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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA


 previews, reviews, interviews, and recommendations with Steve Cooke





Creativity in Careers

Review by Steve Cooke

Over 1000 Year 9 pupils from across Rochdale attended a very successful and much needed ‘Creativity in Careers’ event at Rochdale Town Hall. The event highlighted the range of career pathways available to young people with creative skills or an interest in arts and culture. There were over 60 professionals at the event including filmmakers, stained glass conservators, architects and animators.

The event has been organised by Create Rochdale, a network of professionals and organisations who are working together to improve cultural education in Rochdale. The lead partner on the event is Positive Steps who deliver careers services in Rochdale.

Operational Manager Lucy Smith explains why the event is so important: ‘There’s currently around 1000 unemployed 16 – 21-year-olds in Rochdale. Our role is to support young people to find jobs that match their skills and interests. Young people are often discouraged from studying creative subjects and pursuing creative careers due to the perception that career options are limited however creativity is valued in range of jobs and the creative industries have been growing rapidly in recent years. We want to empower young people to consider creative careers as viable and fulfilling options.’

As well as speaking directly to professionals, attendees had the opportunity to take part in ‘hands on’ activities including filmmaking and stone masonry; watch professional dancers and musicians perform; and get an insight into different careers including the workplaces, working hours and salaries of different roles.

Many of the professional attending the event have strong ties to Rochdale, either growing up here or currently working in the borough.

Pete Courtie, Head of Culture and Placemaking says: ‘At Rochdale Development Agency we are working to ensure that there is a larger and more diverse intake of talent via a broader range of routes into our local creative industries. By providing direct access to local professionals and showcasing the breadth of opportunities available, the event seeks to dispel misconceptions and demonstrate that creative pathways are open to individuals of all backgrounds and identities.’

The event also highlighted the number of new creative and cultural spaces being developed across the borough including the redeveloped Touchstones museum and art gallery, Heywood Civic and the recently opened artist studios on Richard Street which all provide employment opportunities for the next generation of creative professionals in Rochdale.

Alongside the event Create Rochdale partners are also creating ‘Creativity in Careers’ resources which will be shared with every school in Rochdale and delivering programmes designed to develop young people’s creative skills and experience.



Review by Eileen Earnshaw and Seamus Kelly

This was our first visit to the amazing space that is Aviva Studios. The entrance is wide and welcoming. It is an interesting building and well worth a visit, there are tours available during the day on request. The staff were friendly and helpful.

ROBIN/RED/BREAST is performed in the round. Seating was wooden benches, the back row only having a support.

The deceptively simple set consisted of a cottage made up of the timber framework with just a few necessary props. When the action moved outside the cottage was lifted high above the stage and real water fell from above for the scene with heavy rain. The overall effect was great and the whole audience could see and feel engaged throughout the play.

Once the audience were settled the lights were switched off creating almost complete darkness which was the signal to put on the headphones which had been distributed on arrival. During the first part of the performance, a stream of consciousness internal monologue with very effective sound effects was delivered via headphones. Whilst the pre-recorded thoughts and sound effects were played, Maxine Peak, in the role of Norah, acted without speaking. “Acted” is perhaps underselling her performance as she conveyed emotions from joy to sadness and horror through expression and movements any dancer would have been proud of. While Norah prepares food, cleans and moves around the cottage she becomes more and more concerned about who is watching her and what is happening. All of this is perfectly timed to fit the recorded sounds in our headphones. This is superb performance.

The play is a re-imagining by Daisy Johnson of a 1970’s “Play for Today” by John Bowen. This particular production from Maxine Peake, Sarah Frankcom, Imogen Knight, Daisy Johnson and Gazelle Twins, mixed live music from the all-female brass band, featuring Tyler Cameron, immersive storytelling, and the manipulation of time.


Norah is a city dweller who has moved to the country seeking a new, more meaningful life after a break-up. The peaceful village is not as it seems, and Norah finds herself trapped in a nightmare.

The opening sequence features the band moving in line round the cottage. The musicians are dressed in modern show-band costume, but the music had an ancient, medieval undertone, setting the play firmly in context of the folk horror genre. The old stories of mythological beliefs and fears that can be found in a community that has held onto its beliefs in the old gods with rituals and offerings to be made to ensure the survival of the isolated community. These rituals required that a woman, in this case Norah, should be impregnated by a young man who has been nurtured and cared for by the villagers with the sole purpose in life of fathering a child to be harvested as sacrifice. To that end the villagers ensure Norah is looked after to remain well and healthy, so that any child born is also strong and healthy. Such a child would be a fitting sacrifice to their gods.

With the villagers closing in, Norah must fight for control of her body, fertility and her physical and metal survival as she is gradually dragged into this this parallel world of mystery and intrigue.

Will she escape before the harvest?

Maxine Peake, portrays the collision of our modern digital world with a mystical and dark past we would sometimes rather forget. The final scenes bring us back into the modern world with a discussion of some of the current issues raised by the story.

This show is not simply entertainment, but it is an excellent piece of theatre and very thought provoking.

The whole of the cast and production were excellent.




Saturday 01 June 2024

Milnrow Fun Day

Live music & entertainment, Inflatables, Rides, Game stalls, Craft stalls, Food and drinks, Celebrity appearance.

All money raised will be for Ben's charity cycle from John O'Groats - Lands’ End. The total will be split between both Springhill Hospice and The Christie's charity.

10am - 8pm

Milnrow Memorial Park, Newhey Road, Milnrow OL16 4JF


Saturday 01 June 2024

Kids Stitch & Play

We are so excited to offer the chance for local children and their caregivers to join us in learning sewing skills.

All our sessions are open to all children under 10 of all abilities. 

No need to book, just turn up on the day, meet new friends whilst learning a new fun skill.

Perfect for calm play, developing fine motor skills and social interaction.

Sessions will be the first Saturday of each month.

Each session will cost no more that £1 per child for materials.

This month we will be making summer pompom gonks.

Phone: Leonie 07513 694862

1pm - 3pm

Brimrod Church Community Hall, Roch Valley Way, Rochdale OL11 4PZ


Wednesday 05 June 2024

Whitworth Historical Society

This month our guest speaker is Brian Hallworth. He will be talking about “Down Forget Me Not Lane 1960 - 1965”

Brian takes us through some of the many social changes that took place during the early 1960s. In particular he looks at music, fashion and the birth of celebrity culture. As they often say about the 1960s, if you remember it, you weren’t there!

Please note - Please check the venue for this meeting before you attend using the website link below or by contacting the Secretary. Some meetings will be held in the Hallfold URC schoolroom as it has a far greater capacity than the museum.

Whitworth Historical Society have a programme of monthly lectures, which are usually held on the first Wednesday in every month, between the months of October and June, at 7.30pm.

Visit the link below for a list of upcoming talks/lectures.

Free but donations welcome

Phone: Secretary 07816 911 556

7.30pm start

Whitworth Heritage Museum, North Street, Whitworth OL12 8RA


Wednesday 05 June 2024

Rochdale Photographic Society

Tonight's session - visit to Rochdale Town Hall.

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.

Doors open 7.15pm, 7.30pm start

Rochdale Unitarian Church, Clover Street, Rochdale OL12 6TP


Wednesday 05 June 2024

Toad Lane Concerts - Rochdale's Weekly Music at Lunchtime

This week we have Telemann Baroque Ensemble Alfred Pollard oboe, Kevin O’Sullivan bassoon, Elaine da Costa & Sarah Snape violins, John Goodstadt viola, Roger Bisby cello, Peter Collier harpsichord

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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