New playhouse and college proposed
Parliament debated a bid to create a replica of an indoor playhouse in Prescot this week. Plans for the theatre, as well as an education center, should be submitted to the Knowsley Council soon. According to the Liverpool Echo, Shakespeare North Trust will apply for lottery funding to build a theatre based on Inigo Jones’ Cockpit in Whitehall. The organization’s previous bid for £38.5 million to create the playhouse and an associated university college were rejected in 2007, despite support from celebrities such as Helen Mirren and Patrick Stewart.
The St Helens Star noted that Prescot once featured the only freestanding purpose-built playhouse outside of London in the 1590s. The structure was built by Richard Harrington, who was closely connected with William Stanley, the Earl of Derby, of Knowsley Hall. Knowsley’s Labour MP, George Howarth, stressed the economic importance of regenerating the Prescot area by building and maintaining a leading public theatre and education program, creating an international Shakespeare festival, and drawing students and theatre audiences from around the globe. In addition, Shakespeare North Trust hopes that the “North West” site will create a convenient triangle of Shakespeare destinations with Stratford and London. The council and trust will need to fundraise about £19 million for capital costs. North West’s proposed International University College would focus on “Shakespearean performance practice.”
“The aim here is to commemorate the significance of Prescot’s history, by creating a Playhouse to a 17th century design. It would be a leading public theatre, with a a programme of education and local community engagement and an MA in Shakespearean performance and practice.” – George Howarth, MP (Liverpool Echo)
According the Shakespeare North website, Helm Architecture has faithfully replicated the original Jones playhouse in their plans. At the moment, the proposed location is a parking lot.