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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA


 previews, reviews, interviews, and recommendations with Steve Cooke





Dining Room Project

By Steve Cooke

As Touchstones undergoes refurbishment there are lots of exciting and innovative activities for our creative community.

Touchstones Community Curators have now begun meeting regularly to inform the heritage stories of the developing Dining Room Space. So far, they have shared stories about the bowls they regularly use, from family heirlooms to Ikea replacements, with each piece of crockery telling a unique story.

The curators have eagerly explored the Touchstones space, currently under redevelopment, and envisioned the exciting new projects to be brought to life through the Dining Room project, which will be crafted collaboratively by the three artists and themselves.

They have also visited the Museum and Gallery Store and have explored the range of items in the collections, as well as considering what was absent from the museum shelves. Their journey led them to the Herbarium Collection, where they discovered ingredients such as ginger, rice and seaweed and considered what they might be able to make with the ingredients today. Together, they gathered a plethora of recipes for rice pudding from countries including Bangladesh, Pakistan, Ukraine, Germany and Nigeria. Venturing into Rochdale, our curators mapped out the borough’s food sources, visiting different supermarkets, as well as considering local networks of food sharing and collective growing. It is a really exciting time full of potential as the Community Curators begin to find their own particular areas of interest.

Community Artist, Ibukan also currently is working with a group of young people at Matthew Moss youth centre to research and create a large-scale textile work that will be used to divide the new 'Dining Room' space, making a flexible enclosed area for visiting school groups and young people, as well as a quiet space for the general public.

Together, they are exploring food packaging from the Touchstones and Rochdale Pioneers collections to inform the final textile design. The majority of the group are also undertaking their Duke of Edinburgh Award and Ibukun's project will contribute to the skills and development aspect of the award, with the young people learning new skills of textile printing. embroidery and processes of design.

Touchstones is currently closed until 2025 due to redevelopment.


The Octagon unveil their Autumn/Winter season

Preview by Steve Cooke

The resurgent Octagon Theatre have revealed a sensational programme set to entertain us this autumn and into 2025.

The impressive line-up boasts a classic northern comedy-drama, an award-winning dark comedy, immersive comedy from critically acclaimed South Asian theatre company, a musical adaptation of a beloved family adventure, Mina Anwar who reprises an acclaimed role, and a gripping classic literary drama. The autumn season opens with a new production of the much-loved modern classic,

BRASSED OFF (Thu 5 – Sat 28 September 2024). Based on the smash-hit film about a

tight-knit Yorkshire mining town, and the dispirited brass playing miners who may have their hopes dashed of qualifying for the National Championships, as they fight to keep their colliery open. Paul Allen adapts this co-production from Octagon Theatre Bolton, Theatre by the Lake and Stephen Joseph Theatre, directed by Theatre by the Lake’s Artistic Director, Liz Stevenson and featuring live music from local brass bands.

Critically acclaimed theatre company Rifco Theatre will then present the hilarious comedy PALI & JAY’S ASIAN WEDDING DJ ROADSHOW (Wed 16 – Sat 19 October 2024) which follows uncle and nephew duo Pali and Jay in the competitive world of wedding DJ’ing. With competition for gigs heating up, cases of DJ’ing sabotage amongst their rivals, and Jay wanting to disband the duo to pursue a career as a stand-up comic, can they navigate their latest gig to save the company and their bromance? Don’t miss this wonderful comedy written by Viraj Juneja and directed by Ameet Chana.

The season continues with the hysterically funny & dark comedy STONES IN HIS POCKET (Tue 22 October – Sat 2 November 2024). The Octagon Theatre, Barn Theatre and Wiltshire Creative present Marie Jones’ thought-provoking comedy, directed by the playwright’s son, Matthew McElhinney. Set in rural Ireland, a small village is turned upside down when a Hollywood studio arrives to film the latest historical blockbuster – but Tinseltown’s romanticised dream of Ireland is far from reality in this fresh take on the witty, award-winning comedy.

Heading into the festive season, this year the Octagon present an enchanting new musical adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s much-loved classic, THE JUNGLE BOOK (Fri 22 November 2024 – Sat 4 January 2025). Go on an exciting jungle adventure as Mowgli learns the laws of the jungle in this funny, exciting, and wildly entertaining family musical by Andrew Pollard and Ziad Jabero and directed by Sarah Punshon.

The first show of 2025 sees Mina Anwar reprise the title role in Willy Russell’s heart-

warming comedy SHIRLEY VALENTINE (Fri 7 February – Sat 8 March 2025), following her

critically acclaimed, sell-out performance in the Octagon’s 2020 production. Lotte Wakeham directs this beloved northern comedy, that sees bored, stuck-in-a-rut housewife Shirley leaveher hometown, husband and old life behind as she rediscovers herself on a holiday to Greece.

The autumn/winter season comes to a gripping conclusion with a compelling new production of John Steinbeck’s OF MICE AND MEN (Wed 26 March – Sat 12 April 2025). Sarah Brigham directs this classic tale of friendship and hope about two drifters, Lennie and George during the Great Depression who dream of living the great American dream. That dream comes crashing down and their friendship is put to the ultimate test as the play explores its themes of friendship, migration and prejudice in this must-see production.

Octagon Theatre, Howell Croft South, Bolton BL1 1SB

Phone: 01204 52066



Review by Steve

The Accounts at the Aviva Studios proves to be an electrifying encounter of cultures as China and India take centre stage in this new theatrical event at this wonderful venue

Choreographed by the masterful XIE Xin of Shanghai and Bollywood’s own Terence Lewis/Mahrukh Dumasia, this dance extravaganza certainly challenges our notions of identity and cultural dominance.

A night of breathtaking dance, thought-provoking dialogue plus stunning visual effects take us through the clutter of data and stereotypes revealing profound human connections and celebrating the vibrant tapestry of global culture.

Main characters Kash and Liam – voiced by the talented Josh Hart and actor and author Shobna Gulati – are of British-Chinese and British-Indian heritage. Delivered via texts and voice notes, their banter and soul-searching dialogues playfully debate which cultural superpower reigns supreme – from food to iconic landmarks and spiritual beliefs.

This battle is enriched by a high-tech visual and acoustic feast crafted by the ARIA-nominated sound artist Somatic and the award-winning design studio idontloveyouanymore providing stunning immersive visuals, plus lighting design from the award-winning Simon Corder and dramaturgy by Jude Christian.




Sunday 19 May 2024

Alkrington Village Craft Market

Pop along and support your local small businesses and community.

With over 30 stalls we have a fantastic range of brilliant crafters selling their handmade and unique crafts not available on the high street.

Free entry and hot food and refreshments available.

We have free customer parking outside Alkrington Community Centre, plus additional parking outside Tesco Mainway Alkrington.


Phone: Lee Yates 07807 457 703

11am - 4pm

Alkrington Community Centre, Hardfield Road, Alkrington, Middleton M24 1TQ



Sunday 19 May 2024

Falinge Park Plant Festival

Come along and buy some plants, find out about our green activities.

Bring along any excess plants from your own growing and contribute to the ongoing restoration of our community park!

Plant Sale

Paint Garden Pots

Build a Bee Hive or a Bug Hotel

Go on a Bug Hunt

Create your own Critters

Phone Tracie Powers 07760 354698

11am - 3pm

Falinge Park, Rochdale OL12 6JE


Tuesday 21 May 2024

Rochdale & District Camera Club

Tonight is using different cameras.

We meet every Tuesday at 8pm at Syke Methodist Church Hall.

You are more than welcome to come down to one of our club nights to see if you would enjoy joining the club.

Visit the link below for the 2024 syllabus.

Phone Pete Williams 07967 969136


Syke Methodist Church Hall, Syke Road, Rochdale OL12 9TF


Wednesday 22 May 2024

Rochdale Photographic Society

Tonight's session - recreated album covers/film poser competition.

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


Wednesday 22 May 2024

Toad Lane Concerts - Rochdale's Weekly Music at Lunchtime

This week we have Nicola Mills (Royal Scottish Conservatoire)

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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