As we commence our exciting redevelopment we are also saying temporary farewell to our beloved Studio. But fear not as, come 2018, we will unveil a brand new Studio space which will be bigger, bolder and a better equipped performance space. To find out more about our exciting future, you can keep up to date with all the latest developments right here.
In the meantime, let’s reminisce over the last 44 years of our Studio’s life.
Previous to the refurbishment of our auditorium in 2012, architect Peter Moro was last to completely transform our building with the introduction of our Studio theatre in 1972.
The Studio gave us a flexible space within our complex to stage small-scale productions, working as a perfect complement to our Georgian Theatre.
Those of you who are lucky enough will remember The Great West Show being the first to christen its slick new floors. This May the Studio saw its final performance with a one-off run of Mr Gotalot’s Gotalot Shop as part of our 250th Birthday Weekend celebrations.
Over the years this space has become most notable for nurturing new talent, having seen the likes of Daniel Day-Lewis, Pete Postlethwaite and Sophie Thompson pass through its doors before they established their careers.
The Daniel Day-Lewis starring Edward II programme – back when workshops cost a mere 80p.
In more recent years our Studio has acted as a launch-pad for the career of Sally Cookson with shows such as Boing and How Cold My Toes before going on to trailblazing success with her critically acclaimed Jane Eyre.
For the last six years, the Studio has been host to Bristol Old Vic Ferment – the artist development programme of Bristol Old Vic – bringing us the most cutting edge new work from inspiring artists across the UK and beyond.
Emma Bettridge, Ferment’s Producer, said “The Studio closing is a time of such mixed feelings – excitement for what is to come, yet remembering all the many excellent shows that have stomped the boards in there. I’ve been here for four years and in my time we’ve flexed that gorgeous space into many a configuration. This has enabled us to show such an eclectic mix of work which has been technically outstanding – from Kath Chandler’s Before It Rains to Sleepdogs’ Dark Land Light House.”
Before it Rains (2012) and Dark Land Light House (2016).
With 44 years worth of shows under its belt, it’s no easy feat to pick a singular favourite. However, five of our staff members weighed in with their top moments:
Sharon Clark, our Literary Producer, jumped to mention 2010’s Kursk which completely transformed the Studio into the interior of a submarine. “It was totally immersive, the set was epic and allowed us to see that space in a completely different and visceral way. The ground literally shook and it authentically recreated the feel of being stuck within a submarine. This made the whole atmosphere of the play much more immediate.”
Fondly recalling 2012’s Ours Was the Fen Country, Helen Edwards, Ferment Assistant Producer, said of the show: “It was the first time I’d seen dance that was so narrative driven and opened my eyes to the incredible talent of Dan Canham.”
And Then Come the Night Jars was the one that shone for Rachel Millett, our Programming and Producing Administrator. Speaking about the show that depicted the trauma and ordeal of the foot-and-mouth crisis in 2001, Rachel described how “it had an absolutely beautiful set which was complemented by some fantastic new writing. The foot-and-mouth crisis touched so close to home so I found it incredibly powerful and emotional.”
Charlie Coombes, our Press Officer, praised the recently departed The Dog and Elephant. Originating as part of Ferment Fortnight in 2015, the show returned this year as a fully fledged Studio production. Charlie enthused that “Jack Johns’ stunningly physical performance was a tour-de-force – transformative, incredible and great fake tattoos – when paired with local boy Matt Grinter’s spare and moving script, you couldn’t go wrong!”
Joe Spurgeon, Development Manager, found this an impossible task, stating that “I have so many happy, mind-shifting memories of the Studio I couldn’t name just one. The Studio has always been a place of community and discovery for me and is, without question, my favourite dark little room in the whole of the city.”
The space has really been THE space to tour small-scale work. From the exquisite, barely lit brilliance of Beethoven’s String Quartet No.14 as performed by the Sacconis at Bristol Proms 2015; to Simon Godwin’s immaculate rendition of Krapp’s Last Tape and the raw-hearted beauty that simply surged through Gary Owen’s Iphigenia in Splott. From the anarchic Blahblahblah monthly Mondays of spoken word, Tim Crouch’s jabby, confrontational The Author, to the sheer brio and humour of numerous Made in Bristol and Bristol Old Vic Young Company productions.
We will remember this space with huge affection and will carry the quality and all the wonderful artists with us on to the next exciting phase of our Theatre.
Over the next 18 months the Studio programme of work will continue as usual but with a more nomadic spirit as we go on presenting work from visiting artists in alternative venues around the city.
While we say farewell to the Studio we’ve all come to know and love, we look forward in anticipation to the new 188 seat Studio performance space which will open in 2018.
It’s been good knowing you, little fella.
This Summer, Ferment relocates from our Studio to our Theatre stage 26-30 Jul. For more information and to book tickets, click here.