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Shakespeare North: £38m playhouse set to rival London’s Globe Theatre

A £38m cultural development in the north of England is set to open its doors this weekend, with the debut of the astonishing Shakespeare North Playhouse in Prescot




The ground-breaking new venue is home to the only 17th-century style, timber-built Cockpit theatre outside of London   Credit: Andrew Brooks

A £38m (US$44.8m, €44.8m) cultural project has been hailed as the north of England’s answer to London’s iconic Globe Theatre, with the Shakespeare North Playhouse opening its doors in the town of Prescot near Liverpool.

Set to open with a weekend of free festivities from July 15 to 17, the new venue is the only 17th-century style timber-built Cockpit theatre to exist outside of London, with the venue able to accommodate up to 450 people at one time.

“The Cockpit theatre will feel like stepping back in time,” said Claire Will, director of marketing and commercial at Shakespeare North Playhouse.

“It's an exact replica of how a theatre would have looked in the 17th century, with no screws or nails used and hand-made with 60 tons of English oak. It's a real contrast to the rest of the building, which is so modern.”

Built entirely during the pandemic, the new venue expects to draw 140,000 visitors a year to the region. Helm Architecture led the unusual project, while Austin-Smith: Lord acted as support architect.

Shakespeare North Playhouse is inspired by Prescot’s historic connections to William Shakespeare and a love of storytelling   CREDIT: ANDREW BROOKS


An ode to Shakespearean performance, events will take place by candlelight for an authentic experience, with the playhouse split into four main spaces - the Cockpit theatre, the Studio, a learning room and an outdoor performance garden. A number of art spaces also feature around the building, including a display of 318 ‘money boxes’, which was how money was collected in the 17th century. Each box was created by someone from the local community.

The development has been inspired by Prescot's historic connections to William Shakespeare and a love of storytelling. The town’s links to the famous playwright date back to 1590, when a theatre in the town - thought to be the only purpose-built playhouse outside of London at the time - hosted performances made possible by the Earl of Derby.

Funding for the project has come from a number of sources, including Knowsley Council, which has supported the project with £12.2m (US$14.4m, €14.4m), while Liverpool City Region Combined Authority has given funding worth £10.5m (US$12.4m, €12.4m). Arts Council England has also supplied funding with a grant worth £5m (US$5.9m, €5.9m) and the British government’s Covid-19 Cultural Recovery Fund has added £3m (US$3.5m, €3.5m) to the pot. The remaining funding has come from private and philanthropic donations including the Ken Dodd Charitable Foundation, The Garfield Weston Foundation and The Foyle Foundation.

The first Shakespeare production to come to the theatre won’t actually be until September, when A Midsummer Night's Dream will be performed. The opening weekend of events is filled with free workshops, activities and opportunities for visitors to explore Shakespeare North Playhouse. The weekend has been co-curated by Ashleigh Nugent, who works in prisons and in communities delivering authentic and cutting-edge arts programmes aimed at changing lives for the better.

The Sir Ken Dodd Performance Garden is an outdoor performance space at the Shakespeare North Playhouse   CREDIT: ANDREW BROOKS



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Shakespeare North: £38m playhouse set to rival London’s Globe Theatre | Planet Attractions

news

Shakespeare North: £38m playhouse set to rival London’s Globe Theatre

A £38m cultural development in the north of England is set to open its doors this weekend, with the debut of the astonishing Shakespeare North Playhouse in Prescot




The ground-breaking new venue is home to the only 17th-century style, timber-built Cockpit theatre outside of London   Credit: Andrew Brooks

A £38m (US$44.8m, €44.8m) cultural project has been hailed as the north of England’s answer to London’s iconic Globe Theatre, with the Shakespeare North Playhouse opening its doors in the town of Prescot near Liverpool.

Set to open with a weekend of free festivities from July 15 to 17, the new venue is the only 17th-century style timber-built Cockpit theatre to exist outside of London, with the venue able to accommodate up to 450 people at one time.

“The Cockpit theatre will feel like stepping back in time,” said Claire Will, director of marketing and commercial at Shakespeare North Playhouse.

“It's an exact replica of how a theatre would have looked in the 17th century, with no screws or nails used and hand-made with 60 tons of English oak. It's a real contrast to the rest of the building, which is so modern.”

Built entirely during the pandemic, the new venue expects to draw 140,000 visitors a year to the region. Helm Architecture led the unusual project, while Austin-Smith: Lord acted as support architect.

Shakespeare North Playhouse is inspired by Prescot’s historic connections to William Shakespeare and a love of storytelling   CREDIT: ANDREW BROOKS


An ode to Shakespearean performance, events will take place by candlelight for an authentic experience, with the playhouse split into four main spaces - the Cockpit theatre, the Studio, a learning room and an outdoor performance garden. A number of art spaces also feature around the building, including a display of 318 ‘money boxes’, which was how money was collected in the 17th century. Each box was created by someone from the local community.

The development has been inspired by Prescot's historic connections to William Shakespeare and a love of storytelling. The town’s links to the famous playwright date back to 1590, when a theatre in the town - thought to be the only purpose-built playhouse outside of London at the time - hosted performances made possible by the Earl of Derby.

Funding for the project has come from a number of sources, including Knowsley Council, which has supported the project with £12.2m (US$14.4m, €14.4m), while Liverpool City Region Combined Authority has given funding worth £10.5m (US$12.4m, €12.4m). Arts Council England has also supplied funding with a grant worth £5m (US$5.9m, €5.9m) and the British government’s Covid-19 Cultural Recovery Fund has added £3m (US$3.5m, €3.5m) to the pot. The remaining funding has come from private and philanthropic donations including the Ken Dodd Charitable Foundation, The Garfield Weston Foundation and The Foyle Foundation.

The first Shakespeare production to come to the theatre won’t actually be until September, when A Midsummer Night's Dream will be performed. The opening weekend of events is filled with free workshops, activities and opportunities for visitors to explore Shakespeare North Playhouse. The weekend has been co-curated by Ashleigh Nugent, who works in prisons and in communities delivering authentic and cutting-edge arts programmes aimed at changing lives for the better.

The Sir Ken Dodd Performance Garden is an outdoor performance space at the Shakespeare North Playhouse   CREDIT: ANDREW BROOKS



 



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