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Octagon Theatre
Octagon Theatre Bolton Front Sidewalk.jpg
Entrance to the Octagon Theatre in Bolton
AddressHowell Croft South
Capacity300-400 seats in the Main Auditorium
Opened27 November 1967
RebuiltAugust 2018 - June 2021
ArchitectGeoffrey H. Brooks

The Octagon Theatre is a producing theatre located in Bolton, Greater Manchester, England.


The Octagon produces between eight and nine professional theatre productions a year in its Main Auditorium. Productions come from a wide range of types and genres, including classic drama, contemporary plays, comedies and musicals.

In recent years, the Octagon has specialised in producing great American drama including works by Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams.

The Octagon also runs its BoltON season, which runs alongside the season of plays in the Main Auditorium, with events investigating or complementing the main season. This ranges from professional practical workshops to full day Investigate Days with casts and creative team.

In addition to its own productions, the Octagon also plays host to touring shows, including touring theatre, children's plays and stand-up comedy.

Performance spaces

The Octagon has two performance spaces:


The Octagon Theatre was opened on 27 November 1967 by The Princess Margaret. Despite the town council and the theatre management having been officially advised that there would be no requirement for any type of 'comfort facility' for the Royal party, they went ahead anyway and installed a lavish loo with gold plated fittings. Having only ever been used officially by the plumbers who needed to test it, following the official opening it was completely stripped out and turned into an office space. The first theatre production was Annie and Fanny by local playwright Bill Naughton.

The building was designed by Geoffrey H. Brooks, Bolton's Director of Architecture, and was constructed for the sum of £95,000 using money raised by public donation. It was the first professional theatre to be built in North West England following World War II. The building is hexagon in shape but was named The Octagon Theatre to avoid confusion with an existing Hexagon Theatre. In 1987 the building was extended to add a studio theatre, originally called the Octopus Studio. In 1994 this space was enlarged and renamed The Bill Naughton Theatre, in honour of Naughton.

In the late eighties Farnworth born playwright Jim Cartwright was the Octagon's writer in residence. His plays Two and Bed were premiered at the theatre.

In 1998 the Octagon was refurbished using funds from an Arts Council Lottery award. This improved the theatre's seating systems and disability access, and allowed the construction of a new room for business hospitality, and a more spacious bar.

In 1999 a financial crisis threatened to force the Octagon to cease producing its own plays and become a receiving house for touring shows. Local people founded the Support Campaign for the Octagon Theatre, and under the slogan "Keep theatre made in Bolton" collected 12,000 signatures and organised several support events, including a protest march through the town centre and two benefit concerts. Financial commitments were obtained from funders and business sponsors, and the Octagon's status as a producing theatre was secured.

In 2016, the then-Artistic Director, David Thacker, revived Jim Cartwright's Two at the theatre, before staging Cartwright’s new follow-up, Two 2.[1]

In 2017 The Octagon celebrated its 50th Birthday, with a 50th anniversary season and birthday party. The 50th anniversary season included classic productions such as Jane Eyre (18 January-10 February 2018) and a Christmas Carol (17 November 2017- 13 January 2018). [2]

In 2018 the Octagon closed its doors until 2020 for a major refurbishment.[3] Performances are still continuing but off site around various Bolton venues. The first performance off the Octagon's premises was the comedy Summer Holiday (31 May- 23 June 2018), which took place on the buses throughout Bolton.

Notable performers


  1. ^ Hutchison, David. "Jim Cartwright sequel Two 2 to premiere in new Bolton Octagon season". The Stage. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  2. ^ "Decades of the Octagon - Octagon Theatre Bolton". Retrieved 19 October 2018.
  3. ^ "FAQs | Octagon Theatre". Retrieved 19 October 2018.

Coordinates: 53°34′38″N 2°25′50″W / 53.57722°N 2.43056°W / 53.57722; -2.43056