Going behind the scenes at Lancaster Dukes’ outdoor production Treasure Island

Since 1987, thousands of people have enjoyed The Dukes outdoor productions such as last year's awardwining version of The Hobbit.
Since 1987, thousands of people have enjoyed The Dukes outdoor productions such as last year's awardwining version of The Hobbit.
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This summer will be 30 years since The Dukes first began taking over Williamson Park with its walkabout shows.

And to celebrate three decades of promenading in the park, The Dukes is collecting memories from audiences and anyone involved in the plays since 1987.

It is particularly interested in reminiscences from that very first park production – A Midsummer Night’s Dream - which opened on Midsummer’s Day, June 24, 1987.

It was the culmination of months of planning and also helped to mark the completion of a major refurbishment of the Ashton Memorial and improvements to the park.

And all that hard work certainly paid off if the reviews were any measure.

Former Lancaster Guardian journalist Duncan Hewitson wrote: “They cheered, they clapped until their arms ached, and they were on their feet as fireworks signalled the final curtain on the opening night of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

“It was a standing ovation richly deserved. No-one who sees the show will forget it. RSC, eat your heart out!”

Little did they know then that among the cast was an actor who would go on to big screen success as Golum in The Lord of the Rings and in many other film and television roles.

Andy Serkis, who played Lysander, is now an Honorary Patron of The Dukes.

The Dukes Administrative Director at the time, John Stalker, said he was thrilled with the way the show had captured the imagination of the local community.

“We hope that A Midsummer Night’s Dream helped remind people all over the country what an exciting and forward-looking district this is,” he said.

“It has certainly attracted a lot of people to come to Lancaster for the first time and this is very exciting.”

Never was a more true word spoken as The Dukes park shows have attracted more than 500,000 people since 1987 and helped put Lancaster on the map for top quality summer events.

This was acknowledged last year when The Hobbit won the 2016 UK Theatre Award for Best Show for Children and Young People.

If you have special memories of any of The Dukes plays in the park, especially the first, please send them to Louise Bryning, Press and Marketing Officer, The Dukes, Moor Lane, Lancaster LA1 1QE or email lbryning@dukes-lancaster.org.

Over the next few months, The Dukes will be keeping Guardian readers informed of all the preparations for the park show. Treasure Island opens on July 4 and runs until August 12. For tickets ring 01524 598500 or www.dukes-lancaster.org.