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Executive Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington

Leader's Blog  

Councillor Brenda Warrington, Executive Leader of Tameside Council

Welcome to The Den

Thursday, 15 August 2019

If you asked somebody to sit down and come up with a list of things that make us human, the existence of culture would be one of the first items you’d write down. From cave drawings from the Stone Age to video games in the 21st century, the desire to make music, to act and to express ourselves has been observed in every part of the Earth at every point in history.

At its best, culture is nothing short of transformative. It brings people who may not otherwise have a great deal in common together, lifts them up and makes them feel part of something bigger. It can help to explain the world we live in or can use the power of fantasy to create entirely new worlds. It shapes us into the people and communities that we are. In the age of austerity, I think there is another important aspect about culture as well. It proves that there are certain things that you can’t always record on a balance sheet, but that we would all undoubtedly be much poorer without.

It’s because of this that I was delighted and humbled to attend the opening of The Den at Stalybridge Civic Hall on Monday evening. The Den is a 120-seat pop-up theatre, a space within a space that can be built and dismantled on site. It’s come to Tameside as part of the Royal Exchange Theatre’s “Local Exchange” project, an ambitious programme which seeks to take the Royal Exchange Theatre, and its productions, out of Manchester city centre and into other parts of the region. Wherever they visit, in this case Stalybridge, the residents become the theatre’s ushers, box office staff, technical team and audience. It’s also designed as a space where people can build on and learn from what they see to create their own work and productions. The end result will be unique cultural event created by, and created for, the people of Tameside.

As part of the Local Exchange, the pop-up theatre is playing host to a number of plays and other productions over the next couple of weeks. A particular highlight will be “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out”, a fresh new play from the Royal Exchange that takes the economic and social uncertainty of the Luddite Rebellion in the 19th century and translates it into the modern world of zero-hours contracts. The 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre, where hundreds of Manchester men and women were killed or injured while peacefully protesting for representation in Parliament, also features prominently in a number of other works that will be shown at the theatre, including a commemorative concert put on by the Stalybridge Old Band and a writing workshop hosted by the Mossley Writer’s Club. As part of the build-up to this fortnight of events the Royal Exchange Theatre also worked with a number of our local partners, such as Jigsaw Homes and Age UK, to put on a number of free community events. These gave residents of all ages the opportunities to try out learning the basics of film-making, tidying up an allotment and even creating a show with no dialogue at all.

A full list of all the events and information on how to get tickets is available on the Royal Exchange Theatre website here. After having seen just how much work has gone into making this happen, I couldn’t be more thrilled to see an ambitious artistic vision turned into a reality. By bringing the Royal Exchange Theatre to Stalybridge we have a wonderful opportunity to create something new and exciting not just for the town, but for the whole of Tameside. Something that will create a legacy that will endure long after the two weeks of events are over. I hope as many people as possible will take the chance to be a part of it.    


Posted by: Executive Leader

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