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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Hard years ahead for Keswick theatre, says director

Audiences at the Theatre By The Lake dipped over the past year.

While the studio performances at the Keswick venue attracted their best-ever attendances, the number of people watching the main house plays disappointed.

Executive director Patric Gilchrist said he was worried by the figures and blamed the recession for the dip and a 15 per cent drop in tourist numbers for Keswick.

“It has been a really challenging year, much less predictable than in the past,” he said.

“The effects of the recession are definitely with us. We have to change the mix and offer new things to expand our audience.

“It is a worry, but more than anything it is an indicator that we are likely to have several hard years ahead.”

The Christmas production last year, The Firework Maker’s Daughter, did not attract the audiences expected, though The History Boys played to record attendances for an Easter production of 91 per cent capacity (11,680 people).

The main house summer season plays had audiences of 38,800: down on last year, but up on 2010.

Mr Gilchrist added: “Provided that advance bookings for The Railway Children continue at the current fantastic levels, 2012/13 will be well on target to exceed attendances for last year.

“Overall, the Theatre by the Lake has the second highest annual attendances (second only to Manchester Royal Exchange) of any regional repertory theatre in the north west.”

Mr Gilchrist was speaking as the theatre, which has just opened its Christmas production, The Railway Children, revealed next year’s summer line-up.

They include the family- friendly farce See How They Run by Philip King, An Inspector Calls by JB Priestley and She Stoops to Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith.

In the Studio there’s Vincent in Brixton by Nicholas Wright, a fascinating insight into Vincent Van Gogh’s early years in London, the Jacobean tragedy of passion, jealousy and revenge ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore by John Ford and Neil Labute’s drama The Shape of Things.

For more information, see www.theatrebythelake.co.uk

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