Oldham woman’s play gets turned into podcast by theatre company in lockdown

An Oldham woman has had her play turned into a podcast, read by famous Greater Manchester actors thanks to Oldham Coliseum – so it can be heard during lockdown.

Claire Barrow, wrote a 100-word play about Oldham, after a call out from the theatre in 2019. It was put on display amongst the other entries but now it has been chosen as one of only 17 to be a part of a new podcast series by the theatre.

And she is in good company, with other plays on the episode being written by well-known writers including Julie Hesmondhalgh, best known for her role in Coronation Street as Hayley Cropper, as well as other emerging writers.

Claire at Inspire Women Oldham

Claire’s play is called If These Walls Could Talk and is about a dad and a son going to Oldham Coliseum and getting a ‘visit’ from the famous Oldham suffragette and social feminist Annie Kenney.

She said: “I have always been interested in Annie Kenney, so knew I wanted to add her to my story. I love to write stories and poems and thought it would be difficult to stick to 100 words, but I really enjoyed it and I could not believe it when they chose it to put on the podcast. I feel very proud of myself for doing it, I don’t always have a lot of confidence, but this has given me a boost.”

On the podcast, Claire’s story is read by actors Darren Jeffries, Jack Radcliffe, and Natalie Galvin, known for her roles in Shameless, Line of Duty, and The Syndicate, as well as many stage shows.

Claire, who has been through surgery for a benign brain tumour, which left her with deafness, short-term memory loss, and epilepsy, thanks Inspire Women Oldham for helping to rebuild her confidence to write poetry and stories and take on opportunities like this where she would not have done previously.

The 55-year-old added: “It has been a wonderful opportunity, which would not have been possible without the support of Inspire Women Oldham, who encouraged me to take part.

“The organisation is fantastic in supporting women, it has given me so many opportunities that I will always be grateful for.”

Oldham Coliseum Theatre started the podcast series to bring the theatre into people’s homes during the coronavirus pandemic.

Coliseum Artistic Director Chris Lawson said: “Using great art to enrich people’s lives is why the Coliseum exists as a theatre, so it’s vital that we continue to serve our audiences and communities while our building is closed.

“It was always our intention to record some of the 100 Word Plays as part of a podcast, but the situation we currently find ourselves in has meant that we can use these wonderful short plays to not only bring art that celebrates our town into people’s homes but to also provide opportunities for twelve brilliant actors from our region.

“Importantly, there are many people aged over 70 that have a long-standing relationship with the theatre, and we’re making sure we keep in touch with them to help prevent loneliness.”

The Coliseum’s first Mini-Podcast Series episode 100 Word Plays (about Oldham) is available to listen to at: https://www.coliseum.org.uk/minipodcast-e01/ and for more information on Inspire Women Oldham click here.

*Oldham Coliseum Theatre, which is a registered charity, has only closed once before in its 135-year history. If you are able and would like to support the Coliseum at this difficult time the theatre asks that audiences consider donating all or part of their ticket costs for cancelled events, or donating online at coliseum.org.uk/your-coliseum-needs-you.

*Photo courtesy of Oldham Coliseum  






  1. A great challenge for anyone who has a talent for writing – 100 words. Loved listening to these mini-plays and congratulations to all who made it happen – Well done.


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