Government Supports Plans for Shakespearean Theatre in Prescot

By on Wednesday, December 9, 2015

shakespeare_north_theatre_prescotA government minister has pledged support for Shakespeare North‘s project to build an Elizabethan theatre in Prescot.

At a parliamentary debate in Westminster Hall on Tuesday 8 December, Minister of State for Culture, Media & Sport Ed Vaizey said the plans reflected his mission to “put culture and heritage at the heart of our communities.”

Knowsley MP George Howarth brought the debate to Parliament, and Marie Rimmer (St Helens South & Whiston) also spoke in support.

george_howarth_marie_rimmerIn his opening speech, Mr Howarth pointed to Prescot’s history as home to the first and most important free-standing theatre outside London, the Prescot Playhouse, built in the 1590s.

A period-style Elizabethan theatre and educational complex, focusing on Shakespearean acting, would become part of the “Shakespearean triangle with Stratford and London,” he said.

Ms Rimmer, battling a sore throat, urged Mr Vaizey to “empty his pockets and purses,” saying that “whatever he can find should go towards this project.”

Shakespeare North, a charitable trust backed by celebrities such as Grange Hill and Hollyoaks creator Phil Redmond, and actors Helen Mirren and Patrick Stewart, wants to rebuild an authentic playhouse based on a design by the Jacobean architect Inigo Jones (pictured).

cockpit_theatre_royal_inigo_jonesAs well as attracting visitors to see high-profile professional productions, the facility would be the centre of educational outreach for children and students in the North West and beyond.

The building would stand on what is now the Mill Street car park, between Prescot Bus Station and the Old Mill pub, a stone’s throw from historic Church Street and the 17th-century, Grade I listed Prescot Parish Church.

Read more about the plans here.

William ShakespeareShakespeare North has indicated it will pursue private finance, as well as Lottery and government funding, for the bid. Planning permission has yet to be granted, but the charity has worked closely with Knowsley Council on the plans.

Although the government has not promised any concrete sums towards the project, minister Ed Vaizey said it “deserves to succeed.”

He added that he was “very supportive of the project, and we will continue to work with the right honourable gentleman [Mr Howarth] in any way we can to bring it to fruition.”

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