L to R - Eleanor Stourton (Producer/Sister James), Deborah Kearne (Sister Aloysius), Paddy Cooper (Producer/Father Flynn), Sabina Arthur (Mrs Muller), John Berry (Director)
Dark Unicorn Productions has been set up by best friends Eleanor Stourton and Paddy Cooper, who have known and collaborated with each other on and off for 15 years since training in the theatre department of the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, where they both graduated with first class honours degrees - Eleanor specialising in acting, Paddy in acting and directing.
Both have pursued careers in and outside of the theatre. Eleanor is a highly respected digital marketer and fundraiser for a major animal welfare and rescue charity outside of her work as a dramatic stage actress across all forms of theatre. She has also worked as a photographer and bookseller. Paddy - who returned full time to the theatre in 2015 - is an actor, director, writer and script editor, performing and directing in both classic and new work as well as contributing to long-running Brighton satire cabaret "The Treason Show". He has also worked as a journalist, university lecturer, speechwriter and national media relations advisor to the leadership of the police service.
Wishing to bring a fresh professional theatrical voice to the South Coast, they have founded Dark Unicorn to stage exciting, challenging, thought-provoking but above all entertaining shows where they are needed most, regardless of venue size, as well as providing an atmosphere of respect and professionalism - both financial and ethical - in a fringe theatre scene that can so often prove exploitative.
"Doubt: A Parable" was written by Irish-American John Patrick Shanley in 2004. Its original Broadway run, starring Briain O'Byrne and Cherry Jones, won the Tony Award for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. IT went on to be made into an Oscar and BAFTA-nominated film starring Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
It tells the story of the suspicions of Sister Aloysius Beauvier, the principal of a Catholic convent school in 1964 New York, in relation to one of the local priests, Father Brendan Flynn, and his possible intentions towards the school's only black pupil. Set against her cold regard for the world is idealistic young nun Sister James and Mrs Muller - the boy's pragmatic mother. Uncertainty can lead to hysteria, but is Sister Aloysius right to doubt Father Flynn's intentions?
For our production, we have put together a fantastic cast and crew in Eastbourne:
The show will be directed by the Artistic Director of the Printers Playhouse Theatre John Berry
Sister Aloysius will be played by Deborah Kearne (The Miniaturist, BBC)
Sister James and Father Flynn will be played respectively by co-producers Eleanor Stourton and Paddy Cooper
Mrs Muller will be played by Sabina Arthur (Game of Thrones; 'The Vote' - Donmar Warehouse)
Staging a highly-acclaimed play does not come cheaply and, while we are making the most of the resources we as producers have, we are in need of financial assistance.
With the rights for the show coming in at $1000 for ten performances, the better part of £1000 required to hire the relevant costumes for tech week and the run, print and digital marketing taking up a hefty chunk of money and a cast and crew whom it is only right are paid as fairly as possible, an initial target of £5000 will allow the production to go ahead with proper publicity, a professional approach to workplace relations and as broad a reach as possible.
No donation is too small or large - we welcome support from all those who wish to help get a new and exciting arts organisation on its feet so that we can prove that it is possible to run on a budget but still behave ethically towards your collaborators as well as producing top quality entertainment for audiences.
We are also offering corporate packages to allow businesses of all sizes the chance to advertise in our programme as well as have exclusive access to a gala preview performance with Q&A and reception, so that we can help give something back to the communities and local economies within which we work.
All monies raised will be used directly on the production of the show - whether it be buying period props, ensuring that costuming is correct, rolling out an ambitious marketing strategy, vocal coaching as an extra upskilling opportunity for the cast (as well as ensuring accuracy in the show) and, yes, ensuring a decent wage for the creatives who work with us. We have all worked with exploitative companies and we are proud to be using some of the finance raised to pay properly for talents which have been honed through years of expensive training and dedication to their respective crafts.
We all benefit from amazing theatre and we hope you will join us in creating something wonderful in our industry in an environment which cherished the people who create as well as their creations. You don’t need to have any doubt in us - your money will be making creative magic happen.