June Theatre Of The Month > Theatre By The Lake
Theatre By The Lake is one of the few producing theatres in the UK which operates a repertoire system: a resident company of 14 actors present six plays (three in the Main House, three in the Studio) staged in rotation from May to November. TBTL is about to open its 18th summer repertoire season since opening in August 1999, so we asked Artistic Director, Ian Forrest, why repertoire and resident companies are so important, and what’s on offer in our upcoming Summer Season:
What’s caused all the recent excitement about rep style theatre?
Ever since the Liverpool Everyman announced in April that they are re-introducing the idea of a resident repertory company for the first time in 25 years, a buzz in the theatre industry has been slowly growing. Famous names such as Judi Dench (TBTL’s President) and Sir Ian McKellen have lent their weight to the re-introduction of the structure and expressed how important a training in rep is, particularly for actors at the start of their career. We couldn’t agree more – TBTL has had resident acting companies working on their annual summer seasons for the past 18 years and we know the benefits of the system.
What makes rep so special?
There are huge benefits for actors, particularly for younger actors recently or straight out of drama school, who have the opportunity to observe and work with more experienced actors over a period of time (seven months in our case) on a varied mix of three different plays in both our Main House and our traverse Studio spaces. Sadly there are so few opportunities like this for younger actors these days. Performing the plays in a rolling repertoire system keeps the actors on their toes and the productions fresh, doing a different play every two days. We also employ an equal gender split within the resident company of 14 actors, and working with the same group of actors for a period of months rather than weeks can only be beneficial for the work in the long run.
Over the years we’ve established a core of actors returning to be in our summer companies – they like working at TBTL and we like working with them. They have become familiar faces to our audiences, who enjoy coming to see them performing in a variety of roles, and our actors become very much a part of the local Keswick community over the summer months.
What is in the offing for TBTL’s Summer Season this year?
This summer we’re welcoming back some familiar faces from past seasons as well as several talented newcomers to make up our company of 14 (seven males & seven females). We have six plays running from May to November, three in the Main House (seating 389) where the policy is to present popular, entertaining shows with a bias towards comedy, and three in the Studio (seating 92) where we present more modern, challenging brand-new and controversial works.
We’re opening the Main House season with Watch It, Sailor!, a 1950s Northern Comedy about a disaster-prone family wedding. This is followed by Frederick Knott’s gripping thriller Dial M for Murder, about a man who plans the perfect murder of his wife, probably best known from the classic Hitchcock movie. Finally, Sheridan’s 18th century comedy of romance, intrigue and deception, The Rivals, set in Georgian Bath – stylish, witty, fast-moving fun!
What’s happening in the TBTL studio?
As always in our more intimate studio space, we’ve programmed plays to stimulate and challenge as well as entertain our audiences. The season opener is David Hare’s The Vertical Hour, which deals with the issue of military intervention in the Iraq War, and with the aftermath of its effects on individual lives. This is followed by Sophokles’ classic Greek tragedy, Elektra in a version by the Canadian writer Anne Carson – a vivid study in grief, revenge and justice with an immensely challenging central role for a woman. The final play in the studio is Rona Munro’s Iron, a drama set in prison, and a fascinating study of the relationship between a mother and daughter who haven’t met for 15 years.
How can I book tickets?
You can use your Theatre Tokens at Theatre by the Lake by simply calling our Box Office on 017687 74411 and speaking to one of our team. To stay up-to-date with TBTL, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Instagram @TBTLake or sign up at www.theatrebythelake.com for regular updates.