Theatre by the Lake, Lakeside, Cumbria, CA12 5DJ – Visit Now
Today it is a stunning purpose-built theatre and studio on the very shores of Derwentwater offering a good and varied programme of theatre – mainstream and new writing, plus lots of interesting talks and events. If you are planning a trip to Keswick it is worth checking out what’s on as there is bound to be something good. But perhaps the really interesting thing about Theatre by the Lake is its history.
It all began as a mobile theatre taking performance out to communities in post-war austerity Britain. Century Theatre (or the Blue Box as it became known) trundled round the UK in a peculiar-looking (yes, blue) caravan of trucks, trailers and ex-army vehicles that bolted toegther to create a 225 seat theatre. It was so self-contained it even had actors’ bedsits built into the wagons. Keswick was a regular “gig” and one day in 1975 it parked up in a corner of the carpark, where it stayed and ran a theatre programme from the Blue Box for another 20 years, inspiring the notion of a purpose-built theatre. And that completes the story (oh, except to say that the beloved Blue Box is still around – enjoying retirement at Snibston Discovery Museum).