The Unknown Theatre Company was formed in February 1997 as a non-profit making association. It was founded by a group of four parents who decided that there weren't enough opportunities for young people to perform in the area.
Two of those original parents have now moved on, but the Company continues to expand and develop with an ever-eager group of volunteers to help with the daily running of the company.
It all began with our first production of Peter Pan (The Musical) in 1997. The talented David Lawrence, who later went on to study opera in London, was both MD and Director, with Jane Donoghue, who produced this and subsequent shows for the Company. David was succeeded as Director by Vic Atkins and as Musical Director by Matt Brind.
Other directors who have worked with the Company so far include Philip Michell and Greg Ashton, who came back to work with the Company on the first production of the musical he wrote with Matthew Brind, Life, Actually, which we performed in July 2010.
Long-standing friend of the company, and sometime Musical Director (see below) James Williams came to work with the Company to direct The Amazing Adventures of Little Red (which he also co-wrote) for our Edinburgh Festival production in August 2010 and has stayed with us, directing West Side Story in April 2011; A Night's Tale, Spring Awakening and Sweeney Todd in 2011. In 2012 he directed Assassins for Cardiff, and Naked Dictators (in Edinburgh) and Our House to round off 2012. Further projects are lined up for 2013.
Lon David joined us in 2003 to direct Eat Your Heart Out! Lon directed our first serious drama: the double-bill, Changing Lives, in early 2006, and our first show especially for younger members, How to Eat Like a Child in February 2007. The group for younger members has become known as the Unknown YoYos (YOunger YOuth) and is now a flourishing group in its own right. It has its own page on this site.
Eventually, work took Matt to London (though he did return to Cardiff to run our highly successful 2004 Summer School), and two very talented sixth form students from Whitchurch High School took over - Jonathan Mann and Joe Hood - developing their expertise through working with the company, and only leaving us to study music in London. From Nell's Belles in 2005, Ben Davies, a music graduate from Cardiff University, and latterly a full-time music teacher, was our Musical Director, joining us on our 2005 tour to Monaco with Dance of the Dragon and accompanying us to St Avertin for our 2006 tour, staying with us until our joint celebration of Sondheim/Lloyd Webber in March 2010. Dave Winterbottom, who sometimes performs as an actor with the company, also plays for us when needed, joining us for How To Eat Like a Child in 2007. Since mid-2010, we have drawn on the services of Cardiff-based composer and MD James Williams, who has also written some of our shows (The Amazing Adventures of Little Red) and with whom the company has had a relationship over some years. Chris Fossey also joined us in 2010, as Musical Director for our newly commissioned show Life, Actually, and stayed with us unitl 2012.
Technical and Stage Management
Producer and the rest of the team
Jane is more than ably supported by Annette Littlechild who concentrates on our Front of House activities, but also supports the Company's work in countless - and vital - ways. Annette has been involved with the Company since it began, but became more formally involved as a committee member in 1998. Her support and input is to be found in every Company production.
The Unknown Theatre Company is extremely fortunate to have our own in-house photographer, Jenny Hibbert, whose work can be seen on many of the photoalbum pages for the later shows on this site. Jenny has been an Associate member of the Welsh Photographic Federation since November 2007, and in April 2008 received her CPAGB (Credit Photography Associated Great Britain). Her work has also recently been featured in the industry magazine Photography Monthly after she won a competition. Jenny was also one of the founder members of the Company.
To see photos of the current committee, go to our About Us page.
The Company has performed in a number of venues across Cardiff, ranging from the more intimate spaces, such as the Sherman Studio Theatre, to our most regular venue: the 250-seater Howardian Centre. We have also taken two productions to the Weston Studio of the Wales Millennium Centre, as well as performing on its Tesco Stage. In 2007 we performed our special 10th anniversary concert at Duffryn Gardens as part of the summer festival. We also perform at Roath Church House and at various venues across Cardiff as part of our charity activities. In 2012, we performed for the first time at Llanover Hall in Canton, with our production of Unga Bunga.
We have performed in other theatres, such as the Dylan Thomas Theatre in Swansea, where the Glamorgan One-Act Play Festivals are held, as well as other theatres across the world: in Japan, Monaco, France and Edinburgh.
The Unknown Theatre has produced a large number of shows. Details of each production can be found by clicking on our Past Shows link.
It has always been part of The Unknown Theatre Company's aims to allow its members to experience other forms and types of performance, beyond conventional musical theatre shows.
As a result, Company members have:
The committee is always looking out for opportunities to stretch the Company through new experiences, such as tours, exchanges and concerts etc. Please do contact us if you have an idea you think might be of interest to the Company.