French troupe founded in 1986 by Claire Dancoisne (stage director, b.1954) and Patrick Smith (visual artist and scenographer, b.1954). Based in Lille, La Licorne is comprised of actors, visual artists, technicians, and composers working intermittently or regularly. Its perspective is that of a crossroads where the stage meets the plastic arts.
As early as the first shows, Le Marathon (Marathon, 1986) by Claude Confortès and Si tu viens jamais par ici (If You Ever Come By Here, 1988), based on the letters of Calamity Jane to her daughter, the masked actors performed in a highly stylized manner. In 1990, with La Tentation de saint Antoine (The Temptation of Saint Anthony) by Gustave Flaubert, the troupe performed with a style wherein actor, shadow, stage sets and machinery, music and objects complemented each other, according to Claire Dancoisne using “a language made of flesh, paper, steel, colour, and sound”. La Licorne continued adapting texts – notably Candide (1992) by Voltaire, Misère (Misery, 1993) by Charles Dheullin, Un monsieur très vieux avec des ailes immenses (A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings, 1995) after Gabriel García Márquez, Macbeth (1997) by William Shakespeare, and Macbêtes, les nuits tragiques (Macbêtes Mac-beasts, the Tragic Nights) by Arthur Lefevre. They travelled the world with a menagerie of mechanical and imaginary animals in the Cirque de la licorne – Bestiaire forain (Circus of the Unicorn – Fairground Bestiary, 2001), and a smaller version adapted for non-theatrical spaces, Les Miniatures de La Licorne (2004) extended this theme.
The troupe also creates events for diverse settings. These have included Darling cocotte (1989) for public spaces, Le Bateau d’ombres (Boat Shadows, 1994) for canals, Trompe l’oeil (1999) for the city of Saint-Amand-les-Eaux, L’Attraction (2000) for a water tower, Le Cabaret de La Licorne – tapas de théâtre (2004) for Lille which took place under a circus tent. La Licorne also designed the festival of 15 000 secondes de la marionnette (1991).
In 2003, Claire Dancoisne was asked to take over the artistic direction of the Rencontres Nationales de la Marionnette, organized by the association THEMAA.