Swallows and Amazons
<i>Swallows and Amazons</i>
© The Theatre by the Lake

Arthur Ransome's much-loved Lake District tale Swallows and Amazons is currently in rehearsals at the Theatre by the Lake.

The story follows siblings John, Susan, Titty and Roger as they sail away in their boat Swallow to do battle on the water with the savage Amazons and then join forces to defeat the black-hearted Captain Flint.

The cast members got into the spirit of the show with a sailing lesson at Nichol End Marine in Portinscale, just across the lake from the theatre. They were led by instructor Tim Whitehead and Roger Delves-Broughton, a member of the current Summer Season acting company at the theatre, who learned to sail after reading Swallows & Amazons.

The aspiring deckmates were taught how to rig a boat, sail with the wind, turn, and how to correctly refer to the different parts of a sailing vessel.

The cast are now hard at work with Director Stefan Escreet and Designer Martin Johns on a production that promises to use the magic of theatre to create lakes and fells on stage without flooding the theatre or moving mountains. The show also brings to life a number of birds and other animals through puppetry, using similar techniques to those seen in the hit show War Horse.

This adaptation by Helen Edmundson, with songs by Neil Hannon (of The Divine Comedy), was first performed at the Bristol Old Vic in 2010 and went on to a very successful run in the West End and a UK tour.

The show includes lots of music and songs, so the theatre has cast a multi-talented group of actors who are also musicians. Between them they play 15 instruments, including the piano, violin, accordion and even tin whistle. Five of the group have appeared on stage at Theatre by the Lake before, including two in the Spring 2013 production of Rogue Herries.

Swallows & Amazons opens on 30 November at the Theatre by the Lake.