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Step inside luvs...

New Everyman Theatre gets ready for its close up

Written by . Published on February 28th 2014.

Step inside luvs...

THE barricades have been up for months. Barely an unaccountable fingerprint has smeared the glass doors, but this weekend that all changes.

The north side of Hope Street will be the one that's fenced off and everyone is enclosed: a street party to celebrate the return of the new Everyman Theatre which gets ready for action on Saturday evening.  A cast of hundreds are lined up for a lantern parade and light show up from the Playhouse in Williamson Square.

Lighting and sound rigs are 'like Christmas Day', say the engineers who will work them

But you’ll still have to wait some more if you want to go inside. For that, come back on Sunday, an all-day “housewarming” invitation to see for yourself.

Many will bring along their own fond, nostalgia for the old place – particularly the downstairs Bistro with its particular dress-down laid-back atmosphere and food.

That’s fine as a theatre-goer, but look at it from the view of the actors, stagehands, technicians and so on, who often put up with demanding and incredibly hard work to make shows happen.

Everyman Theatre Liverpool %281%29 

The working spaces were thought cramped, some seats were uncomfortable, the technologies well past their sell-by date.

Not exactly ideal even though the productions were generally well-received and goodwill allowances made because, well, it was the Everyman.  But the Everyman simply wasn’t fit for Everypurpose. Something had to be done, and that something was start again.

First impressions count so, on arrival, you will be greeted by Crosby photographer Dan Kenyon’s series of moveable metal sunshades depicting the everymen and everywomen of Liverpool. The original neon sign has been replicated too and a new font commissioned for the purpose: Liverpool Neon.

Once inside the building, there’s a feeling of the contemporary – subtle but nevertheless welcoming with plenty of natural light. Certain walls still have their concrete shuttering imprints and there’s an abundance of red-brick [much of it, at least in the auditorium, reclaimed from the old building].

Everyman Theatre Liverpool %287%29Writers' room

Like any theatre, it is the auditorium that is the centre of gravity. Organisers didn’t want us to take any pictures of the actual stage yet. Gone are the benches and in are rust-coloured velvet reclaimed cinema seats. Enough for 400, with a second tier, a balcony, harking back to the first evocation of the Everyman, pre the 1978 refit.

The stage area is entirely adaptable with masses of space both below and at the back and a get-in, at ground level, for the first time, so no more hoisting gear over an electricity substation in Arrad Street.

Lighting and sound rigs are “like Christmas Day” say the engineers who will work them, and the audience will still be close enough to the stage performances like in the past. Indeed, the stage has been constructed in the identical space of the original.

Everyman Theatre Liverpool %284%29 
In terms of backstage working areas, there’s been a total transformation.

New performance and development spaces are given numbers prefixed “EV”. Dressing rooms, with natural light and showers,  are named after decades, thus: 1964 (the year the theatre opened) through to  2014.

There’s a green room with large windows and sofas, on which Pauline Daniels, Matthew Kelly and others could be spotted on Wednesday morning, taking a break from the Twelfth Night action in the rehearsal studio next door. There is a new scenery workshop and  costume department, a writer’s room whose shelves are filled with scripts donated from a specialist publisher.

Everyman Theatre Liverpool %282%29
There’s even a new working space for the Young Everyman Playhouse [EV1] which will vacate its spiritual home in the Annexe next door. These rooms are bright and airy - soon to be inhabited by a wealth of new creative energies and enthusiasm.

There’s much anticipation and first-night nerves, even after the long months of rehearsal and scene-setting. And that’s without the Shakespeare.

The Everyman and Playhouse Executive Director, Deborah Aydon, and Artistic Director Gemma Bodinetz, are undoubtedly feeling the same right now, along with the 70+ others employed in the building.

They needn’t worry too much. 

More Information

Everyman Theatre Liverpool %288%29
Saturday 1st March: Lights Up Lantern Parade from the Liverpool Playhouse to the new Everyman 6.30pm

Sunday 2nd March Housewarming: Doors open at 11am. Everyone invited to see for themselves and partake of the culinary fare offered by the thEATre bistro.

Saturday 8th March-Saturday 5th April: Twelfth Night   The Everyman’s opening production with Shakespeare’s anarchic tale of love, loss and transformation. Not to be missed.

Next time: Angie (probably) reviews the Everyman Bistro.

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6 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

A pedant writesFebruary 28th 2014.

The neon sign was hardly 'original' it only appeared after he last rebuilding in 1978

1 Response: Reply To This...
John BradleyFebruary 28th 2014.

and every day since then at least 1 letter has been faulty.

April JonesFebruary 28th 2014.

Hope the food is as good as before... Baxter-Storey haven't got the greatest of reputations (dry curled up sandwiches in canteen)

Baxter FrontFebruary 28th 2014.

"thEATre bistro"? "thEATre"? Really? Hmmm...

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 1st 2014.

Shuddup! They probably think that's dead clever

Baxter FrontMarch 3rd 2014.

Well I popped in for look around the theatre and a few gargles in the new basement ‘bistro’ yesterday and it is OK but the bare brick walls are very 1990s ‘Bar Blue’ and it is all very dark. It doesn’t help that the tables are black. The peninsula bar has three sides to make things complicated for the staff and will make getting served on a busy night more difficult than before even if it isn’t clogged up with loiterers hanging around the bar.

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