Theatre News

Unicorn Theatre wins 2014 Peter Brook Award

The awards, founded by Blanche Marvin, are in their 25th year

The Unicorn Theatre has won this year's Peter Brook Empty Space Award.

The Tooley Street venue was announced as the winner by Blanche Marvin, who praised artistic director, Purni Morrell, for turning the theatre into a wonderful introduction to the classics as well as a contemporary theatre for children.

Explaining the Unicorn's nomination, Guardian critic Lyn Gardner said:

"The Unicorn has become one of the most exciting places to see theatre in the UK… Curriculum reforms and an increasing emphasis on testing and exams, means that many children, particularly those from poorer backgrounds, are being denied access to the arts. Which is why the pioneering approach at the Unicorn is so important and why it's not just a great children's theatre, but one of the most thrilling theatres currently operating in the UK."

Listen to Gardner's full speech below.

On winning the award, Purni Morell said "I am delighted we have won the Peter Brook Empty Space Award. It is great to see that ambitious, innovative and risk-taking work for young audiences is at last being recognised as having equal status with adult theatre. We’re very proud."

The Unicorn was nominated alongside Theatre503, Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory, Park Theatre, Union Theatre and Orange Tree Theatre.

Other Empty Space winners this year included Latitude Festival which won the Dan Crawford Innovation Award, Antic Disposition for the Peter Brook/Equity Ensemble Award, Pippa Frith Productions at the Birmingham Rep Door won the Mark Marvin Rent Subsidy Award, and theatre company Kill the Beast took home the Peter Brook Festival Award, a new honour set up to nurture emerging companies.

The Special Achievement Award was given to Toni Racklin and Louise Jeffreys for their work at the Barbican.

The selection panel for the awards included critics Lyn Gardner, Dominic Cavendish, Mark Shenton, Fiona Mountford, Andrzej Lukowski and awards founder Blanche Marvin.

Winners were announced during a lunchtime ceremony held at the National Theatre Studio.

The Empty Space Awards, celebrating their 25th year, are presented in recognition of the pioneering work that, in the spirit of the legendary director Peter Brook, is achieved by smaller venues that receive "comparatively little or no public funding".