Hope Mill Theatre, Hope Mill, 113 Pollard Street, Manchester, M4 7JA – Visit Now
We found out the story behind this avant-garde theatre in a Grade II-listed old mill – and its game-changing new collaboration.
Theatre in Manchester is in a pretty good place right now. We have the Royal Exchange, obviously, with highlights from the last year including Maxine Peake’s spine-tingling Skriker. Then there’s Oxford Road’s very own brutalist castle of delights – otherwise known as the Contact theatre – that plays host a wide range of innovative new productions, including the annual Queer Contact festival and SICK! Lab. HOME, the newest and shiniest addition to the city, also boasts two theatres.
Come to the new arrival of Hope Mill Theatre, however, and the words ‘game’ and ‘changer’ spring to mind. Sitting in a Grade II-listed former Mill on Pollard Street, which to those unacquainted is in the New Islington outer reaches of Ancoats, Hope Mill is a new fringe theatre venue in Manchester’s already broad cultural remit.
Far from your typical theatre, there’s also a café and bar in the old engine room
It was founded by Joseph Houston and William Whelton. After spending time working in London’s theatre world, the couple set their sights and ambitions on Manchester. Taking note of the many ‘west of West End’ London theatre companies that stage Next Big Thing-type productions, Houston and Whelton decided it was high time that Manchester saw a piece of the action.
It makes sense. With a recent influx of creatives deserting the capital for the North West, Hope Mill Theatre is the perfect place for such a venture, with its’ Ancoats postcode being ripe for the kind of start-up we like to see.
Having staged a number of plays and musicals since opening its 120 capacity auditorium, Hope Mill Theatre often takes risks in what they stage, leading to the type of theatre you might not find elsewhere in the city. An exciting collaboration with Aria Entertainment, which will see the venue revive the Tony Award-winning musical Parade, is definitely something to put in the diary.
Far from your typical theatre, the impressive backdrop also caters for weddings and events. There’s a café and bar situated in the old engine room, stocked with coffee, sandwiches and home-baked goods – they welcome drop-ins and takeaways, so we reckon you should pair a visit with any trip to Rudy’s Pizza, Cutting Room Café and Bar or Café Cotton.