The guest speaker at Asby WI in March was Conrad Lynch, the former artistic director at the Theatre by the Lake, Keswick. His theme – Theatre Tales – was a lively, whirlwind, “potted history” of his experiences in the theatre to date.
Growing up in Rochdale, theatre was not something generally on his horizon until he saw, as a child, the Transformation Scene in ‘Cinderella’ in a performance at the Royal Exchange. Later at University he was inspired by Helen Mirren in ‘Two Way Mirror’. Encouraged by his father to supplement his student grant he applied successfully to become an usher at the Young Vic: from then on he was hooked. And it wasn’t surprising to learn that on leaving university and having the opportunity to work either for the Ford Motor Company or as the Finance Assistant at the Young Vic he chose the latter even though his rate of pay would be less.
From then on he had an active career across the UK and occasionally abroad with a wide range of experience that included commercial pantomime (Stevenage); opera and musicals (Central London); touring theatre which opened his eyes to facilities across the country; producing theatre, as opposed to presenting it, (Salisbury) where army personnel featured in the audiences; and a period at Shakespeare’s Globe (London) with whom he took a ‘pop-up theatre’ to a festival in South Korea. After a time at the Wales Millennium Centre Conrad became involved with the American Ambassador’s Theatre Group and, in particular, with a new, successful, production of ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ which first opened in Manchester and then moved to Wimbledon.
Finally, he worked in Repertory at the Theatre by the Lake where each season had six different shows running at any given time. Now, Conrad says, he has ‘gone rural’ and works freelance with Kirkby Stephen Community Arts where he is involved with projects at Kirkby Stephen and Appleby Grammar Schools; was part of the team running community events in Kirkby Stephen during the cycle races; and is currently working towards a production of ‘Ladies that Bus’ which will run at The Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal in September. His entertaining presentation was peppered with anecdotes and name-dropping and Asby WI’s appreciation was expressed by Pam Cowey who gave the vote of thanks.
As well as being hostess with Susan Walker, Pam Cowey was also the competition winner with her theatre programme; Helen Cooper was second. Secretary Louise Reeve won the raffle.