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Shakespeare North Playhouse new chief executive announced

A permanent chief executive has been appointed to run the new Shakespeare North Playhouse which is due to open next summer.

Melanie Lewis comes to the new multi-million pound theatre and education centre from National Museums Liverpool where she is currently executive director.

She will take up her role in Prescot in August.

She said: “I feel privileged to have the opportunity to lead the regions newest and most exciting cultural attraction. To be involved with such a ground-breaking project at such a crucial time is incredible.

“Throughout my career I’ve been fortunate to work in iconic venues and on a wide array of projects and initiatives.

“My passion lies with shaping and enriching the whole visitor experience and bringing lifelong learning to the people we serve, be that in our local community, our city, from across the UK and around the world. This is something I am keen to continue at The Playhouse.”

Lewis has been executive director at NML for seven years, during which time she had been responsible for visitor experience, commercial outputs, strategy and planning.

The recreated 'cockpit-in-court' theatre at the heart of the new Shakespeare North Playhouse is starting to take shape

Shakespeare North Trust chairman Max Steinberg has welcomed the appointment, adding: “In the coming months Melanie will be working with us to find out more about the project and meet the people who are working to make this vision a reality.

“In particular she will be linking in closely with our creative director, Laura Collier in building the audience experience in the first year.

“She will be supported by myself and my fellow Trustees, Knowsley Council and also Ian Tabbron who has been acting as interim chief executive and will continue to provide invaluable support and guidance – for which we are extremely grateful.”

The Playhouse is currently being built on land off Market Street, close to the site of the only free-standing theatre outside London in the late 16th Century.

A hanging pendant carved from oak

The interior of the state-of-the-art building is faithful recreation of Henry VIII's 1530s cockpit-at-court which was built at Whitehall Palace and which was turned into a theatre by celebrated architect Inigo Jones in 1629.

The oak-framed theatre space is being created by McCurdy & Co, the Berkshire-based company which also built Shakespeare's Globe and the Sam Wanamaker theatre in London.

Shakespeare North Playhouse will open in summer 2022 as part od Knowsley's Borough of Culture year celebrations.


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