All posts by Unity Arts London

Educational community heritage projects in the East End of London

SYON JANE by Isabel Walters

Queen Jane remains the only English monarch of the past five centuries for whom no genuine portrait is known to have survived. Dozens of images have been put forward over those five centuries, but none has yet been conclusively authenticated.

It is now believed the portrait above by an unknown artist is the truest likeness of Jane Grey and is in the collection of the Duke of Northumberland at Syon House, Middlesex, UK.

One of our young artists, Isabel Walters, responded to the portrait with a bust SYON JANE that was exhibited at the New Armouries 12 February as part of the WOEFUL PUPPET exhibition.




Dr Zoe Hudson on Woeful Puppet and Tudor Prison Life

On 12 February as part of the WOEFUL PUPPET presentation at Tower of London Dr Zoe Hudson gave a talk (to a very mixed crowd) about what life in prison would have been like for Lady Jane Grey.

“I used archival evidence of Stonley and other prisoners to explore how Jane might have experienced those months in the Tower of London”.

Dr Zoe Hudson on Tudor Prison Life

She writes here of delivering a talk to a mixed community group and how she “was excited to have a chance support the work of Unity Arts” and “a group of young kids gathering at the front; I hadn’t anticipated having so many young people in the audience”.

This talk was well received. And Unity Arts continue to work as a bridge between academia and the community.

We very much look forward to working with Zoe Hudson in the future.



We have had a full and exciting 18 months or so working on our Lady Jane Grey project WOEFUL PUPPET.



We are now starting our evaluation process.

If you have taken part or attended any of our events we really would like to hear from you in the comments below.

Or you can email us on




WOEFUL PUPPET Booklet Available Online

As part of the HLF project WOEFUL PUPPET a booklet has been created by participants to distribute to our community, the public and our Heritage partners.

We also have a PDF version available for download at this link.


Along with some facets of Lady Jane Grey’s story we have interpretations and reactions from a wide spectrum of contributors via prose, poetry, images and artwork.

The Crown Is Not My Right by Ysabel Gregorio De Souza

With support from the Unity Arts Heritage Team  via workshops and meetings participants were encouraged to write to deadline, source images and think about the overall look of the booklet.

This was also an opportunity for participants to manage an activity and heritage output. Lewis J Phillips took the role as Editor and Michael Cheetham as Cover and Booklet Designer and the Costumes are Designed by Isabel Walters.

We hope you enjoy reading this unique heritage output.

There also are plenty of interesting Lady Jane Grey research resources created by our participants and experts Lady Jane Grey Resources






TOWER OF LONDON Community Exhibition SUCCESS!!

On 12 February 2018, the anniversary of the death of Lady Jane Grey, Unity Arts delivered a community created installation in the New Armouries at the Tower Of London.

Image Michael Cheetham Costume Isabel Walters Model Nellie Noodle

This event was a culmination of all the research and responses of the various Unity Arts teams to the life and early demise of the Nine Day Queen.

Live Exhibitor Thom Jackson

The exhibition looked absolutely stunning and the work on display and in performance was of a high standard and created with care.

There was artwork, research, individual projects, costume, films, and Live Events from Dr Zoe Hudson, Dramatisation of Primary Sources including letter and poem extracts in Lady Jane Grey’s own words and programme from the Hackney based community choir, Silver Songbirds.

Dr Zoe Hudson

Also the Unity Arts Heritage Team’s booklets, essays and papers were available for distribution and over 400 copies left the room that day.

The room was absolutely packed with a completely mixed audience of children, teenagers, academics, educators, professional exhibitors, Tudor aficionados together with  performers and researchers from every part of Hackney’s rich and diverse community.

Silver Songbirds Hackney Community Choir

There was also an opportunity for attendees to visit the rest of the Tower Of London and specifically Beauchamp Tower (site of Dudley’s graffito said to be engraved when he was prisoner there) and Tower Green where Jane Grey was executed.

Feedback is still coming in but EVERYONE has said what a fantastic day they had!



There is so much in this unique blend of Victorian violent vaudeville where Celtic and Jewish rhythms blend in an incredible kaleidoscope of history, or rather Herstory in this noisy, beautiful balletic riot of poverty and petticoats.

Inspired by the real Forty Elephants gang in Southwark in the nineteenth century East End writer, Lil Warren gets down and dirty bringing tribal terror to the Music Hall. Whilst Warren’s excavation, celebration and reinvention of this East End language would make a Londoner proud, it speaks with a unique humanity to the hurt and hope of the ghetto beyond: “What you are born is ne’er your fault, You are a soul in your body you caught.”
She captures the underworld of the underworld, the underclass of the working class, where we find the slaves of slaves – woman. Yet this matriarchal world is a full of power and cruelty, predators and romantics, love and lust. Where gallows humour is a permanent fixture and the unsung voices of female poverty, historical and contemporary are finally, and beautifully, sung.

Framed in the gorgeous gin-soaked walls of Hoxton Hall, we the audience are perfectly, perched between past and present, as guests of now and then. Our glad eyed go-betweens of yesterday and today, our Madame of Ceremonies and her perky pianist are the perfect psychopomps journeying us with light into the darkness and back again.
You can feel the ghosts everywhere yet the past ignites the present, most powerfully in a glorious ending that unites us all as one at the end of time. Funny, rousing, horrifying and powerful, this all-female affair is utterly superb. Tremendous performances from the actors, singers and musicians with plenty of comic turns thrown in. The world(s) created by the designer are wonderful, a stroke of genius making the curtain a Booth’s Map of Poverty. In the true spirit of Music Hall and Vaudeville, this is an eclectic mix of styles and culture, as fluid as gender identity itself. Poignant and provocative. Catch it before your time is up!

Pauline Goldsmith

Assoc Artist Vanishing Point, Creator of Bright Colours Only

ORANGES & ELEPHANTS at Hoxton Hall until 10 February

Cast & Creatives info and tickets available on their website





We are preparing for our last installation at The New Armouries at The Tower of London on 12 February from 1230-400.

This is a FREE event and you can order your tickets here.

WOEFUL PUPPET Tower of London

Please print and bring with you. Once you have attended you have FREE access to the rest of The Tower of London.

There will be art, historical research, film and live installations, Tudor food tasting, music from Hackney community choir, Silver Song Birds with a new composition by Gina Fergione and the dramatisation of Lady Jane Grey’s own words.

The Live Events start at 130pm and  will include the talk by expert Dr Zoe Hudson called Everyday Life in the Tudor Prison.Exploring the theme of daily life for prisoners in the sixteenth century. Lady Jane Grey was imprisoned from July 1553 until her execution in February 1554, and in her talk Zoe will question what daily life was like for Jane at this time.




****THARK by Ben Travers DRAYTON ARMS

THARK by Ben Travers.

Directed by Matthew Parker.

In these grey, dreary days that seem to lack that bygone pre-Christmas sparkle go and get yourself a large, fizzy dollop of fun at the Drayton Arms this festive season. Thark by Ben Travers is a frothy cacophony of a farce and its players play it for all its camp worth. The mis-selling of the country seat Thark, the never ending cases of mistaken identity, and lots of rapid entering and exiting of doors.

Parker seems to have a Tardis spell amongst his magical theatre making tricks. He convinces us the relatively small space of the Drayton Arms Theatre is the expansive (and expensive) habitat of the very rich of the late 1920s. (He is Artistic Director of the North London multi- award winning Hope Theatre). This theatre magic is aided by a spare yet sumptuous design by Granville Saxton and the tip top detailed costume design by Bryony J. Thompson.

Farce is hard to pull off as it has to be immaculately timed, played large but not grotesquely and we the audience have to follow a complex plot. Thark has all these elements. I really appreciated the well disciplined physical performances, punctuated by deliciously timed punchlines, results achieved by a skilled director attuned to the movement and rhythm inherent in this Aldwych oldie.

There are some lovely performances. I particularly enjoyed the excellent portrayal of shop girl Cherry Buck (played with a chic vivacity by Isabella Hayward ) who finally manages to get herself engaged to Lionel Frush (a completely believable idiot played by Alexander Hopwood). I always enjoy skilful clowning and Robin Blell who plays the nephew Ronald Gamble has comic timing in spades.

There are several pleasing surprises in the second half and I left the theatre with a huge smile on my face. I went early in the run and all I would ask is that the pace went up a couple of gears. These are actors new to the profession and they all did their director proud.

Oscar Ciros

Runs until January 6 2018

Drayton Arms

153 Old Brompton Road, London, Greater London, SW5 0LJ




Sutton House were so impressed with our installation we were  exhibiting there for two weeks in addition to the Live Event on 8 September.

This exhibition was created and curated by our Young Research Team.

What a welcome from Sutton House who were such great heritage partners and such a fantastic response from the visitors to the installation. “Such a beautiful story, beautifully told”.

If you missed it this and all the other work we have been preparing will be on show at the New Armouries in the TOWER OF LONDON on 12 February 2018.


****BRAZIL at The Hope Theatre

Brazil is a thoroughly entertaining one man show, that holds the audiences focus from start to finish.

This marvellous play by Ronan O’Donnell is set in Scotland some time in the near future where America is at war with Europe. Doddy (Angus Chisholm) strives for hope of a better place, amongst the depressing day to day life that he finds himself living in.

Chisholm’s performance (directed by Alex Crampton) is fantastic! He keeps the attention of everyone in the theatre, laughing at the characters working class wit, and keeping them in absolute silence for the more intense moments. Doddy does impressions throughout the piece of his Mum, Dad and friend, Cockroach. Chisholm does an incredible job of distinguishing these characters from Doddy, but also inhabiting them in a way that you still believe it’s coming from his character, rather than the actor himself. You often forget you’re watching a one man show.

The lighting remained simple throughout the piece, with a few little surprises. The set made of just of beer crates was used to great effect as sofa, TV and even a bush and Doddy’s layered, scruffy and muddy costume helped in transporting the audience to a council estate.

The prominent use of Scottish slang, meant that you sometimes missed things that Doddy said. However, it was a performance full of clarity so that you always understood what was implied, and could continue to follow the story.

This piece would do well anywhere due to it’s energy and humour, but I’d especially love to be in an audience anywhere is Scotland, because I’d imagine the laughter would be loud and constant for the whole hour!

Daniel Furlonger

BRAZIL will be part of the Solo Show Festival in New York

Image by Michael Cheetham @MicahelCheets

For more info @ProduseTheatre