The Lantern Liverpool has now been illuminating the creative fringe scene in Liverpool for over a year. Mother and daughter, Margaret Connell (Creative Director) and Siobhan Noble (Marketing and Events Manager) took over the venue last autumn and this week the venue hosted a celebration to mark twelve months crammed with culture, home-grown premiers and touring productions.
“We’ve had so many great companies in over the past year but if we were to pick a particular event, the launch of The Shiny New Festival (Liverpool Fringe) in July really stands out,” Siobhan says.
The festival showcased theatre, musical comedy,magic and stand up. No need to venture to Edinburgh, as the five-day spectacular saw three shows every evening, the likes of Saving Grace, by Liverpudlian Dave Griffiths, to distinguished Musical comedy act Jollyboat and even a satirical take on Scouse “ladies” and their obsession with orange tans and falsities, Weave, the story of a girl with possessed hair extensions.
“It brought a real buzz to the theatre, and we’re planning a bigger festival next year,” Siobhan reveals. “Beyond Hillsborough, another dynamic drama by Zipped Up Theatre, premiered the evening before the Hillsborough files were released and was attended many of the families and supporters.”
Margaret Connell has been an Ambassador of theatre for over twenty years – a career that has seen her treading the boards at the Liverpool Playhouse Youth Theatre, teaching at Liverpool Hope for nine years, and running the Community Arts Programme at The Citadel.
Her passion for the arts is shared by her family. Son Mike, a professional London based actor, has landed a prime role in Simon Stephens’ play at The National Theatre. Siobhan talks of being ‘brought up in rehearsal rooms’.
The Lantern has established itself into the fabric of Liverpool Culture, but it’s been a challenging time. “The audience base was quite small at first,” she admits, “and nobody seemed to know our location. It’s taken a lot of work, but we’re now at the stage where most performances sell out.”
Our culture has flourished over the last few years, and our independent scene is setting the pace with the likes of new art gallery Fallout Factory and alternative venues like Camp and Furnace launched this year. With theatre venues from The Everyman Playhouse to the recently restored Epstein Theatre, the proprietors of The Lantern aren’t put out by competition, but see this as further proof of the city’s Renaissance.
“We’d love to see more theatres across Liverpool rather than less,” Siobhan adds. “Audiences are created when you offer them choice, the more the merrier as far as we’re concerned.”
The Lantern Theatre