Shared Experience Announces Tour Of ‘As You Like It’ And A New Team Artistic Associates

Shared Experience today announces its first national tour since Polly Teale’s final production of Mermaid in 2015. A major new production of As You Like It directed by Kate Saxon, which opens tonight (11 July) at Theatre by the Lake, Keswick, embarks on a five-date tour to Richmond, Oxford, Worthing, Portsmouth and Letchworth in November 2017. As You Like It, a co-production with Theatre by the Lake, will be the first in a series of mid-scale UK tours produced by Shared Experience over the next three years.

The company also announces a team of Artistic Associates who will create a new body of work for Shared Experience over the coming years. They are Theatre by the Lake Artistic Director Conrad Lynch, theatre and television director Rebecca Gatward, former Shared Experience Associate Director Kate Saxon and Olivier Award-winning playwright and director Jessica Swale.

Conrad Lynch said today, “Having produced Polly Teale’s final show as Artistic Director, I was delighted to be asked by the board of trustees to manage the next phase of the company’s life, and I’m so pleased that Jessica, Kate, Rebecca and I will be taking Shared Experience on the next part of the journey.  We are hugely grateful to Arts Council England and the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation for supporting the tour of As You Like It and look forward to welcoming audiences at our partner venues later in the year.”

Chair of Shared Experience Richard Humphreys said, “It’s enormously exciting that Shared Experience is now back on the road with this production of As You Like It and Conrad, Rebecca, Kate and Jessica are the perfect team to steer the company’s creative renaissance.”

Rebecca Gatward was an Artistic Associate of Shared Experience between 2001-2005 and previously directed The Magic Toyshop for the company.  Her other credits include Silver Lining (English Touring Theatre), The Night Watch (Manchester Royal Exchange), The Merry Wives of Windsor (Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre, Chester), for West Yorkshire Playhouse; The Accrington Pals and Beryl (also Rose Theatre Kingston), The Trial Of Dennis The Menace (Southbank Centre), The Comedy Of Errors, The Merchant Of Venice (Shakespeare’s Globe), Pandas (Traverse Theatre), The Indian Boy (RSC Complete Works Festival), The Canterbury Tales directed in partnership with Gregory Doran and Jonathan Munby and Thyestes for The Other Place (RSC), Touched (Salisbury Playhouse), Cancer Tales (New Wolsey Theatre Ipswich). She was Company Director on This Is Our Youth with Matt Damon and Casey Affleck at the Garrick Theatre.  Her work for television includes EastEnders (winner Broadcast award and soap award nominations for best episode and scene), CasualtyDoctors and Sadie J.

Conrad Lynch is Artistic Director of Theatre by the Lake.  Lynch is also a freelance creative producer and arts consultant and his clients include Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse, Manchester International Festival, Royal Exchange Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe and West Yorkshire Playhouse.  His other previous roles include Producer for Ambassador Theatre Group, Artistic Director of Wales Millennium Centre, Executive Producer of Shakespeare’s Globe, Executive Director of Salisbury Playhouse and Executive Producer for Oxford Stage Company (now Headlong).  As a freelance producer, his work has included Joe Orton’s Entertaining Mr Sloane at Trafalgar Studios starring Imelda Staunton and Matthew Horne and the Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse national tour of Yellowman by Dael Orlandersmith.

Kate Saxon was previously Associate Director of Shared Experience.  She has directed over 40 theatre productions, including the world première of John Fowles’ The French Lieutenant’s Woman, which opened in the US and then transferred to the UK, the first revival of Susan Glaspell’sChains Of Dew, The Real Thing (West Yorkshire Playhouse), Far From The Madding Crowd (English Touring Theatre) and the US première of Nine Parts of Desire at The Public, New York. Currently, she is working with Jessica Swale, developing her new play The Mission. For television, her work includes EastEnders. She was Voice Director on Paramount’s Animated feature film, Capture the Flag, which won the Goya Award for Best Animated Film 2016.  She also directs performances for video games, titles include 2016 BAFTA winner Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture and 2015 BAFTA winner Alien: Isolation.  She is currently Co-Chair of Stage Directors UK, alongside Jeremy Herrin.

Jessica Swale is an award-winning playwright and director.  Swale is also the Artistic Director of Red Handed Theatre Company. Her play Nell Gwynn won the 2016 Best New Comedy Olivier Award.  Her other writing includes Blue Stockings, All’s Will that Ends WillThomas TallisThe Playhouse Apprentice, adaptations of Sense and SensibilityFar from the Madding CrowdThe Secret GardenStig of the Dump and a new play, The Mission, about illegal adoptions in the 1920s. In 2012 she won a BAFTA JJ Screenwriting Bursary and current commissions include the screenplay of Nell Gwynn for Working Title, the Horrible Histories Movie and Love [Sic], a new play for BBC Radio 4.  As director, Swale set up Red Handed Theatre Company in 2006, where her work includes The Belle’s StratagemThe Busy BodyThe RivalsSomeone Who’ll Watch Over Me(Southwark Playhouse), The School for Scandal (Park Theatre) and Palace of the End (Arcola) other directing credits include Fallen Angels(Salisbury Playhouse) & Bedlam (Shakespeare’s Globe).



As You Like It

by William Shakespeare

7 July – 4 November at Theatre by the Lake

Tour: 7 November – 2 December


Cast: Layo-Christina Akinlude (Celia), Adam Buchanan (Charles/Silvius/Sir Oliver Martext), Matthew Darcy (Oliver/Amiens/Audrey), Josie Dunn (Denise/Phebe), Nathan Hamilton (Orlando), Jessica Hayles (Rosalind), Richard Keightley (Jacques/Le Beau), Matthew Mellalieu(Touchstone/Adam), Alex Parry (Duke Frederick/Duke Senior/Corin), James Sheldon (Jaques de Boys), Izabella Urbanowicz (Voice of Hymen).

Directed by Kate Saxon; Designed by Libby Watson; Lighting Designer: Chris Davey

Composer and Sound Designer: Richard Hammarton; Movement Director Siân Williams
Shakespeare’s poetic and irresistibly funny comedy of mistaken identity and love.

Set in the modern world of alternative facts and fiercely jealous leaders, the young Rosalind and her friend Celia find themselves pawns in a power struggle. Together they decide to flee the city and its politics for the forest where they discover a countryside wonderland of peace and harmony. Disguised as a boy, Rosalind meets Orlando and, amidst the intoxicating atmosphere of the forest, counsels him in the art of love.

One of Shakespeare’s most popular comedies with the most witty and wise-cracking heroine of them all, As You Like It is transformed in a bold new production by Kate Saxon.


Shared Experience have pioneered a thrillingly distinctive performance style that celebrates the union of physical and text-based theatre. From its first production in 1976, it has created theatre in this image. Vivid with the energy of live performance and the unpredictability of the stage.  The company was founded by Mike Alfreds in 1975 and in 1987 Nancy Meckler became the second Artistic Director, with Polly Teale joining as Nancy’s Joint Artistic Director in 2000. Shared Experience is now steered by a group of Associates including the directors Rebecca Gatward and Kate Saxon, the writer and director Jessica Swale and producer Conrad Lynch. Under their authorship, the company is entering its fourth stage and is creating a new body of work with a fresh voice.


Theatre by the Lake, hailed by The Independent as “the most beautifully located and friendly theatre in Britain”, opened in 1999. It is a short stroll from Derwentwater on the edge of Keswick, amid the magnificent western fells of the Lake District. Comprising of two stages, a 400-seat Main House and 100-seat Studio, the theatre presents up to nine of its own productions throughout the year as well as hosting a variety of festivals and visiting companies, playing to over 130,000 people per year. It is the only Arts Council funded producing theatre in Cumbria and for three years running has been voted the Most Welcoming Theatre in the North West in the UK Theatre Awards.



Theatre by the Lake, Keswick

7 July – 4 November

Box office: 017687 74411


Richmond Theatre

7 – 11 November

Box office: 0844 871 7651


Oxford Playhouse

14 – 18 November

Box Office: 01865 305 305


Connaught Theatre, Worthing

21 & 22 November

Box Office: 01903 206 206


New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth

23 – 25 November

Box Office: 023 9264 9000


Broadway Theatre, Letchworth

29 November – 2 December

Box Office: 01462 681088

About Author /

Matthew has been writing for the past 5 years about music, sports and movies and has now finally got his chance to write about theatre. Having previously worked for the likes of Kerrang and Uncut, as well as previously having a radio show for 6 Towns, he has interviewed hundreds of bands throughout his career.

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