Touring Sabbat on its final run home

Sabbat being performed at the historic Hoghton Tower near Preston, the first stop on The Dukes tour.
Sabbat being performed at the historic Hoghton Tower near Preston, the first stop on The Dukes tour.
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A LANCASTER theatre’s latest poduction returns to the city for its final performances from July 17-21 after playing to thousands of people on tour.

Since its opening run at the Dukes, Sabbat has been performed in venues across the country.

Touring is a rarity for The Dukes, and The Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond is the first London venue where The Dukes has performed one of its home-produced plays.

Along with the four-strong cast, a team including a stage manager, assistant stage manager and senior technician, have been on the road throughout June and July.

Each venue has posed different challenges.

At the first stop, Hoghton Tower, near Preston, it was performed in the historic dining room, where the audience was very close to the action.

The Dukes chief technician, Brent Lees, reworked the lighting for the show so it shone through the beautiful old windows of the Tower and a log fire burned throughout.

The feeling of history in that room was really terrific,” said Dukes production and operations manager, John Newman-Holden, who helped organise the tour.

From there, Sabbat played at The New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-Under-Lyme, a bigger version of The Dukes theatre in the round.

Not too much adaptation was required there.

Though at each venue, the cast and crew arrive the day before opening to run through the play and adjust timings, entrances and exits.

At The Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond, Surrey, the cast and crew have been operating in a smaller version of The Dukes, while it will be all change again when the tour arrives back in the county on July 10 at The Muni Theatre in Colne, where the stage will be moved into the middle so the play can be performed in the round.

John said: “It’s been months in the planning, but touring Sabbat has been a special experience for all those involved.

“We’re used to being the theatre that welcomes touring companies so we’ve enjoyed seeing it from the other side.”

Touring Sabbat has enabled the story of the Lancashire Witch Trials – which took place in Lancaster 400 years ago this August – to reach many people who knew little or nothing about them.

If you’ve not yet caught up with Sabbat, it will be staged again for a final week at The Dukes from July 17-21.

To book tickets, ring The Dukes box office on 01524 598500 or visit www.dukes-lancaster.org.