Theatre by the Lake, Keswick unveils full 2017 Season


Cumbria’s only producing theatre – is delighted to announce its eagerly anticipated 2017 season, the first under the leadership of new Artistic Director, Conrad Lynch – marking the theatre’s bold move to being a producer-led venue for the first time. 

Bursting with World Premieres, Regional Premieres, new collaborations and new writing – this exciting and ambitious programme aims to surprise and delight audiences whilst highlight Lynch’s ambitions to offer fresh, innovative and memorable theatre for all.

Paying homage to the “Great British Play” is very much at the heart of Lynch’s inaugural season, kicking off in March 2017 in the main house with the World Premiere of William Wordsworth, a Theatre by the Lake and English Touring Theatre co-production, written by award-winning playwright Nicholas Pierpan.

In the public imagination, the Nature poet William Wordsworth was removed from the cares of the world: he peacefully wandered around the Lake District while penning lines like ‘I wandered lonely as cloud…’ But nothing could be further from the truth. For most of his life, Wordsworth struggled with anxieties over his family, money and finding any kind of stable career while many of his peers rose to ‘success’ and healthy incomes. He was a husband, father, brother and provider and dealt with the daily dilemma between pursuing his art and providing for his family.Wordsworth is a beautifully written and poignant piece taking place in 1812, when the poet is 41 years of age and these struggles were reaching their peak.

Writer Nicholas Pierpan won the 2013 Off West End Award for Most Promising New Playwright and was nominated for an Evening Standard Award for his play You Can Still Make a Killing. He has also won the Cameron Mackintosh Award for New Writing twice, a Peggy Ramsay Award, was shortlisted for the Yale Drama Prize and has been on attachment with the National Theatre Studio. William Wordsworth will be directed by Michael Oakley who most recently directed Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s The Invisible at the Bush Theatre and  Caroline Quentin in The Life and Time of Fanny Hill at Bristol Old Vic.

This opening production also ‘welcomes home’ English Touring Theatre, formerly Century Theatre Company, who will co-create a show for Keswick for the first time since their move to Crewe and then London over twenty years ago.

 The theatre’s much lauded Summer Season will feature a two company ensemble for the first time. We open the Main House season with a major revival of Terence Rattigan’s heart-rending and beautifully written After the Dance

This is followed by a collaboration with Shared Experience creating a new production of one of Shakespeare’s best-loved comedies, As You Like It.

This show will then embark on a UK tour in November 2017.

Theatre by the Lake is delighted to announce that completing its Summer Season line up in the main house will be the Regional Premiere of the celebrated and critically acclaimed Handbagged by Moira Buffini. 

Tea at four, Handbags at dawn – this wickedly funny play speculates on that most provocative of questions: What did Queen Elizabeth II and Margaret Thatcher – two of the world’s most powerful women – talk about behind closed palace doors?

 Launching the theatre’s Studio season is a production of Two-Way Mirror by the late, great Arthur Miller, directed by John Dove who most recently directed Mark Rylance in Farinelli and The King at Shakespeare’s Globe and in the West End.

Two-Way Mirror will continue the theatre’s commitment to rural touring, visiting a range of venues in partnership with Highlights and Arts Out West.

The Studio Theatre Summer Season hosts a programme dedicated to new writing – the venue’s first – marking an exciting and deliberate gear change for 2017. First up, is a Theatre by the LakeRoyal Exchange and Sherman Theatre co-production of How My Light is Spent.

Written by Alan Harris, this heartfelt and incredibly funny take on loneliness, isolation and longing won the Judges’ Award at the 2015 Bruntwood Playwriting Competition at Manchester’s Royal Exchange. 

It marks the theatres’ first ever co-production together

This season of firsts continues with the World Premiere of Howard Brenton’s adaptation of Strindberg’s masterpiece, Miss Julie.

Regarded as one of Britain’s most prolific and highly regarded writers, Brenton’s adaptation will breathe fresh new life into this classic European play which will transfer to London’s Jermyn Street Theatre following its run in Keswick.

We are thrilled to be concluding this Studio season dedicated to new writing with the World Premiere of Remarkable Invisible – by award-winning American writer Laura Eason.

This beautifully written family drama explores the complex joy, love, disappointments and expectations we all are familiar with in everyday family life.

Eason’s most recent play Sex with Strangers,was produced by Steppenwolf Theatre and played at Second Stage Theatre in New York in 2015 and it will receive its UK premiere at Hampstead Theatre in February 2017.

Eason is also a writer for the Emmy award-winning Netflix series, House of Cards.

Families will be enthralled in the Main House at Christmas next year with a new production of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett adapted by Jessica Swale, the recent recipient of the 2016 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Comedy for her play Nell Gwynn.

Here she creates a richly imagined adaptation of Hodgson Burnett’s much loved classic, enhancing the theatre’s reputation for producing great storytelling for all the family

Three of the 2017 season’s productions will be directed by Theatre by the Lake’s new Associate Director, Liz Stevenson.

The recipient of the JMK Young Director Award 2015, her directing credits includes: Barbarians at the Young Vic, We are the Multitude for the 24:7 Theatre Festival and The Match at Liverpool Write Now Festival. Liz has also worked as an assistant director at the Royal Exchange, Hampstead Theatre, Menier Chocolate Factory and the Gate.

For TBTL, Liz will direct HandbaggedThe Secret Garden and How My Light is Spent.

Of his inaugural theatre programme for Theatre by the Lake 2017, Artistic Director and Chief Executive  Conrad Lynch, comments: 

“It has given me great pleasure to plan the year ahead and curate an innovative and accessible mix of work. We hope to build on the wonderful foundations created by my predecessors, Ian and Patric, by staying loyal to their commitment to produce excellent, accessible and timeless theatre. I am also really excited about developing the theatre’s growing reputation for making work of scale and ambition with artists, collaborators and our Theatre by the Lake team.  I hope that my first season will continue to enthuse, entertain, inspire and engage our audiences from all over the world, here in our spectacular rural location on the edge of Derwentwater.”

Tickets for this 2017 Season go on sale for Priority Bookers on the 12th December from 10.30am. 

Tickets go on general sale from January 9th, 2017.

Full theatre listings and bookings are available via

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