Launch Party to announce autumn plans for Theatre

The date for reopening has now been set and the autumn progamme of work announced…




Artistic Director Tom Morris today announces Bristol Old Vic’s Autumn season, which sees the company throw open the doors to its newly refurbished theatre. The auditorium is the oldest working playhouse in the country, loved by artists and audiences alike and celebrated by Bristol Old Vic’s Fundraising Campaign Patron Daniel Day Lewis as a “sublimely beautiful theatre”.


This reopening is the culmination of Morris and Executive Director Emma Stenning’s vision for Bristol Old Vic, seeing the transformation of the Georgian auditorium, Paintshop and back-stage areas to create a 21st century home for theatre-makers and theatregoers.


These past 18 months, during the refurbishment, Bristol Old Vic has continued to produce a full programme of work; not only in the Studio, but across Bristol, and even outside the theatre on King Street. The company has smashed previous audience records (Treasure Island and Swallows & Amazons both played to over 23,000 people), developed collaborations with arts organisations across the city (Coram Boy at Colston Hall played to 17,000 in ten days over Christmas 2011), released a new generation of artists through the pioneering Bristol Ferment strand and launched a dynamic Outreach programme under the leadership of John Retallack.


The reopened theatre will be baptised by John O’Keefe’s Wild Oats directed by Mark Rosenblatt, whose company will also devise Does My Society Look Big in This? – an up to the minute satire on current news and events – with writer Stephen Brown and Tom Morris.


The theatre will then once again give itself over to Bristol Jam – the country’s only festival of improvised performance, before director Sally Cookson returns, following her critically acclaimed Treasure Island, to direct a new imagining of JM Barrie’s classic tale Peter Pan as the Christmas production.


In the Studio, the company will enter a first time collaboration with Sherman Cymru, for Katherine Chandler’s brilliant and vivid new play Before It Rains. Running in tandem with Peter Pan this festive season is the theatre’s annual production for younger audiences, Hey Diddle Diddle, directed by Miranda Cromwell.


Bristol Old Vic will continue to invite ground-breaking theatre companies to Bristol as part of the Inspiring Visitors strand including, for the first time, Cheek by Jowl who will launch their national tour of ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore (24 October – 3 November).  Inspiring Visitors will also appear in the Studio with highlights including Iron Shoes’ Mad About the Boy (27 – 29 September); Fuel’s Ring (16 – 20 October); You’re Not Like Other Girls Chrissy (23 – 27 October) and Chris Goode & Company’s God/Head (1 – 3 November).  Bristol Ferment continues to go from strength to strength with Sleepdogs’ The Bullet and The Brass Trombone (A Bristol Old Vic Ferment Commission, 14 – 17 November) and I Could Have Been Better (A Bristol Old Vic Ferment co-production with Idiot Child, 3 – 6, 9 – 13 October).

 Also announced today is the appointment of a new family of Associate Artists and Companies.


Associate Artists:

  • Sally Cookson              (Director)
  • Melly Still                      (Director)
  • Simon Godwin               (Director)
  • Helen Edmundson         (Writer)
  • Adam Peck                    (Writer)                                              
  • Bruno Poet                   (Lighting Designer)
  • Vicky Mortimer               (Designer)
  • Chris Shutt                       (Sound Designer)
  • Tristan Sturrock                (Actor)                                 
  • Akiya Henry                       (Actor)                                 


Associate Companies:

  • Champloo                           (Dance Company)
  • Firebird                                (Theatre Company)                                       
  • Kneehigh                            (Theatre Company)
  • Handspring                         (Theatre Company)       
  • MAYK                                   (Producers)                                       



Artistic Director Tom Morris said today, “This exquisite auditorium has been lovingly restored according the brilliant geometry of its original design, placing the actor at the centre of an intimate storytelling space, which is a unique architectural survivor from an age when theatre was charismatic, subversive and dangerously live.  But the restoration looks forward as much as it looks back, equipping the new theatre for the vivid imaginations of 21st century theatre-makers, aiming to create an environment in which new theatrical languages can evolve.  We are absolutely thrilled to announce this next stage in our relationship with this most beautiful playhouse, the artists who are as inspired by it as we are and the audiences who have so generously welcomed our programme over the last three years.”


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