New images reveal the stylish interiors of Shakespeare North Playhouse in Prescot near Liverpool – the only 17th century style, timber-built theatre outside of London.

Shakespeare North Playhouse

Source: Andrew Brooks

The new venue was built entirely during the pandemic.

The ground-breaking venue, which cost around £38 million to build, is able to seat 450 spectators and is anticipated to attract more than 140,000 visitors a year to the region.

A fully-accessible outdoor performance garden, exhibition gallery, 60-seater studio theatre, learning centre, events spaces, and a café and bar with outdoor piazza also make up the rest of the venue.

Melanie Lewis, chief executive of the Shakespeare North Playhouse, said: “Revealing the building is wonderful. It’s a culmination of more than a decade of work by so many people, and yet in many ways this is just the start. Experiencing the building again but through the senses of our audience and our community will be a joy. I’m feeling their excitement and curiosity. It’s a privilege.

“The entire building is a work of art in its own right, but what I am most excited about is how people will use it; how they will be welcomed and feel safe; how they will be inspired by Shakespeare, the physical space and the people. Most importantly, however, I am eager to see how people will explore their creativity here, be they seasoned performers, upcoming artists or people exploring theatre for the first time.”

Shakespeare North Playhouse

Source: Andrew Brooks

It’s hoped that the new space will encourage thousands of visitors to the region.

Shakespeare North Playhouse is inspired by Prescot’s historic connections to William Shakespeare and a love of storytelling. In the 1590s, a theatre stood in the town and hosted performances made possible by the Earl of Derby, resident at Knowsley Hall.

It is thought that it was the only purpose-built indoor playhouse outside of London, and players brought with them new shows from The Bard himself.

The theatre officially opened its doors on 15th July, and will now host a programme of regular family and community activities and events during the opening season. 

Funding for the project came from Knowsley Council, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, the Treasury via Arts Council England, plus the Government’s Covid-19 Cultural Recovery Fund. Private donations included the Ken Dodd Charitable Foundation, The Garfield Weston Foundation and The Foyle Foundation. 

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