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

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 fromAfrican-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 bySarah 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.