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Dukes hits the big 4-0 in 2011

John Freeman
Lancaster's The Dukes arts venue will be celebrating a silver anniversary and milestone birthday in 2011.

This year will see The Dukes mark the 25th anniversary of its shows in Williamson Park during the summer and the 40th birthday of the Lancaster theatre as a whole.

And as well as these important milestones, the venue is also celebrating an increase of 30,000 attendances and greater income as a result.

Dukes director, Joe Sumsion said: “Much of the time, people don’t recognise the richness of things on their own doorstep and that’s why events such as the 25th anniversary of the park show are really important.

The anniversary show will be Merlin & The Legend of King Arthur (8th July - 13th August).

“People travel from across the country and from abroad to see Lancaster’s outdoor theatre and you would be hardpressed to find any other city of this size producing work that’s so nationally recognised,” said Joe.

“25 years ago, outdoor theatre was a new idea which The Dukes championed and now it’s an institution.”

That ethos of championing new work continues to this day at The Dukes which begins 2011 by staging the world premiere of Quicksand (27th January - 12th February) which is set on Morecambe Bay.

The theatre’s enthusiasm for plays rooted in the North continues into the spring when it presents The Rise and Fall of Little Voice (24th March 16th April) in its first outing since its recent West End run.

And during its 40th anniversary year, The Dukes welcomes back one of its former directors, the Olivier Award winning David Thacker with his version of Arthur Miller’s The Price (3rd - 7th May).

As well as being the only theatre in Lancashire producing home-grown plays, The Dukes also boasts a varied touring programme bringing the best of the rest to the county.

“In these difficult times, we know we have to work harder and harder to deliver more of what people want,” said Joe.

“If we didn’t have public investment, we wouldn’t exist but we also know we have to do our bit. The growth in audiences generates more money at the box office, we’re finding more sponsors, and encouraging more people to join our Friends scheme.

“The Dukes is a charity and the more people who invest, whether that be with their time or donations, the better we will be able to deliver for our audiences.”

• To book tickets for any of the new season events, ring The Dukes box office on 01524 598500 or visit