Theatre News: Summer 2019 Shows, Unity Theatre, Liverpool

The following is an article from Unity Theatre …

Liverpool’s Unity Theatre launches 2019 summer season

Physical Fest: festival of international physical theatre returns
Season highlight User Not Found staged in partnership with LEAF on Bold Street
LightNight and Liverpool Arab Arts Festival bookend the season

Unity Theatre is delighted to announce its 2019 summer season – a mix of contemporary productions, exceptional national tours and festivals much-loved by Unity audiences.

User Not Found (April 22-23) is a high-profile immersive theatre show and Edinburgh hit staged at LEAF on Bold Street. Presented by Dante or Die, it’s a contemporary exploration of what happens to our digital identities after we die, experienced through smartphones and headphones. Last few tickets remain.

May starts with Cryptid Petting Zoo on May 4 from puppet cabaret experts Headstrung. Perfect for young families, audiences get up close to mythical monsters that will delight all ages. The company are back on May 17 collaborating with Unity on The Ritual of Voting as part of LightNight. Expect an adventurous reimagining of a polling station with puppets, film and sound.

On May 24-25, poet and spoken word artist-of-the-moment Jess Green joins us with A Self Help Guide to Being in Love with Jeremy Corbyn. Another 2018 Edinburgh Fringe success, it comes from a fresh political voice and BBC Poetry Slam Champion with a distinctive, poetic edge.

From June 11-15, we are delighted to welcome back Physical Fest from Unity Associate Artists Tmesis Theatre. It’s a one-of-its-kind celebration of the rich variety of local, national and international contemporary physical theatre. Traditional Japanese performance and puppetry show I Cried Because I Had No Shoes Until… from Izumi Ashizawa opens the festival on June 11, before yet another Edinburgh Fringe triumph Butt Kapinski on June 11-13 – a rollicking choose-your-own murder mystery riddled with sex, sin, shadows and subterfuge that is strictly for adults only.

Prepare for some loveable madcap family fun on June 15 with the multi award-winning Jamie Wood with a preview of his new show Narky Sizzle and the Coconuts. On the same day, we welcome Gandini Juggling, who have been at the forefront of contemporary circus for over 20 years, with SMASHED. This mesmerising mix of circus and theatre is a global hit, and showcases juggling as you’ve never seen it before.

On June 14, DIVE brings you three extracts of new work in European clown, bouffant and physical theatre in one electrifying night. First up Teatro Pomodoro blend clown and comedy with a fun subversion of Ancient Greek myths, followed by award-winning Spanish theatre-maker Paula Valluerca with her clown in search of love, Madame Senorita. Finally, Finland’s Reetta Honkakoski Company turns the tables with an intense, hypnotic show that’s inspired by the surreal space between wake and sleep.

The festival will present the winners of their inaugural Physical Fest Female Artist Bursary Award on June 13-14, a new initiative to develop and support women in physical theatre. Winners Meraki Collective bring visually stunning, laugh-out-loud dance theatre about the demonisation of women for speaking up in Kill a Witch or Die Trying. Joint-winner Rowena Gander brings a powerful exploration of the value of exaggerated female sexuality in The Ten Inch Heels.

Special events during Physical Fest include Open Space Event Devoted and Disgruntled on June 13, inviting participants to discuss, and importantly plan and take action on the under-representation of working-class women in the arts. There’s a special edition of Mothers Who Make on June 12 to supplement the existing monthly workshops, led by one of the group’s artists.

July brings our final Edinburgh Fringe sensation, Electrolyte from Wildcard Theatre, on the 3rd and 4th of the month. It’s a loud, powerful piece of gig theatre about mental health that feels just right for our times. On July 7 and July 11, we delight in the return of the Liverpool Arab Arts Festival, with a retelling of Bahraini poet Quassim Haddad’s Chronicles of Majnun Layla on July 7, and an intriguing, magical performance by visual artist and performer Yara Boustany in ēvolvō on July 11.

On July 25-27, Unity Associate Company 20 Stories High bring their Youth Theatre production The Shut Down, produced alongside Kitchen Sink Live. The story, about a battle against the closure of a youth centre features original music, real stories, poetry and drama.

Three exciting changes shake things up at the theatre this season. Unity’s own youth theatre re-launches as Unity Young Creatives, focusing on a wider range of art forms including film and digital work, new writing and exhibitions to reflect the changing artistic landscape.

We also launch The Big Taboo, a constantly evolving programme of free events to enhance the experience of the theatre. Q&As, screenings, podcasts and experiences will aim to spark debate and explore ideas and the world around us, with details being released regularly via the Unity website.

Finally, the theatre is launching a new flagship scheme for theatre-makers, artists, creatives and those who work in the arts, aiming to make art accessible to those who make it and those who will shape its future. Anyone meeting the simple criteria for the Creative Membership can sign up for free, and access £5 tickets to selected Unity shows throughout the season.

Gordon Millar, Artistic Director and CEO, commented: “This summer, Unity Theatre will be presenting quality art that is truly representative of the variety of people’s lived experiences in Liverpool. Productions such as User Not Found and Electrolyte address ideas that genuinely matter to people whist inviting audiences to explore innovative ways of presenting theatre. We’re particularly pleased to again be partnering with Physical Fest and Liverpool Arab Arts Festival, for which Unity will play host to world class performances that inspire and entertain.”

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