A Digital Programme Of Events And The Start Of Something New For Theatre By The Lake

Theatre by The Lake (TBTL) – Cumbria’s only year-round producing theatre – is delighted to announce its eagerly anticipated programme for Spring 2021 – ‘Spark’. A lively programme of online events marks the beginning of a year of experimentation; new ideas, new partnerships and investment in new work, and new ways of making and sharing theatre, bringing TBTL to its audiences at home.

The venue had planned to launch live events in the theatre from February half term, but the third lockdown announcement following the Christmas break resulted in the team adapting to deliver a digital-only programme between March and May 2021.

The ever-changing nature of the current environment has led the venue to approach programming flexibly and they are delighted to be able to confirm the initial events from the ‘Spark’ programme are now available to book, with more event announcements due over the coming weeks.

‘Spark’, online, opens on 5 March, with a series of Rehearsed Readings. Each month the Theatre’s creative team will work with a different company of writers, directors and actors over an intensive week on an exciting new play which has never been performed before, culminating each week with a ‘script in hand’ performance which audiences can view online, followed by a Q&A with the cast and creative team.

First of the Rehearsed Readings,on Friday 5 March, is The Climbers by Carmen Nasr, a new play originally programmed for the Theatre’s Main Stage in 2020. Then, on Friday 9 April, it’s Wings by Cumbrian writer Nina Berry. Nina was selected to take part in TBTL’s co-commission project with Paines Plough (Come to Where I Am) last year. The piece will be exclusively cast with Cumbrian actors. As ‘Spark’ is a developing programme, the third and final play will be announced shortly.

On Friday 12 March the Theatre will host Open Space. First tested live at the theatre in 2019 and hugely successful, TBTL’s second scratch night goes online. The event will showcase all kinds of untried and untested work, including spoken word, music and theatre, all in a supportive environment for artists to test their ideas and receive immediate audience feedback. The event is part of the theatre’s commitment to offer a platform to help support home grown creative talent and is huge fun for audiences.

Over the last few weeks, The Young Company, young people aged 14-18, have been attending weekly online workshops with TBTL staff and theatre professionals. The outcome, Found Fettle ,is an audio journey across the Cumbrian spaces that have motivated and inspired them throughout the last year, featuring illustrations and soundscapes and will ‘go live’ and online in April. This visualised audio play captures the Cumbrian spirit.

The Theatre had to cancel their family show scheduled for February half term so are instead planning to bring some digital family fun. Available to enjoy now are Murray Lachlan Young and Paul Hartnoll’s free, on demand audio tales. The Chronicles of Atom and Luna can be enjoyed anytime at home or, better yet, out in nature exploring the magical forest. More family work is in the pipeline and will be released in the coming weeks.

TBTL Community Exhibition, Life after Lockdown, has been installed in the Theatre Gallery and is now being imaginatively digitised for audiences to experience from mid-March. The exhibition, curated by Cumbrian artists Louie Whitemore and Mark Melville, is made up of artwork created by local communities reflecting on 2020, looking forward to the future and starting conversations about people’s hopes for life after lockdown.

Looking further ahead, the Theatre continues to invest in the creation of new work. Artistic Director, Liz Stevenson said: "I'm really pleased to be able to announce the 'Spark programme'. Though we were unable to open the building in February as planned, we have been working towards taking our 'Spark' programme online. In these difficult times it’s been so refreshing to collaborate with a wide range of local and national artists, actors, writers and directors to create this season. The events mentioned here are just a flavour, our 2021 programme will be released in stages to ensure we can remain adaptable as the year progresses. For now, we’re really pleased to be able to light the spark that begins 2021 for us and begin the journey for our Theatre once again. We can’t wait to welcome you all back in person until then, keep an eye on our website and social media channels. It’s a constantly changing landscape, but TBTL is looking to the future.”

Woman taking part in Open Space event
Open Space
atom luna composite 2.jpg
Atom Luna


Fri 5 March, 7:30pm; Free

Rehearsed Reading:The Climbers by Carmen NasrDesc: A new play originally programmed for the Theatre’s Main House in 2020. Ages: 16+

Sat 6Wed 31 March; on demand; Free

The Chronicles of Atom and Lunawritten & told by Murray Lachlan Young

Epic audio tales which brings to life the magical world of Atom and Luna across a range of digital forms. Ages: audio tales 7+, AR 5+.

Fri 12 March, 7.30pm; Free

Open Space

TBTL’s second scratch night goes online. The event showcases all kinds of untried and untested work. Ages: 16+

Dates: Tue 16Wed 31 March; £12

The Picture of Dorian Gray. Written by Henry Filloux-Bennett and directed by Tamara Harvey

Each of us has heaven and hell in them. A radical reworking and updating of Oscar Wilde’s classic for online watching. Ages: 16+

Dates: Fri 9 April, 7.30pm; Free

Rehearsed Reading:Wingsby Cumbrian writer Nina Berry

The second of our series of Rehearsed Readings, the piece will be exclusively cast with Cumbrian actors and directed by Theatre by the Lake’s Artistic Director, Liz Stevenson.

Fri 30 April, Free

Youth Theatre Project,Found Fettle

An audio journey across the Cumbrian spaces that have motivated and inspired this young company throughout the last year. Featuring illustrations and soundscapes, this visualised audio play captures the Cumbrian spirit.

Dates: Fri 14 May, 7.30pm; Free

Rehearsed Reading 3

Enthusiastic Rehearsed Reading audiences are invited to book their tickets blind and TBTL will update attenders once the details of the play are confirmed.