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Lion and Unicorn Theatre appoints a new Artistic Director‏

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Theatre news

THE Lion and Unicorn Theatre has announced that Simon James Collier has been appointed as its new Artistic Director commencing at the end of this month.

George Sallis has stepped down in the role after almost seven years at the helm to concentrate on his production company Giant Olive and the GOlive Dance & Performance festival which he founded with veteran dance/theatre critic Donald Hutera (The Times) in 2013.

The lease to the Lion and Unicorn was given to George Sallis in 2008 during a period of great upheaval for the venue and building. Shortly afterwards the owners of the freehold went into administration. Despite this, during the next five years Sallis’ production company Giant Olive produced over twenty critically-acclaimed productions, ranging from classics, new writing, contemporary ballet, dance and five festivals.

The Lion and Unicorn also played host to over a hundred visiting companies, twenty world premieres as well as establishing a children’s theatre club.

George Sallis said: “I came to the venue having recently completed my actor’s training and was handed the lease during very uncertain times. With help and support from a diverse range of industry professionals and patrons, we have been able to turn the venue into a thriving creative space for artists, new and old, to play, experiment and learn, developing their craft in a very challenging industry. I know and trust that Simon will continue in this vein”.

The Lion and Unicorn Theatre recently secured its long-term future as Kentish Town’s only theatre, when Sallis signed a new lease with freeholders to the building, Geronimo Inns. Simon James Collier has been working closely on the programming with George Sallis over the last year as executive director of the theatre prior to taking over the role of Artistic Director.

Simon James Collier said: “The Lion and Unicorn Theatre is one of London’s leading studio theatres, and over the past six years under the innovative Artistic Directorship of George Sallis has gone from strength to strength. As the incoming AD I will continue to strive and push the venue to even greater heights, focusing more on in-house productions with a range of invited directors, looking at new writing, carefully selecting received productions and continuing our programme of fresh adaptations of the classics, something for which this theatre has an excellent reputation.

“It’s been an exciting time at the theatre for me. Directing four productions and producing six in my first year has been a challenge, but thanks to an amazing team of people supporting me I genuinely believe that we’re on the way to producing and presenting some outstanding theatre over the next three years”.

Simon James Collier has been involved in the entertainment industry as a respected writer, producer and director since the early 1990’s. He trained as a producer in Hollywood before returning to London to form the award-winning Okai Collier Company which has recently celebrated its twentieth anniversary, having presented over seventy theatrical and film productions. He also has a publishing house, having written twenty-five books for younger readers.

Collier produced The Service of HIV Remembrance at St. Paul’s Cathedral and Rowland Lee’s Requiem at St. Martin in the Fields/South Africa House (London). He brings an invaluable combination of experience, artistic vision and a genuine commitment to nurturing emerging creative talent to his new role as Artistic Director. This along with the venue’s vibrant and varied repertory, have already helped to firmly place the Lion and Unicorn Theatre on the map.

George Sallis will remain as Chairman of the Lion & Unicorn Theatre, which is currently going through the process of obtaining charitable status.

Jekyll and Hyde, written by Adam Dechanel and based on the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson, runs at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre from Tuesday, September 30 to Saturday, October 25, 2014.