The cast of The Dukes latest production In Lancaster have walked in the footsteps of some of the characters they will portray.
Whilst rehearsing for the revival of Lancashire Witches drama – Sabbat – the cast visited the Trough of Bowland, through which those accused of witchcraft are thought to have travelled, and were given a guided tour of Lancaster Castle where the witches were tried and imprisoned.
Lancaster-based Christine Mackie, who again plays Alice Nutter, joined the rehearsals after filming Downton Abbey in which she appears as Daphne Bryant.
And another familiar face from television in the cast is Nisa Cole who played schoolgirl Amy Porter in three series of BBC1’s Waterloo Road and appears as ennet Preston in Sabbat which runs at the Lancaster theatre until June 16 before it goes on tour. It will return to The Dukes for an extended run from July 17 to 21.
Nisa is one of two cast members new to Sabbat which was first staged at the Lancaster theatre in 2009 when it enjoyed a record breaking run.
Robert Calvert is new to the role of Roger Nowell, the magistrate who led the investigation into the Lancashire witches whilst Hannah Emanuel (Judith Nowell) returns to the role she played in 2009.
The play imagines the events leading up to the trial and execution of the witches in Lancaster and asks how many lives were destroyed by laws born out of fear?
Sabbat tells the human story set against a climate of fear and superstition and will be a focal point for this year’s 400th anniversary commemoration of England’s biggest witch trial.
This tale of persecution begins with a secret meeting held high on a hill in the wild and lawless area of Pendle in Lancashire. It ends on another hill, in Lancaster, where 10 people are hanged for witchcraft.
The Dukes director, Joe Sumsion said: “Sabbat is one of the most successful new plays which The Dukes has produced in recent years. I’m delighted that we will be re-making it for audiences across Lancashire and beyond.”
Sabbat’s original creative team will be reunited for this revival, led by award winning director Amy Leach.
From June 19 to 23, Sabbat is at the Banqueting Hall at Hoghton Tower near Preston where James I famously knighted a loin of beef ‘sir loin.’ It was during his reign that the witch trials took place in Lancaster. The New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-Under-Lyne, will host Sabbat from June 26 to 30 before it is moves to the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond, from July 3 to 7. It then visits The Muni Theatre, Colne, in the heart of Lancashire witch country, from July 10 to 14 before returning to The Dukes from July 17 to 21.
* Box office (01524) 598500 or visit www.dukes-lancaster.org