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Shakespeare North Playhouse

More positive progress for Shakespeare plans

by Gemma Melling

Knowsley Council’s Cabinet has officially awarded Kier Construction Ltd the main construction contract to complete the landmark Shakespeare North Playhouse in Prescot.

Kier has been involved in the project since January 2018 when they were appointed to support the design process and deliver the initial enabling works on site. With this work now completed, this latest decision gives the green light for the main construction of the theatre to commence in January 2020 – marking another significant milestone for this exciting development.

Ian Tabbron, Interim Chief Executive, Shakespeare North Playhouse said: “Awarding the contract to Kier is yet another positive sign of progress in our journey to complete the UK’s Shakespearean triangle in Prescot. The vision to create the Shakespeare North Playhouse has been many years in the making and moving into this exciting phase of major construction is a significant achievement.

“The sense of anticipation in the local area is tangible and it will be wonderful to see this project start to come out of the ground early in the new year.”

When complete the Shakespeare North Playhouse will provide a 350 seat theatre, modelled on the cockpit-in-court design of the 17th century. Alongside the theatre will be an outdoor performance garden, exhibition and visitor centre and educational facilities. Initial enabling works have already been completed on site and the off-site specialist construction of the historic timber framed theatre is also well underway. This will be the centrepiece of the new building and is being manufactured by Peter McCurdy, a world renowned creator of historic theatre including the Globe and the Sam Wanamaker Theatre.

It is expected that the construction work on The Shakespeare North Playhouse will be completed in spring 2022 and first performances scheduled to take place in the summer to coincide with Knowsley’s year as the Liverpool City Region Borough of Culture.

Peter Commins, Managing Director of Kier Construction (North West) Ltd. commented: “We are delighted to be involved in this project and to be part of team that will deliver a major cultural asset for the north of England. Working on a development as high profile and prestigious as this is an absolute honour and I know I speak for the entire team when I say that we are excited to be able to complete the work we have started here and see this wonderful building come to life.”

The Shakespeare North Playhouse is being funded by Knowsley Council, the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, central government and generous donations from the private and philanthropic sector. This includes the Ken Dodd Charitable Foundation Trust, through the involvement of Lady Anne Dodd. The project is also attracting further significant interest from other philanthropic funders, businesses and trusts who recognise the important impact and outcomes for local people, places, culture and heritage.

For more information on the project and how to get involved visit www.shakespearenorthplayhouse.co.uk or follow @knowshakespeare on Twitter.