Workshops, Craft Days and Catwalks: The Royal Exchange Theatre’s Mobile Theatre Comes to Cheetham Hill

This summer the award-winning Royal Exchange Theatre sets up its eco-friendly mobile theatre, the Den, at the Ukrainian Cultural Centre.

By Emma Davidson | Last updated 16 February 2024

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For two weeks, Royal Exchange Theatre’s unique pop-up theatre will come alive as residents of Cheetham Hill and Crumpsall take part in workshops, family craft days, book in to see a show or get on stage themselves in the brilliant M8s Got Talent! 

THE DEN IN M8 will take place this summer from 29 July – 6 August and is a celebration of creative communities and the importance of access to art in the places you live.  All tickets for THE DEN IN M8 are either free or just £1!

For the past 4 years the Royal Exchange has been working in partnership with the Cheetham Hill and Crumpsall communities developing key partnerships, running creative workshops, making inspiring work such as the UP THE HILL audio-plays, and bringing together a 12-strong Local Exchange Ambassador team to help shape and deliver the summer festival for the Den. This team of Cheetham Hill and Crumpsall residents includes faith leaders, local artists, community champions and young people from local schools all of whom are passionate about their community.  


Over the past year they have been working together to develop a vibrant and varied programme of work for the Den, carefully considering what the community will want from a summer theatre festival. 

They have created a programme that is bursting at the seams with something for the whole community to get involved with. From professional performances to spoken word events, from music to a brand-new community theatre show created by local makers and performers, plus local food offers, fashion, drumming and podcast workshops delivered by talented M8 residents there really is something for everyone.  

Royal Exchange Joint Artistic Director Roy Alexander Weise said:  

“We can’t wait for this festival. We have been resident in Cheetham Hill and Crumpsall now for almost 4 years and have had the privilege of working alongside so many dedicated residents who are passionate about their community. 

“We have such a vibrant programme on offer, the Ambassador team have built a festival for their community with everything from family events to a solo show from the Bush Theatre in London, so now all we’ve got to do is get our pop-up theatre up and throw the doors wide open. It’s exciting.” 

Over two weeks the Den Festival will host 25 individual events including two exhibitions, nine free workshops (from catwalk fashion to podcast creation) and 11 incredible performances such as INVISIBLE, a brand-new show by Manchester writer Nikhil Parmar which has just had its world premiere at the Bush Theatre, London. Plus, the uniquely entertaining M8’s GOT TALENT and the world premiere of COLD CHIPS AND PICK N MIX by Sonia Jalaly, developed with members of the Cheetham Hill and Crumpsall community. The cast will be made up of non-professional community members as well as professional actors.

Bob Sopel, the Ukrainian Centre Manager added:

‘It is really important that life goes on and that we continue to live fully, and what better way to do that then welcome the Royal Exchange’s Den Theatre to the Ukrainian Cultural Centre this summer. Being able to bring the communities of Cheetham Hill and Crumpsall together, here, is a celebration of everything we have to offer as a community of people, it is a celebration of life, that feels more important than ever. We are really pleased to host this event and can’t wait for people to join us.’

All tickets for the Den in M8 are either free or just £1! Ticket prices are kept low because the organisers want everyone to be able to attend, as well as encouraging those who can afford it to donate to the Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal (with the Disasters Emergency Committee).


The Den is part of the Royal Exchange’s wide-reaching community programme, LOCAL EXCHANGE, and was developed to ‘pop-up’ in existing buildings and spaces across Greater Manchester providing a distinctive local theatre where communities could come together to celebrate, create and share some incredible live experiences right on their doorsteps. 

THE DEN is one part of a series of in-depth creative residencies that form the backbone of the Exchange’s unique programme. LOCAL EXCHANGE was designed to reframe the way the Royal Exchange makes work with, by and for the people of Greater Manchester. It has been developed to create long-lasting and sustainable relationships between communities and artists.