Our Story

Transforming young lives through theatre has been at the heart of what we do for over 70 years.

The Unicorn began as the 'Caryl Jenner Mobile Theatre' in 1949, founded by Caryl Jenner. The company performed to thousands of children in isolated villages and theatre-less towns accross the UK, touring the country in their own unique tour van. Caryl was fiercely passionate about all children having the opportunity to experience great theatre.

In 1962, the newly renamed ‘Unicorn Theatre Club’ began perfoming at the Arts Theatre in London’s West End. Led by Caryl, the company would perform for children in the day time, and to adults in the evening for extra income. After receiving their first Arts Council grant in 1967, Caryl took the lease of the Arts Theatre which remained the Unicorn's home until 1999.

a venue that has always provided the highest quality theatre to young people

A Younger Theatre

Caryl sadly died aged 55 in 1973, leaving an unforgettable legacy in engaging children with exceptional theatre, a value that still drives us today.

It had been a longstanding dream of Caryl’s to build a purpose-built theatre for children. Following a major five-year campaign by the Unicorn’s seventh Artistic Director Tony Graham, her dream was finally realised in 2005 when our RIBA-award winning theatre was built beside the River Thames at London Bridge.

Designed by Keith Williams Architects, the Unicorn was officially opened by the late Lord Attenborough together with children from Tower Bridge Primary School and a host of famous British actors on 1 December 2005.

Two young men in striped t-shirts in a show
The End of Eddy, 2019
Show image - actor playing mouse smiling and peering out from behind a grumpy looking man
The Wolf, The Duck and The Mouse, 2019

One of the most exhilaratingly programmed spaces in London

The Stage

Today, we perform to around 65,000 families and schools a year, and reach thousands more throughout the UK and beyond through our touring and online work.

During the 2020 pandemic, we created our first digital theatre experiences as Unicorn Online, with the same commitment to creating shows that inspire, empower and challenge children.

2021 also saw us return to our roots as we toured our show Marvin’s Binoculars to 24 Primary Schools across London, however unlike Caryl’s original tour van – this one was fully electric!

We continue to find new and innovative ways of reaching children through theatre, be it through our schools programme, partnerships with other theatres and organisations or our community outreach programme.

We’re proud to be a community of staff and artists with a shared mission – to transform young lives through theatre.

Actors performing in a school hall
Marvin's Binoculars Schools Tour, 2021
Three women in african dress, standing proud, in front of a tree
Anansi The Spider at Regent's Park Open AIr Theatre, 2021

Did you know...

We're committed to making all our work, both on and off stage, as sustainable as possible.

Find out more