Manchester's Royal Exchange launches pop-up theatre

Artist's impression of The Den
Image caption The pop-up theatre will be constructed by members of each host community

A Manchester theatre is taking performances out of the city centre with a pop-up performance space.

The Den is a lightweight, 180-seat portable auditorium designed to be built and dismantled by communities across Greater Manchester.

The aim is to provide an informal space for people to "make and share theatre and to see work from the Royal Exchange", said a theatre spokesman.

The Den is funded by a £1m charity gift from the Oglesby Charitable Trust.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Royal Exchange Theatre has been donated £1m to fund the project

The Royal Exchange is one of Manchester's best known theatres, the venue resembling a lunar landing craft located inside The Great Hall on St Ann's Square, once one of the world's centres for cotton trade.

Like the existing performance space, the new pop-up auditorium is designed to sit within an existing local building.

At the start of each residency, it will be constructed by members of each host community who will become its ushers, its box office, technical team and audience.

Ground-breaking design

Paula Rabbit of Royal Exchange praised its "stunning, sustainable design that will breathe life into an existing community building".

Michael Oglesby and Kate Vokes of the Oglesby Charitable Trust said they were delighted to be supporting the project.

"The Den felt like a ground-breaking design - a truly unique theatre space that would respond to the needs of the residents using it."

The Den makes its first appearance in Stalybridge with a performance of A Tameside Story and, in 2020, will be resident at Spinners Mill in Leigh.

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