Fri 17 Mar, 2023
Shakespeare North Playhouse announce the highly anticipated programme of events for The Sir Ken Dodd Performance Garden this Spring, with an exciting line-up of productions, music, and comedy for 2023.
The Sir Ken Dodd Performance Garden, named in honour of the late comedian and much-loved performer, serves as a memorial to his life and contributions to the arts. The outdoor space provides a platform for future voices to develop their talents, offering a unique and inspiring environment for creative expression and artistic exploration.
This coming weekend marks the fifth anniversary of Sir Ken Dodd’s death on the 11th of March, and Shakespeare North pay tribute to his enduring legacy, which continues to inspire generations of artists. As a testament to his popularity and influence, the garden has quickly become a hub for comedy programming and creativity.
THE SIR KEN DODD PERFORMANCE GARDEN
This season kicks off with a brand-new musical comedy from Bill Elms Productions, “Twice Nightly,” (6th-7th May) starring Maria Lovelady, Michael Alan-Bailey and featuring the voice of Joe Pasquale. This hilarious production features original songs and a cast of colourful characters that will leave you wanting more. Rubbish Shakespeare are set to return with their production of ‘A Rubbish Midsummer Night’s Dream’ (9th-11th June) described as ‘like Horrible Histories but funnier’ this production puts the laughs back into Shakespearean Comedy. A Place For Us Theatre will stage their “Murder, Mayhem & Magic,” (15th-18th June) set in the Court of Queen Elizabeth I and featuring Shakespeare’s most iconic excerpts.
As part of the 19th Annual Prescot Festival of Music & the Arts, The Sir Ken Dodd performance garden will host ‘In conversation with Shakespeare North Playhouse’ (24th June) where Creative Director Laura Collier and Chief Executive Melanie Lewis will sit down to discuss the festival and what attendees can expect.
Imaginarium Theatre return to Shakespeare North with a swashbuckling half-term pirate show for all the family ‘Treasure Island and the Last Lighthouse Keeper’ (14th-16th July). Rubbish Shakespeare Company and Wing it Improv present ‘The Incomplete Works’ (21st-23rd July) a totally improvised play in honour of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s First Folio. Handlebard’s return to Shakespeare North with their hilarious, high-octane production of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ (27th-28th July) Rounding off the Performance Garden season, Artsgroupie bring to life William Roscoe, one of England’s first abolitionists and social activists, in ‘A Portrait of William Roscoe’ (26th-27th August) which uses puppetry, physicality, and traditional storytelling to bring the poet, social activist and patron of the arts to life.
Shakespeare North Playhouse have also announced further programming across the venue:
‘Barley Visible’ (14th April) uses elements of physical theatre, pole and contemporary dance to explore identity, objectification and what it is to be gay through a powerful and bold solo performance.
Action To The Word present ‘Chopped Logic’ (21st June) a powerful play built in direct conversation with Mind, The Limbless Association and various NHS trusts, weaving together verbatim stories from patients, medical professionals, and relatives. This production provides a poignant and intimate look into the experiences of those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the pressures placed on the NHS.
BriteTheatre’s ground-breaking one-person show, ‘Richard II’ (29th June-1st July), challenges the limits of Shakespearean performance by transforming Richard III into a captivating and daring solo show. Audiences are invited to participate in the production by taking on the roles of all the other characters at Richard’s party, breaking down the fourth wall for an intimate and thrilling experience.
Fetch Theatre present ‘Caliban’s Codex’ (7th-9th September), a thought-provoking monologue set twelve years after Prospero’s departure, Caliban’s Codex follows Caliban’s quest to save the island from mankind’s abuse. In this new language, inspired by Shakespearean iambic pentameter, Caliban reveals his world view, exploring themes of loss, abuse, and magic in a powerful performance.
WORKSHOPS & ACTIVITES
Shakespeare North Playhouse have designed a series of workshops and events for the Spring season, designed to be fun, educational, and engaging for people of all ages.
‘Drawing in the Cockpit’ (24th March) kicks off these events, guided by the theatre’s team, Shakespeare North invites attendees to create their own sketches of the traditional 470 seat timber Shakespearean theatre. ‘Jesters Workshop’ (25th March) is a fun family session of jokes, jigs, and clowning where attendees will learn more about Shakespeare’s silliest characters and colour their own jester to bring them to life. ‘Shakspeare’s Carnival of Animals Workshop’ (5th April) is a creative family session that explores the brilliant birds and beasts of Shakespeare’s plays, through music, drama and games.
In honour of Earth Day and Shakespeare’s birthday ‘Shakespeare: Environmental Activist Workshop’ (22nd April) is a creative family session exploring the wonders of nature in Shakespeare’s world. Also celebrating Shakespeare’s Birthday is the ‘Shakespearean Insult Workshop’ (23rd April) where attendees can learn how to insult each other, Shakespearean style. Led by associate artist Ben Crystal, ‘Lights on Lights Off’ (22nd– 23rd April) is an opportunity to watch an ensemble successfully ‘quick-raise’ Shakespeare.
In celebration of the Eurovision song contest, ‘Shakespeare’s Eurovision’ (13th May) is a fun family session where attendees can explore a map of Shakespeare’s world and discover the locations of his plays, then create their own flag bunting for the party.
‘Shakespeare North Tours’ continue, visitors will have the chance to be led on a deep dive tour through Shakespeare North Playhouse, giving an exciting glimpse into all there is to see in the beautiful new venue and learning about the history of Prescot and its links to Shakespeare. For families and younger visitors, ‘Theatre Explorer Tours’ will also continue featuring an exciting behind-the-scenes look at Shakespeare North, including hunts and trails, multimedia activities, and even the chance to meet a performer along the way.
‘Barefaced Comedy’ returns to The Cockpit Theatre (25th Apr, 2nd May, 26th May) featuring some of the very best comedians in the UK, with top circuit headliners playing alongside TV names