All’s well that ends well
The 400th anniversary of the death of England’s greatest playwright and poet has special resonance for a lawyer from Sevenoaks.
Peter Scott, a consultant for law firm Cripps, is chairman of the Shakespeare North Trust, a charity dedicated to building a replica Shakespearian theatre in Merseyside.
The £19m project is a key element in the regeneration of Prescot – the only English town outside London to have had a purpose-built indoor playhouse in Elizabethan times. The Bard is believed to have worked in the Merseyside area when writing for a troupe of players called Strange’s Men who performed in Kent and London before an outbreak of the plague forced them to tour the provinces. The troupe was named after its patron Lord Strange, later the Fifth Earl of Derby, whose ancestral seat was Knowsley Hall.
Ten years after his initial involvement Peter’s work is set to come to fruition, with planning permission granted not just for the theatre but also a linked education centre as well as pledges of £5m from the Chancellor of the Exchequer and £6m from Knowsley Council.
“This has been a complex cultural and educational regeneration project that required not just legal expertise but also an understanding of the workings of both local and central government,” said Peter. “There have been many false dawns but it appears we are finally on the verge of turning the vision into a reality.
“Shakespeare North is a personal passion and I am very grateful for the support my colleagues at Cripps have provided over the years. Without the firm’s backing we would never have got this far and I am delighted Cripps is going to continue helping us as we bring the project to fulfilment.”
Patrons of Shakespeare North, which has now raised some 90 per cent of the funding it needs, include Dame Judi Dench, Dame Helen Mirren, Kim Cattrall, Vanessa Redgrave, Sue Johnston Alison Steadman, Phil Redmond, Sir Patrick Stewart, and Sir Paul McCartney.
The 350 seat playhouse will be the core of a new International University College, the first of its kind to focus on Shakespearean performance practice and open to students from across the globe.