Crowdfunding success brings prize-winning play to Eastbourne

Dark Unicorn Productions
Dark Unicorn Productions

New Sussex-based ethical theatre company Dark Unicorn Productions is about to start rehearsal at Eastbourne’s Printers Playhouse for its first ever production following a crowdfunding campaign that was “a runaway success.”

John Patrick Shanley’s Pulitzer-winning play Doubt will be presented from February 12-16 and 19-23 from 7.45pm.

The company, which has at its heart an ethos of zero tolerance of exploitation of the creative artists working with them in fringe theatre, secured the rights to perform the play - which was turned into an Oscar-nominated movie starring Meryl Streep and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman in November.

There followed a “rollercoaster” seven-week crowdfunding drive, which saw the target of £5000 not only matched, but exceeded, with pledges totalling £6,010.

Half of this was down to corporate sponsorship from Alfriston-based book shop Much Ado Books, whose owners – Cate Olson and Nash Robbins – have a passion to support the arts.

The play, set in 1964 New York, concerns the suspicions of Catholic elementary school principal Sister Aloysius Beauvier about the intentions of local priest Father Brendan Flynn towards her school’s sole black pupil.

Behind the production are co-founders and producers Eleanor Stourton - daughter of BBCRadio 4 star Edward Stourton and sister of BAFTA-nominated Horrible Histories star Tom Stourton - and her best friend Paddy Cooper, son of ecumenist and former Irish Methodist President Rev Roy Cooper, who met while training together in Wales in 2003. They are also appearing in the show, Stourton as Sister James, and Cooper will play Fr Flynn. Joining them on the cast are Forest Row actor Deborah Kearne (BBC’s The Miniaturist) as Sister Aloysius and St Leonards-based Sabina Arthur (Game of Thrones) as Mrs Muller.

Stourton and Cooper commented: “We are so thrilled to be able to get going with Doubt – a play we have been aiming to produce for ten years. People have been so generous with their time and money and, while we will never be able to adequately thank them, now we get to give them a beautiful, intense, human, entertaining and thought-provoking show to prove the worth of their investment.

“We’d like to thank John Berry, our director who also co-owns our venue, Printers Playhouse, for all the work he has put in so far, along with his colleagues, and our sponsors at Much Ado Books for believing in our vision and this project. Their money, along with all those individual backers, will be well spent on making an exquisite looking show and offering skills bonuses to our cast such as an industry-leading accent coach, as well as ensuring that all those who give of their time and creativity will be as well remunerated as possible.

“We cannot wait to show the public just what Dark Unicorn is made of.”

Berry added: “I have been incredibly excited by this show since Paddy and Eleanor first showed me the script.”

Tickets £10 are available on www.darkunicorn.org or by calling Printers Playhouse on 01323 301333.

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