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Bolton’s own Haylie Jones returns to Octagon Theatre for a Testmatch

Bolton-born Haylie Jones, from Octagon Youth Theatre to adult performer, returns to her roots in the acclaimed Testmatch by Kate Atwell
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Haylie Jones

Haylie Jones is a Bolton-born performer and she joined the Octagon Youth Theatre as a child.

And now she has come full circle, as she is about to tread the boards there again, this time as an adult.

The play Testmatch, written by Kate Atwell has had great reviews, and it not only features an all-female cast but it explores the past, present and representation through women’s cricket.

We caught up with Haylie Jones to talk about this critically acclaimed play, women’s sport and of course, Manchester.

What attracted you to this play?

I loved the idea of showcasing women in sports through theatre. I have grown up playing sports, football mainly, so this play struck me. But once I got to read and study it more, I realised it was so much more than cricket. So much more. Kate (Atwell, the writer) explores racism and colonialism through the play as present-day (Lords, World Cup) and past collide (1700s Calcutta, India). It made me question why we aren’t learning about these things in the British Curriculum and why certain parts of history are ignored or swept aside. The writing is quick, witty, sharp and loaded. I couldn’t wait to get stuck in.

Do you think the perception of women’s sport is changing for the better or is there still some way to go?

Since the Lionesses won the Euros in 2022 there has been some change but there is for sure some way to go. The more women’s sport is exposed through multiple platforms, the better! This is why I love that women’s cricket is being brought into the theatre. Even though the play isn’t solely about cricket – the fact that 6 women are playing 6 strong, fierce cricket players, is amazing and a blessing for us all.

What was the last thing you saw on stage that you enjoyed and why?

I went to see The Play That Goes Wrong at the Duchess Theatre quite recently and it was fantastic. It was great to see one of my friends smashing it! I have never seen this play before but have heard great things. I see the theatre as an educational escape, a time to switch off and be completely present. I went to watch to support a friend but also to watch some great theatre and of course to laugh – there’s nothing better! A huge well done to the new cast and crew of this amazing production.

As a Boltonian, what does the Octagon Theatre mean to you?

I cannot tell you how excited I am to perform at the Octagon Theatre. I attended the Octagon Youth Theatre for many years when I was younger and have since watched many of their productions. Performing in such a gorgeous theatre, in my hometown, is a true blessing and a dream come true. Makes me quite emotional actually!

What do you love about Manchester?

I love the people! Manchester has always had a great community and “vibe” to it – don’t like that word but it’s true. There are so many cool places in Manchester. Gorgeous theatres are my personal favourite!

What would you change?

Nothing! But perhaps some people’s misconception of the North. It’s not all that bad. It’s brilliant. And I am very proud to be from the North. Manchester is the new London if you ask me!

Why would you suggest someone has a night away from the TV and their phone and come and see Testmatch?

I am an advocate for being “present” and living moment to moment. Going to the theatre is a LIVE experience – it isn’t pre-recorded. It’s a wonderful way to actually feel and maybe even learn something new. Whether that be on your own or going with a friend/family.

Testmatch is a powerhouse of a play – it will keep you on your toes, you will belly laugh, you will learn, and it will certainly shock you. Come see us!

Tickets for Testmatch at the Octagon Theatre

To see Haylie Jones you can see Testmatch at the Octagon Theatre from 23rd May – 1st June and can book tickets here

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