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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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STAR IN OUR BABY SHOW PHOTOSHOOT

We are looking for parents and babies to take part in a photoshoot for Baby Show, our much-loved show for ages 6 - 18 months.

When: Fri 16 Nov 2018 1.15 - 2.30pm (arriving by 1.15pm, the show begins at 1.45pm)
Where: Unicorn Theatre

Baby Show iour gentle, sensory show which has now played to over 4,000 giggling babies. The Baby Show experience begins as soon as you step into our theatre. At the photoshoot, our photographer will be present as parents and babies arrive and relax in our private Baby Show Welcome Lounge before the show begins. The Welcome Lounge has lots of comfy seating, high chairs and bottle warming facilities and a pop-up Unicornershop serving drinks and refreshments.

You will receive a free ticket to the show (one child and one adult) and are welcome to a complimentary hot drink from the Unicornershop. Additional adults are welcome to join (one adult guest per person). By taking part you will be giving us permission to use the images for marketing purposes. Watch the trailer below to get a feel for the show or find out more about the show here. You can also download our handy first visit guide here

If you would like to take part, please send us your contact details and a recent baby photo to jessica.young@unicorntheatre.com by Tue 13 Nov 2018. We are looking for 10 - 12 babies with mum and/or dad. 

'I appreciated the meet and greet by the friendly staff, showed to a chill-out room on the 2nd floor which was perfect for my baby to crawl about in and me to relax. The 20 minutes before the show hanging out with my baby and other parents was part of the experience for me (especially after a long train journey) which I wasn't expecting.' Parent 2018

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Q & A with an Irish Dancing World Champion

In preparation for our upcoming Summer workshops we spoke to Tanya Dirrane, an Irish Dancing World Champion to find out more about her two-day Irish Dancing and Ceilidh Fun workshop taking place next week.

Can you describe the workshop in 3 words?
Fun, Energetic, Fulfilling.

What is the difference between Irish dancing and Ceilidh dance?

Irish dancing is traditionally a dance form whereby you dance solo keeping your upper body still and requires full use of the legs. You stand upright with your arms placed down by your sides with your hands held in a fist position.
Ceilidh dancing is a form of social dance; it is performed in groups and allows the use of arms. It was initially formed in Ireland as a form of entertainment before the days of television, people used to meet on the crossroads and perform various Ceilidh dances. It was a way of the community meeting up and was a very popular social event.
Recently, Irish dancing has evolved due to Irish Dance shows such as Riverdance and Lord of the Dance meaning that arm movements have now been introduced allowing more freedom in the choreography.

What main skill will the children learn in this workshop?

I think the main skill children will learn in this workshop is making social connections, although children learn a lot of skills in Irish Dancing such as: rhythm; timing; musicality; co- ordination; balance; core strength; increased stamina; flexibility; muscle strength and overall fitness (I could go on…).

Do you need to have experience for this workshop?

You do not need any experience to attend this workshop, which is the beauty of Ceilidh dancing! It requires no former experience and caters for all abilities.

How long have you been dancing and teaching for?
I was initially a ballet dancer from the age of three and then joined an Irish dancing class at the age of 12 mainly because I was inspired by the type of music. I also thought it looked like a fun skill to learn after watching my friend perform. I became hooked instantly and by the time I was 14 I had qualified for my first World Championships. I have been teaching for 25 years now having set up my first class in 1993 in East Dulwich, South East London.

What is your favourite thing about Irish dancing?

My favourite thing about Irish dancing is it makes me very happy. We release endorphins when we exercise but I firmly believe you release additional endorphins when you Irish Dance due to the exhilarating and energetic nature of the art form.

Don’t miss out on learning something new this Summer, book your place today:
When: Thu 16 - Fri 17 Aug (a two-day workshop)
Where: Unicorn Theatre
Who for: Children aged 6 – 11 who are up for a challenge, making friends and having fun!
More info and book now >

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The End of Eddy Cast Announcement


Our upcoming production of The End of Eddy has been cast. 

My crime wasn’t doing something. My crime was being something. Being different in a way everyone else could see.’  

Stewart Laing directs Alex Austin and Kwaku Mills in The End of Eddy, Pamela Carter’s powerful new work, based on
Édouard Louis’s best-selling book, in this co-production between the Unicorn Theatre and Untitled Projects.

The End of Eddy will open as part of the Edinburgh International Festival prior to a run in London at the Unicorn. It will also tour the UK and Ireland with dates to be announced shortly. 

Alex Austin Performer
Alex's credits include, for the Unicorn Henry V, The Nutcracker, How to Think the Unthinkable, The Man with the Incredibly Smelly Foot. Other credits include most recently A New And Better You ( The Yard), Gundog, Grimly Handsome, Primetime 2017, Yen, Pigeons (Royal Court), Thebes Land (Arcola); Fury (Soho); Barbarians (Young Vic) and The Skriker (Royal Exchange, Manchester). Television includes The Interceptor, Sherlock, New Tricks, Misfits and Holby City. Film includes A Moving Image, The Hooligan Factory and The World’s End.

Kwaku Mills Performer
Kwaku has recently graduated from the Royal Academy of the Dramatic Arts. Credits whilst training include; Raleigh in Journey’s End, Ward in Women Beware Women, Benjamin in Easter and Colin Powell in Stuff Happens. He will be making his professional debut in The End of Eddy.



Stewart Laing Director
Stewart is a Scottish theatre director. He is Associate Director with National Theatre of Scotland and is Artistic Director of his own company, Untitled Projects, which he formed in 1998. Directing credits with Untitled Projects include J.G. Ballard Project, blind_sight, Slope, An Argument About Sex, The Salon Project, Paul Bright’s Confessions of a Justified
Sinner and Slope Redux. Other credits include The Maids for Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, Ten Plagues for Traverse Theatre, Titus Andronicus for Dundee Rep, The Sewing Group for Royal Court, and most recently, Creditors for Lyceum in Edinburgh. Stewart is currently directing David Sawer’s new opera The Skating Rink for Garsington Opera. Stewart originally trained as a theatre designer at Central School of Art and Design in London and has worked extensively as a theatre designer throughout the UK and internationally. He has designed for the West End and Broadway, winning a Tony Award in 1997 for his work on the musical Titanic. Recent design credits include work for The Old Vic in London, The Park Avenue Armory in New York and The Royal Opera, Covent Garden.

Pamela Carter Writer
Pamela is a playwright and dramaturg. Her plays include Lines ( The Yard Theatre, London); Fast Ganz Nah/Almost Near ( Theater Dresden, Germany); Skåne (Hamptead Theatre; winner of the New Writing Commission at the Berliner Festspiele Stückemarkt in 2012); What We Know ( Traverse Theatre); Wildlife (Magnetic North Theatre Co); The Last of Us (Play, Pie & a Pint). Her plays for Untitled Projects include Slope (2006 and 2014); Paul Bright’s Confessions of a Justified Sinner, 2013; and An Argument About Sex (After Marivaux) in 2009. As dramaturg and writer with Vanishing Point Theatre, she has made the award-winning Interiors (touring internationally since 2009), Saturday Night, and Tomorrow.


Age guide: 16+ (contains explicit sexual references and frequent use of strong language) Duration: Approx 1 hr 30 mins
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