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11 September – 07 October

The Unknown Island

Book Tickets

Box office: 020 7229 0706

Press night
  • Monday 18 September

Young People's Night
  • £7.50 tickets for Under 26's
    Friday 29 September

Caption Night
  • Performance and post-show talk is captioned
    suited for those who are deaf/hard-of-hearing
    or use English as a second language
    Thursday 5 October

What is this unknown island you want to go in search of?
If I could tell you that, it wouldn’t be unknown. 
You want to go in search of an unknown island.  
Because somewhere out there, there must be something else. 
Because you want to find out who you are when you are there. 
You ask the king for a boat. 
You don’t know where you are going, or even how to sail.
You won’t take no for an answer. 
The Unknown Island is a beautiful, inventive and rebellious adventure story about dreaming of the impossible and trying to cross the vast distances between ourselves and each other.
Based on Nobel prize-winning novelist Jose Saramago’s short story, The Tale of the Unknown Island, adapted for the stage by Ellen McDougall and Clare Slater.

Book Tickets

11 September – 7 October
Matinee performances: 3pm
Evening performances: 7.30pm
Duration: 1 hour with no interval 
'Ellen McDougall isn’t one of the great young hopes of British theatre for nothing and the piece, which she herself directs, soon reveals itself to be rich in playful ambition and political intent, not to mention some charming balloons.'
Evening Standard

'Ellen McDougall is a director with vision. She has a real understanding of – and faith in – theatre as an imaginative and political space. That makes her an enticing prospect at the tiny Gate theatre, and her opening salvo, The Unknown Island, looks a lot like a manifesto.'

'It’s a richly metaphorical story that – of course – isn’t really about sailing. It’s about telling stories. Or it’s about love. Or it’s about wanting something, wildly, desperately, then realising once you’ve got that this is just the beginning. And that maybe you don’t even want it at all. The story’s power comes from this swirling sea of images and gnomic truths, ready for each traveller to find their own meaning in.' 
Time Out

'It's all done with such a playful touch, such a warmth, that its boldness is almost imperceptible. But bold it is. And McDougall, matching her simple directorial style to the story's quiet profundity, proves that the Gate couldn't be in better hands.'
The Stage

'The show challenges us to imagine a new way of living – and to be brave enough to try to seize it.'
The Guardian

'A lovely, punchy, playful hour spent with a joyful little piece that trades on optimism, hope and faith.'
The Times

'A real celebration of communal storytelling.'
Financial Times

'Utterly transporting.'
The Unknown Island has kindly been supported by Geraldine and Chris Brodie, David and Abigail Lacey, David and Linda Lakhdhir & Jon and NoraLee Sedmak. 

The Gate Theatre is supported by: Jerwood Charitable Foundation 
Jerwood Young Designers
Since 2001 Jerwood Young Designers has given outstanding individuals the opportunity to lead on the design of productions at the Gate Theatre in Notting Hill.
The support that the Jerwood Young Designers scheme provides in both nurturing talent and offering the opportunity of practical experience has been instrumental in launching the careers of some of the country’s most exciting theatrical designers. By the end of the 2017/18 programme, Jerwood will have supported 90 placements on the Young Designers programme over the course of 16 years.
We are deeply grateful for the faith in our work shown by our funders.

Kiera Coward-Deyell +

Sound Technician

Jon Foster +


Josh Anio Grigg +

Sound Designer

Sam House +

Production Electrician

Ellen McDougall +

Artistic Director and Joint Chief Executive

Lizzie Powell +

Lighting Designer

Khadija Raza +

Design Assistant

Hannah Ringham +

Performer/Developer & Deviser

Jenny Skivens +

Stage Manager: Book

Zubin Varla +


Tyrell Williams +

Assistant Director

Kiera Coward-Deyell is a musician and community worker keen to explore collaborative approaches to sound design. Her recent projects have included building a sound system with young people, facilitating free dj workshops for women and non-binary people and creating a sound archive of Scottish waterfalls. She djs & produces music under various aliases. 
Rosie Elnile studied Design for The Stage at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. She was the first Resident Design Assistant at The Donmar Warehouse from 2015 until 2016. 

As Designer, her theatre credits include: Big Guns (The Yard Theatre), The Convert (Gate Theatre), Macbeth (Mountview Academy of Theatre), Hard C*ck (Spill Festival), The Half Of It (RADA Festival) and Loaded (Jacksons Lane Theatre).  

As Assistant Designer, other theatre credits include: Elegy (Donmar Warehouse), Jesus Christ Super Star (Regents Park Open Air Theatre), The Barber Of Seville Design (Opera North).
Jon Foster’s previous work for the Gate Theatre includes Idomeneus, Trojan Women, Dream Story, Tenet and Mud. His other theatre credits include Othello (Shakespeare’s Globe), F*ck The Polar Bears (Bush Theatre), Buckets (Orange Tree Theatre), A New Way To Please You, Sejanus: His Fall, Speaking Like Magpies, Thomas More (RSC), Food (Traverse Theatre) and Long Time Dead (Paines Plough).  His television work includes Fortitude, Da Vinci’s Demons, The Great Fire, Rev, Southcliffe, The Town, The IT Crowd and Mrs Biggs; and for film, Nice Guy and Tides.
Josh mainly works in the medium of sound, but also includes other new media practices as well as arts facilitation ideas into his projects.

He has designed and performed sound in many spaces in London including the National Theatre, Jermyn Street Theatre and Yard Theatre as well as creating and performing sound in festivals across Europe under a variety of names. 
Sam House studied Lighting Design and Production Electrics at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art Graduating in 2015.

As Production Electrician his theatre credits include: An American in Paris Press Launch (Waldorf Hotel), La Ronde (Bunker Theatre), As You Like It (Vanbrugh Theatre).

As Lighting Designer his theatre credits include: Scouse: A Comedy of Terrors (Grand Central Hall, Liverpool), Vocal Faculty Scenes (Royal Academy of Music) and The Bright and Bold Design (George Bernard Shaw Theatre).

Ellen McDougall is Artistic Director at the Gate Theatre.  Previous credits at the Gate include - Effigies of Wickedness (2018), The Tale of the Unknown Island (2017) and Idomeneus (2014). Other credits include The Wolves (Royal Theatre Stratford East, 2018), a critically acclaimed production of Othello at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at the Globe, the Lyric’s annual pantomime – Aladdin by Joel Horwood (2016) and Cinderella by Tom Wells (2015), The Rolling Stone (Orange Tree Theatre and Manchester Royal Exchange), The Remains of Maisie Duggan (Abbey Theatre, Dublin), The Glass Menagerie(Headlong), Anna Karenina (Manchester Royal Exchange), Henry the Fifth(Unicorn Theatre); Glitterland (Secret Theatre/Lyric Hammersmith) and Ivan and the Dogs (Actors Touring Company/Soho Theatre).
She was awarded an International Artists' Development Award (ACE/British Council) in 2012; she was the runner up in the JMK Award 2008 and directed A Kind of Alaska at BAC. Her production of Ivan and the Dogs (Actors Touring Company/Soho Theatre) was nominated for an Olivier Award in 2011. Ellen will direct Our Town at Regents Park Open Air Theatre in 2019. 


Lizzie Powell is a lighting designer in theatre.

As a Lighting Designer her credits include: The Country Girls (Chichester Festival); The Mountaintop (Young Vic); Out of This World (Dance Touring Partnership); Frankenstein/Hedda Gabler (Northern Stage); Glasgow Girls (National Theatre of Scotland/UK Tour); Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour (Duke of Yorks Theatre, NTS Tour); Human Animals, Violence and Son (Royal Court); Endgame, The Choir, Fever Dream: Southside, The Libertine, Far Away/Seagulls, Krapp’s Last Tape/Footfalls (Citizens); The Brink (Orange Tree); Fruit Trilogy (West Yorkshire Playhouse): Romeo and Juliet (Sheffield Crucible); The Mighty Walzer, Anna Karenina (Royal Exchange, Manchester); Secret Theatre (Lyric, Hammersmith/Tour); Adam, In A Time O’ Strife, My Shrinking Life, The Enquirer, An Appointment with the Wickerman, Knives in Hens, Girl X, Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off, Venus as a Boy (National Theatre of Scotland); Idomeneus (Gate Theatre). 
Khadija Raza is a set and costume designer who has recently graduated from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, working in theatre, opera and site-specific performances. 

Previously, she has assisted designers such as Annemarie Woods on L’heure Espagnole and Gianni Schicchi (Opera Nationale de Lorraine), James Cotteril for the British Youth Opera on English Eccentrics and Owen Wingrave (Peacock Theatre), and worked with Geraldine Pilgrim on her immersive, promenade piece, Well (Sanofi Factory, Dagenham). Recently, Khadija was associate designer to Diego Pitarch on The Empress by Tanika Gupta (Embassy Theatre).

Hannah Ringham is a actor and theatre maker. She is a co-founder and performer of the UK award winning performance collective SHUNT.  Individual work includes Die or Run for the Arts in Mind Festival Kings College London, Free show (bring money) (Soho Theatre and national tour) both collaborations with Glen Neath and The Present (Unicorn Theatre, Battersea Arts Centre).
Her recent theatre credits include: The Mysteries (The Manchester Royal Exchange), All's Well that Ends Well (The Globe) Bad Faith (Laban Centre) The Unknown Island (The Gate)  Islands (Bush Theatre), The Architects (Shunt), , Cadavre Exquis (2012), Contains Violence (Lyric Hammersmith), Tropicana (Shunt). She has performed and toured internationally with many other companies including Tim Crouch with the award winning two hander England,  Kassys (a collaborative performance with Kassys, The Nature Theatre of Oklahoma and Nicole Beutler), Caroline Horton,. Short Films include Bouffon by Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin.

José Saramago is a writer and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1998. His plays include The Night, What shall I do with this book? and The Second Life of Francis of Assisi. Other writing includes Possible Poems, Probably Joy, From this World and the Other, The Traveller's Baggage, The Year of 1993, Risen from the Ground, Quasi Object, Baltazar and Blimunda, The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis, The Stone Raft, The History of the Siege of Lisbon, The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, In Nomine Dei, Blindness and All the Names. He has also translated works by authors including Colette, Pär Lagerkvist, Jean Cassou, Maupassant, André Bonnard, Tolstoi, Baudelaire, Étienne Balibar, Nikos Poulantzas, Henri Focillon, Jacques Roumain, Hegel and Raymond Bayer.
Jenny is a freelance stage manager, working mainly in theatre. She also works in music, dance, festival and art events. Additionally, she is Stage Manager for City Academy’s events and showcases. She is thrilled to be returning to The Gate after working on ‘The Unknown Island’ last year.

Further credits include:
The Wolves – Theatre Royal Stratford East; We Know Not What We May Be - METIS (Barbican Pit Theatre); The Peoples Tower - Olivier Grosstete (Birmingham Hippodrome); Proms at St Jude’s Music & Literary Festival (Hampstead); Merchant Of Venice/ Romeo & Juliet/ Poison/ King Lear - Orange Tree Theatre;  City of the Unexpected/ The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning (Edinburgh Festival)– National Theatre Wales; Julius Caesar/ Othello – Guildford Shakespeare Company; Cinderella/ Merchant of Venice – Creation Theatre Company; Alice in Wonderland/ Shelf Life – Volcano Theatre Company.
Clare Slater is the Literary Manager at the Donmar Warehouse, dramaturgically supporting all of the plays on the Donmar’s stage, with recent productions including Limehouse by Steve Waters and The Resistible Rise Of Arturo Ui by Bertolt Brecht in a new adaptation by Bruce Norris. She previously worked as Executive Director at the Gate.  

She is also a freelance adaptor and dramaturg and her recent freelance credits include Idomeneus, Here’s How It All Began (Gate Theatre), The Last Mermaid, Man To Man (Wales Millennium Centre), Lotty’s War (UK tour), We Have Fallen (Theatre 503/Underbelly). She previously worked as the Assistant Literary Manager at the National Theatre and in TV and film development with Rare Day.
Theatre includes:
Julie (National Theatre), Yerma (Young Vic then transferred to the Armory Theatre New York), The Unknown Island (Gate Theatre), Othello (Globe), The Night Watch (Royal Exchange), BU21 (Theatre 503), The Broken Heart (Globe), The Changeling (Globe), Electra (The Old Vic), Epsom Downs (Richard Burton Company), Pomona (Richard Burton Company), Love and Information (Richard Burton Company), The Erpingham Camp (Royal Welsh College), The Lower Depths (Richard Burton Company), Thebans (Richard Burton Company)
Television and Film credits:
Midsomer Murders, The Musketeers (BBC), Takedown
Zubin Varla’s theatre work includes War Horse, The Enchantment, Attempts on Her Life, The Life of Galileo and Cyrano de Bergerac and Dara (National Theatre), Julius Caesar (Lyric Hammersmith), Troilus and Cressida, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Midnight’s Children, The Tempest, Roberto Zucco, Bartholomew Fair, Faust, The Painter of Dishonour and Romeo & Juliet (RSC), Twelfth Night (Donmar Warehouse in the West End), Paradise Regained (Royal Court), In the Heart of America (Bush Theatre), Teeth ‘n’ Smiles (Sheffield Theatres), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare’s Globe), Jesus Christ Superstar and Beautiful Thing (West End), Measure for Measure, The Changeling (Young Vic). His television work includes Deep State, Will, Our Girl, Strike Back, Silent Witness, Twelfth Night and Little Dorritt.
Tyrell is a freelance director and studied creative writing and journalism at Middlesex University graduating with a First Class Honours. 
As a director, Tyrell directed the viral show #HoodDocumentary which he also co-created and co-wrote. As a result of its huge online success, #HoodDocumentary proceeded to go on to BBC Three in a shorter form. 
As an assistant director, Tyrell has assisted on Start Swimming at the Young Vic Theatre which is touring to Edinburgh Fringe 2017.

11 September – 07 October

The Unknown Island

Book Tickets

Box office: 020 7229 0706

Press night
  • Monday 18 September

Young People's Night
  • £7.50 tickets for Under 26's
    Friday 29 September

Caption Night
  • Performance and post-show talk is captioned
    suited for those who are deaf/hard-of-hearing
    or use English as a second language
    Thursday 5 October