Unity Theatre appoints first female artistic director

Elinor Randle announced as interim artistic director of the Unity Theatre in Liverpool, the first woman to hold the role, as the venue emerges from a turbulent period. Tony McDonough reports

Elinor Randle
Elinor Randle, interim artistic director of the Unity Theatre in Liverpool


Liverpool’s Unity Theatre has appointed its first female artistic director as it continues to recover from one of the most turbulent periods in its history.

Elinor Randle has taken the role on an interim basis. She joins the Hope Street venue while remaining in her role as artistic director at Tmesis Theatre and at the International Physical Theatre Festival.

During the last 18 years, her theatre companies have toured nationally and internationally, as well as being recognised with an award at the United Solo Festival in New York.

She has worked with the English Touring Theatre, Leeds Playhouse, Rowena Gander, Box of Tricks, Surge Festival, LIPA and the Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse Theatres.

Off stage, Elinor has written and directed a short film, Betty and Jean, which has been selected for appearance within three international film festivals as well as featuring on Channel 4.

Theatres were hit hard by the COVID pandemic and have struggled to fully recover. Add to this the cost of living crisis and a squeeze in public funding which has meant venues such as the Unity have faced huge challenges.

Now Elinor has been brought on board to support interim chief executive, Matthew Brown and executive director, Eleanor Mason-Sawko, in the delivery of its strategic recovery plan.

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Elinor said: “The Unity Theatre itself was my first home for theatre, here in Liverpool and was a huge source of inspiration and influence to me, as a student and young artist.

“I’ve proudly mentored upcoming artists for whom the Unity has also been their first show or performance setting.

“I am passionate in supporting artists, programming and developing work, so, to now be a part of this vital Liverpool institution, as artistic director, and to lead the continuing artistic legacy of the theatre is a real honour.”

Matthew Brown added: “We are delighted to welcome Elinor to Unity Theatre. She not only represents a first female appointment in this crucial leadership role, Elinor also brings credibility and creativity to the theatre.”

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