Meet the Team – Marie Irving-Murphy

How long have you been a member of the Octagon Theatre team?

26 years… I started part-time at the Box Office whilst doing my degree at Bolton. It was someone’s maternity leave – I don’t think they are coming back! 

What is your job role and what does it involve?

I am the Head of Customer Service. Basically, I head up the team that is customer-facing. So it’s quite a large team!
Box Office, Front of House, Bar and catering, Cleaners and Volunteers

And I may be biased but they are brilliant – we are award-winning!

What is your favourite thing about working for the Octagon Theatre?

There are so many! We make world-class theatre right here in Bolton. We are at the heart of the community and work hard to literally change lives.

I am incredibly proud of my amazing team who really do care about our customers and participants and ensure they receive the warmest welcome. I love the variety and fast-paced nature of our work – my job is never boring!
We are currently in the throes of our Out and About Season –the Octagon Theatre recently celebrated its 50th Birthday and in order to ensure it is fit for purpose for another fifty years, it’s currently undergoing a massive refurbishment. This means we have had to take our productions out and about to different venues in Bolton!
We have two shows coming up at the home of Bolton Wanderers, recently re-named the University of Bolton Stadium, so we are really excited about that – come see us!

What has been your favourite show?
At the Octagon there have been many! I suppose two that really stand out for me have been Eight Miles High and The Crucible.
I also really loved the production of Around the World in 80 Days (a co-production between the Royal Exchange and The New Vic Theatre that I saw at the Exchange) although I was sat on the front row and got picked on mercilessly at an interactive part… my children thought it was hilarious!

If you were a character from a famous stage show, who would you be and why?
I would definitely be Fantine in Les Mis – I can see myself singing Come to Me (her death scene) as the audience sob.
I should probably point out at this stage I cannot sing to save my life…

Besides stage shows, can you tell us about any other activities and groups taking place at the theatre, which members of the community might not be aware of?

Oh gosh, yes, there’s lots! They’re all no experience necessary, friendly groups designed to help people build skills and confidence through drama.

We have Bridges companyBridges Youth Theatre, and Little Bridges – drama groups for children, young people and adults with additional needs.

Stage 1 for ages 5 -7, Stages 2A and 2B for ages 8 – 11 and Stages 3A3B and 3C for ages 11 – 16.

Octagon Connect for ages 13 – 19 and Art Beat for ages 50+.

The weekly session meets at our temporary home in the Market Place shopping centre.

What are you most excited about with regards to the ‘Octagon Reimagined’ project?

I am excited that we will have a swanky new, more accessible building!  And a two-floor café bar, more toilets (this is very giddy!!) new auditorium seating, better air-handling, a new foyer, new studio, a classroom… we can’t wait! It will mean we can welcome a wider range of people into the Octagon and we’ll have more space to host community and drama groups. The start of 2020 is going to be very exciting when we re-open!

What do you like most about (being at) Market Place?

We are LOVING having our Box Office and Café (and participation space for our drama groups) at Market Place!

It’s great to be part of the Market Place family! We really feel at the heart of town, especially with the Vaults below. For the café, in particular, the welcome has been lovely! We have regular Octagon customers that have followed us over (thank you!) and we are getting lots of new customers too – they have all been so positive and complimentary – it’s been joyous!
We will be at Market Place for the entire time we are out of the theatre so it’s really nice to have a ‘home’ – thanks for having us!