The Unicorn Theatre
Origins of the Theatre: In 1952 Alan Kitching and his wife Frances were walking through the ruins of the Abingdon Abbey Buildings. It occurred to him that the space in what is called “The Checker Hall” would make a brilliant little theatre. For more information about the creation of the theatre – read about it in Alan’s own words: The Pleasant Historie of The Unicorn Theatre by its Onlie Begetter.
Alan proposed the idea of an Elizabethan-style theatre in July of 1952 and the following November construction work began to a stage design by Mr Christopher Ellis of Radley College, with boys from the College providing some of the labour. The first production in the newly renamed Unicorn Theatre was The Two Angry Women of Abingdon (performed by Abingdon Drama Club) in Coronation Week, June 1953. The summer season that year also included plays by Congreve and Priestley, three musical concerts, talks on the Elizabethan and Restoration Theatre, and poetry readings. Alan Kitching was also the producer, between 1959 and 1974, of Unicorn stagings of twelve of Handel’s Italian operas, unseen in England since the composer’s lifetime.
Hiring the Theatre: The Unicorn Theatre can be hired for drama, music and other events. It seats 89 people and is perfect for small scale drama productions, small touring shows, performance events and conference events. Every seat has a very good view of the stage and the relationship between performer and audience is what makes this theatre special.
The Theatre has very good acoustics for both amplified and non-amplified music. It is wonderful for string quartets, small chamber orchestras, opera, folk performances and even full rock bands.
The Unicorn is a small space with an Elizabethan style thrust stage, with stage balcony, inner stage, arched entrances and, if required, pillars and stage front balustrade. Other parts of the historic buildings can be used for reception, refreshments, etc.
See Venue Hire for more information about hiring the Theatre.
Ticket enquiries for performances at the Unicorn Theatre are handled by the organisations presenting the events. The groups that regularly perform at the Unicorn are:
Abingdon Drama Club
Old Gaol Theatre Company
Oxfordshire Drama Network
Studio Theatre Club
Click this Unicorn Theatre link to visit the theatre’s web site.