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Unity Theatre (Group) | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center

Name: Unity Theatre (Group)

Historical Note:

Unity Theatre began on February 19, 1936 in Britain. The aim of Unity was to help in the struggle for world peace and a better social and economic order by establishing drama which dealt with realities and reflected contemporary life.  When Unity first began it had no theater, a not very extensive repertoire, and no capital.  Plays produced dealt with day-to-day problems of the worker and his family. 

In 1937 Unity Theater also became involved in the cause of the Spanish Civil War, providing benefit performances to raise funds for the Republican forces. 

During the early years of the 1940s the factor of World War II almost destroyed the theater.  Many members of Unity Theater joined the war effort, forcing the group to rely on new and inexperienced members. When possible, production continued at the Goldington Street Theater, frequently repeats of older plays.

Unity was the first group in Britain to perform the work of Clifford Odets, Irwin Shaw, and Bertold Brecht, among others.

By 1962, Unity had staged 170 productions since its inception.  Of these, 106 had been new scripts, never before produced, and most of them especially written for Unity.  Another 35 were foreign plays seen in Britain for the first time. 

The Unity Theater continues to work and perform with a similar mission statement and philosophy in Britain today.

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