Liverpool’s Everyman Theatre celebrated its re-opening on Saturday 1 March with Lights Up, an illuminated parade of 300 lanterns and dozens of performers, attended by over 2,500 people. Travelling from the Playhouse to the newly renovated Everyman, the parade was created by Walk the Plank and The Lantern Company.
When the procession arrived at the Everyman the crowd were greeted by projections and pyrotechnics followed by the switching on of the iconic sign. The Sense of Sound choir and bands from Anfield Breckfield Community Centre and the Anfield community arts band also took part in the festivities.
A ‘Dear Everyman’ film was beamed on to the front of the new building and included messages from performers including Stephen Graham, Tom Georgeson, Roger McGough, David Morrissey and Neil Pearson and playwrights Helen Blakeman, Bob Farquhar, Lizzie Nunnery and Laurence Wilson as well as a message from the Arts Council Chair Sir Peter Bazalgette.
On Sunday 2 March the theatre opened its doors to the public offering guided tours of the new theatre which includes a 400-seat thrust auditorium and basement bistro.
The first production will be Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night starring Matthew Kelly and Nicholas Woodeson, who are returning 40 years after being part of the illustrious Everyman company of the mid-1970s.
The new building has been designed by Haworth Tompkins and funded by £16.8 million from the Arts Council’s National Lottery funded Capital programme, £5.9 million from the European Regional Development Fund and £2.5 million from the Northwest Regional Development Agency as well as over £1.9 million of private funding.
Deborah Aydon, Executive Director of Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse, said: ‘Last weekend, after ten years’ planning and over two years’ construction, we reached the joyous point of being able to open up the new Everyman to the people of Liverpool. On Saturday, thousands filled the streets to dance in the parade, cheer at the fireworks, and wipe away a tear as the iconic red Everyman sign was switched on. On Sunday, many thousands more came to explore the whole building and find their new favourite seat in the theatre, bistro, café and bar. It was wonderful to see so many happy people feeling so at home, and showing that the Everyman really is for everyone.’
Alan Davey said, ‘The arts and museums in England have come a long way in the last 30 years. New national companies exist, and there are new buildings across the country, providing world-class facilities. A brilliant example of this is the remodelled Everyman in Liverpool, an institution that carries an important name in theatre history, is steeped in its community and is committed to working with the talent of tomorrow. It is now one of the best specified theatres in the country, which will create work that draws its strength from being made in Liverpool, but will have an impact on theatre throughout this country, and out into the world.’
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