Thu 9 Feb, 2023
Shakespeare North Playhouse announce the second wave of incredible new theatre, comedy and workshops for 2023 including one of Shakespeare’s most revered tragedies, Macbeth, a co-production between Shakespeare North Playhouse, English Touring Theatre, Northern Stage and Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg.
2023 marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s First Folio publication, and Shakespeare North Playhouse aim to celebrate this through programming that pays homage to the First Folio and its historic significance.
2023 also marks the first year Shakespeare’s Globe will visit Shakespeare North Playhouse with their production of Midsummer Mechanicals (15th-18th July) running for 6 performances with both schools and public performances.
Creative Director of Shakespeare North Playhouse, Laura Collier says ‘It has been an incredible first 6 months at Shakespeare North Playhouse and we’re so excited to announce the second half of our opening year. We can’t wait welcome our friends including English Touring Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe and Headlong Theatre and to celebrate a year of Shakespeare North Playhouse this 2023!’
THE COCKPIT THEATRE
English Touring Theatre will open their intoxicating co-production of ‘Macbeth’ (1st– 23rd September) at Shakespeare North Playhouse this September.
Promising to be a ‘visceral and claustrophobic’ show, ETT’s Macbeth will speak to a world that we find ourselves living in now, watching those who hold the highest responsibilities in our society, brazenly use deceit and misinformation in their quest for power.
A struggling and divided nation, tearing itself apart. So, when the Macbeths see their chance at the crown, why shouldn’t they take it?
But things don’t go according to plan. Dreams quickly turn to nightmares, humanity erodes, nature stirs. As society strives to make sense of the darkness that sits inside it, how long will it take for people to fight back against the endless cycle of violence and corruption?
A visceral and contemporary new production that speaks to a world we find ourselves living in now, and asks why has Macbeth haunted our fears and nightmares for centuries and what lesson is this cautionary tale still urgently trying to communicate to us?
In what will be a first, Shakespeare’s Globe will be taking their production ‘Midsummer Mechanicals’ (15th-18th July) to Shakespeare North Playhouse. The production for families and young people is co-produced by Splendid Productions, directed by Lucy Cuthbertson (Co-Director of Education at Shakespeare’s Globe) and Kerry Frampton, and written by Kerry Frampton and Ben Hales. A hilarious follow-up to the play within-a-play from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Midsummer Mechanicals follows Peter Quince’s acting troupe – known as the Mechanicals – as they attempt to recapture the success of their first hit Pyramus and Thisbe, a show so bold, brilliant and chaotic that it went down in theatre history.
Headlong and Barbican will join Shakespeare North Playhouse with their production ‘Headlong- A Play for the Living in a Time of Extinction’ (16th-20th May). Written by Miranda Rose Hall, this darkly funny, life-affirming show is a bold experiment in eco theatre-making, co-produced by the Barbican and Headlong. Sharing learning from Europe, Katie Mitchell and Headlong present an innovative touring model, the first of its kind in the UK, which sees a play tour, while the people and materials do not.
Shakespeare in Love will be the first film to be shown at Shakespeare North Playhouse (17th February). Directed by John Madden and starring Joseph Fiennes, Gwyneth Paltrow and Dame Judi Dench, Shakespeare in Love is a multi-award-winning romantic comedy released in 1998 which follows the Bard as he embarks on a passionate love affair that would inspire one of his greatest works.
Suffering from writer’s block, Shakespeare is in need of a muse. He soon finds inspiration in the form of a beautiful female aristocrat, but her daring determination to act in his play puts their already forbidden relationship on even more dangerous ground.
Dame Judi Dench kindly donated wood from the film set to Shakespeare North Playhouse which has been repurposed into crafting the front desk and various other elements of the building.
In the Shakespeare North Playhouse Studio, The Ink and Curtain Theatre Company will perform their production of ‘The Red Queen and other Monsters’ (28th-30th July). Settle in and watch some of the most reviled women in classic literature – from infanticidal Medea to fratricidal Goneril – explain themselves or simply revel in their crimes. They’re ambitious, uncompromising and utterly sure of themselves.
SHEWOLVES Productions will perform their uplifting coming-of-age comedy for teenagers and anyone who has ever been a teen, ‘SHEWOLVES’, named one of The Stage’s Best Shows of the Year in 2022 (14th May). Described as Somewhere between Booksmart, Little Miss Sunshine and Thelma & Louise, SHEWOLVES is an uplifting, funny and empowering play about forging friendships when you’re a bit weird, the power of hope and the underestimated smartness of teens.
Rose Biggin & Keir Cooper will bring their production ‘WILD TIME: A Theatrical Novel’ (24th June). WILD TIME is a punk prose retelling of A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the lovers and the haters, reimagining Shakespeare’s narratives of pleasure and power, told with humour, mythology, and erotic acrobatics on an astronomical scale. In conversation with one of the most performed plays in theatre, the theatrical novel rewrites the plot and makes massive changes to story and characters in a very modern and accessible way, taking liberties with Greek gods and literary idols like nothing is sacred. WILD TIME: A Theatrical Novel was featured in The Guardian ‘Hottest front-room seats’ & Lyn Gardner’s Pick of the Week.
Sarah Allen Productions will bring their show ‘Ladyfriends (a period drama)’ (23rd-24th March) a high-octane romp through love letters, third dates, and lesbian period dramas – via the (probably) true stories of Annie Kenney and Christabel Pankhurst. Rammed with live music and film, it digs up real-life queer history to ask the age-old question: “are we dating, or are we just really good friends?”
The studio will also host a double bill performance (4th July) Emily Parr presents ‘No Coward Soul’, a tragicomic one-woman show…containing 37 characters. Documenting one woman as she strives to survive along after a painfully amicable divorce. This will be followed by Sam Freeman’s ‘Every Time I Close My Eyes, All I See Is You’, A storytelling show about time passing, love, laughter and longing.
Mooncup Theatre will perform their production ‘Off Your Bonnet’ (10th-11th March). A new theatre piece that explores the themes of isolation, feminism and imagination through the parallel of our modern world and the world that the Bronte sisters inhabited. There will be laughs, there will be ghosts and there will be Kate Bush choreography, what more could you want?”
WORKSHOPS AND TOURS
‘Theatre Explorers’ tours will be running, where families can enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at our venue through an exciting interactive journey through the building.
Relaxed ‘Elizabethan Portrait Sketching Sessions’ will be taking place every Tuesday throughout February in Shakespeare North Playhouse’s café, where visitors are invited to take part in a live session of sketching.
‘Itch’ Spoken word night will continue (14th February-11th April) for anyone who is looking to dip their toe into the world of spoken word. For established poets looking for more opportunities to perform, ‘Scratch’ will also be continuing on the last Tuesday of every month (28th February –21st March)
The ‘Five Elements’ project reflects the five pillars of Hip Hop. Part Funded by Knowsley Council’s Youth Community Fund, and focusing on MCing, DJing, Breaking, Graffiti and Beatboxing, young people are invited to join specialist artists and performers for free to develop new skills and explore their creativity over regular fortnightly sessions from February until June.
‘Baby Bards’ will continue (7th –21st March) where Shakespeare North Playhouse’s resident spoken word artist leads a story and language session for pre-school children aged 18 months to 4 years old. Introducing story, letters and phonics through readings and fun activities, your babies will be bards in no time.
Join Shakespeare North Playhouse’s discussion group for ‘Shared Reading’ in association with The Reader (9-24 February). Explore extracts from stories, plays and poetry, new and old where participants are invited to read, reflect and feel inspired together.