Liverpool Playhouse is looking for a design practice to map out ideas for a refurbishment that will safeguard the 156-year-old theatre for generations to come.
Mark Da Vanzo, CEO of the Liverpool and Merseyside Theatres Trust, which runs the Playhouse and Everyman theatres, explained: “Liverpool Playhouse is a cultural gem of both local and national significance, but is now in need of a major refurbishment to ensure its survival for another century, as environmentally sustainable as possible.
"We hope the refurbishment will be an example for similarly-aged theatres across the world – demonstrating that you can improve a listed building while also acting as a catalyst for a cultural regeneration of its surrounding area.”
With Liverpool City Council, Liverpool City Region and Liverpool Business Improvement District, the theatres trust has been exploring the theatre's long-term future. Working to develop the future of the surrounding Williamson Square, they hope to enhance links between the playhouse and other treasures such as St George’s Hall, the Bluecoat, the Royal Court and the Liverpool Empire.
The trust is looking for a design practice offering radical, original solutions to reimagine the playhouse for the future.
The procurement process will receive a theatre feasibility study and a report on Williamson Square. Bids from design consortia – particularly those in Liverpool and with wider representation within the project team – are encouraged. Bids must be submitted by noon on October 3.
The Playhouse sits in Williamson Square in the heart of Liverpool. Initially laid out as a residential area in 1745, the square became home to theatres and concert venues as the city's wealth grew. The Playhouse theatre started as the Star Music Hall in 1866. The building was reconstructed in 1896, sold in 1911, reopened as the Liverpool Repertory Theatre and finally emerged in 1917 as Liverpool Playhouse.
Alterations to the theatre have included a backstage extension and a new glass-fronted tower, next to the theatre, to accommodate a new entrance, booking office and restaurant. Seating 680 across three levels in a traditional proscenium arch setting, the Playhouse is surprisingly intimate.
As well as the main stage, the upstairs studio offers performance space and rehearsal room.