners through this and our other investments in the town, providing opportunities for communities across Oldham to take part in creative and cultural activity, both now and in the future."

More details about this year's Oldham Coliseum Theatre programme will be released shortly. Visit the website for updates –



Review by Mark Rothwell

In What Language Do We Dream? is the umbrella title of an exhibition of photographs, a newspaper and a video tracing the post war lives of a Syrian refugee family at Gallery Oldham.

Ostensibly a collection of family pictures, they are made, largely, by two individuals, the British documentary photographer, Rich Wiles and Ruba al-Hindawi with members of her family.

 They fled for their lives from Homs in 2012 in the wake of the nation’s civil war which began a year earlier, displacing some 6.6 million people.

After five years in a refugee camp in Lebanon, the British government gave them the legal right to settle in England in 2017.

The images we see were mostly created since 2019. The gallery hung photographs are numbered, there are no titles or labels. There is one laminated list of photographs displayed in the exhibition to consult which has a description alongside the odd image, sometimes in English and Arabic, sometimes only in English, sometimes only in Arabic.

Is the latter to encourage gallery goers to experience the impenetrable appearance of an unrecognisable script in a ploy to imagine how difficult it is for the Syrian family to comprehend the Roman script, the written form of English?

One image portrays Rami, the father of the four children and two adult family taking a smartphone family selfie made to send to relatives, in other countries, and to friends.

In the same image, number 47, on the table, in the foreground, there is a remote control, presumably for a television, an ashtray, a coffee cup, a lighter and a packet of twenty cigarettes. 

Photograph number 65 shows the family celebrating a birthday; here they are captured blowing out candles on their cake, many of the subjects with puffed up cheeks as they do so. They share amongst themselves a range of foods including: kubba, warak dwali, tabbouleh - all Arabic foodstuffs - mini pizzas and fairy cakes.

Refugees celebrate birthdays, amongst other family landmarks, as most other people do. There are a range of approaches to the images created, from the formal portrait, more August Sander than the contentious Diane Arbus, to the rapidly captured, leaving one of the subjects blurred, the other in focus.

The lives of refugees, both legal and illegal, have exercised the minds of many, from the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, to demonstrators in Liverpool, making this display both personal to its creators and political to others.

In answer to the question posed at the beginning, linguists are believed to dream in their second language. It takes ten years of full immersion in a second language to become fluent though this requires fluency in your first language.

The exhibition was first held at the Impressions Gallery, Bradford and runs at Gallery Oldham until 11th May 2024.



Thursday 21 March 2024

National Theatre Live – The Motive and the Cue

A new play by Jack Thorne

Sam Mendes (The Lehman Trilogy) directs Mark Gatiss as John Gielgud and Johnny Flynn as Richard Burton in this fierce and funny new play.

1964: Richard Burton, newly married to Elizabeth Taylor, is to play the title role in an experimental new Broadway production of Hamlet under John Gielgud’s exacting direction. But as rehearsals progress, two ages of theatre collide and the collaboration between actor and director soon threatens to unravel.

Written by Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) and designed by Es Devlin (The Crucible), the Evening Standard Award-winning best new play was filmed live during a sold-out run at the National Theatre.

Tickets from £10

Phone: Middleton Arena 0300 303 8633 

7.00 pm

Middleton Arena, LCpl Joel Halliwell VC Way, Middleton M24 1AG


Friday 22 March 2024

Million Dollar Men

It’s raining men and you’re all going to be shouting “Hallelujah!” by the end of the night!

This powerful show has everything you need for the ultimate ladies night out. Great dancing, fun interaction and all the action of the smash hit film Magic Mike! The show brings to life your favourite scenes from the hottest film around. From sexy cops to soldiers, pimps to cowboys and lockdowns to hoedowns, these guys will get you hot under the collar, and we're sure our very own Channing doing Pony will help with that too.

Experience the atmosphere of a fun Vegas strip show, with the sounds of all your favourite 90’s & 00’s R'n’B. Relive your favourite Channing Tatum moments, and while you’re there why not experience some new ones too?!

Suitable for Ages 18+ only.

Tickets from £23

Phone: Middleton Arena 0300 303 8633 

7.30 pm

Middleton Arena, LCpl Joel Halliwell VC Way, Middleton, M24 1AG


Friday 22 March 2024

Wardle Academy Bands Night

The mayor's charity presents Wardle Academy bands night.

Tickets include pie and peas supper. For tickets, please contact the number below or email

£10 per person

Phone: 01706 924796

7pm - 10pm

Rochdale Town Hall, The Esplanade, Rochdale OL16 1AZ

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


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