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STAR IN OUR NEW VIDEO

Would you and your child like to be in a new short video about the Unicorn?

We’re looking for a parent/carer and child to be in our new video which highlights our location and the fun things families can do for free in the local area. The video will be 1 minute long and used on social media and our website.

Date & Time: Thu 29 August, 2 - 4.30pm

We're looking to cast a child approx 7 - 12 years old, with one or two parents/carers. 

We're able to offer a free family ticket (up to 4 free tickets) to see a show at the Unicorn (up until June 2020) in return for your time.  

We will film you walking from London Bridge station to the Unicorn, then playing by the fountains and having a picnic in Potters Field park (both are a 2 min walk from the theatre). 

The child will be the primary focus of the filming, and it will be a relaxed, fun and happy couple of hours! The video will also have animation and other footage, so you are likely to appear in approx 30  - 40 seconds of the final film. 

On the day you will be joined by one cameraman with a small hand-held camera, and our Marketing Manager, Jane.

To apply to take part, please email jane.dodson@unicorntheatre.com by 10am Tue 27 August. Add your name, email, phone number, age of the child and a picture of the people who would like to be in the shoot. 

 

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BEHIND THE FABLES WITH OUR AESOP’S FABLES WRITERS

Chris Goode, Naomi Iizuka, Kaite O'Reilly, Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig and Chris Thorpe speak to the Unicorn to tell us the thinking behind their adaptations of these classic fables.
Guy Rhys as 'Dog' in Kaite O'Reilly's Dog and Wolf - Aesop's Fables
 
With Aesop’s Fables’ final shows just a few days away, it can feel strange to try and imagine them at their first stages of writing.  Co-directors Justin Audibert and Rachel Bagshaw’s two plays (one for ages 4 – 7 and another for ages 8 – 12) are made up of eight ancient fables, re-written for a contemporary audience by some of our favourite writers. In celebration of the shows’ close, we spoke to some of these writers to see what made them choose their classic fable for adaptation, and what they think the role of morals and storytelling has in a modern world.
 
Naomi Iizuka’s Two Goats has, on the surface, a simple lesson – campaigning for the misfortune that comes through stubbornness, but in Iizuka’s version of the fable the goats are transformed into divorcees, leaving their child, Billy, at the centre of their impending demise:
 
“I was drawn to the fable of ‘The Two Goats’ because of the ending. I'm fascinated by whatever that impulse is in human nature that needs so badly to be right, that needs to win at all costs. The characters in this fable will do anything to be right. They will do anything to win, even if it means destroying themselves. I wanted to try to understand what that impulse was. I think that self-destructive, ego-driven aspect of human nature is at the core of so many conflicts, whether it's a conflict between two countries at war or two parents fighting over custody of their child.”
 
And where does Naomi think the act of storytelling sit today? - “I think storytelling is so important in the times we live in now. Stories have this uncanny ability to make you see yourself and those around you with new eyes. They compel you to look at the world around you in unexpected ways. At their best, stories foster a capacity for empathy with points of view and experiences very different from your own. I think that's vital in our world right now where we are, in so many ways, so divided and polarized as a culture.”
 
Writer of productions such as YARD (The Bush, London), and Perfect (Contact Theatre), Kaite O’Reilly adapted ‘The Dog and the Wolf’, but the 'teaching' of her story, (better to be hungry and free than fat and a slave), is one that, to Kaite, is not a moral at all:
 
“There's no moral - it's a teaching. Moral suggests there is a right and wrong and being moralistic... The short play looks at issues of self-ownership and settles on a preference by one character - it is political rather than moralistic. I abhor moralising. I think it's better to engage through raising curiosity or empathy rather than through the flawed binary of right or wrong.
 
 Storytelling is essential. Neuroscientists and neuropsychologists tell us we are hard-wired for story - it's essential to our growth, our independence and our development of compassion and empathy. Sadly so many things in our contemporary lives inhibit the use of the imagination and so engaging storytelling reminds us what it is to be human, and that we are not alone.”
 
 
Guy Rhys, Jessica Hayles, Rosie Wyatt and Shazia Nicholls in The Wolf and the Shepherd - Aesop's Fables
Originally hailing from Manchester, Chris Thorpe has written plays such as There Has Possibly Been an Incident, (Royal Exchange) and Confirmation (Fringe First Winner 2014). Thorpe told us he chose his fable, ‘The Boy and the Filberts’, because of its obscurity:
 
“I’d never seen it before. It’s really short, just a few sentences, and easy to miss because it’s not one of the well-known ones. I guess I liked that about it, that it was small and overlooked.
 
 “The moral in the original fable is very simple - about not over-reaching through greed. But I’m more interested in why we tell these moral fables and who we use to be examples of these moral ‘failings’”.
 
Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig is an internationally produced playwright whose work has been staged at the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Her adaptation of ‘The Pitcher and the Crow’, Frankie and the Crow, does not teach the importance of intelligence but, instead, of friendship:
 
“My adaptation is about an albino crow with body shame and his interspecies friendship with a young girl with body shame. The moral of the adaptation is that a good friend will not shame you for how you are in your body, and will instead appreciate and accept you as you are. I would argue that much of global capitalism is built upon people profiting by making others feel as if they are not enough, that their bodies are not correct, that they must change/self-colonize in order to assimilate. All of advertising is based on trying to create artificial needs and desires so that we spend our lives trying to fill holes that were not there until someone suggested they were.”
 
To Frances, the power in a story is invaluable: “I think everything that exists in the human made world began as an idea or a story, and that in order to change our world we need to change the stories we tell ourselves.” 
 
Writer of Monkey Bars (Unicorn) and Jubilee (Royal Exchange / Lyric, Hammersmith); Chris Goode’s adaptation of ‘The Wolf and the Shepherd’ is set in a rehearsal room, his character ‘Wolf’ eventually breaking the third-wall to invite the audience to howl along with him: “I really wanted to adapt a fable that was about an encounter between the human and animal worlds - the mystery of what animals see when they look at us. Who do they think we are? I think it's a bit like when audiences look at actors.
 
“I'm super interested in theatre as a place where we talk about morality, but I hate the 'morals' in Aesop's Fables. They're often really harsh. I want our thinking about morality - especially in theatre - to make us more liberated, more humane.
 
“Storytelling has always been how we make sense of a chaotic world, and how we imagine something better. The important things right now are: whose stories get told, and what forms do they take?”
 
Aesop’s Fables ends this Sunday 4 August, with our new season starting Sun 8 September.  
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Seeking new members to be part of Phosphoros Theatre

We have chosen Phosphoros Theatre Company to be one of our Associate Companies. Phosphoros Theatre works solely with Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children and refugees and are currently seeking new young company members - unaccompanied minor refugees and asylum-seekers aged 14 – 18 - to take part in regular drama sessions here at the Unicorn every week. If you know someone who might be interested, please send them the leaflet.

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Justin Audibert announces his first season as Artistic Director of the Unicorn

Justin Audibert, the Unicorn Theatre’s new Artistic Director, announces his first season at the London venue. An audacious opening season themed around thinking about our future – the world as it is or the world as we might imagine it to be – will address concerns which affect our lives and ultimately our civilisation, with theatrical intelligence, wit and flair.

On announcing his season, Justin Audibert said:

‘In my first year at the helm of the Unicorn, I want us to engage in an open and honest dialogue with our audience. Onstage, the offer comprises 12 productions for everyone from 6 months and upwards. The overarching theme of the season interrogates how the world is and challenges the audience to imagine how it might be different.

To do this we have assembled an inspiring roster of artists, encompassing Unicorn favourites whilst introducing exciting new voices such as Jesse Jones, Rachel Bagshaw, Naomi Wirthner and Lulu Raczka. We are also delighted to be co-producing with some of the most innovative companies working nationally with Slung Low, New Perspectives and How It Ended, as well as welcoming the newly recognised Theatre of Sanctuary, Phosphoros Theatre, into the building as our first Associate Company. Lastly, we are very excited to announce that our co-production with Untitled Projects, The End of Eddy, is transferring internationally, and signifies our continued ambitions for the future of our touring work

In recent months, young people have left their schools to protest, to have their voices heard, to let us know how we’ve failed them. This year, we will be speaking directly to our young audiences – about the Climate Emergency, about their access to the arts and about how we can serve them better. It’s absolutely vital for the Unicorn to defend children’s right to a creative and fulfilling life. So in response to the brutal cuts being imposed on schools, we are maintaining our £10 tickets for the non-fee paying sector for the eighth consecutive year, subsidising more school trips than ever before, and launching a major new community programme – REACH – that will work creatively with some of the hardest to reach children in our society.’

The season celebrates brilliance, originality and spirit as the Unicorn continues to work with artists who push the boundaries of theatrical form – and at its heart is a commitment to inspiring a generation of theatregoers. Twelve productions will comprise an eclectic and potent mix of extraordinary and irreverent visions alongside a programme of events and workshops.

Opening the season with a one-off family event is a co-production with maverick theatre-makers Slung Low, 15 Minutes Live, a bold experiment with seven writers making six new radio plays about the future; for Black History Month and drawn from African-Caribbean folklore, Justin creates and directs a show about the ultimate mischief-maker, Anansi the Spider; and returning to the Unicorn, writer Jemma Kennedy adapts the world premiere of Maggot Moon, Sally Gardner’s dystopian drama, in a major staging by Jesse Jones of this award-winning novel.

For Christmas, once again the Unicorn opens all three spaces for the festive season. In the Weston Theatre, Anthony Weigh’s dazzling new adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Canterville Ghost is brought to thrilling theatrical life for all the family with live magic and special effects. Alongside side this in the Clore Theatre is The Wolf, the Duck and the Mouse – a co-production with New Perspectives based on the cult picture-book by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen. In the Foyle Studio, we see the return of Scrunch by Sarah Argent and Kevin Lewis – a show for the very youngest audiences.

Highlights also include work from Rachel Bagshaw, who joins the company as an Associate Director, directing Germany’s Roland Schimmelpfennig’s surreal and poetic The Bee in Me; and following his acclaimed work at the venue, Tim Crouch returns with the London premiere of his one-man show I, Cinna (the poet). Rising star Lulu Raczka reframes arguably the greatest satire of all time, Gulliver’s Travels, in an exhilarating exploration by director and filmmaker, Sam Yates.

The Unicorn is also delighted to announce that Phosphoros Theatre are to become the Unicorn’s first ever Associate Company. Phosphoros Theatre was founded in 2015 and every one of its actors came to the UK as Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children and Refugees. In residence at the Unicorn, the partnership is the start of a major new Unicorn programme with some of London’s hardest to reach and most vulnerable communities. The Phosphoros Young Company at the Unicorn will offer unaccompanied girls and boys, aged 14-18, the chance to use drama to help navigate their place in a new community, and to learn from older peers from the refugee community who were once in their shoes.

The Unicorn Theatre will also be taking even more work out of the building with projects in Great Ormond Street Hospital and beyond, as part of the Unicorn’s strategy to reach audiences who wouldn’t otherwise be able to experience our shows at the venue.

Further afield, The End of Eddy (shortlisted for two Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland awards) transfers to BAM in New York in November 2019 and will announce further international dates soon.

Under Audibert’s artistic leadership, the Unicorn will continue to position itself as one of the country’s most enquiring venues for young audiences, creating constantly surprising and provocative theatre, but also asking questions about the world we live in. As part of this discussion with its audiences, and in particular its response to the Climate Emergency, the Unicorn will be speaking directly to young people - the strongest and most urgent voices today - about the global climate crisis. Throughout the year, the theatre will engage in critical conversations online, in person and through forum and debate.

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Star in a Unicorn Theatre photoshoot on Sat 27 April 2019!

Would you or your child like to be in a photoshoot for our next season brochure cover? 
 
We’re looking for 15 people of all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds to take part in an image about standing up for art and young people. The image will be used on our brochure cover, building and website across our 2019/20 season. 
We've cast 12 people and are now looking for:
 
A 11 - 12 year old
An 8 - 10 year-old
A 6 - 8 year old
 
The shoot will be at a central London location and will take place from 2pm - 4pm on Sat 27 April 2019. We're able to offer a free family ticket (up to 4 free tickets) per cast member to see a show at the Unicorn (up until June 2020) in return for your time. 
 
To apply to take part, please email hello@unicorntheatre.com by 11pm Wed 25 April. Add your name, email, phone number and the age and a headshot of the person who would like to be in the shoot. If you are under 18 we will need a parent to confirm that they are happy for you to take part and to attend the photoshoot with you.
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HRH The Duchess of Cornwall Visits the Unicorn

We were thrilled to welcome HRH The Duchess of Cornwall to the Unicorn on Wednesday 6 February as we celebrated the launch of our new Glorious Grandparents patron scheme.  

A keen supporter of the arts, the Duchess of Cornwall became a Patron of the Unicorn in 2005. She joined other high profile Unicorn supporters from the theatrical world including Joanna David and Charles Dance in a special ceremony hosted in our theatre foyer.


HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, Dr Michele Badenoch and Charles Dance. Photo credit Craig Sugden

The Glorious Grandparents scheme celebrates the joys in Grandparents and Grandchildren sharing a trip to the theatre. By supporting the scheme and becoming a patron, grandparents can also enjoy a range of special events and activities with their grandchildren that are exclusive to the scheme. Patron levels range from £125 - £5000 per year. 


Justin Audibert, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall and Joanna David. Photo credit Craig Sugden

As a registered charity, we need to raise £500,000 a year to reach 90,000 children with our programme of extraordinary theatre and workshops. As well as creating theatre for children of all ages we offer 10% of our tickets free, or heavily subsidised, to schools and community groups so that everyone can enjoy our shows. The Glorious Grandparent scheme directly supports our work and will enable us to create opportunities for even more children. 

Glorious Grandparent Ambassador Dame Judi Dench says:
'Glorious Grandparents is a fantastic idea. I have always believed that children should be taken to the theatre at a very early age. I was taken by my parents and that's what inspired me. My grandson is now 21 - he goes to see everyting in the theatre! I'm sure this is because we took him when he was young!

If you would like to join or simply would like to find out more, contact us at development@unicorntheatre.com or call us on 020 7645 0527.

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Fingers Crossed for the Off West End Awards!

We are excited to have four shows shortlisted at this year's Off West End Awards. 

Our shows are shortlisted in the below categories:

Best Production for Young People 0 – 7:  Not Now, Bernard and Huddle

Best Production for Young People 8+: Beginners

Best Production for Young People 13+: The End of Eddy

The winners will be announced at a ceremony on 3 February 2019, held at Battersea Arts Centre. Keep your fingers crossed!

See the full shortlist here or find out more about the Off West End Awards here.   

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Free Theatre-Making Workshop

Aged between 14 and 18? Do you like to perform and enjoy collaborating with others? If so, we need you. 

We are looking for young people to join writer and performer, Polarbear and director, Yael Shavit for a practical theatre workshop at the Unicorn Theatre this Saturday 19th Jan, 2 – 5pm.

This will be a fun one off session of improvisation, character work and experimenting with scenarios as they share their process and tips for developing your own theatre piece.

Steven Camden (Polarbear) is one of the most respected spoken word artists in the UK. Regularly performing his work internationally since 2007.

Yael Shavit is a director and dramaturg who has worked with Steven for over ten years on all his performance pieces as well as directing and collaborating with many other artists and companies.

Last few places remaining – if you would like to join this workshop please email catherine.greenwood@unicorntheatre.com or phone 020 7645 0509 to book a free place.

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Beginners triumphs at the Writers’ Guild Awards

Amalia Vitale as Sandy in Beginners at Unicorn Theatre

We are thrilled that writer and director Tim Crouch has won a 2019 Writers’ Guild Award for his play Beginners, which premiered at the Unicorn in Easter 2018.

The Writers’ Guild Awards celebrate British writing and writers. 2019 marks their 60th anniversary, and a special ceremony was held at the Royal College of Physicians in London to reveal this year’s winners on 14 January. We are delighted that Beginners won the Best Play for Young Audiences award. 

The play is published by Oberon Books and can be found in our Unicornershop. Beginners premiered with a cast of five adult and eight child actors (two teams of four children on rota) in Easter 2018, playing for ages eight to adult. It tells the story of three families trapped in a waterlogged holiday cottage over summer. It is an exquisite, funny and moving story that reminds us that the adult we’ll become – and the child we were - stays with us wherever we go. 

Everyone at the Unicorn would like to say a huge congratulations to Tim and thank you for bringing this unforgettable play to our theatre. 

Find out more about Beginners, or read the full list of Writers' Guild Award winners

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Meet Mole from It's Hot, It's Not

Mole Wetherell is the Artistic Director of performance theatre company Reckless Sleepers, and a colloaborator and performer in our upcoming show for ages 2 - 5, It's Hot, It's Not.

Find out about his plans for this fun and playful show in this interview excerpt from our teacher resource pack. 

It's Hot, It's Not
plays from 2 Feb - 10 Mar, tickets are £10 - £16. Visit the webpage for more info and to book.   

WHAT MIGHT WE EXPECT FROM THE SHOW?

I’d say it will be a lot of fun. It’s got this undercurrent about the weather, and of course we can’t ignore what’s happening to the world and to the weather - but I don’t think that’s what we want to explore. The way we see the show is that it’s a play on words, or a play on images. It’s about the language and objects sometimes not making complete sense together, but of course they always make sense. 
 
One of the focuses is about play, and playing with objects, and reimagining what an object can be. We played this game the other day with a stick where the stick became a cricket bat or a tennis racket; that one object had a completely different set of scenarios around it - an interpretation of an image and a multiplicity of ideas of what it could be. We then repeated the activity using movement instead of objects, starting with a gesture like a wave that could then become something bigger like fanning yourself because you’re hot, and then the fan becomes a kind of rain dance. So we see someone doing an action but then make it bigger and make it into something else. So it’s playing around with and reinterpreting physical language, which is the basis of the show so far.

YOUR PREVIOUS SHOWS HAVE BEEN FOR ADULTS; YOU DON’T NORMALLY MAKE WORK FOR CHILDREN, DO YOU?

We’ve never made a show specifically for a younger age group. We think that our theatre shows have been quite accessible to children, because they are generally quite visual and allow scope for ideas and imagination rather than narrative-based story or complicated psychologically based characters.
 
It’s more about an energy or a feeling as the emotional route through the work, and often it’s focused around task: the task to build this, or the task to destroy that. So our work is quite open to a wider age range.

HOW MUCH DO YOUR IDEAS COME FROM WATCHING YOUR DAUGHTER? OR IS THIS THE KIND OF PLAYFUL APPROACH YOU TEND TO USE WHEN MAKING THEATRE?

A bit of both! I trained as a visual artist, and what has been brilliant about having a child is going back to some of those simple drawing techniques I learnt when I was a student: simple things like squeezing paint onto a piece of paper, folding it over and getting a butterfly.
 
We’ve got a table in the kitchen and underneath it there’s an outline of my daughter Charlie. We take the top off every now and again and do another outline. It’s a bit like a tree ring; that’s a really nice little project in itself. She’s testing me as a young person to make new things. I’ll be busy this afternoon making a little table out of some wood for her doll, and making a little chair! It was Charlie jumping in the puddle and me joining in, and enjoying that process and allowing myself to enjoy it. I enjoy playing with that age group, they’re liberated at that age.
 
Image: It's Hot, It's Not (That's Mole in the yellow raincoat!)

WILL THE SHOW TOUCH ON CLIMATE CHANGE?

It’s felt like spring is tending to happen earlier and there are freaky weather conditions. That’s what drew me to making a show about the weather and our confusion with that, and nature’s confusion with that. Daffodils are coming up much earlier than they used to. It’s those things that really struck me as something we needed to tackle and that can be extended to talk about global warming, without talking about global warming.
 
I think what we try to do as a company is open up an idea for imagination to grow – we never go “This show is about this”, in doing that, it kills that possibility of growth of imagination. We call it the playground of the imagination: not just for us, the people making the show, but for the people we are sharing the room with. 

CAN YOU DESCRIBE HOW YOU WILL USE SOUND AND FOLEY?

The set will be a big tree, or trunk, with apples on strings; some of them will be switches, and if you pull an apple, it might switch a light on. Pull another apple and it might start a rain storm, pull another apple and get sound – it could be a thunder storm. So we want to play with how sounds makes an action, makes a sound, makes an action. It’s accumulative. Someone comes in and switches the light on because it’s dark, and I switch it back off, they switch it on, I switch it off, switch it on, switch it off... It’s that repetitive action; if someone jumps in a puddle when they are four years old they don’t want to leave it. It’s like with my daughter – I switch the light off, she turns it on. I switch the light off...

It's Hot, It's Not is for ages 2 - 5 and plays from 2 Feb - 10 Mar. Tickets are £10 - £16. Visit the webpage for more info and to book.

This interview exceprt is taken from our It's Hot, It's Not teacher resource pack. The full interview and other resources can be read below: 

 
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