An historic new theatre is set to open in Merseyside next year
And Liverpool Hope University is set to host a public discussion about how to really make the most out of this important new facility.
The £27m ‘Shakespeare North Playhouse’ is currently being constructed in Prescot, a town just to the east of Liverpool, and is due to launch in 2022.
The ambitious theatre will feature the only replica in the world of a wooden, indoor court theatre designed in 1629 by renowned English architect Inigo Jones, an artist who also created the famed Queen's House, in Greenwich, London.
As well as a 320-seat, 17th century replica stage, the Playhouse will also boast modern studio space, an outdoor performance garden, and an exhibition and visitor centre.
But now a special event, hosted by Hope’s School of Creative and Performing Arts, will examine how the Playhouse can enrich the lives of those living in the local community as well as being an exciting new theatrical venue.
The online ‘Meet the Experts’ symposium will take place Wednesday 28 July from 10am to 5.30pm, via Zoom, and will feature video presentations from a wealth of experts from around the world, as well as live Q&As.
Dr Tim Keenan, Drama Subject Lead at Hope, is co-organiser of the event alongside actor-director, researcher and lecturer Dr Ildiko Solti.
Dr Keenan says: “In summer 2022, the new Shakespeare North Playhouse will open in Prescot, Merseyside.
“The theatre, based on an Inigo Jones design for the Cockpit-in-Court, is located in one of the poorest boroughs in England, but thanks to its educational and community remit it has the full support of local and metropolitan councils.
“The location sets up both opportunities and potential tensions between social and community uses and what might be perceived as the academic aims of a replica theatre. Moreover, the design itself is bound to divide opinion.
“We asked six internationally renowned experts on replica theatres, Shakespearean performance, and education to respond to the question 'how do we use the Inigo Jones stage?' Their video presentations will structure the day - three in the morning session, three in the afternoon - followed by live Q&As and open discussions in breakout rooms.”
The Playhouse itself celebrates Prescot’s and Knowsley’s theatrical heritage, dating back to the 16th century. A popular Elizabethan “play howse” existed in Prescot from the mid-1590s to1609.
The development has been funded by Knowsley Council, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and the Treasury. A further £8m is being provided by Liverpool City Region’s Strategic Investment Fund in order to improve the local transport infrastructure.
The Shakespeare North Playhouse website states: “This is a unique and distinctive project with the potential to transform the fortunes of a somewhat sleepy former market town and create a positive ripple effect that will stretch way beyond the immediate locality.
“The Shakespeare North Playhouse will have the power to attract visitors from across the globe and present remarkable cultural programmes to new audiences and generations. It will also be a major driver for regeneration as well as broadening horizons and opportunities for local communities.”
You can register for the free event here.