Theatre goers can help support Liverpool’s Strawberry Field redevelopment when a fundraising campaign gets underway.
The project to transform the iconic South Liverpool site will benefit from donations given during the Epstein Theatre’s forthcoming ‘Lennon’s Banjo’ show.
There will be a collection at the end of each performance of the production, which runs at the Hanover Street venue from 24 April until 5 May and tells the story of the quest to find the missing banjo on which John Lennon was first taught to play music by his mother Julia Lennon.
Demolition work is underway at the Strawberry Field site, which inspired the iconic Beatles hit ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, paving the way for The Salvation Army to develop a training hub for young people with learning disabilities, alongside a visitor centre, café and public gardens.
Strawberry Field was previously a Salvation Army children’s home for Liverpool’s vulnerable children, set in a woodland near to where John Lennon lived in Woolton.
Ahead of the ‘Lennon’s Banjo’ production’s premiere in Liverpool, which will see original Beatles drummer Pete Best play himself in three performances, Major Drew McCombe, divisional leader for The Salvation Army in the North West, says: “John [Lennon] had a troubled childhood and for him, Strawberry Field was a place of peace, refuge and a quiet spot where he could climb trees and dream his dreams. He used to jump over the wall into the Strawberry Field grounds, where he would play with the children who lived there and listen to The Salvation Army band.
“Our public fundraising campaign has a target of £2 million to ensure our vision becomes a reality. Strawberry Field has the potential to change the lives of young people with learning disabilities who find it difficult to find gainful employment. It is a social injustice that they do not have the opportunities that others have – and we want to change that.
“Our aim now is to weave together educational, cultural, heritage and spiritual exploration in one bold imaginative plan. Visitors will be able to go beyond the famous red gates for the very first time and enjoy the new authentic exhibition, have lunch in the restaurant and relax in the tranquil gardens. We are very grateful that we’ve been chosen as the official charity partner for Lennon’s Banjo, and we wish the show every success.”
Bill Elms, who is producing the show alongside Pulse Records Ltd, adds: “We are delighted to be supporting the work of The Salvation Army and its inspiring Strawberry Field project. The play centres around John Lennon’s very first instrument, which played a vital role in shaping his musical talent. Equally, Strawberry Field played a huge role in developing John’s creativity and imagination, so we are thrilled that Lennon’s Banjo can give something back to something which meant so much to John.”