unFinale (2023)

29 & 30 September 2023
Two days of conversation, performance, installations and celebration.

After 27 years of making shows and events that have delighted, horrified, confused, dismayed, exhilarated and inspired audiences across the world, Unlimited finally decided to call it a day. Turns out, everything actually does have a limit.

To celebrate this happiest of endings we invited you all to join us and spend our final few days together in the grounds of the Workshop Theatre – where it all began back in the mid 1990’s. All events were free.

DAY ONE: Starting Out – A Practical Symposium

As part of our Grand Finale programme of events, the company shared all its experience and knowledge on company management, business planning, funding strategies, winning commissions, developing relationships and, well… everything you ever wanted to know about how to start and run a successful arts organisation.

At the end of the day we aimed to have answered all your questions and share templates for all the documents you’ll ever need – Business Plan, Mission Statements, Contracts and All The Policies and Plans (Equality , Financial Controls, H&S, Mental Health & Wellbeing, Dignity At Work, Sustainability, Privacy, Disciplinary & Grievance, Safeguarding). You can find that incredible resource.

This session was led by Sarah Webb (Unlimited’s Executive Director), J Spooner (Founder, Core Artist & Chief Executive), Alice Massey (Unlimited’s Executive Producer) and Ed Collier (Director, China Plate and former trustee of Unlimited Theatre).

DAY TWO: unFinale

People from Unlimited’s past and present came together for a mix of cabaret, installations, performance, talks and DJ sets, as we said farewell to Unlimited as we currently know it, and introduced the legacy that we are leaving behind. There were events indoors and outdoors – everything was free to attend, BSL interpreted and livestreamed.

The full line up was…

1pm – Hello. We’re Glad You Could Make It.
Free (especially concocted) cocktail from the VeeDub Camper Bar.

130-230pm – Live From The Space Shed – The Garden (outside the Workshop Theatre)
A ‘grand finale’ Q&A with space-suited Core Artist and founding member J Spooner where the audience could ask anything you’ve ever wanted to know about anything Unlimited and get an honest answer. J was joined in the Space Shed by co-founder Louisa Ashley who read some of her poems and Chair of the Board of Trustees David Nicholson who made an exciting announcement about The Legacy We’re Leaving Behind in the form of £60,000 in grants for artists making new work.
230-530pm – From Little Acorns – The Lawn (outside School of English)
From Little Acorns was the launch event for Core Artist Ali Pidlsey’s longer term research project The Speed of Wood. It seeks to explore the relationship between collaborative theatre practice & woodland ecologies; what can we, as artists, as humans, learn from the way that trees and woodlands work together? Can the study of woodland ecologies teach us something about how we can collaborate in deeper, more sustainable ways?

Throughout the day, people were welcomed on The Lawn to drop in on a series of talks & workshops on collaborative theatre practice, woodland ecologies & traditional woodland crafts.

230-315pm – Panic Stations – The Space Shed in The Garden
The world premiere of Core Artist Rachael Abbey’s new show driven by their fascination with conspiracy theories and the social divides they can provoke. When does a rumour become a conspiracy theory? How can we trust what we are being told? What is truth? All big questions for a little show. A mix of truth, psychology and storytelling, Rabbey uses comedy as a tool to tackle taboo subjects and, in this case, to unpick the psychosocial consequences of conspiracy theories.
A red haired human is telling a story outdoors230pm-530pm – Mancave – The Lawn (outside School of English)
Core Artist Tyrrell Jones invited people to join him in the Mancave for a 10 minute one-to-one performance and reimagine their relationship towards Manhood. Originally designed for Latitude Festival as an intimate moment of connection amidst festival chaos, supplicants are invited to join Tyrrell and dream about what men could, should, or should never be.

3 people talk in a small tent. Outside the tent there is a handmade sign on which is written "MANCAVE" 4-430pm – No Dinner for Anansi – Workshop Theatre
A 30 minute work in progress sharing and Q&A with Core Artist Lauren Nicole Whitter about her project exploring the Anansi Spider story.
Four Black women are telling a story in a theatre 530-6pm – The Third Astronaut – The Banham Theatre
Founder member Chris Thorpe (tried to) remember and re-enact his renowned and myth-like ’Practical Essay’ – the final assessment all Workshop Theatre students have to make at the end of the BA course in Theatre Studies. Chris was joined on stage by co-founder Paul Warwick and (unexpectedly) also by co-founders Louisa Ashley and Liz Margree in their performance art personas Ann & Mag.

You can watch the Instagram Live of this here which includes another unexpected (and immaculately timed) appearance from one of our mums.

630-730pm – unCabaret! – Workshop Theatre
Core Artist Jamie Fletcher and her house band swelled our hearts with her favourite and queerest numbers from the queerest shows. Alex Kelly (co-founder of Third Angel) made two new Songmaps.
 730-10pm – Space Shed DJs
DJs from Unlimited’s family of friends and colleagues were due to play an eclectic range of beats’n’bangers to suit all tastes and dance styles. Sadly, the rain stopped play. But David Edwards aka Minotaur Shock took his set inside – remixing his favourite moments from music he’s composed for shows over the years. This ‘piece’ was remade from original music for The Giant & The Bear

Thanks for making this amazing day happen to:
Mark Taylor-Batty and Lee Dalley (Workshop Theatre), Andy Edwards (graphic design and installations), Hannah Sibai (physical design), Tony Sidebottom and his sidekick Mikey (Set build and Printing), Alison McIntyre (poster displays), Charlotte Wood and Steve Watling (Technical Stage Management), Sarah Buckmaster and Production Light & Sound (Production Management), Christie Hill (Floor Manager), Lily Payton and Lydia Bagley (Stage Management), Rob Hall (Livestream), ALL THE ARTISTS and, of course, you. For coming. And supporting us always. Thankyou.Welcome to the final shows. We’re glad you could make it.
unFinale Portraits
unFinale (2023)