Dame Judi Promotes Prescot Theatre in Parliament

By on Thursday, January 16, 2020

Dame Judi Dench took the news of Prescot’s Shakespeare North Playhouse development to Parliament yesterday (Wednesday 15 January).

The Oscar-winning actor, whose stage, film and TV career has included seven appearances as M in the James Bond franchise, joined Knowsley MP Sir George Howarth for a special event to promote the project. Under construction on the site of the former Mill Street Car Park in the town centre, the complex will combine a 320-seat Jacobean theatre with educational facilities and community performance spaces. It is due to open in 2022.

Also present to support the theatre were local arts luminaries such as Liverpool actor Josh Bolt (Nowhere BoyBenidormLast Tango in Halifax), Rainhill-born screenwriter Frank Cottrell-Boyce (Millions24 Hour Party People) and Lady Anne Dodd, wife of the late Ken Dodd. A donation from the celebrated comedian’s charitable trust will fund a ‘performance garden’ at the new Shakespeare North Playhouse.

Speaking yesterday, Shakespeare North chair Max Steinberg CBE predicted the playhouse would be “a regionally, nationally and internationally significant attraction.”

Dame Judi added: “It is no secret that I am absolutely passionate about Shakespeare and his work, and the idea of bringing this love of language to a new generation and to communities in the north of England is something I am completely behind.”

The theatre is inspired by the Prescot Playhouse, which stood near Eccleston Street in the late 16th century. It was the UK’s first purpose-built theatre outside London.

Although the main stage and auditorium will be in a period style similar to that of the original playhouse, it will be a flexible space that can accommodate a variety of comedy, music and other theatrical performances, as well as classical and Shakespearean drama.

According to the Shakespeare North Trust, it will welcome more than 140,000 visitors annually, injecting an estimated £10 million into the local economy.

Sir George Howarth said the development was already having an impact on the town, and that “new bars and restaurants are opening, and the sense of positivity and optimism is tangible.”

Watch: Shakespeare North Playhouse Promo

Visit www.shakespearenorthplayhouse.co.uk to find out more about the new theatre and how you can be involved.

Pictured: Cllr Jayne Aston, Cllr Sean Donnelly, Dame Judi Dench, Cllr Shelley Powell and Cllr Graham Morgan, Leader of Knowsley Council, at the Shakespeare North Playhouse event in London

4 Comments

  1. Jenny Horner MBE

    Thursday, January 16, 2020 at 6:59 pm

    I am interested in your piece relating to Shakespeare and Prescot. Just a reminder of John Philip Kemble, born in Prescot in 1757. His memorial is in the chapel of St Andrews in Westminster Abbey. His sister was Sarah Siddons. How wonderful to consider that Prescot May have such a theatre supported by so many amazing people. All good wishes.

  2. Paul Mason

    Thursday, January 30, 2020 at 8:31 am

    Much Ado about nothing. A vanity project and a white elephant from Knowsley Council. Face reality – Shakespeare means STRATFORD UPON AVON. Bring back the taxi rank.

    • Kathleen Day

      Thursday, January 30, 2020 at 11:53 pm

      Dont worry Paul, you wont have to go. I m really looking forward to a local arts programme including comedy, Shakespeare and other plays
      that i can stroll too without using taxis.

  3. shopper

    Friday, February 7, 2020 at 12:38 am

    The Eccleston Street area has no basic amenities for the locals to buy groceries and clothing. Having a theatre,fancy eateries and independent shops is great, but for the locals there is nowhere to buy everyday necessary items. It shows no sign of regeneration here, where are the food stores?

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