Old mill could be a grand new home for theatre company

Victoria Mill
Victoria Mill

A Leigh theatre company is set to bring live performance back to the area with a bang after securing venue space at an old mill.

Stolen Thread productions CIC is set to open The Way Theatre to arts and community groups across the region after bagging a huge vacant space at Victoria Mill, on Bolton Old Road in Atherton.

Will Travis

Will Travis

The group’s grand plans include a purpose-built arts venue for fringe theatre, music and dance companies to put on performances and show off local talents to audience. Phase one of the plans, a multi-functional studio space, will open on Wednesday, September 6.

Will Travis, owner of A Will And A Way acting school and member of the Stolen Thread Productions CIC, said: “The Way is artistically the fulfilment of all my dreams for this area, when I started A Will And A Way this was always the aim, to enrich the arts in this area.

“I was very sad when in the 80s/90s we lost The Theatre Upstairs and Pitprop Theatre Company and I believe it will be a huge boost to the area to see more of the arts industry catered for again.”

The theatre will be welcoming A Will And A Way students, who are now aged 15 and preparing to leave high school, as they leave Westleigh High and find a place of their own.

I believe it will be a huge boost to the area to see more of the arts industry catered for again

Will Travis

Stolen Thread Productions CIC is a new Leigh-based theatre production company aiming to bring “as much love and passion around theatre/film/TV in the North West as there is in London” by promoting the arts across the region.

The company was originally formed from A Will And A Way Ltd, in which Travis teaches all ages acting classes. The company is named in remembrance of the original spinning jenny, invented by Leigh-born Thomas Hayes. The idea was stolen by Arkwright who famously patented the spinning jenny, but later was successfully challenged by Hayes.

Monopoleyes, penned by Travis, was the first project Stolen Thread Productions CIC had produced working alongside professional theatres in Manchester back in December 2016. It was supported by Arts Council England.

Producer Elise Williamson, 25, had also worked in acting and stage crew within A Will And A Way Ltd in Leigh but had never produced before.

Elise, who is one of five masterminds behind the new venue, said: “As a grassroots company completing the project back in 2016 we found a huge niche in the market where people of our local town didn’t happen to have anywhere locally that they could showcase their work on a professional level working alongside other professionals.

“We have multiple spaces to potentially perform but nowhere that would be suitable for an actual professional production.

“After great lengthy discussions, we decided that this would be something the community would benefit from and as we aim to champion the arts and support all age groups in this professionally we wanted to show others within the industry how it is possible to bring this amazing world to our very own home.”

The Way Theatre is now crowdfunding to help raise finances for the scheme. With a target of £20,000, there are also gifts on offer for people who donate, including free tickets to a variety of shows. Each gift depends on the amount of money donated.

Find out more about the crowdfunding scheme or donate here

Stolen Theatre Productions can also be found on Facebook at @StolenThreadProductionsCIC and on Twitter at @StolenThreadCIC