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Lakeland theatre announces forthcoming attractions

The Theatre by the Lake has grand plans for next Christmas as Barbara Hodgson finds out

Graham Bell is welcomed to The Schoolhouse by Jim Beirne
Graham Bell is welcomed to The Schoolhouse by Jim Beirne

If you live in the North East, the Theatre by the Lake provides the perfect excuse – as if any were needed – to pop across to the North West.

The Keswick theatre is currently staging an adaptation of Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons as its Christmas show.

How do you follow that? Artistic director Ian Forrest has the answer, writing: “We are proud to announce that our show for Christmas 2014/15 will be our most spectacular yet – a huge production of Peter Pan with a cast comprising both professionals and local young performers.

“It will be the biggest project Theatre by the Lake has undertaken since it opened in 1999.”

To answer what he sees as another inevitable question, Ian adds: “Yes, there will be flying.”

Flying strongly in the face of a supposed economic slump, he goes on to announce that the theatre, idyllically situated beside Derwentwater, is to stage nine of its own productions during the coming year.

Six of them will be performed in repertoire during a seven-month summer season. Yes, that’s how you beat the slump – by stretching summer to more than half of the year!

But it all looks good. The summer’s main house productions will be the Ben Travers’ classic farce, Rookery Nook; an adaptation of Dracula by Liz Lochhead; and The Comedy of Errors, the venue’s first Shakespeare play since 2009. In the studio you will be able to see Jez Butterworth’s The Winterling; the world premiere of Seeing the Lights, billed as a bittersweet comedy by Brendan Murray; and Old Times which, says Ian Forrest, is “arguably Harold Pinter’s finest play”.

But there’s enticing drama before then. Opening in the main house on March 28 will be a production of Brian Friel’s classic play, Dancing at Lughnasa, set in Donegal in 1936.

In the studio from March 22 will be a new commission by Stephen MacDonald, Not About Heroes, about the First World War meeting of poets Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon.

“We think that our high artistic and production values, our use of a repertory system and our location make us unique in British regional theatre,” says Ian.

There’s only one way to see if he’s right. Details can all be found at www.theatrebythelake.com

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