Wed 1 Feb, 2023
Shakespeare North Playhouse are delighted to have been awarded ‘Theatre Building of the Year’ at this year’s The Stage Awards.
The Stage Awards, in association with Tysers, are the highest profile awards celebrating excellence in British theatre across the whole of the UK. The awards recognise excellence in British theatre and will celebrate achievements in the theatre industry from December 2021 – November 2022.
Shakespeare North Playhouse opened on 15 July 2022 after almost 2 decades of planning. It is inspired by Prescot’s historic connections to William Shakespeare and a love of storytelling.
The £38milllion venue was built entirely during the pandemic thanks to public funds and donations from key organisations including Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, Arts Council England, National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Sir Ken Dodd Foundation and a significant £18m from Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council.
Located in Prescot, Merseyside, this ground-breaking new venue is home to the only 17th-century style, timber-built “Cockpit”. It’s a traditional Elizabethan hand-carved theatre put together with traditional methods. The 60 tonnes of English oak are all held together with dowels and traditional carpentry methods. The design is multi-functional with three different formats – “End Stage”, “The Round” and “Thrust” – with a substantial number of removable benches allowing for any configuration of wheelchair users. The Cockpit Theatre seats 470 audience members in-the-round, 320 end-on and 300 with the addition of a Frons Scenae. This elaborate backdrop for the stage is one of only two in the UK and is currently being installed and will be available for public viewing in April 2023. Up to 8 candelabras can be hung from the ceiling housing 96 bee’s wax candles.
The venue is also home to a fully accessible outdoor performance garden, an exhibition gallery, 60-seat studio theatre, learning centre, events spaces, and a café and bar with outdoor piazza.
Lead architect for the project was Helm Architecture, and Austin-Smith: Lord as support architect.
Having impressed the judges at this year’s awards with its ambitious vision and community values, Shakespeare North Playhouse were awarded Theatre Building of the Year. Other theatres in this category included; @sohoplace and Kit Kat Club at the Playhouse Theatre
Chief Executive of Shakespeare North Playhouse, Melanie Lewis, says ‘It was an honour to accept the award for Theatre Building of the Year on behalf of the multitude of people who have got Shakespeare North Playhouse to this point. This project has been visionary in so many ways. It is a building that connects people and communities to culture, sparking intrigue in those who may have let theatre and performance previously pass them by. Our spectacular space has been brought to life by the people who have inhabited it over the last six months and the architecture and building will continue to inspire and house future generations.”
Councillor Graham Morgan, Leader of Knowsley Council commented “We are absolutely delighted that Shakespeare North Playhouse has been named Building of the Year at The Stage’s prestigious awards. We always knew we were creating something incredibly special here in Knowsley but for the building to have been recognised nationally is fantastic news. And even more remarkable as it has only been open for just 6 months! Brilliant news for everyone involved and so pleased for our residents here in Knowsley and the Liverpool City Region to have this wonderful building on their doorsteps.”
A full list of winners from The Stage Awards 2023 can be found here: https://www.thestage.co.uk/news/the-stage-awards-2023-celebrate-front-of-house-staff-with-unsung-hero-award#:~:text=Front%2Dof%2Dhouse%20staff%20at,won%20Theatre%20of%20the%20Year.