Unity Theatre has always had a reputation for sparking debate and challenging the norm. Whether it’s a searing show like Nina: A story about Me and Nina Simone, a festival performance at Homotopia, DadaFest or Physical Fest or the long standing and ever-popular Christmas show with Action Transport Theatre, Unity always programmes work which thinks outside of the box.
In Spring 2017, as Unity Theatre undergoes a £790,000 capital redevelopment, the theatre itself will go outside of it’s own box, and announces a season that reaches out of the theatre and into the community, with a selection of bold and reactive shows.
Artistic Director and CEO, Matthew Linley, explained, “We’re delighted to be presenting a season of shows across several venues in the Merseyside area between January and April next year. While our own theatre undergoes a transformation, we want to take the opportunity to use some of the fantastic venues around the city, new and old, conventional and unconventional. We will then reopen in May 2017 with our summer season, and we can’t wait to show off our new spaces.”
The ‘Out of Space’ season will draw on Unity Theatre’s aims to collaborate and encourage new and burgeoning talent, engage families and individuals from economically disadvantaged areas, tackle current issues and say the important things that would otherwise go unsaid.
Highlights include Narvik (27th February – 3rd March), a show that cements Unity’s relationship with the Bluecoat. Written by Lizzie Nunnery, this critically acclaimed show crosses generations and cultures in a powerful story of love and war.
CATHY (11th February) by Cardboard Citizens, which will take place in Liverpool Cathedral’s Lady Chapel, has been programmed in response to the current homelessness crisis in Liverpool. The show aims to raise awareness and encourage audience members to make a donation to this cause instead of buying a ticket.
Night Light by Mandala Theatre, Wednesday 25th January, Capstone Theatre.
Somewhere in England two teenagers seeking asylum, fearing deportation, hide out in an abandoned factory. As the long cold night unfolds, they imagine their future and tell each other about their past. In the midst of sharing food and stories, they hear someone else arrive. Terrified, they creep towards the door where they find a familiar figure. The three of them talk through the night about home, belonging and the system…But the children remain wary: at any point he can reveal their hiding place, turn them over to the authorities and send them back to their countries and to danger.
American Man by Hetain Patel, LEAP 2017, Thursday 9th March at Make Liverpool
Award-winning dancer and choreographer, Hetain Patel, is just one of the national and internationally renowned artists to be joining the LEAP 2017 festival line-up to examine the theme of camouflage – the seen and unseen stories of humanity, so we are thrilled to bring you his new production, American Man.
American Man is a new one-man show, which builds on the critically acclaimed American Boy. Playing provocatively with race, gender and identity, American Man imagines a not-too-distant-future where celebrity power and political correctness have reached new heights. A future where Barack Obama’s post-Presidential role is CEO of Apple, and Stephen Hawking voices Disney characters. Combining seamless vocal and physical impersonations with his characteristic wit and humour, Hetain Patel presents a dystopian outlook on a world where personal freedom walks hand in hand with guilt.
Combining seamless vocal and physical impersonations with his characteristic wit and Gaudete is a thrilling stage adaptation of Ted Hughes’ poetic novel by OBRA Theatre Company performed by an international ensemble of eight performers. Seven years in the making, this extraordinary piece takes Hughes’ words as a starting point to create a magical and surreal piece of physical theatre. The story follows Nicholas Lumb, an Anglican Minister from the North of England who is abducted by spirits, duplicated and returned to the world a changed man.
Unity will continue to encourage new writing as the regular Scratch Nights are set to continue in venues outside of Unity Theatre, the first one to be confirmed is at Make Liverpool on 14 March 2017. More information and an application form will be available here in the next few weeks: http://www.unitytheatreliverpool.co.uk/opportunities.html.
The Unity Theatre may be on the move for a while but its essence, its values will certainly be carrying some great productions onwards and into the heart of the community and city it serves. More information can be found at the Unity Theatre home page.