Dukes Mainstage Directing Opportunity

The Dukes Creative Learning Department are now accepting production proposals from directors interested in directing the Dukes 2018 Senior Young Actors production.

Building on the success of sell-out productions of The Crucible (2016, directed by Louie Ingham) and Macbeth (2017, directed by Liz Stevenson) we invite production proposals for the March 2018 flagship youth theatre production in the Round.

Thanks to everyone who has applied for this – we’ve been overwhelmed with the response and the application window has now closed!

Words Aloud: A Lancaster Fun Palace Event

We’re so happy to be a part of this year’s Lancaster Fun Palace as we host the Words Aloud event on October 7 (5.30pm – 10pm).

The event offers the chance for people to perform their own work – or have people read/perform it for them – and can be any form and feature any content.

Whilst we are hosting, we are not producing, so further details of the event can be found at the Lancaster Fun Palace Facebook page and and website

Fun Palaces are free DIY Art and Science grassroots festivals that take place across the country, prioritising community engagement and bringing the arts and sciences together.

Fun Palace


Library Touring Commission

£6,000 Commission Opportunity from our friends at Spot On Lancashire.

Spot On Lancashire and Cheshire Rural Touring Arts are seeking to commission an artist or company from the North West of England to develop a new piece of touring work as part of their libraries strategic touring  programme.

The £6,000 commission is for the first phase of development leading to a scratch performance by March 2018 to an invited library audience. Full details can be found here.

The successful applicant will get support and advice from Spot On Lancashire, Cheshire Rural Touring Arts, librarians in both counties (including two prison libraries) and library users. Ultimately, it is planned that the company will produce a new piece of work suitable for touring to libraries and rural venues across the country.

Click here for more information

Deadline for submissions: 5pm, Monday 17th July by email.

Interview/pitching day: Wednesday 23th August, Lion Salt Works, Northwich

Email proposal to: sue@spotonlancashire.co.uk

Introduction to Directing





Fancy a free ticket to the Dukes Park show, Treasure Island? Fancy finding out how a Park show is made, and what the job of a director is like? This free course could be for you.

The Intro to Directing course offers practical training for people (over 18 years of age) who are interested in finding out whether or not a career as a director is for them.

Participants on our Introduction to Directing course will receive a comprehensive overview of the work of a professional theatre director with sessions on key aspects of the role and craft.

The course will be co-led by our new Artistic Director, Sarah Punshon and Alex Summers, Associate Director.

This opportunity is for those who have limited or no experience of theatre directing, but are interested in finding out more. It’s especially for people from backgrounds currently under-represented in UK theatre; as a result of barriers arising from social, gender, financial, ethnic, cultural, geographic or educational disadvantage or disability.

Saturdays from 12 August – 14 October (except Saturday 19 August & Saturday 26 August)

Participants will explore:

  • The actor-director relationship, working with professional directors and actors, including award-winning Park show director Joe Sumsion.
  • Working with playwrights, including a session with Fin Kennedy, Artistic Director of Tamasha Theatre.
  • Participatory theatre making with Alex Summers and staff of the Centre for Creative Learning, including a ringside seat for tech week of The Dukes’ Autumn production, Blackout by Sarah McDonald Hughes.
  • Creative collaboration, including sessions with professional designers and composers, and with visiting South African company The Market Theatre Johannesburg.
  • Producing, fundraising and the practicalities of getting work made, with our Associate Producer.

These sessions will be delivered across all three of The Dukes theatre spaces, in the round, proscenium and traverse and in Williamson Park.

Participants will receive complimentary tickets to Treasure Island, The Suitcase and Blackout.

To find out more, please email Daniel Matthew, Creative Learning Producer, on dmatthew@dukes-lancaster.org.

The application window for this opportunity is now closed. Thank-you for your interest.


PUSH 2018


HOME is thrilled to open submissions for its annual PUSH Festival aiming to uncover some of the North West’s most exciting theatre makers and companies, artists who are making waves, asking questions and delivering explosive experiences.

PUSH is HOME’s annual celebration of the North West’s most creative talents. Over two weeks every January, our stages, screens and spaces are dedicated to showcasing some of the most exciting film, theatre and visual art from around the region.

The North West and Greater Manchester is home to some of the most exciting and vibrant artists and companies who make work that thrills, excites and challenges audiences. PUSH is a chance to immerse audiences in two weeks’ worth of new and extraordinary theatrical experiences made by these fantastic theatre makers, some never seen before and some that demand to be seen again.

For PUSH 2018 we are looking for three theatre makers, companies or artists to present a production in this year’s festival.

We want to hear from a wide range of artists from across the region and we particularly welcome applications from those currently under-represented in the industry, including Black, Asian and minority ethnic and disabled artists.

PUSH 2018 Festival DatesFriday 12 – Saturday 20 January 2018

Submissions are now open

Deadline for expressions of interest: 12noon, Monday 7 August 2017

What we’re looking for:

  • Artists/Companies/Theatre Makers based in the North West and in the first five years of making work.
  • Consider their practice and work to be in line with HOME’s ambition and mission.
  • Companies ready to either; re-stage an existing production that has been presented in the past twelve months.
  • Or; a new production in development that can premiere at HOME.
  • A production no longer than 70 minutes.
  • A production that fits into HOME’s T2 space which has a playing area of 8m x 8m (with masking).

What we’re offering:

  • A ‘Made at HOME’ slot with £1000 funding per company.
  • Rehearsal Space at HOME.
  • 2 or 3 performances as part of PUSH at some point between 12-20 January 2018 in HOME’s 130 seat T2 theatre space.
  • 75% of the net Box Office from the performances.
  • Full marketing support: presence in all PUSH print, online and social media channels.
  • Support from members of the HOME Theatre Team.

How to apply:

  • Please email jamieson@homemcr.org with an expression of interest telling us who you are, how this opportunity would help you, and who influences your work.
  • We would also like to see examples of your work, please send us whatever you think best illustrates your practice. This could be a scrap book, photo’s, show reel, essay, flipbook, blog, video etc.
  • If you are applying to present an existing show please send as much supporting material on the production as you can.
  • If you are applying to present a new show please send an outline of your current thinking and ideas for the project.
  • The deadline for all submissions is 12noon Monday 7 August 2017.

Please include PUSH 2018 in the subject line of your email with your submission – all submissions will be acknowledged by email.

Shortlisted companies will then be invited to a conversation with a panel of industry professionals to talk about your expression of interest in September 2017. We will aim to respond to all applicants by Friday 15 September 2017.


Kickstart Open Space

Summer 2017

An opportunity for artists and theatre companies to take advantage of the Dukes’ spaces, meet the creative team, ask advice, and network with other artists.

Summer Open Space runs during the following dates:

  • Monday 7th August – Friday 18th August

 Here’s how you can get involved…


Call out for performers interested in mask play

Hosted byTeatro Pomodoro
Monday 7th August/ 11am – 4pm
Where – Dukes Creative Learning Centre

Teatro Pomodoro, an award winning international theatre company based in Liverpool are looking for artists/performers interested in learning about playing with full face character masks.

Teatro Pomodoro are working on a new mask play for families that questions the Aesop’s tale of the Grasshopper and the Ant. The fable describes how a hungry grasshopper, who spent the summer singing, begs for food from an ant when winter comes and is refused.

For further information and to book, please click on the link below. www.teatropomodoro.com/upcomingevents/mask-dukes-lancaster/

web size cafe bar

Come along and say hello

Hosted by – Steve Fairclough
Date/Time – Thursday 10th, Friday 11th August/ 10am – 5pm
Where – The Dukes bar

Come and say hello to multi-disciplined artist Steve Fairclough as he gathers information for his new project.

Dukes Creative Learning Centre

Our Stories, A community drama day – open to all

Hosted by – Emma Rucastle
Date/Time – Saturday 12th August/ 10am – 5pm

Enjoy a day of drama games and activities, suitable for all ages (from 10 plus) and experience levels. Using world folk tales, we will consider our own stories and prepare a short, simple performance to share informally with friends and family at the end of the day (sharing 4.15pm). Please feel free to bring/tell examples of stories from your own background – the more the merrier!

To book a place please email Daniel Matthew at dmatthew@dukes-lancaster.org


Polly Lister, I Was a Wife, January 2016

Polly Lister, on writing her first play as part of Kick Start:

“It was invaluable, the autobiographical nature of the piece could have proved an uncomfortable watch so it was vital to the process to put it in front of an audience to see if it worked, see if I was on the right track. it was nerve-wracking though and I was anxious. Exposing my work to public scrutiny so early on in the process as part of the Dukes’ Kick Start initiative was nerve-wracking, but the enthusiasm for the concept was really heartening. Criticism is good at any time but particularly in the early stages, its easier to throw things out before you get too wedded to them.

I feel so lucky that a theatre believed in me enough to take a chance on me. The week of development and the ‘scratch night’ which The Kick Start process facilitated then enabled the theatre to assess whether their belief in me was misguided or not. Luckily for me the response was positive. 

 I would love to think I could continue writing as well as acting in the future. My brain is always busy and I am an observer. Writing is a cathartic way of discharging the day’s observations and characters. It’s peaceful whilst being active and inventive”.

Kevin Dyer, Mr and Mrs Macbeth, commissioned by Farnham Maltings. Reading on Wednesday 14th October 7.30 pm

Kevin is writing a new play inspired by Macbeth about a man coming home from war, his wife waiting for him and what it’s like when they see each other again after all that time. This ferocious home-coming is the situation in Shakespeare’s great play and is also the stuff of hundreds of hours of interviews he has done with men coming home from the war and with the women waiting for their return.


Coinciding with The Dukes new production of “I Was a Wife” by first time writer Polly Lister, and aimed at professional or aspiring writers, The Dukes are hosting a two hour workshop which will open up the writing process for this very personal show, and be followed by a Q and A session with Jonathan Harvey, exploring some of the prizes and pitfalls of writing from an autobiographical perspective.


The following writers are currently under commission or working on plays planned for production in the next 18 months:

  • Polly Lister, “I Was a Wife”, January 2016
  • Kevin Dyer, “The Hobbit”, July 2016
  • Debbie Oates, “Dennis Ockerby on Ice”, autumn 2016.
  • Eddie Robson, “Beauty and the Beast”, November 2015

Polly Lister, I Was a Wife, January 2016

Polly worked as an actor in Lancaster in summer 2014 (giving a fantastic performance as the Witch in Hansel and Gretel) and during that time talked about her idea for a unique new show. The Dukes supported Polly in her writing, including a Kick Start development week in April 2015, testing out the first half of the play with around 50 audience members. The audience response was impressive: the play was very funny and had a strong emotional engagement – it clearly moved many people as it explored the break-up of a relationship and how a woman – Polly – began to put her life back together.

The autobiographical nature was a real strength, as was the way it lifted the lid on the theatre industry. The play is set in the dressing rooms of a number of and charts the rise and fall of Polly’s marriage through the prism of the roles she was playing at the time and the dressing rooms she found herself in.

Eddie Robson, Beauty and The Beast, December 2016

Eddie Robson: “One of the benefits of staging the Christmas show in the Round is that it really feels like you’re entering another world, and that really reflects the heroine’s experience in Beauty And The Beast, journeying through the woods to arrive in a strange place tinged with fantasy. Meanwhile the enclosed, intimate performance space is a great place to create the Beast’s home, magical and yet claustrophobic. We’ve already talked about using the whole room, making Beast initially a shadowy presence on the upper gallery before descending to the stage.

For many people the Christmas show will be their only trip to the theatre all year, and it’s great if we can surprise them with what you can achieve in theatre. I’m really keen to find ways to translate the living household of the Cocteau and Disney film versions of the story onto the stage, especially as it’s here that the humorous side of the story can really emerge. I’d also like us to create a Beast with a really grotesque quality – there’s a tendency to make him still handsome, just furry, and I’m not sure that’s enough these days.

The theme of Beauty and The Beast – how we judge by appearances – never becomes irrelevant. The world is more image-saturated than ever, and as a result we’re more preoccupied than ever with how we appear to others. I’m interested in addressing this within this adaptation. Perhaps with a Beast whose good looks made him rich and paid for the palace to which his curse has now confined him, a palace now filled with broken mirrors because he can’t bear to look at himself. Perhaps it shouldn’t be Beauty who has to learn to see beneath the surface, but the Beast?”

Kevin Dyer, The Hobbit, July 2016

Kevin Dyer is an award-winning writer who has written a number of very successful adaptations for Williamson Park in recent years, including “Jason and the Argonauts” and the exceptional “Merlin and the Legend of King Arthur”. The Dukes has wanted to produce “The Hobbit” for some time and we have secured the production rights following the completion of the recent three film cycle.

“The Hobbit” offers a chance to tell a classic adventure and quest story which is ideally suited to Williamson Park – an extraordinary journey through Middle Earth, re-imagined for Lancaster. Populated by wonderful, strange characters – wizards, goblins, wood elves, giant spiders and trolls, and of course the extraordinary character of Golem. Told with a light touch, song and charm.

Debbie Oates, Dennis Ockerby on Ice, Autumn 2016

Debbie Oates: “As the daughter of a scientist and from a family of nurses and doctors, I have always been fascinated by some of the ethical wrangles in medical science. “Dennis Ockerby on Ice” is my attempt to engage with huge universal themes – mortality, medicine, love, life and loss – but explored through how such themes look in the everyday-ness of ordinary people’s lives.

Cryogenics is the logical end of a long spectrum of medical science where death is the great failure, and the tension between improving quality of life on one hand, and extending life at all costs on the other, can mean medical interventions become the priority, even when, perhaps, time might be better spent making real connections between those leaving life and those being left behind.

“Dennis Ockerby on Ice” is simply a love story. An ordinary couple thrown into the cutting edge of medical science – which research showed me is a place at times bizarre, at times surreal. Dennis and Viv find themselves under pressure to work out how they feel about living and the fear of death, as they look for ways to communicate with each other while the clock ticks down. My ambition for it as a play is that it works as a small story told with truth, emotion and plenty of humour, while also engaging with some of science’s challenging ethical dilemmas.”