Construction of Prescot’s Shakespearean Theatre Planned for April

By on Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Construction work on a theatre and college in Prescot town centre is expected to begin in April 2018, following the appointment of contractors by Knowsley Council.

Liverpool-based Kier Construction are to build the 350-seat Elizabethan theatre, housed within an exhibition and education centre.

Knowsley says Kier will strengthen the local economy by working with Knowsley-based supply chain companies. Eleven apprenticeship opportunities and seven new jobs will be created in the construction phase.

Once complete, the Shakespeare North Playhouse will create 19.5 new direct jobs and 203 off-site permanent posts while bringing £5.3m GVA to the Liverpool City Region and attracting approximately 111,000 visitors per year, according to the council.

Funding for the project has come from Knowsley Council and national government, providing £6 million and £5 million, respectively. The council have also agreed to underwrite any funding gap during the construction phase. The Liverpool City Region is currently considering investing £6.5 million.

The Shakespeare North Playhouse recalls the Prescot Playhouse, the cockpit-style theatre that stood at the east end of Eccleston Street in the late 16th and early 17th century. It was the first freestanding, purpose-built theatre of its kind outside London.

The Earl of Derby, seated at nearby Knowsley Hall, was among William Shakespeare’s rich patrons at the time, and it is possible the Bard himself visited the town.

As well as hosting productions of Shakespeare plays and other theatre works in an authentic Elizabethan setting, the complex will be home to an educational programme serving students of all ages, from early years to seniors. Shakespeare North will deliver a masters degree in Shakespearean Performance Practice on the site, validated by Liverpool John Moores University.

Forming the third point of the so-called Shakespearean Triangle – along with the Globe Theatre in London and Shakespeare’s birthplace of Stratford-upon-Avon – the theatre is to be built on Mill Street, between Prescot Bus Station and the Old Mill pub.

Knowsley Council Leader Cllr Andy Moorhead described the appointment of Kier Construction as “another important milestone for the project.”

He added that he was “proud to lead this Council in bringing such rich cultural and educational experiences to our residents and the wider community. It is a really exciting time for Prescot, Knowsley and the Liverpool City Region.”

Shakespeare North hope to have the building complete in time for Shakespeare’s birthday, in April 2020, with the theatre opening to guests and students later that year.


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