Keswick theatre to re-open in style

Rehearsals start shortly at Keswick’s Theatre by the Lake for a new production of Laura Wade’s acerbic comedy, Home I’m Darling, which was a sell-out hit when it premiered in 2018.

This second production, a co-production between TBTL, Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre and the Octagon Theatre, Bolton will feature Vicky Binns, Sandy Foster, Sam Jenkins-Shaw, Tom Kanji, Sophie Mercell and Susan Twist.

Sweet peas in the garden; homemade lemon curd in the kitchen; conjugal joy in the bedroom. Judy and Johnny seem to be the perfect couple – quite sickeningly happy, in fact.

But is their marriage everything it seems? Are there cracks in their domestic bliss? And where do they go when the manners and morals of the 1950s don’t quite suit them?

Laura Wade’s blistering satire takes a timely scalpel to gender roles in modern Britain through the eyes of a 21st-century couple slowly discovering that nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.

The show is directed by Theatre by the Lake’s Artistic Director, Liz Stevenson, who says: “Home, I’m Darling is the perfect way to welcome back our audiences to live theatre again: sharp, funny and incredibly timely, it’s one of those plays that will have everyone chuckling, discussing and debating long into the evening. I can’t wait to bring this brilliant play to life in-the-round with this incredible creative team and with three fantastic northern theatres.”

The show is designed by Helen Coyston, with lighting design by Zoe Spurr and sound design by Alexandra Faye Braithwaite. The movement director is Chi-San Howard. Casting is by Sarah Hughes CDG, with Casting Assistant Olivia Barr.

Home, I’m Darling by Laura Wade was a Theatr Clwyd and National Theatre co-production which premiered on 25 June 2018, directed by Tamara Harvey at Theatr Clwyd. It transferred to the Duke of York’s Theatre, London on 26 January 2019.

Home, I’m Darling can be seen in the Round at the SJT on from Friday 9 July to Saturday 14 August 2021. It will then be performed at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton in September and at Theatre by the Lake, Keswick in October.

Tickets for TBTL will go on sale by the summer alongside further programming announcements, and audiences are encouraged to sign up to the theatre’s mailing list to be the first to hear more.

To the lighthouse from Keswick and Cork

Keswick’s Theatre by the Lake is to bring the world premiere of a new adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s  To The Lighthouse to theatre audiences digitally from 25 – 27 June.

Presented by Hatch Theatre Company and The Everyman in association with Pavilion Theatre and Cork Midsummer Festival, To The Lighthouse is brought to dramatic life by Ireland’s foremost playwright Marina Carr and award-winning director Annabelle Comyn.

Theatre by the Lake, Derwentwater

The play opens on the Ramsay family and carefree days spent with friends by the sea. Children play, Mr Carmichael reclines with handkerchief over his face, Lily paints her picture and six year old James wants to sail to the lighthouse. Life is sweet.

But what appears tranquil on the surface, masks deep currents of longing and frustration which the characters struggle to contain.

With the promise of a trip to the lighthouse cancelled, tensions in the home, and beyond, rupture violently and fling these lives into turmoil and change. The world is in transition and death becomes a footnote to a seismic global change, those who remain try to cope in a new era and with the loss that it brings.

Woolf’s text is written in a form where thoughts and emotions are foregrounded. Marina Carr’s adaptation captures the constant flux of the characters’ inner thoughts and re-imagines them in a theatrical landscape. It recalls childhood emotions and highlights emptiness and yearning in adult relationships. Among the play’s many themes are those of loss, subjectivity, the nature of art, unity and the problem of perception.

The cast includes Maura Bird, Colin Campbell, Declan Conlon, Derbhle Crotty, Aoife Duffin, Nick Dunning, Olwen Fouéré and Kyle Hixon.

To The Lighthouse receives its world premiere, as part of Cork Midsummer Festival 2021.

Dates: Fri 25 – Sun 27 June; £26 household link; £21.50 single ticket
Phone Box Office for £15 unwaged

Available to watch from 7.30pm on your chosen performance day.
View before midnight 27 June.

Book Online | Box Office: 017687 74411

A feast of live theatre at Waterside

A TRAFFORD arts venue is planning to reopen its hopefully post-pandemic doors to the public from May 17.
Sale’s Waterside, intends to welcome back both artistes and audiences alike, by promising them a cultural feast of both summer and autumn ‘menus’ of live theatre, music, visual arts, comedy, dance and spoken word.
The programme includes John Lydon, better known as Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols, and guitarist and member of Status Quo, Francis Rossi.
Waterside manager Darren Adams said: “Over the past year, like other businesses, our fellow cultural organisations up and down the country, have faced huge challenges, but I am immensely proud of our team who have tackled them head on, with the resilience and goodwill that we are known for. 
“Our heartfelt thanks go to our audiences and friends whose unwavering support has meant so much to us.  We are now reaching out to ask for your continued support as we open our doors again and deliver what promises to be a fantastic summer back at Waterside.”
The highlights include the annual ten day Refract:21 summer arts festival from July 22 to July 31, which features outdoor and indoor productions of The Great Gatsby and Mr Stink, with comedy nights from stand up stalwarts including Paul Foot, Mark Watson and Sofie Hagen and one off in conversation events with music legends Lydon and and Rossi. 
The opening week of the venue in May will tie in with the venue’s opening week of the borough’s annual Pride in Trafford Festival from Monday May 17 to Saturday May 22. The five day event is an exploration and celebration of identity and LGBTQ+ life in Trafford starts with the raising of the rainbow flag outside Sale Town Hall to mark IDAHOBIT (International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia).  Throughout the week, Waterside will run a small programme of one off comedy, cabaret, storytelling, dance and theatre shows showcasing local and up and coming LGBTQ+ artistes and performers. For those who love their LGBTQ+ entertainment to be that little bit “extra” – Thursday night’s Disco Tea Party will combine disco and drag and is promised as one not to be missed!
Waterside is one of more than 40 venues up and down the country, which have been chosen to participate in a project called Here and Now to mark  culture within communities and to celebrate the National Lottery’s 25th anniversary.The multi-media installation We Are Collective which is said to be a colourful and immersive effort to collaboratively connect and re-unite with the people of the brough and will feature in the gallery spaces at Waterside, open from May 17 to July 31. 
Mr Adams added: “It is Waterside’s utmost priority to keep its audiences, artistes, visiting companies and staff safe as the venue re-opens.  Robust Covid prevention measures will therefore be in place – including mandatory use of face masks within the building with the exception of performers. 
In keeping with current Government guidelines, these measures will remain in place at least until June 21.  During this period, Waterside will operate on a reduced capacity for both ticketed events and general admission to the gallery and venue. Where possible, Waterside will also offer a contingency to deliver some theatre shows online if venue access is suddenly restricted or for those who would remain more comfortable to access content digitally at this time. 

See full summer season programme information at

Peter Devine

Queer culture in Manchester

A MANCHESTER theatre will celebrate more than a decade of queer cultural events it has held in the city.
Manchester Contact Theatre has unveiled plans for the online festival, which will be held from April 29 to 1 May 1.
This year’s events include a conversation with legendary TV writer Russell T Davies (It’s a Sin, Queer as Folk, Doctor Who). It will also include actor Nathaniel Hall, from Davies’s It’s a Sin. 
Hall has already made waves in recent months around his activism on HIV, and together both he and Davies will be discussing portrayals of HIV and AIDS on stage and screen.
The theatre began all things queer over a decade ago and has since become a staple of Manchester’s arts scene. The annual Vogue Ball, is a riotous head-to-head display of skills.

In February 2020, Vogue Ball was the last live event to be produced by Contact before the pandemic forced theatres across the UK to close down.
As the Vogue Ball can’t return in physical format this year, Contact will be taking the party online with the likes of Cheddar Gorgeous, star of Channel 4’s Drag SOS, who will be hosting an interactive cabaret featuring a diverse range of acts and faces.
It will be followed by a party with Manchester-based DJ collective RebeccaNeverBecky, while author Dean Atta, named as one of the most influential LGBT people in the UK, will be reading from and discussing his Stonewall Book award-winning debut novel Black Flamingo.
Contact Theatre is well known for its commitment to young and early-career artistes, and the Contact’s line-up is no exception. 
It will feature films by young, queer Manchester-based artistes which will premiere during the festival, each exploring different elements of queer identity. 
Meanwhile, writer, poet and performer Ella Otomewo will be hosting a spoken word event, and musician Deanz will chat to vogue performer Oskar Marchock about queering dance hall music.
Theatre president Carl Austin-Behan said: “Queer Contact is an annual arts and culture celebration that promotes and highlights the creativity and expression of LGBTQ+ artists from across the world, and reflects the rich and honest diversity of our community. 
“Obviously due to Covid-19, Queer Contact 2021 will be online, but I am really excited about the programme of events taking place, and that tickets have already been selling fast for Russell T Davies in Conversation with Nathaniel Hall.”
For tickets and more information go to: Queer Contact 2021 – Contact

Peter Devine

Grand re-opening for city’s Jewish museum

A MULTI-MILLION pound re-development of one of Manchester’s most iconic cultural spaces is scheduled for its reopening this summer.

The Jewish Museum, on the city’s Cheetham Hill Road, now boasts a major £6 million re-design and an extension, which was funded in part by a £3m grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund. It will reopen on July 2.

The two year project has been the culmination in the creation of a new museum and gallery, café, shop and learning studio and kitchen.Conservation works have also resulted in the stunning restoration of its 1874 Spanish and Portuguese synagogue. 
The project involved the drafting in of conservation experts who oversaw painters and stained-glass experts who painstakingly and meticulously helped restore the synagogue to its former glory.

Sustainable features have also been studiously integrated into both the new and the original museum buildings in order to prolong its longevity and reduce carbon intensity, whilst conserving and honouring its Grade II listed status.

Max Dunbar, of the Manchester Jewish Museum, said: “After years of planning, fundraising and consultations, plus a global pandemic to navigate through, we cannot believe we are finally here, ready to show the city and the world our beautiful museum. We really feel we have something special and unique to share with everyone.”

Max and his team fully intend to continue both to expand, explore and share  Jewish stories of migration, communities and identities, in order to bring people together.

The redevelopment spells a new exciting chapter in the life of the 147 year old building, which will now showcase more than 30,000 eclectic objects including personal letters and photographs.

The more unusual items going on display include a herring chopper, a Russian made washboard, once used as a cricket bat, an English/Hebrew teapot, a suppository mould and even a ceremonial trowel from 1857.

Many of these items, will go on display for the very first time, and help bring to life a whole host of forgotten and previously untold personal accounts and experiences of Manchester’s diverse Jewish communities and their lasting connections to the wider world.

At the heart of the new building is a multi-purpose learning studio and kitchen where schools, community groups and local businesses can explore Jewish culture through baking, cooking, eating and sharing traditional recipes. 

To that end, a new café will serve locally sourced and kosher style vegetarian food. While visitors can experience first-hand the tasty delights of a Jewish diet whilst gaining a greater understanding of Jewish dietary laws.

Max added: Our magnificently restored synagogue is a rare gem and is in itself a living artefact telling the story of Jewish migration from the 1870s.

“It will sit alongside our contemporary extension, the design of which has been inspired by our synagogue’s stunning Moorish architecture.

“I’d like to thank all the incredible funders, supporters, partners and project team for getting us to this important moment, at a time when a museum designed to bring people together is now needed more than ever”

To coincide with the museum opening, a season of events and activities are planned including a visual arts installation as part of this year’s Manchester International Festival.

Peter Devine

Season 3 for Script in Hand

They went from strength to strength with new listeners all over the globe during their recent second season. Now Script in Hand will return next week to dissect scripts, talk play texts and explore characters from a heady mix of well-known playwrights paired with lesser known gems. Co-hosted by up-and-coming directors and script enthusiasts Lexie Ward and Meg Robinson, season 3 of Script in Hand will delve into a diverse array of 12 hand-picked plays and will see guest speakers join the duo throughout the season. 

Kicking off with Little Wimmin by the Figs In Wigs, Lexie and Meg are also releasing a special bonus interview with George Spender, Chief Editor of Salamander Street, the publishers behind Little Wimmin, where the listeners can find out all about the world of play publishing.

After covering a collection of fascinating plays such as Guards at the Taj, ear for eye and POSH in Season 2, Season 3 will throw the spotlight on Red Velvet by Lolita Chakrabarti, Scenes with Girls by Mirriam Battye, A Very Expensive Poison by Lucy Prebble and many more. 

Lexie Ward, co-founder of Script in Hand, says; “We’re excited to be back for our third season, covering another batch of diverse and interesting plays. We’re also delighted to reveal our brand new logo in conjunction with our new series, by designer Eleanor Hibbert.

“We’re covering our usual mix of classic and contemporary texts, alongside well known and perhaps lesser known playwrights. It’s our pleasure to highlight plays our audiences may not have heard of before, and we’re really thrilled with the line up we’ve put together for this new season.”

Season 3 will also see an array of special guests grace the ‘podcast couch’ including artistic director of Theatre by the Lake Liz Stevenson, and writer Tabby Lamb, who will provide a backstage pass to the inner workings of her play Since U Been Gone

Script in Hand is available across all podcasting platforms including Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts, simply search ‘Script in Hand’. Listen again to the whole of season 1 & 2 on demand and join the team for season 3 on March 31st  with a new episode released every Wednesday. 

Find out more on Twitter & Instagram; ‘ScriptInHandPod’ across all social media platforms.

All the town’s a stage

Work continues apace on the new Shakespeare North theatre in Prescot,
Merseyside, with the building on schedule to open in 2022.
Meanwhile, the Bard’s words have appeared in a number of unusual places around
the town.

This is one of four boundary markers to welcome visitors. The crane on the
theatre site can be seen just to the right of the sign.

Younger visitors in particular will enjoy this bewitching water fountain.

A series of quotes have been incorporated into the new paving in Prescot’s
main shopping street.

Inside the new building there will be an auditorium based on theatres created by Inigo Jones. The oak structure has been designed and made by Peter McCurdy who constructed The Globe and Sam Wanamaker Playhouse in London.

Why Prescot? The Elizabethan market town had the earliest known, purpose built freestanding theatre outside London.  Prescot also sits cheek by jowl with Knowsley Hall and Park, home to the Stanley family – the Earls of Derby – who were patrons of Shakespeare and had their own theatre troupes.

A new kind of Shakespeare

Mercutio’s Romeo and Juliet: Anegada Theatre

There are two sides to every love story and in this fascinating retelling,  Anegada Theatreexplores Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet from the perspectives of Mercutio and Juliet, as an unlikely friendship blossoms between the pair.

In this original piece, now available free on youtube, what lies beneath the surface is just as compelling as the glossy facade of Shakespeare’s most famous doomed lovers. Mercutio’s Romeo and Juliet is combines iambic pentameter, free indirect discourse and naturalism to reframe Mercutio’s friendship with Romeo.

Says Tara Anegada, writer and director: “Words are powerful weapons in the play. For Juliet, they affirm her love with Romeo. For Mercutio, they are torturous accounts of what loving Romeo must be like. Words are the only vehicle he has to express his realisation that he loves Romeo.”

Joseph Holmes-Milner, dramaturg and assistant director says: “At the start of the play Juliet is definitely feeling trapped by the world around her and society’s expectations of her. Falling in love with Romeo empowers her to make her own decisions and I think our Juliet is definitely more autonomous than Shakespeare’s original character.”

Barney Hartwill plays Mercutio and Sofia Bassani is Juliet .

All donations made through the website will be split between the cast and crew of this show and The National Youth Arts Trust (NYAT) the partner charity for The Shakespeare Project. The NYAT widens access to the performing arts for young people aged 12-25 from non-privileged backgrounds.

Useful Links

Show Link:



Join Britain’s most adventurous orchestra in a streamed show

THE Manchester Camerata is set to get its music performance calendar of 2021 properly underway with a streamed performance of All Time Is Eternally Present, to homes around the country and across the globe on February 26.

The event, which followed government guidelines, was recorded behind closed doors last month at Manchester’s Stoller Hall, and was a determined attempt to create and reconnect with its audiences, by bringing world class music to both a national and global platform.

Described by The Times newspaper as “Britain’s most adventurous orchestra”, this first performance of 2021, includes the internationally renowned Finnish conductor Pekka Kuusisto.

The full programme also features rising star saxophonist and BBC Radio 3 broadcaster, Ulverston’s Jess Gillamperforming Michael Nyman’s Where the Bee Dances; and the new and very powerful style of composition fromBBCLast Night of the PromscomposerDaniel Kidanewhose brand new piece Be Still was commissioned by Manchester Camerata,and is said  tocreate both a sense of inner stillness and calm.

Jess Gillam with Manchester Camerata

Completing the programme are the gentle tones of Dobrinka Tabakova’s Dawn and the never ending expanse of Copland’s Appalachian Spring

Manchester Camerata CEO Bob Riley explains: “It would have been so joyous had we been able to capture our first concert of the year with a live audience, but as it stands, to be able to work alongside the astonishing talents of Jess Gillam and Pekka Kuusisto and feature brand new work by the very brilliant Daniel Kidane, is something we are hugely proud of.”

Additional Manchester Camerata recordings captured at the Stoller Hall will also be streamed at a later date.

Mr Riley adds: “We are committed and determined to keep seeking and curating these broadcasting opportunities where we are able to share our work far and wide and subsequently support our musicians and collaborators as much as possible during these challenging times.”

All Time Is Eternally Present streams via HarrisonParrott’s Virtual Circle.

Tickets cost £10 per household and can be purchased here

Peter Devine 

Workshops for young creatives

A series of weekly online workshops at Keswick’s Theatre by the Lake will provide young people aged between 14 and 18 years old who may not otherwise have access to the theatre industry an opportunity to explore roles in the theatre with practical insight from professionals who work in the field.

As the theatre industry continues to face huge challenges, Theatre by the Lake remains committed to its work with young people to provide opportunities for them to take part in creative activities, develop new skills and to provide insights into theatre-making.

This opportunity will see young budding actors and creative young people working with seasoned professionals, including: Kash Arshad, Director; Tatty Hennessy, Playwright; Oscar Toeman, Director, John Wilkinson, Director; Chi San Howard, Movement Director; providing an extensive oversight of roles within the creative industry in a range of fun and active sessions.

Each theatre professional will lead a workshop in their own specialist field encouraging participants to actively take part and, afterward, quiz them in a Q&A session which will give everyone an opportunity to explore the experts career to date.

The programme has been curated and led by Cumbrian theatre director, Lexie Ward.

These fun and relaxed workshops just require a computer or smart phone and internet connection, and nothing else that wouldn’t be found at home. They run from Monday 8 February – Monday 29 March,

To book the eight week series (at a cost of £48) visit the website (online booking only), or for more information about the programme contact

A limited number of bursaries are available. For more information and how to apply contact