Shakespearean theatre set to return

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William Shakespeare. Pic © Wikimedia Commons

William Shakespeare. Pic © Wikimedia Commons

Meryseyside’s rich Elizabethan heritage is set to be revisited, after a planning application to rebuild a Shakespearean-style theatre in Knowsley has been submitted.

The plans are part of a regional bid by heritage campaigners, Shakespeare North, to celebrate the historic links between the North West and Elizabethan drama.

The campaign’s vision is to once again build The Playhouse in Prescot, which over 400 years ago was once the only purpose-built playhouse outside of London.

The application also coincides with a significant Shakespearean anniversary, as 2016 will commemorate 400 years since the Bard’s death.

Plans for the 350-seat theatre were submitted by London-based firm, Helm Architecture.

Principal of the firm, Dr Nicholas Helm, told JMU Journalism: “It’s an exciting start to this important Shakespeare anniversary year to have a planning application for the Shakespeare North theatre and education building in Prescot under consideration by Knowsley Council.”

The playhouse will be built to designs drawn in 1629 by Inigo Jones, a renowned English architect and theatre designer. As a result, The Playhouse will be unique, as the only replica of the Jacobean Court Theatre in the world.

Dr Helm added: “We have been lucky enough to work on this project since winning a competitive tender back in 2006. Over time is has evolved through a number of design incarnations and has been refined to purpose. It now looks as though it is moving forward to be built by 2020.”

If the application is approved, Prescot will once again be a creative hub for aspiring actors, writers and students to study and practice the work of Shakespeare.

This would be the first of its kind in the UK and will be the core of a new International University College, where students from across the world can learn their craft.

Liverpool John Moores University is working closely with the project by developing postgraduate programmes focusing on Shakespearean theatre, which would have The Playhouse at its core.

The campaign aims to generate an international reputation for Prescot and Knowsley by completing the Shakespeare triangle of Stratford, London and the North West.

About Stephanie Bocking, JMU Journalism