News Article

12th Nov 2018

Theatre by the Lake announces 2019 Season including special event with Ian McKellen

Theatre by the Lake today announced exciting plans for its 2019 Season including a world premiere production from the acclaimed Howard Brenton, Educating Rita starring Stephen Tompkinson, two regional premieres in the Studio, and a special fundraising event featuring Ian McKellen. The year includes nine home-grown TBTL productions, alongside a diverse programme of visiting work.

Chief Executive James Cobbold said: "2019 sees Theatre by the Lake celebrate its 20th birthday, and we feel that our programme for the year is a fitting celebration. We're thrilled to be presenting another year of quality theatre, working with some incredibly talented creatives, as well as excited to welcome an eclectic range of visiting work and some very special events. There really is something for everyone, so we hope that both local audiences and visitors from further afield will join us for some wonderful lakeside entertainment.”

Following a packed February and March of music, dance, children's shows and touring drama, the Spring Season at the theatre kicks off with the world premiere production of Creditors by August Strindberg (22 March - 20 April) in a new adaptation by Howard Brenton and co-produced with London's Jermyn Street Theatre. Brenton's adaptation of Miss Julie played at Theatre by the Lake in2017, and will be reprised at the theatre for five special performances (1 - 4 April), before going on regional tour across Cumbria and beyond.

In the Main House, Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray will star Jonathan Wrather in the lead role, followed by TBTL's co-production of Willy Russell's classic play Educating Rita featuring Stephen Tompkinson (Brassed Off, Wild at Heart, DCI Banks) as Frank, produced with David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers. The Picture of Dorian Gray plays from 8 - 13 April, with Educating Rita playing from 18 - 27 April.

The Summer Season of home-produced work runs in rep with a resident company of eleven actors from 23 May to 2 November.

The three Main House productions are:

  • The Ladykillers by Graham Linehan –One of the best-loved British pictures of all time is transformed from macabre comedy into madcap mayhem by the co-creator of Father Ted, Black Books and The IT Crowd.

  • The Rise and Fall of Little Voice by Jim Cartwright –The comic tragedy about finding your voice in a noisy world, made famous by the 1998 film Little Voice starring Jane Horrocks.

  • Dear Uncle adapted by Alan Ayckbourn– Ayckbourn's adaption of Chekhov's masterpiece of unrequited love, Uncle Vanya, set in the Lake District.

The Studio productions are:

  • The Children by Lucy Kirkwood –The regional premiere of this award-winning play, first seen at the Royal Court in 2016, in which two retired scientists attempt to continue a semblance of normality in the aftermath of a nuclear catastrophe.

  • My Mother Said I Never Should by Charlotte Keatley– Keatley's classic drama in which secrets, lies, loves and momentous decisions reverberate through four generations of women from the same family.

  • Guards at the Taj by Rajiv Joseph– TBTL's second regional premiere was an award-winning hit in America and had its European premiere at the Bush Theatre in 2017. As dawn rises on the day construction is completed on the Taj Mahal, two hapless guards must resist the urge to look at the most beautiful monument ever created.

Theatre by the Lake's Christmas production for 2019/2020 will be an adaptation of A Christmas Carol; join Ebeneezer Scrooge, and a whole host of familiar characters, in discovering the true meaning of Christmas in this much-loved family classic. From 22 November 2019 to 11 January 2020.

A highlight of the year and much-anticipated event is Ian McKellen's appearance at the theatre on 20 August in Ian McKellen on Stage. A special fundraiser for TBTL, the date is part of a UK tour in celebration of McKellen's 80thbirthday. As he himself puts it: "Growing up in Lancashire, I was grateful to those companies who toured beyond London and I've always enjoyed repaying that debt by touring up and down the country myself. I used to see the touring Century Theatre, which ended up by the lake in Keswick. So my debut here is in gratitude for those long-ago productions and for the other times when I have seen the company at work in Keswick. The Lake District is my favourite part of the country, which is another reason I wanted to bring you my new show.”

The evening will include anecdotes, performances as some of his best known characters, and an invitation for an audience member to join him on stage. Demand for the event is anticipated to be high. This special event will not go on sale until January; sign up to receive Theatre by the Lake emails or follow the theatre on social media to be kept informed of the on-sale date and to be the first to book.

Other visiting work highlights include Heart of Darkness(26 - 30 March), an explosive retelling of Joseph Conrad's novel from associate company and acclaimed digital theatre makers, imitating the dog, and La Tragédie de Carmen, a reimagining of Bizet's masterpiece, from Pop-Up Opera (8 February). TBTL is also delighted to welcome back associate company Prism Arts with their show Four Treasures(14 and 15 February), and the wonderful Phoenix Dance Theatre, who delighted audiences earlier this year with their show Windrush and are returning with The Rite of Spring (8 May). TBTL audiences can also look forward to a visit from anthropologist, author and broadcaster Professor Alice Roberts, who will be sharing insights, anecdotes and behind-the-scenes stories at a talk on 20 February.

The theatre is also proud to present a wide range of shows and events for families, from Metta Theatre's hip-hop musical In the Willows(2 - 6 April and starring Olivier Award-winning actor Clive Rowe who many will recognise from BBC Children's drama The Story of Tracy Beaker), to the much loved Sourpuss(21 and 22 February) which is one event in a jam-packed programme for families over the February half term. For film buffs, Keswick Film Festival returns once more (28 February - 3 March), and the theatre will once again be a venue for 2019'sKeswick Jazz and Blues Festival(9 - 12 May).

Priority booking for Friends of Theatre by the Lake is open from 14 November, in person, online or over the phone. To find out about becoming a Friend call the Box Office on 017687 74411, or visit

General booking opens on 21 November from 9.30am, in person, online or over the phone.

Please note that the full Words by the Water programme will be announced in early January, with Friends Priority booking opening on 17 January, and Public booking opening on 24 January.

To find out more please visit call the Box Office on 017687 74411. The full season brochure can be viewed here.



For further information or images contact Meg Eyre on or 017687 81107

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