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Conrad Lynch unveils inaugural Theatre by the Lake season

Conrad Lynch's first season at Theatre by the Lake will start with the world premiere of William Wordsworth, written by Nicholas Pierpan
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New Theatre by the Lake artistic director Conrad Lynch has unveiled an inaugural season that pays homage to the “great British play”, claiming his long-term aim is to discover the next Noises Off or The History Boys.

Lynch took up the post in September this year as joint artistic director and chief executive, replacing former artistic director Ian Forrest and executive director Patric Gilchrist – who had worked at the theatre since its opening in 1999.

Lynch’s first season will feature the world premieres of new plays by Nicholas Pierpan, Howard Brenton and Laura Eason.

It also includes the regional premiere of Moira Buffini’s Handbagged and revivals of Arthur Miller’s Two Way Mirror and Terence Rattigan’s After the Dance.

The season features a number of co-productions with companies including English Touring Theatre, Shared Experience and the Royal Exchange in Manchester.

Lynch said: “We are all in the maelstrom of doing Arts Council applications, and local funding is decreasing. It’s an ever-decreasing pool of money [theatres have access to], so we are having to work in partnership. It’s about being able to do more together than you could by yourself.”

His season marks the first time Theatre by the Lake has been run following a producer-led model. Under the previous leadership, many of the shows were directed in-house, by Forrest.

But Lynch said his role would see the venue move away from having an artistic director who directs the productions: “I won’t be directing any, but curating and bringing artists together to deliver a season.”

His first season kicks off in March with the world premiere of William Wordsworth, written by Pierpan and co-produced with English Touring Theatre. It will be directed by Michael Oakley.

This will be followed by Rattigan’s After the Dance, which will be directed by Philip Wilson and run in repertory with As You Like It, directed by Kate Saxon, and Handbagged, directed by associate Liz Stevenson.

In its studio space, the venue will stage Miller’s Two Way Mirror in March, directed by John Dove, and How My Light Is Spent, by Alan Harris and co-produced with the Royal Exchange and Sherman Theatre. The studio will also feature Miss Julie, in a new adaptation by Brenton and directed by Tom Littler, and Eason’s Remarkable Invisible, running from August next year.

Lynch said Brenton’s Miss Julie would move to the Jermyn Street Theatre in London after its run in Keswick, while As You Like It, produced with Shared Experience, will tour the UK. Two Way Mirror will tour locally.

“We have not had much significant touring of our main-house work previously, but it’s a great opportunity given the perennial lack of touring work around the UK,” he said.

Lynch added that he wanted to work with new writers over the next three years.

“We would like to be able to find, through working with our new writers, the next Noises Off or History Boys. It’s part of driving the theatre ecology and making sure we contribute to the new,” he said.

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