As the final touches of Christmas magic are added to its upcoming festive show Sleeping Beauty, The Dukes has announced its new Spring season of touring and Home Grown work, which includes a dramatic new tale based on the famous Pendle Witches and an outdoor adventure in Williamson Park with Jason and the Argonauts.
Sabbat, written by Richard Shannon, is a powerful new play commissioned by The Dukes that attempts to unravel the mysteries behind one of England’s most famous trials, that of the notorious Pendle Witches. Did Alice Nutter and the others really attend a witch’s Sabbat on Good Friday, 1612? Or were these innocent Pendle folk used as scapegoats during a time of paranoia, superstition and persecution? Sabbat runs from 29th January – 21st February 2009.
Jamaica House, an emotional drama set on the twelfth floor of an empty tower block, is the second Dukes production of the season running from 19th March – 11th April. Former resident Jean returns to the crumbling tower block Jamaica House for one last time but finds it hard to say goodbye to a building she has lived in for nearly thirty years.
The summer will once again see a fantastic new show setting sail in Williamson Park, when Jason and the Argonauts opens on 2 July. This timeless story of love, honour and heroism is based on the ancient Greek myths that have beguiled generations. Jason and his crew, The Argonauts, must journey in search of the legendary Golden Fleece. They encounter countless obstacles in their quest: giants, perilous seas, vengeful gods and the bewitching song of the Sirens. As you travel around the magnificent lakes, dells and gorges, you’ll take to high seas, visit Mount Olympus, the realm of the gods, and challenge the monstrous hydra in a sensational final battle.
A great new ticket offer will also launch alongside the season, allowing customers to enjoy all three shows for the price of two. Holders will also get a Dukes discount card offering 25% off other events.
“It only feels like five minutes since we were planning the current Autumn season so I can hardly believe that we’re launching another," commented Director Joe Sumsion. "When I came into post last February, we promised that The Dukes would showcase the best work from Lancashire and beyond and I truly believe that we’ve kept that promise.
"I’m proud to say that over the next six months we’ll be creating three brand new Dukes productions, made all the more accessible with our new three for two ticket offer. Alongside our Home Grown work we’ve got some great comedy, music and drama and a cracking family programme too.
"And of course, I can’t wait to get started on our outdoor theatre production, Jason and the Argonauts. I’m just wondering how to make the rocks at Williamson Park clash against each other as the Argonauts sail through the lake. The Dukes moves mountains? Watch this space!”
Alongside these Home Grown treats, The Dukes will be playing host to some of the best national touring work including Queen Bee, a chilling new drama from The North East Theatre Consortium (8 and 9 May) in which three women find themselves forced together in an isolated Northumberland house in a contemporary gothic ghost story.
Straight from a sell out show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year, Top of the World present Paperweight on 21st May, an (almost) silent comedy of two men trapped in mindless office jobs whilst Queer Up North and multi-award-winning Starving Artists bring a new one man show, Eat Me to the venue (30th May).
People who like their theatre a little more physical won’t be disappointed when Precarious present their astonishing boundary pushing work The Factory on 25th April. On 2nd May, clowning, puppetry and performance are combined in Lost in the Wind by Lost Spectacles.
Two side-splitting comedy shows also feature in the season, Who Writes this Crap? (17th January), a fast paced two-hander from Joel Stickley & Luke Wright (poet in residence on BBC Radio 4's Saturday Live), based on the critically acclaimed Penguin paperback, and 1000 Years of German Humour (8th May) with award winning German Comedy Ambassador, Henning Wehn, in a show that wowed the Edinburgh Festival crowd this year.
A fantastic new version of Peter Pan from The Children’s Theatre Company, Minneapolis and Visible Fictions will be showing on 30th April and 1st May. Featuring the work of one of the world’s best shadow puppetry artists, this production combines live action, shadow art and vibrant storytelling. And DT3 will play host to another great piece of theatre for young people when Loci Productions return with their acclaimed show Mind the Gap on 28th February.
For younger children, Monster Productions return with another magical journey, The Garden of Dreams (17th & 18th April). Also making a return visit after a recent sell-out performance is the hilarious James Campbell (21st February), the world’s only stand-up comedian for children.
Music lovers will be spoilt for choice as The Dukes continues to bring the best local, regional and national talent to the venue. Singer songwriter Charlie Winston will be appearing on 28th February, while popular Lancaster band Dose take to the stage on 7th March. DT3 supported label Barnbox return for a night of music on 24th April and the heady strains of jazz will be heard when Lancashire Sinfonietta perform on 9th May. Also in May, you can follow in the footsteps of fan Chris Evans and see the mirthful Lancashire Hotpots, with their comedic observations on 21st Century life.
The start of a new creative partnership between Ludus and The Dukes will be signalled on 23rd January when Ludus present the world premiere of ID:me, a new piece of dance theatre. And on the evening of 8th February, artist Sumit Sarkar will take control of The Dukes in a groundbreaking new event, Co-mission, featuring contemporary culture, creativity and curry!
The University of Cumbria return in January with two productions from the 3rd Year Drama students, Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall (14th – 17th January) and Colder Than Here by Laura Wade (21st – 24th January).
The venue will also be bringing the best from the international stage with live opera, classical music and ballet streamed by satellite direct from The Royal Opera House, London including Handel’s Messiah (5 April), Ondine (3 June) and La Traviata (30 June).
• For more information or to book for any event in the autumn season, call Dukes box office on 01524 598500. Web Site: www.dukes-lancaster.org