CAMPAIGNERS attempting to save Oldham’s Coliseum theatre will take their feelings to its doorstep by holding a flash mob event.
In what they call ‘a symbol of unwavering support and determination’ people are invited to gather outside the Fairbottom Street venue on Saturday, November 11 – what would have been the opening night of its annual pantomime.
The fate of the theatre hangs in the balance, with plans to build a new one in Oldham being criticised.
Those against say it ‘raises concerns about practicality and sustainability as a business model.’
They add: “The proposed theatre features a smaller stage, significantly fewer seats, no fly tower, and limited wing space, which would compromise the viability of the Coliseum as a producing theatre.
“Crucially, it casts doubt on the future of the much-loved annual pantomime, which has consistently served as a major revenue source for the Coliseum.
“Additionally, concerns have been raised about access requirements, including limited lift space and the absence of an adult changing room which is a statutory necessity for public buildings.”
Oldham Coliseum, which has stood closed since March 31, hosted many legendary performers, including Charlie Chaplin, Ralph Fiennes, Sian Philips and Minnie Driver.
Now people are asked to show their support for it at 3.30pm ‘to be part of an afternoon of solidarity and support to save the building.’
Described as ‘a lively celebration of the theatre’s significance, with participants donning colourful costumes, brandishing banners, handing out badges and decorating the gathering with balloons,’ people will also be dressed as beloved pantomime characters and dames.
And those behind the flash mob state: “The objective is to send out a resounding message that Oldham Coliseum holds a special place in the hearts of many, both locally and in the artistic community at large.”
They also want a ‘fresh, positive conversation, involving local campaigners, artists, Oldham Council, Oldham Coliseum Theatre Ltd, and various funding bodies.’
And they believe: “The aim is to breathe new life into the auditorium, expand the foyer, backstage area, and café-bar space, and create modern studios and rehearsal spaces that will ensure the Coliseum thrives.
“This vision would restore the Oldham Coliseum to its former glory as a vibrant producing theatre, breathing new life into the town and benefiting the artistic community at large.”
Former Coronation Street star Julie Hesmondhalgh, who has played a significant part in the campaign to save the 138-year-old building, will be in attendance.
Several other big names, including Maxine Peake, Jim Broadbent and Christopher Eccleston, signed a letter of support to save Oldham Coliseum.
Julie said: “Far from being over, the passion and enthusiasm to save the historic and wonderful Coliseum and reinstate it as a producing theatre – the jewel in Oldham’s crown – is growing in momentum.
“I feel very proud to be campaigning alongside artists and audiences to restart a conversation about saving the theatre, at a fraction of the millions of what the proposed new build would cost.”