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In pictures: The Everyman Theatre

Flowers among the rubble on Hope Street

Written by . Published on November 23rd 2011.

In pictures: The Everyman Theatre

The last performance at the old Everyman Theatre may or may not have been given an ovation with boughs and posies thrown onto the stage, but there was still time this weekend for an anonymous dedication to show that it is not forgotten.


 Here a simple bunch of roses is left tied to the fencing of what is now an almost completed demolition of the old Hope Hall, save for the front doorsteps.

The project is part of a multi-million pound redevelopment of which will eventually see a highly anticipated, brand new theatre on Hope Street.


Heritage campaigner Wayne 
Colquhoun's view 

This could only  happen in Liverpool: a city where the people in charge take a piece of culture, raze it to the ground and then make a full scale press assault in order to pull the wool over the eyes of the people - and succeed.

Even the luvvies who live and work around the Hope Street area did nothing.

I was so bogged down with world heritage issues (and why should me and my colleagues do everything?) to kick up a fuss over this tragedy being played out on centre stage right in front of everyone

It is a deep regret because both me and my colleagues at Liverpool Preservation Trust have a social conscience and we now feel guilty for not arguing for its retention.

They even sold the fittings off on the basis of "Own a piece of history". This by the very people who removed the historical context.

The Everyman Theatre was not the best piece of architecture, there is no denying that, but it was this theatre that added to the cultural identity of the city. 

From the 1960s and 1970s it grew. In the 1980s, some of the country's most iconic theatre and inspired films emanated from this little provincial place with big ideas.

Some of its playwrights would become household names, can you believe that?I can even smell the grit and sweated determination seeping from the walls as I write.

I can conjure up images of actors pouring their hearts out, crying, laughing out loud, entertaining inspiring, motivating, moving boundaries in their art.

'Yes I have also been bored to
tears there, but it all counts'

I recall seeing Macbeth with one of Liverpool's sons, the actor David Morrissey, God it was an awful thing. It went on and on, made worse by the fact I had just had kidney stones removed and I felt I was being tortured both on and off the stage.

You are not supposed to criticise Shakespeare, but really, in Morrissey's dying scene, which went on forever, I unwittingly spoke out, just under my breath (only to get a crack in the ribs):  "Oh just die will you so I can get home".

Yes I have also been bored to tears there, but it all counts.
The walls were rich with history, the spirit that this place absorbed became a breeding ground for future generations.

Yes it was a little rough around the edges, reminding us of that scruffy little kid down the road that looks a bit dirty but you know its only skin deep and its nothing a bit of soap and water wouldn't clean up.

So they have a bit of cash slapping around in Liverpool and what have they not managed to homogenise they think, The Everyman.
So what happens? They knock it down, and tell us its all going to be alright because we are getting a new one.

It's like buying a load of duty free cigarettes because they are cheap and then remembering you don't smoke. Did the NWDA have surplus funds they needed to offload?

They bulldoze it right in front of the noses of the posh little dears that can  now afford to live in the gentrified, as they now call it, Georgian Quarter.

I don't begrudge them the money, they have earned it, and everyone will say the new theatre is very nice, but that's not the point.

My recollection is that it was the anger and oppression of a generation inspired by John Osbourne, Harold Pinter and Tom Stoppard plays which made this place what it was. It had history in its walls.

The bricks oozed the heritage and the past words of artists that had found their feet there. 

The cafe in the basement was an institution. It was the place that characters such as Arthur Dooley and the art teacher who taught Stuart Suttcliffe came to blows.

Everyone has a tale to tell about the place. It had character, and characters were attracted there. It was a place for renegades, it was a place for actors and musicians. It was a place you could just have an unpretentious drink.

This was the theatre that saw fledglings such as Pete Postlethwaite, Bill Nighy, Julie Walters and Bernard Hill turn into heavyweight actors. Willy Russell plays were put on there and were made into blockbuster feature films.

But it all started with ordinary people. How can you measure the decades of people who had chatted and planned and plotted there?

And what do they do now, with "Our" Everyman, spend a fortune on destroying its soul, like they did, in my opinion, with the Bluecoat which still had Herbert Tyson-Smiths sculpture studio intact.  Has demolition destroyed its soul? Yes, it has for me.

But all we hear from Everyman and its dog is silence. Where is the alternative argument that we used to breed there? 

It is being hailed as  a great success, Regeneration in fact, with nice big dressing rooms.

I would prefer the gritty edge that it had, and with a little gentle modernisation you could have kept its uniqueness, the thing that made it special.

Gazing at the tragedy that has befallen my very eyes, everyone seems to have been taken in by it, not a murmurs of dissent from the masses; it's a real shame from a city that used to fight for its heritage.

They have knocked down an institution and are building a plastic replica of the very thing that should have been retained. History and tradition obliterated. It wanted saving from itself and the people who ran it.

And for all the great playwrights whose work was played there I say, sorry for what they have done, the oligarchs of Liverpool have made a huge mistake.

John Osborne's most inspiring play that informed a generation that inspired so many writers and artists that performed at The Everyman was called "Look back in anger" . And yeah, I do.


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

Sarah LyonsNovember 23rd 2011.

That is so sad

AnonymousNovember 23rd 2011.

Oh dear. Remind me not to go beyond the Philharmonic pub for a while. Painful.

Sara HNovember 24th 2011.

I find that genuinely heart-breaking to look at. Those steps... x x

Richard HNovember 24th 2011.

I know that it was only a building but it was also a big chunk of my life. It's only marginally less sad than I imagine I'd feel if I saw my house like this.

AnonymousNovember 24th 2011.

I see it's all been covered in hoardings now

Lilian ChapmanNovember 25th 2011.

i got such a shock when i drove past the other day! i had NO idea it was being pulled down! so may memories!

AnonymousNovember 25th 2011.

The hordings have been up several times in the theatres evolution so I am looking forward to the new Incarnation. Peoples passion for the theatre is wonderful but clearly not sufficient to prevent it from closing down in the 1990s. I have really enjoyed seeing work there over the last few years but recognised the need for change, it really was falling down. Lilian has fond memories I have no doubt but memories will not keep a theatre alive for the future generation and I suspect she has lost touch with the venue to such an extent that its rebuild was a surprise.

AnonymousNovember 25th 2011.

Hey the site would make a most welcome car park for a couple of years.

Liverpool wagNovember 25th 2011.

Do you work for the Maghull Group, Anonymous?

Stage Door JohnnyNovember 26th 2011.

How can an inanimate object like a theatre "evolve"? Evolution only affects living organisms and only then over many, many successive generations.

If you mean knocking it down and building another one one which will disappoint then say so.

AnonymousFebruary 22nd 2012.

The Everyman was a collective of like minded people who came together to explore,write,perform and to share their passion for Theatre. As long of those charged with looking after the Everyman - at this moment in time have the same desires and Spirit - The Everyman will be fine.

AnonymousJune 20th 2013.

Wayne Colqhouns comments made me cry. People should be ashamed and should have said or done something. Instead of whispering in corners. Heart-breaking.

1 Response: Reply To This...
John BradleyJune 20th 2013.

Made me think about what is in his fridge. A bottle of milk from 1936 shows what milk used to look like cheese not this modern liquid stuff. A pot of jam enhanced with radium. The fridge doesn't actually work as it has a small 3 round pin plus on it, best ever made and only works at a decent voltage of 152.6 V DC.

Mike NearyJune 20th 2013.

As one that worked there more than thirty times, I can assure you that had it not been demolished, it would have fallen down within a couple of years. The place was literally crumbling. Also, I was in a shower that blew up causing a show to be delayed by half an hour as the wiring had not been replaced since the 60s. I was a long term lack of maintenance in the back stage area that was the problem. Hopefully the new building will bring many of the old people back with many many new ones and essentially, it is the spirit of the place that cannot and should not be replaced. Words like new and innovative go hand in hand with the Everyman so hopefully this is just another stage.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJune 20th 2013.

A lesser person might say you almost gave one of your most electrifying performances. Take your point but it is still a huge shame and a big mistake that the entire place was razed to the ground rather than a full refurbishment. And they will never replace the Bistro. I just pray it's not a Costa or some other lifeless franchise.

John BradleyJune 20th 2013.

Nice of them to let you use the shower anyway, must have been good after a hard 30minutes ushering.

Stage Door JohnnyJune 20th 2013.

Those steps in the picture aren't the old Hope Hall steps though are they? They're just the rubbish 1977 ones. How can a building less than only 36 years old have become so delapidated? Was it jerry built or something? Also, how can a theatre that was saved by the bistro in the basement be so ungrateful to the bistro at this rebuild (if the rumours are correct)?

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