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Royal Exchange launches 180-seat pop-up venue the Den

An artist's impression of the Den at the Royal Exchange An artist's impression of the Den at the Royal Exchange
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A pop-up theatre is being launched by the Royal Exchange in Manchester, which will tour to nearby communities and become a space for the venue to perform work outside of the city centre.

The Den will also act as a space for local residents to make and share their own work, as part of the Royal Exchange’s community project, Local Exchange.

Made possible with a £1 million donation from the Oglesby Charitable Trust, the 180-seat space has been designed by architects Haworth Tompkins.

The Royal Exchange said the pop-up theatre would base itself within a larger, found space, and is “designed to help reimagine an existing local building”. The Den has 180 seats and will be built and dismantled by people in each community it visits.

Haworth Tompkins director Roger Watts said the space would be “very low carbon and super-lightweight”.

The Royal Exchange said people in each Greater Manchester borough it visits would become the pop-up theatre’s ushers, box office staff, technical team and its audience.

“It is a space where communities can come to share, learn and make their own work, and where the work of the Royal Exchange can be performed outside of the city centre,” it added.

It is part of the Local Exchange project, which creates long-term residencies in the boroughs of Greater Manchester, which “respond to the cultural ambitions of each specific community”. The project creates workshops, performances and events that are designed for each community.

Royal Exchange executive director Steve Freeman said: “We hope Local Exchange creates the space for a conversation with the people of Greater Manchester about what the future of theatre looks like for us all. That it will provide the building blocks to reimagine the relationship between the places we make our work and the artists and people we make it with and for.”

Trustees of the Oglesby Charitable Trust, Michael Oglesby and Kate Vokes, said the pop-up theatre would “respond to the needs of the residents using it”.

The Den will make its first appearance in August in Tameside.

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