The gift of Nina

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Very early on in my time at Unity I remember calling  Nina – A Story about me and Nina Simone– a gift to an incoming Artistic Director.  That was over a year and half ago – now here we are on the night of our first preview.  (Quick sales plug – its only in Liverpool until 29th October and best availability is in the final week now tickets here).

‘Music is a gift and a burden I’ve had since I can remember who I was’ Nina Simone

What’s so special about this show?

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Well first of all there’s the music.  And boy is the soundtrack of this show going to get you standing in your seats.  With our Swedish/ British band in full flow I quite literally couldn’t stay sat down in the rehearsal room.

And then there’s Josette….our patron.  I first became aware of Josette as a young Venue Manager when I booked a revival of Kaboodle’s King Lear – in a tiny studio theatre, in an old dole office in Reading.  She’s like Liverpool itself – impossible to define. She’s as equally at home in alternative theatre as she is on the West End stage, as equally at home in Shakespeare, in musicals, in disability arts.  And what’s truly brilliant about Josette is they ‘aint different categories – its simply all about creating  theatre, about saying something important, something important NOW.  And in this show we see them all. She’s threading it all together to create something which is brave, naked, raw and brilliant.

Follow this link to watch Josette take on (or off) Donald Trump!

And then there’s our collaborators – We’re co-producing with Riksteatern – the National Touring Theatre of Sweden where Josette is now based.  Without them this extraordinary adventure would just not have been possible. (And boy has it been an adventure – in the last week alone we’ve been battling with bass stands, with visas, with projectors, with Clavinovas)…and I still haven’t learnt a word of Swedish much to my shame!

The show itself has been developed with the inspirational director Dritero Kaspari whose work has always explored human struggles.  Many of you will know Lampedusa opened my first season here at Unity – and coincidentally it was Anders Lustgarten’s blistering play that Dritero chose as his first production in his current role as Deputy Artistic Director of Sweden’s National Theatre.  Joining Dritero are UK based designers Rosa Maggiora (a long time collaborator with Josette) and  Matt Haskins, and of course our own brilliant team here at Unity.


Finally and perhaps most importantly for a theatre which prides itself on being radical, alternative and edgy this show is a gift because its time is now.  At the heart of the show is a central question – how far have we really come over the last 50 years….have we come anywhere at all? And if we are to dream new futures we need to know where we really are now.

This show is a gift.

But don’t get me wrong – this is no puppy or a cuddly toy.

It’s rapier sharp.

Just like Nina herself…

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