Times are changing at the Unity, which has closed its doors to the public while undergoing a radical overhaul.
But the show, as they say, goes on, and the theatre will be taking its spring programme to venues around Merseyside for what they are calling their ‘Out of Space’ season.
After an initial setback – the extensive refurb was originally scheduled to happen last year – the Build Unity Better campaign has to date raised the best part of a whopping £1million to spruce up the Hope Place theatre (£845,000, to be exact). Contractors Vivark are now on site to implement the vision of Liverpool architects K2, and work is due to be completed in in April.
Unity’s artistic director and CEO, Matthew Linley, said: “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 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 of the season include the return of Lizzie Nunnery’s Narvik (pictured), which premiered at the Playhouse Studio in 2015. It will be on at the Bluecoat from February 27 to March 3
CATHY by Cardboard Citizens, will take place in Liverpool Cathedral’s Lady Chapel, and has been programmed in response to the city’s current homelessness crisis. The show aims to raise awareness and encourage audience members to make a donation to the local foodbank and Shelter, instead of buying a ticket.
Actor (and Unity Theatre patron) David Morrissey has enthused about the production, which has had a second performance announced and will very likely sell out. “Cardboard Citizens do fantastic work for excluded people, and have done for the past 25 years. I’m really pleased that Unity Theatre are able to bring the astounding show CATHY to Liverpool, which has suffered a rise in homeless people over the last few years.”
After its own successful crowdfunding efforts, Liverpool’s own contemporary dance festival LEAP returns for it’s 25th anniversary in 2017, and Unity is collaborating with festival curators MDI (Merseyside Dance Initiative) to create a pop-up dance house in new venue Make Liverpool in the North Docks, from March 1 to 12. They will also be providing the box office for the festival and presenting Hetain Patel’s show, American Man (featured above).
Regular children’s Splatterdays arts workshops will take place at libraries around Liverpool for the duration.
What an amazing achievement, and testament to the Unity’s importance to the city and to the arts as a whole. A big chunk of investment – nearly half the total so far – comes from the Arts Council, with other major donors including Liverpool City Council and the Garfield Weston Foundation, as well as smaller sums from individual donors.
For all the latest on the work and the shows, head to the Unity’s website.