This week’s Photo Friday is a montage of items from the Unity Theatre Archive. This is a relatively recent acquisition, and we are currently in the process of listing the collection to make it accessible.
One of the founder members of the Unity Theatre was George Garrett, Merchant Seaman, writer and radical activist. This weekend sees the launch of the George Garrett Archive project at Liverpool Central Library. LJMU started supporting this project while the Central Library was closed for refurbishment and now that it is coming to a conclusion this is an opportunity for everyone to see the archive and learn more about Liverpool writer George Garrett’s fascinating life. There are a number of events running throughout May as part of this year’s Writing on the Wall Festival and the exhibition is open for the whole month. Students from the LJMU Art School have made a travelling display about George Garrett which will be in the Central Library at the start of May, then move down to the Liverpool Waterfront for the River Festival in June. Further details about the archive are available on the project web site and the full programme for the festival can be found on the Writing on the Wall web site.
The Unity Theatre Movement started in Liverpool after WWII to make theatre accessible to the masses, and to use theatre as a political instrument to bring ‘new strength to the progressive struggle’. Merseyside Left Theatre was formed in the 1930s and became Merseyside Unity Theatre in 1944. The Unity Theatre movement, along with many theatre clubs, started to disappear with the abolition of licensing in the 1960s as mainstream theatres were more able to meet the demand for radical theatre, but Merseyside Unity Theatre survived into the early 1980s. One of the last initiatives of Merseyside Unity Theatre was the development of the current Unity Theatre on Hope Place. The building was acquired on a lease from the Council and work was undertaken to convert the former synagogue from a photographic studio to a theatre.
For more information about this and other Archives held at LJMU, please contact the LJMU Archivist.