Ambitious plans are afoot at practically all of Liverpool’s traditional theatre-making spaces this year – and they could have quite an impact all round. A slew of recent announcements have revealed plans that will change the theatre landscape considerably; what a strange coincidence things all seem to be happening at the same time.
The shocker, and the one big reveal for which no happy ending has yet been confirmed, is that of the end of the Lantern as we know it. Last week owners Margaret Connell and Siobhan Aitken announced that the theatre is to close its Blundell Street doors after its annual summer Shiny New Festival, as the building has been sold out from under them.
It’s awful news not just for the venue’s loyal theatre, music and comedy-loving audiences, but for the companies, writers and performers the Lantern has supported and nurtured so staunchly.
Margaret and Siobhan say: “At present our future is uncertain, we are exploring a number of avenues and will make further announcements very soon. For now we would like to thank each and every theatre company, musician, comedian and audience member as well as our amazing staff and volunteers who have made the last five years at Lantern Theatre magical.”
MADEUP has everything crossed for the Lantern and looks forward to news of its return!
Over at the Everyman, plans for a new way of programming inspired by the old-style repertory company will take the theatre into 2017, hand-picking a gang of actors who will prove their versatility in six-month stints; taking on everything from classics to children’s shows, tackling issues of the day and finding new ways to tell the tales of the city. It will be exciting to see who the first company will be and what Gemma Bodinetz and Nick Bagnall have in store for them.
Sister theatre the Playhouse has vowed to further build relationships with renowned touring companies, and rather than having productions just pass through, encourage them to base themselves in Liverpool while creating tailor-made work.
The Royal Court’s plans to buy out the adjoining Penny Farthing pub are on track to create new backstage space for a dedicated youth theatre, as well as restaurant and bar. It mightn’t be plain sailing, as pub locals are campaigning against the idea. But with the finer points of a £1.2m council loan being thrashed out, plus the backing from Mayor Joe Anderson, it looks like the Court’s good fortunes will continue.
The Unity will close for redevelopment on June 25, and re-open on September 25. Shows scheduled for the inbetween, including their regular Edinburgh Festival comedy previews, will be taking place at JMU’s nearby Joe H Makin Theatre.
And finally, the not-so conventional theatre space: The Kazimier rises again this month with the opening event of the Invisible Wind Factory, Omphalos. Who knows what is going to happen there – but it will be great to have them back.