CHESTER is one of the leading contenders to become the home of a replica of Shakespeare’s famous Rose Theatre.
The timber-framed replica of London’s Elizabethan Rose Theatre was constructed for the acclaimed movie Shakespeare in Love starring Oscar winners Dame Judi Dench and Gwyneth Paltrow.
And if the Cheshire West and Chester Council bid to bring the Rose here is successful, the historic city will become the northern base of the British Shakespeare Company (BSC).
Dame Judi, who won an Oscar for her performance as Queen Elizabeth I in the film, received the dismantled set with its horseshoe of galleries, open-air apron stage and space for cheap ticket ‘groundlings’ as a gift.
Now the actress – also famous for portraying M in the James Bond series starring Chester-born Daniel Craig – wants to see it rebuilt as a working theatre. She also happens to be patron of the BSC, alongside fellow Oscar winner Sir Ben Kingsley.
Cllr Richard Short, executive member culture and recreation, said: “The British Shakespeare Company is looking for a Northern home for the theatre and we can think of no better destination than Chester.
“Two thousand years of history, an established tourist centre for visitors from all over the world and some wonderful timber framed buildings, including the unique Rows, makes Chester a perfect setting for what is potentially a world-class cultural attraction.”
Cllr Short emphasised that bidding for The Rose would make no difference to the city’s plans to site its own state of the art venue on the Little Roodee.
“We have made it quite clear that we intend to raise the city’s cultural offer to the level of other international centres and this bid is part of that agenda,”Šhe added.
Artistic director of the British Shakespeare Company, Robert J Williamson, said yesterday: “The BSC is delighted the city of Chester has expressed a keen interest in Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre.
“The original Rose was where Shakespeare first came to prominence as a playwright and the replica will be a building of iconic status - recognised around the world.
“Wherever it is built it will be of immense value to tourism, culture and education.”
Chester will have to compete with other cities including York, Manchester and Sheffield.
Cheshire West and Chester Council leader Mike Jones revealed the authority had already made contact with the British Shakespeare Company, expressing formal interest and would be meeting with representatives in November.
Cllr Jones said: “We have had a very positive response from the company and look forward both to outlining the case for Chester and also learning more about the fine detail of the proposal and possible costings.
“Certainly, the BSC feel that the proposal will create a first-class attraction, self-financing when the original construction investment is complete.
“We are, of course, aware of interest from other potential venues but we must think about Chester’s future and nothing will be achieved by sitting back and waiting for things to happen.
“I believe Chester offers the perfect backdrop for the Rose, including suitable sites, and we will be seeking major support for an idea of unlimited potential.”
A feasibility study is currently under way with regard to proposals for a £30m theatre and conference centre and the authority recently announced plans to enhance the appeal of Chester’s Roman amphitheatre as an open–air performance venue.
The original Rose Theatre was built in Southwark on the South bank of the Thames in 1587 and had closed by 1605. During that time it staged many works by writers such as Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe.