First look inside £38m Shakespeare North Playhouse

New images show the inside of the new £38m Shakespeare North Playhouse which opens in Prescot in July

Shakespeare North
Inside the new Shakespeare North Playhouse. Picture by Andrew Brooks

 

New images have been released showing how Prescot’s new £38m Shakespeare North Playhouse looks inside.

Due to open in July, the venue is home to the only 17th-century style, timber-built “cockpit” theatre outside London, able to seat 450 spectators. It was built during the pandemic thanks to public funds and donations.

Once open the new venue is anticipated to attract more than 140,000 visitors a year. Lead architect for the project is Helm Architecture, and Austin-Smith: Lord as support architect.

Shakespeare North Playhouse will open its doors to the public with a “joyful weekend” of free festivities from July 15-17. It forms a key part of Knowsley’s Borough of Culture celebrations.

Housed inside the energy-efficient building, the venue is also home to a fully-accessible outdoor performance garden. This has been funded by the Ken Dodd Charitable Foundation. The is also an exhibition gallery, 60-seater studio theatre, learning centre, events spaces, and a café and bar with outdoor piazza.

Melanie Lewis, chief executive of the Shakespeare North Playhouse, said: “Revealing the building is wonderful. It’s a culmination of more than a decade of work by so many people. Yet in many ways this is just the start.

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“Experiencing the building again but through the senses of our audience and our community will be a joy. I’m feeling their excitement and curiosity. It’s a privilege.

“The entire building is a work of art in its own right. What I am most excited about is how people will use it; how they will be welcomed and feel safe; how they will be inspired by Shakespeare, the physical space, and the people.

 

Shakespeare North Playhouse
The new Shakespeare North Playhouse has cost £38m. Picture by Andrew Brooks
Shakespeare North Playhouse
Outdoor performance garden at the Shakespeare North Playhouse. Picture by Andrew Brooks
Melanie Lewis
Melanie Lewis, chief executive of the Shakespeare North Playhouse

 

“Most importantly, however, I am eager to see how people will explore their creativity here, be they seasoned performers, upcoming artists, or people exploring theatre for the first time.”

Kicking off events from 6pm on Friday, July 15, All the Joy That You Can Wish will be a ceremony of ‘local heroes’ including the builders who helped construct the venue, and Prescot Cables FC players. They will gather outside the theatre for a ceremony to celebrate the opening, as well as the heritage and community of Prescot.

Events continue with a weekend of Open Up performances on July 16 and 17, curated by Prescot-born playwright, actor and community champion Ashleigh Nugent. He was the acclaimed Artist of the Year in the 2021 Liverpool City Region Culture & Creativity Awards.

Highlights of the venue’s spectacular opening season include a modern take on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, A Christmas Carol, and ‘Evenings with’ St Helens’ comedian Johnny Vegas, and acclaimed Liverpool playwright, Jimmy McGovern.

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