Manchester is about to get a new theatre. It will be located in the Great Northern Warehouse and will open its doors for a limited engagement from 21st March 2017 before opening permanently in May with an immersive clubland reimagining of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The theatre will be the home of Northern Rep, the city’s first repertory company in over 50 years.

Tristan Baker, an Olivier award-winning producer of shows such as In the Heights and The Railway Children, reckons Manchester has one of the most exciting and vibrant theatre scenes in the country.

“It’s for that reason that I have chosen to open so many of my productions here,” says Tristan. “I’m thrilled at the prospect of a new theatre that will be able to present the stars of tomorrow, today. I can’t wait to see what they’ve got up their sleeves.”

Escaping reality and entering a parallel universe is something we all need every now and again. Whether we do it by reading, watching films, gaming or writing – we all like to take mini breaks from our own lives. And theatre really is the perfect way to do it.

If you love the theatre then maybe getting involved in drama is for you. We don’t talk about amateur dramatics enough. But we really should.

If you’re an aspiring actor/director/stage-manager or all-round theatre maker looking to gain experience, AmDram is a great way to build your CV. It’s also the perfect hobby if you have a full-time career and just want to immerse yourself in your free time.

Never thought about it before? Well, if you’ve got a few hours a week going spare and want a new hobby, this might be the way to have fun and learn a new craft simultaneously.

And if you don’t fancy getting up in front of an audience, maybe going to see some amateur performances could be your escape instead. It’s cheaper than ordinary theatre tickets and often the quality is just as high.

So, if you want to get involved in AmDram, or just go and see some affordable theatre, where are the best places to go?

The Royal Exchange

The in the round theatre is one of the most beautiful buildings in Manchester. And it also hosts amateur dramatics (by their very own Young Company) in the studio space, so keep an eye out for future productions. Their most recent productions included Nothing and Flicker and the Flying Books, both of which got brilliant reviews. If you want to get involved, The Young Company is open to applicants between 14 and 25. The Exchange also hosts workshops for adults and there’s even a series of workshops for children called Flying Saucers.
www.royalexchange.co.uk

Z Arts

Still close to the city centre, Z Arts in Hulme is a quirky and brilliant theatre. Renowned for its work with young people, this place is perfect for teens and young adults who want to get involved in dramatics. It also has a variety of family activities and all of their shows are a joy to watch, no matter how old you are. Their upcoming production of A Little Shop of Horrors is bound to be a hoot. Treat yourself to a ticket for just £5.
www.z-arts.org

The Whitefield Garrick

Pic Whitefield Garrick

A little further out of the city centre, the Whitefield Garrick has a fabulous reputation. Tucked away behind Italian restaurant Porada, it is a lovely little space and the reviews it receives are always incredible. Their upcoming production is Outside Edge, which is bound to be a brilliant watch. And The Ghost Train will be performed in their intimate space in May, so make sure you make an appearance.
www.whitefieldgarrick.org

Didsbury Players

Pic Didsbury Players

The same distance from town but in the opposite direction, Didsbury has its own amateur theatre company with an equally stellar reputation. The Didsbury Players have delighted audiences in the past with fun shows such as Cinderella and Grease. And they have a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream coming up too for any Shakespeare fans out there.
www.didsburyplayers.co.uk

Theatre Royal Ramsbottom

Further out of town, Ramsbottom is quaint and lovely, and so is the Theatre Royal. With a wide range of high quality performances across the year in either the main auditorium or the studio upstairs, this theatre offers performances for everyone – as a theatre maker or an audience member. They’ve been going since 1968 and have dazzled audiences with an amazing variety of plays including Sweeney Todd, Educating Rita and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Don’t miss their thrilling and creepy production of Veronica’s Room coming up next month.
www.summerseatplayers.co.uk

So, if you want to take up a new hobby, escape reality in a new way, get involved in some drama or just go and see plays without breaking the bank, these could be the perfect places to spend your time.

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