Full of local interest, humour, pathos, suspense and – of course – inspiring music.

Review of Singers not Sinners By Helen Rigby Singers not Sinners is a new play, co-written by local writers Livi Michael and Carol Davies, and set in 1701. It’s the true story of the first three women in England to sing in a church choir, right here at St Mary’s Parish Church, Oldham. At the start of the play we hear the male voices of the Christian tradition forbidding women to sing in church. But […]

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sounds from the sound desk

When I first read Singers not Sinners I loved the story of the first time women sang in a church choir. The prejudices of 1701 puritan Oldham reminded me that equality is something hard won. Mark and I jumped at the opportunity to take this script and bring the angelic sounds of the choir to life in the acoustics of Millgate Arts Centre. We’ve been involved in the musical rehearsals working with the musical director […]

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A collaborative approach to plays

Writing novels is solitary work. You have to enjoy doing independent research and sitting in front of the PC for months or even years.  If you’re lucky, at the end of 2/3 years of drafting and re-drafting, someone else may read it, but until then, the characters, the words and the scenes really only exist in your own mind. The process of putting a play together could hardly be more different.  Collaborative throughout, it develops […]

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Singers in St Mary’s Oldham

In 1701, the date around which our play Singers not Sinners is based, religion played an integral role everyday people’s lives.  Sketches of Oldham in this period show a largely rural landscape, a few scattered cottages and St. Mary’s Church, on the crest of the hill, dominating its surroundings.  With the church central to much of the action in the play, it seemed fitting that we use the interior as a backdrop for photographs of […]

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Creating 1701 costumes for a cast of 21

We love a good challenge down in the costume store, and Singers not Sinners presented us with challenges in spades.  Not only is it set in 1701 – a time when linen, wool and leather ruled the day, but the cast of 16 has expanded to include extras for the town scenes, bringing us to a total of 21 actors and singers to be clothed in an authentic and credible way. Having passed the script […]

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Taking on a dangerous task of the choirmaster

Hi, I’m Ian Ball and I’m playing the role of Elias Hall the choirmaster at St. Mary’s parish church in Oldham.  Set in 1701 ‘Singers not Sinners’ tells the true story of how Elias Hall convinces the vicar and the Bishop of Chester to allow women to sing in church, something that had been forbidden since the birth of Christianity. It was a dangerous task and he could have been severely punished for his actions.  […]

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A memorable show, celebrating a memorable happening

The greatest joy in directing your own work is that you don’t have to keep to the script! Rehearsals can be creative experiences, and when actors deliver lines they sometimes do so in ways that were not anticipated. And if their way is good, or better, than was originally conceived then on this occasion it becomes the authorised version. But the author-director also has to ride the passing humour of the performers, in this case […]

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Lockdown Blues are far behind us

I can tell that the lockdown blues are far behind the Saddleworth Players after sitting in the audience at their latest production at the Millgate Arts Centre – Nobody’s Perfect. A slick performance of whit and humour, with amazing choreography using the whole of the stage to its full potential. Sitting within the front four rows of the auditorium, we felt we could easily join in the doorstep chats and follow the characters into the […]

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Director’s Preview of Nobody’s Perfect

Let me introduce you to Leonard, a somewhat frustrated writer. Unfortunately, his manuscripts are always being rejected by publishers. He enters a competition for ‘women only’ under a non-deplume. You can imagine the chaos winning the competition causes. Having to disguise himself as a female brings Mrs Doubtfire, Toosie, and Some like it hot to mind. The final scene is a comic masterpiece.  Leonard is played by Simon Wood who was last seen at the Millgate Arts Centre […]

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