Unicorn Theatre

The Unicorn Theatre is a UK theatre for audiences aged 2–21. The theatre has its home in a custom-built, RIBA Award–winning building on Tooley Street, in the London Borough of Southwark, which opened in 2005.[1] The theatre was designed by Keith Williams, built by Arup and comprises two theatre spaces (the Weston and Clore Theatres), an education studio, rehearsal space, café and the John Lyon meeting room.

Unicorn Theatre
Unicorn Theatre
Unicorn Theatre
Location within Central London
AddressTooley Street
London, SE1
United Kingdom
Coordinates51.504496°N 0.081677°W / 51.504496; -0.081677
Public transit London Bridge
OwnerUnicorn Trust
TypeReceiving and producing house
Capacity290–seat (main)
100–seat (studio theatre)
ProductionGuest productions
Opened2005 (2005)
ArchitectKeith Williams

The theatre was founded in 1947, by Caryl Jenner, originally as a Mobile Theatre; In 1961, Jenner began presenting children's productions at the Arts Theatre in the West End, and in 1967 the company took over the lease of the theatre which then became Unicorn's permanent performing base until 1999; during this period the normal run of adult performances continued during the evenings.[2]

The Unicorn is a registered charity and is an Arts Council England National Portfolio organisation.


From 1944 Caryl Jenner wrote Christmas pantomimes for small-time playhouses. During performances she would make note of the behaviour of the children, recording what scenes and sequences held their attention, and which did not. She began to formulate the principles that would guide her theatre and writing. In 1947 the ‘Mobile Theatre’ was born. Caryl's mission was to drive around the towns of Britain, as well as isolated villages to bring theatre to new audiences. They supplemented their income by performing to adults in the evenings.

In 1950 it changed its name to ‘The Caryl Jenner Mobile Theatre’, to signify Caryl’s influence. In 1962, the name changed again, to the ‘Unicorn Theatre Club’. In 1967, the company gave up touring and took up the lease at the Arts Theatre in London, receiving a £10,000 annual grant from the Arts Council, which remained its home until the present Unicorn Theatre was built in 2005. Caryl Jenner died on the 29th of January 1973 at the age of 55.


The current president is Juliet Stevenson, who took over from Sir Alan Ayckbourn CBE in 2007.

Artistic Directors

  • Caryl Jenner (1947–1973)
  • Matyelok Gibbs (1973–1977)
  • Nicholas Barter (1977–1986)
  • Chris Wallis (1986–1990)
  • Richard Williams (1990–1997)
  • Tony Graham (1997–2011)
  • Purni Morell (2011-2017)
  • Justin Audibert (from Spring 2018)


  1. "Unicorn Theatre London : Architecture Information". e-architect, UK. Retrieved February 5, 2012. External link in |publisher= (help)
  2. "Arts Theatre and Unicorn Theatre Archive, 1902-1982". Theatre Collections. Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK. Retrieved February 5, 2012.


  • The Oxford Companion to the Theatre, Phyllis Hartnoll (ed), Oxford, 1983. ISBN 0-19-211546-4.
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