Arts Theatre and Unicorn Theatre Archive

Scope and Content

This archive consists of membership records; production files containing information relating to plays performed at the Arts Theatre and by the Unicorn Theatre. The archive consisting of a varying combination of material such as correspondence, documents, financial records, contracts, cast lists, programmes, scripts; an autograph book; scripts; flyers and programmes; documents and correspondence concerning the redevelopment of the Unicorn Theatre; documents and correspondence relating to the Royal Shakepeare Theatre Company's residency at the Arts Theatre. The archive's date range is 1902 to 1982, with the majority of the material from the 1950s and 1960s.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Arts Theatre opened in 1927 and operated as an eating and drinking club, thus deliberately falling outside the censorship restrictions. It put on notable productions and ground-breaking works, as well as playing host to foreign companies. In the early 1960s the Royal Shakespeare Company resided at the theatre with a daring experimental season of plays. In 1967 the Arts Theatre became home to Caryl Jenner's Unicorn Theatre for Children, providing 8 shows a year of its own devising and letting to other foreign children's companies as well.


Files have been arranged in the following series

  • THM/21/1 - Production Records
  • THM/21/2 - Scripts and Miscellaneous
  • THM/21/3 - Administrative and managerial records: Unicorn Theatre, Arts Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Theatre Company
  • THM/21/4 - Flyers and programmes

Access Information

This archive collection is available for consultation in the V&A Blythe House Archive and Library Study Room by appointment only.Full details of access arrangements may be found here: .

Access to some of the material may be restricted. These are noted in the catalogue where relevant.

Access may be restricted to files THM/21/3/1-8.

Acquisition Information

Gift of the Arts Theatre

Conditions Governing Use

Information on copying and commercial reproduction may be found here: .

Custodial History

Previously in the possession of the Arts Theatre in Leicester Square, London.


No further accruals are expected.

Related Material

See also the V&A Department of Theatre and Performance's core collections: material relating to the Arts Theatre may be found in several collections, including production files, company files, theatre buildings files, biographical files for related persons, and photographs. Please ask for details.

Personal Names