This site is easier to read in landscape format on mobiles.

1984, Shakespeare and Sarah Millican just part of Dukes new season

John Freeman

A radical new approach to a classic story, household names in comedy, and a magical Christmas show are highlights of Lancaster's The Dukes new season, which was officially launched on Monday.

The Lancaster venue played host to an entertaining evening for supporters who heard how The Dukes is constantly changing to reflect the demands of its growing audiences.

The in-house season kicks off on 17th September with The Dukes and Northern Broadsides co-production of George Orwell’s 1984 (17th September - 9th October) featuring animation and specially composed music alongside the live action.

 “We’ve made 1984 our own and will be taking the audience on an exciting audio-visual journey,” says Director, Conrad Nelson.

"This is a cautionary tale set sometime in a possible  future; a tale of what may befall us," he told What's On Stage last week. "The audience will watch the play and make their own contemporary parallels. We will present a drama which aims to capture the spirit of the book. The period is not particularly 1949 (when it was written) nor is it a comment on any specific despotic regime. To limit thus would seem to distract from the impact of the book.

The production includes what Conrad describes as "a bespoke visual journey created by a small animation team.

"These charcoal sketched moving images will work alongside the live action as an interpretive and dramatic tool," he explains. "The nature of this animation requires the systematic destruction or replacement of image on one piece of paper. The future has been re-written by the destruction of the past in  parallel with one of the main themes of the book."

1984 is the first of two in-house productions this season. The Christmas spectacular will be The Snow Queen (26th November - 8th January), directed by The Dukes very own Joe Sumsion.

Hans Christian Andersen’s classic coming of age tale is brought to life in this new production, which features "stunning puppets, spectacular projections and fantastic performances."

“I believe theatre for children and families is probably more important than anything else we do," says Joe of this show, which will see him directing in the venue's Rake space for the first time. "The Snow Queen is a coming of age story wrapped up in all the magic of Christmas.”

The Dukes also hosts 37 performances of visiting work this season featuring famous names including Steven Berkoff (24th October); comedienne Sarah Millican (5th December); and comedian Chris Addison (31st October).

Sarah Millican, star of the BBC's Live at the Apollo and  Mock the Week visits the Dukes as part of her debut UK tour. The sweet and filthy Geordie’s stand-up show promises jokes about life, love and what to do when your boyfriend puts a sock on your boob during sex...

Among the visiting drama highlights will be William Shakespeare's  Twelfth Night (19th - 23rd October) presented by Filter in association with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Dance and performance storytelling will be given their chance to shine thanks to Dancing Lancaster, a new scheme aimed at promoting the rich and diverse range of dance across the city; and Chasing Tales, a new series of storytelling events for adults in association with Litfest.

There’s also plenty to look forward to at The Dukes Cinema as the nights draw in such as more from the NT Live where all-star performances of Hamlet, King Lear, and Frankenstein will be beamed direct from the National Theatre.

Music continues to take centrestage at The Dukes too with a performance by Dean Friedman on 8 October and lots of local talent including Clever Trevor (26th September); Made In Morecambe (29th October); Wired In (27th September and 15th November); and Chill Out Tuesdays, free live music in The Dukes bar, continue every week at 6.00pm.

• For a full guide to The Dukes events, visit the official web site at: