Back in October 2021, WJL were delighted to be appointed by Kier to install wall panelling, wall units, solid timber flooring, acoustic panelling, and seating for the Shakespeare North Playhouse in Prescot, which officially opened on 15th July 2022. The Playhouse forms the final part of the ‘Shakespearean Triangle’, a cultural trail linking London, Stratford-Upon-Avon and Prescot.

The £38 million venue was able to be built entirely during the pandemic, thanks to donations from key organisations and public funds. Situated within the conservation area in the heart of the town centre, Shakespeare North Playhouse celebrates a unique late 16th century theatre that once stood in its place. It now plays a key role in the ongoing regeneration of Knowsley; a brilliant place that carries out vital conservation work for their wild animals.

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On 30th January 2023, Shakespeare North Playhouse was awarded ‘Theatre Building of the Year’ by The Stage Awards, which 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. The other nominees included Kit Kat Club at the Playhouse Theatre, London and @sohoplace, London.

To be able to work on this truly unique, award-winning project, alongside architects Helm Architecture and Austin-Smith:Lord, was spectacular. There were a lot of intricate design and installation elements to this project, so communication had to be frequent and transparent. Our team had many design meetings and discussions to make sure the project ran as smoothly as possible and to ensure that the desired outcome was delivered.

We worked on the ground and first floor bars, installed acoustic panelling for the dance studio, walkways, corridors and doorways – all whilst keeping to the traditional, historic feel of the building.

Our Echofade® acoustic panelling had to be adapted to fit the aesthetic, and solid timber was used for both the flooring and the seating which was custom-built to suit the venue. Shortly after completion, we were asked to complete additional work undertaken off site, to provide a revised theatre configuration called “In the Round”. This comprised more flooring and seat cladding, which went live in August 2022.

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Kier were great to work with again, furthering our already strong relationship in all regions.They were very helpful and proactive throughout the project as were specialist staging contractors, Adlib and the seating guys, Auditoria Services.

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.”

Jamie Lovatt, Managing Director at WJL comments: “We are always delighted to be involved in these high profile projects and Shakespeare North Playhouse is no exception. The whole project team at WJL thoroughly enjoyed the challenges it presented and we’re absolutely thrilled with the result as well as the positive feedback we have received from both Kier and the client.

“It’s amazing to see that everyone’s hard work has paid off and the building has been recognised for its magnificent design, historical feel and as a place that welcomes its community and theatre lovers from around the world to celebrate creativity and the joy of performance. We are proud to have been able to work on this project and are so happy with the outcome and its success!”

Read our full Shakespeare North Playhouse case study here, and to enquire about our acoustic panelling, furniture and floor installation services for your next project, please contact a member of our team.