A Portrait of William Roscoe: New one man show celebrates Liverpool icon

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We speak to writer John Maguire and director Margaret Connell as their show heads to Shakespeare North Playhouse.

“The more I learnt about him, the more I really respected him.”

A new one-man play celebrating a renowned writer and one of England’s first abolitionists, Liverpudlian William Roscoe, is coming to Shakespeare North Playhouse.

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Liverpool’s John Maguire not only wrote the play but is also taking on the titular role. He told LiverpoolWorld: “The more I learnt about him, the more I really respected him. I understand where he was coming from, his determination and the fact that he worked so hard and loved nature and culture.”

A poet, historian, and patron of the arts, Roscoe, was responsible for helping to establish the first botanical garden in Liverpool in 1802. In that same year, he wrote a children’s poem, The Butterfly’s Ball and The Grasshopper’s Feast, for his son, Robert, which won him international fame.

Roscoe was a self-educted, working class man who became a social activist and an advocate for the environment and racial justice. He became an MP in Liverpool to vote against slavery, and this led to the abolition of slavery in 1807.

John Maguire not only wrote the play but is also taking on the titular role in ‘A portrait of William Roscoe’John Maguire not only wrote the play but is also taking on the titular role in ‘A portrait of William Roscoe’
John Maguire not only wrote the play but is also taking on the titular role in ‘A portrait of William Roscoe’ | Local TV

Maguire’s play, A Portrait of William Roscoe, will see the man magically come alive and out of his portrait to talk about his life and times. The new show takes audiences on a journey to see Liverpool through the eyes of this distinguished gentleman, using puppetry, physicality and traditional storytelling.

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Director Margaret Connell said: “It’s really interesting to get to the heart of the man. If you hear the name Roscoe, you just think, oh, politician - boring, but he’s not. He’s got so many different interests, so we’ve been able to bring them to life on the stage.”

Venues and dates for A Portrait of William Roscoe

  • Shakespeare North Playhouse - Sat 26th & Sun 27th August
  • The Reader at Calderstones - Mon 28th August
  • The Athenaeum, Liverpool - Sat 9th September

Watch the video above for the full interview with writer John Maguire, director Margaret Connell and a preview of A Portrait of William Roscoe.

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