Bristol hosts third City Conversation to address racial inequality in the city

City Conversation
City Conversation

City Conversation

At 6.30pm on Wed 26 September, the third City Conversation addressing Bristol’s reputation as a racially divided city will begin at Cotham School.

Responding to the Runnymede Trust report of 2017, which stated Bristol was “the most segregated core city in the UK”, three Bristol institutions – Bristol Old Vic, Bristol Post and Ujima Radio –announced four far-reaching City Conversations to take place in venues across the city, culminating in a final discussion at Bristol Old Vic in the New Year.

The first City Conversation took place in May at Bristol’s City Academy, located in Easton and Lawrence Hill, part of Bristol’s inner city with a 59.6% BME population. It was attended by over 200 people and asked the question How can we make racial segregation a thing of the past in Bristol? City Conversation II took place in a demographically different part of the city – Withywood, with a 5% BME population. The question What does racial inequality have to do with South Bristol? was asked, as new voices and opinions joined those of the first conversation.

Action points that came from the first two conversations were far-reaching and have been developed into four initial pledges as a commitment to create lasting change in the city:

  • Create a Bristol Curriculum to tell Bristol’s history truthfully and without bias, and provide better educational outcomes.

  • Achieve better representation at board/governance level.

  • Tackle employment inequality to achieve better representation in the general workplace.

  • Find a way to commemorate the city’s relationship with the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

City Conversation III will ask what is missing, how to turn these pledges into realistic action plans, who has to be persuaded in order to make change happen, and what resources might be required.

These City Conversations are Bristol Old Vic, Bristol Post and Ujima Radio’s response to the 2017 Runnymede Trust report which stated that Bristol was the most segregated core city in the UK.

City Conversation III is open to all ages, backgrounds and views. It is a free event, with a crèche provided and free tea/coffee available. The conversation will be BSL interpreted.

Bristol. It’s Your City. Your Voice.
The online conversation continues between City Conversations at:
#CityConversations | @BristolOldVic | @BristolLive | @Ujimaradio

Cotham Lawn Road, Bristol BS6 6DT
Wednesday 26 Sep at 6.30pm (Doors 6pm)

FREE, but ticketed
A crèche will be available
The conversation will be BSL interpreted.

How to take part:
You can book your place at the third conversation in the following ways:
By phone: 0117 987 7877 (Bristol Old Vic Box Office)


New images reveal dramatic transformation at Bristol Old Vic, UK’s oldest continuously-working theatre

New tour dates announced for Tom Morris’ production of Touching the Void

Touching Void
Touching Void

Touching Void

Producers today announced that following the previously advertised dates, Tom Morris’ production of Touching The Void will tour to Perth and Inverness in Scotland, followed by an international engagement in Hong Kong.

Bristol Old Vic’s Tom Morris (The Grinning Man, Swallows & Amazons, War Horse) directs the first stage version of Touching the Void, adapted by The Lyceum’s David Greig (The Events, The Suppliant Women, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) from the award-winning memoir by Joe Simpson, which also became a BAFTA-winning film. They are joined by Designer Ti Green, Sound Designer and Composer Jon Nicholls, Lighting Designer Chris Davey and Movement Director Sascha Milavic Davies. The production has its official opening on Tuesday September 18th at Bristol Old Vic.

This production marks the 30th anniversary of the publication of Joe Simpson’s best-selling memoir, charting his battle back from the brink of death on the treacherous Siula Grande mountain in the Peruvian Andes. Alongside this struggle is the appalling dilemma of his climbing partner Simon Yates, perched on an unstable snow-cliff, clinging onto the rope tying him to the severely injured Joe. Unable to recover Joe from the void, Simon is faced with the agonising decision to cut the rope that binds them…

The production will run at Bristol Old Vic (8 Sep – 6 Oct)Royal & Derngate, Northampton (920 Oct), The Lyceum (24 Jan-16 Feb 2019), Perth Theatre (6-9 March), Eden Court Theatre, Inverness (14-16 March) and Hong Kong Arts Festival (21 Feb–2 March).


Touching the Void 
A Bristol Old Vic, Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh, Royal & Derngate, Northampton and Fuel co-production
Based on the book by Joe Simpson
Adapted by David Greig
Directed by Tom Morris

Performance Dates:
Bristol Old Vic
8 Sep – 6 Oct
PRESS NIGHT: Tue 18 Sep 7pm
Tickets: £35.50 – £7.50
7.30pm / 2.30pm (SELECTED THUR & SAT MATS) / 0117 987 7877
@BristolOldVic #TouchingTheVoid

Royal & Derngate, Northampton
– 20 Oct
Tickets: From £11
7.45pm / 2.30pm (THUR & SAT MATS) / 01604 624811
#TouchingTheVoid @RoyalDerngate

Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh
24 Jan – 16 Feb 2019
Tickets: £10 – £32
7.30pm / 2pm (WED & SAT MATS) / 0131 248 4848
@lyceumtheatre #TouchingTheVoid

Hong Kong Arts Festival
21 Feb – 2 Mar, 2019
Thu 21 Feb 8pm, HK City Hall
Fri 22 Feb 8pm, HK City Hall
Sat 22 Feb 8pm, HK City Hall
Sun 23 Feb 8pm, HK City Hall
Tue 26 Feb 8pm, HK City Hall
Wed 27 Feb 8pm, HK City Hall
Thu 28 Feb 8pm, HK City Hall
Fri 1 Mar 8pm, HK City Hall
Sat 2 Mar 8pm, HK City Hall
Tickets: HKD450.00 – HKD280.00
3.00pm (SAT AND SUN MATS) / 852 2824 2430
@hkartsfestival #TouchingTheVoid

Perth Theatre
6 – 9 Mar: 7.30pm
Sat 9 Mar: 2pm
Sun 10 Mar: 3pm
01738 621031
@horsecrossperth #TouchingTheVoid

Eden Court Theatre
14 – 16 March
Tickets: £14 – £32
19.30/14.30 (fri/sat) / 01463 234 234
@edencourt #TouchingTheVoid

Emma Rice’s first production from new company Wise Children to play at Bristol Old Vic in 2019

Emma Rice
Emma Rice

Emma Rice

On the first day of rehearsals for Emma Rice’s inaugural production from her Bristol-based company Wise Children, the company announced tour dates to Bristol Old Vic, running from 23 Jan – 9 Feb 2019, with tickets going on sale today. Tickets will go on sale to priority bookers at noon today, with general on sale from 10am, Wednesday 29 Aug.

The company’s first show, also named Wise Children, is an adaptation of Angela Carter’s great last novel. A big, bawdy tangle of theatrical joy and heartbreak, Emma Rice brings her unique, exuberantly impish vision to this celebration of show-business, family, forgiveness and hope. Expect showgirls and Shakespeare, sex and scandal, music, mischief and mistaken identity – and butterflies by the thousand.

Following the world première at The Old Vic, London (who co-produce with Belgrade Theatre Coventry, Oxford Playhouse and York Theatre Royal) the production will tour to venues across the UK including Oxford, Cambridge, York and Coventry. Bristol will mark the ‘home-leg’ of the tour for Wise Children, who are also Associate Artists of Bristol Old Vic for 2018-19.

Emma Rice said today, “It is a joy to share our debut production, Wise Children, with our home city Bristol! And where better to present it than the Bristol Old Vic? Steeped in theatrical history and layers of friendships, old and new – Angela Carter’s glorious and tender novel will fit like a long, satin, burlesque glove!  Wise Children marks the start of an exciting adventure and as we enjoy making firm friends across the region as well as being an Associate Company at the Bristol Old Vic – we feel incredibly lucky to have the support and goodwill of the South West. We can’t wait to share the thrills and spills and show everyone what glamorous naughtiness we have been up to! “What a joy it is to dance and sing!” 

Emma Rice is the Artistic Director of her new company, Wise Children. As Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe (2016/18), she directed Romantics Anonymous, Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Little Matchgirl (and Other Happier Tales) which played at Bristol Old Vic for Christmas 2017/18.

For the previous 20 years, she worked for Kneehigh as an actor, director and Artistic Director. Many of her productions will be well-known to Bristol audiences and include: The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk (co-produced with Bristol Old Vic), Tristan & Yseult, 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips, The Wild Bride, The Red Shoes, The Wooden Frock, The Bacchae, Cymbeline(in association with RSC), A Matter of Life and Death (in association with National Theatre), Rapunzel (in association with Battersea Arts Centre), Brief Encounter (in association with David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers Productions – the production has been revived this year and is currently playing at the Empire Cinema Haymarket), Don John (in association with the RSC and Bristol Old Vic), Wah! Wah! Girls (in association with Sadler’s Wells and Theatre Royal Stratford East for World Stages) and Steptoe and Son.

Other work includes: the West End production of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Oedipussy (Spymonkey); The Empress (RSC); and An Audience with Meow Meow (Berkeley Repertory Theatre).

First Look: Rehearsal Images: Touching the Void

Bristol Old Vic and Lyceum Edinburgh announce two casts for double co-productions this Autumn

Touching The Void
Touching The Void

Touching The Void

Bristol Old Vic and Lyceum Ednburgh Join forces this autumn for two ambitious co-productions.

  • Two of modern theatre’s greatest storytellers – Bristol Old Vic’s Artistic Director Tom Morris and Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh’s Artistic Director David Greig – work together for the first time on world premiere Touching the Void.     
  • In September, Twelfth Night, opens The Lyceum’s 2018/19 season before transferring to Bristol Old Vic as the second autumn co-production between the two theatres. 
  • Also in September, Touching the Void opens Bristol Old Vic’s 2018/19 season, heralding the completion of its 10-year, multi-million pound redevelopment project.
  • Full cast of both productions announced today.

Casting for both Touching the Void and Twelfth Night was announced today, heralding the first two-production partnership between leading regional theatrical powerhouses, Bristol Old Vic and The Lyceum, Edinburgh.

In September, Tom Morris (The Grinning Man, Swallows & Amazons, War Horse) will direct the first stage version of Touching the Void, adapted by David Greig (The Events, The Suppliant Women, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). This production marks the first time the two Artistic Directors have creatively collaborated and will run at Bristol Old Vic from 8 Sep – 6 Octbefore going onto Royal & Derngate, Northampton (9–20 Oct), reaching The Lyceum (24 Jan until 16 Feb 2019) and subsequent national and international tour dates.

This production marks the 30th anniversary of the publication of Joe Simpson’s best-selling memoir, charting his battle back from the brink of death on the treacherous Siula Grande Mountain. Alongside this struggle is the appalling dilemma of his climbing partner Simon Yates, perched on an unstable snow-cliff, clinging onto the rope tying him to the severely injured Joe. Unable to recover Joe from the void, Simon is faced with the agonising decision to cut the rope that binds them…

Tom Morris said: “After 12 years of dreaming, I’m thrilled to finally be able to direct this quintessential story of survival which has become a classic in its own lifetime. This next chapter in Bristol Old Vic’s Year of Change season looks at the life-changing decisions of two extraordinary men whose story has transcended mountaineering history. They are individuals who faced agonising choices and triumphed in a battle for life itself.”

Touching the Void Cast:
Rising stars Josh Williams and Edward Hayter will play climbers Joe Simpson and Simon Yates respectively in this world premiere.  Josh Williams has been taking the UK theatre by storm since his professional debut aged 17 in Our Private Life (Royal Court Theatre), closely followed by Lord of the Flies (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre). He has gone on to star in Caryl Churchill’s Love and Information (Royal Court Theatre), New Views: Is there a WIFI in heaven? (National Theatre),  Shivered (Southwark Playhouseand RSC’s Wendy and Peter Pan. He recently appeared in the Olivier-nominated new play One Night in Miami (Donmar) directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah. Edward Hayter makes his professional stage debut in Touching the Void. He trained at The Poor School before taking the lead role in films Burning Men and To Dream (both due for release later this year) as well as playing the role of Walsingham in the 2017 TV series Will.

They are joined by Fiona Hampton in the role of ‘Sarah’. Fiona works extensively in theatre, television and film. Recent stage work includes the role of ‘Beatrice’ in Shakespeare’s Globe’s Much Ado About Nothing, ‘Amanda’ inPrivate Lives (Octagon Theatre/Young Vic) and ‘Titania/Hippolyta’ in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (New Wolsey Theatre). She is best-known on screen for playing ‘Amelia’ in Kingsman: The Secret Service.

The Touching the Void cast is completed by recent LAMDA graduate Patrick McNamee as Richard. He is currently series regular ‘Ruby’ in the latest series of Our Girl on BBC1.

Touching the Void is a co-production from Bristol Old Vic, Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh, Royal & Derngate, Northampton and Fuel.

Twelfth Night Cast:
The second co-production between the award-winning theatres will be Shakespeare’s perfect comedy Twelfth Nightwill be directed by The Lyceum’s Associate Artist Wils Wilson (The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other, Cockpit, The Lyceum; The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart, National Theatre of Scotland; Scuttlers, Manchester Royal Exchange). It will run at the Lyceum from 14 Sep – 6 Oct before transferring to Bristol Old Vic from 17 Oct – 17 Nov.

This gender-bending interpretation, widely considered to be one of Shakespeare’s greatest comedies, stars award-winning comedy and cabaret performance artist Christopher Green as ‘Malvolio’. Christopher is best-known for his enduring and endearing characters Tina C and Ida Barr, and experimental theatre works such asOffice Party, VIP, The Razzle and This Show Has No Name.

He is joined by Jade Ogugua as ‘Viola’ (How to Act, National Theatre of Scotland; The Barnbow Canaries, West Yorkshire Playhouse; The Tempest, Northern Stage and Oxford Playhouse) and Colette Dalal Tchantcho as ‘Orsino’ (Eddie and the Slumber Sisters, National Theatre of Scotland and Catherine Wheels; In My Own Words, Complicité).

The cast also includes Dawn Sievewright as ‘Toby’ (Pinocchio, National Theatre; Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour, National Theatre of Scotland and National Theatre; Glasgow Girls, National Theatre of Scotland, Citizens Theatre, Theatre Royal Stratford East), Guy Hughes as ‘Andrew Aguecheek’ (The Little Matchgirl, Bristol Old Vic and Shakespeare’s Globe; The Winter’s Tale, Cheek By Jowl), Sophia Kolinas as ‘Maria’ (Cockpit, The Lyceum; The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Grey Bruce Arts Collective; A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Canadian Stage).

They are joined by Brian James O’Sullivan as ‘Antonio’ (The Arabian Nights and The Winter’s Tale, The Lyceum; The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui, Dundee Rep; The James Plays, National Theatre of Scotland) andDylan Read as ‘Feste’ (Cockpit, The Lyceum; The Letter, Bouffon Scratchings).

Speaking of the production, Wils Wilson said: I’m very excited and a little humbled to be directing this wonderful play. It’s Shakespeare’s play of celebration and revelry – and like all good parties there are moments of joyful abandon, friendship, flirtation, and great live music – but also, confusion, thoughtless cruelty and embarrassment.  I love the play for its warmth and wit, and also for its brilliant and fearless exploration of human frailty.”

The creative team includes Musical Director Alasdair Macrae, (Cockpit and The Winter’s Tale, The Lyceum; The Cheviot, The Stag and the Black, Black Oil, Dundee Rep; The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart, National Theatre of Scotland; and The James Plays, National Theatre of Scotland and National Theatre) and award-winning composer Meilyr Jones, whose original compositions for the production will be performed live on stage. Previously of the band Race Horses, Meilyr’s debut solo album ‘2013’ was met with huge critical acclaim and he has worked with Gruff Rhys, Stealing Sheep, Aldeburgh Festival and Tate Britain.

Bristol Old Vic’s Executive Producer Chloe Naldrett Elwood said: “Collaborating with other organisations is one of the joys of making work at Bristol Old Vic and we are thrilled to be working for the first time with our friends in Edinburgh – not only on the glorious comedy Twelfth Night, but the boundary-breaking new workTouching the Void. We can’t wait to welcome the Lyceum team to Bristol and our brand-new building and are looking forward to the adventures and opportunities this ‘theatrical exchange programme’ will bring.”

Speaking today, David Greig said: “It is a real pleasure to be working with Bristol Old Vic on these two very different plays, and a joy to be in partnership with a theatre that absolutely shares both our delight in adventure and our love of classic theatre.”

Bristol Old Vic announces new Ferment Producer as longstanding producer Emma Bettridge moves on

Ben Atterbury (photos by Aenne Pallasca and D.J. Cooper)
Ben Atterbury (photos by Aenne Pallasca and D.J. Cooper)

Ben Atterbury (photos by Aenne Pallasca and D.J. Cooper)

As the now legendary Ferment Fortnight enters its second week this summer, Bristol Old Vic introduced new Ferment Producer Ben Atterbury. He takes over from Emma Bettridge as her seven years at the helm ends in glorious style.

Ben Atterbury was a founding staff member of Cardiff’s The Other Room, a small but influential producing house with an emphasis on supporting the very best Welsh artists in making brave, bold theatre. Ben rose through the company to become the venue’s Associate Artistic Director, responsible for devising the visiting programme of work with a particular focus on the organisation’s artist development aims. While there, the venue won The Stage Award for ‘Fringe Theatre of the Year’ in 2016, and last year was nominated for the Peter Brook Empty Space Award.

His most recent post was as Out of Joint’s interim producer, helping to shape the next chapter in the company’s history under the new executive leadership of Kate Wasserberg and Martin Derbyshire. He joins Bristol Old Vic full-time from August.

Speaking from Ferment Fortnight rehearsals, Ben said:
Being around for Ferment Fortnight in my first week is a gift. It’s a brilliant opportunity to see the huge amount of amazing work this programme is doing right now. Before I’ve even seen a desk, I get to chat to artists about their lives and their ideas.

I lived in Bristol before, and got to know the city well. I’m very passionate about it – it’s home. There is a creative energy running through the heart of this place like a stick of rock. I was always incredibly inspired by the work of Emma and of Bristol Ferment – applying for the job felt inevitable and I’m delighted and excited that I get to take on the challenge. 

The timing is also perfect; we’re about to reopen our new Studio and Front of House spaces, and there are exciting opportunities for artists in the city. There is a real drive to build on the tremendous successes of Ferment so far and we’re renewing our invitation to the artists of Bristol and the region to collaborate with us and make this new space their own. There will be many opportunities for the creative community in this incredible city to work together as we confront the ongoing challenges of meaningful artist development. I’m so excited to see where those conversations take us.”

Bristol Old Vic Ferment centres on artist development by representing a vibrant community of theatre-makers from Bristol and the South West, with whom we support and develop exciting and adventurous new work.

Ferment creates a playful structure through which the best artists can explore theatrical ideas in an ongoing dialogue with audiences. Over the eight years it has existed, Ferment has become a benchmark for other regional theatres, working with a huge variety of inspirational artists in a variety of ways to make the theatre of tomorrow.

Chloé Naldrett Elwood, Bristol Old Vic’s Executive Producer said:
“We are incredibly pleased to be welcoming Ben Atterbury into the fold, and to support him as he takes Ferment through the next stage of its evolution at this extraordinary time in the history of Bristol Old Vic. Ben is a brilliant creative producer who brings bucket-loads of passion for both Bristol and for its amazing community of artists. It is particularly exciting that he has lived and worked in Bristol before, and that Ferment has been able to draw such a great talent back to the city.  We can’t wait to see what Ferment looks like under his leadership.”  

She continued: “Under the passionate and inspired direction of Emma Bettridge, Ferment has grown and evolved over the last seven years, becoming a standard-bearer for artist development nationally and exemplifying the extraordinary creative spirit of Bristol. Emma’s legacy is seen in the work that she has carefully sown and nurtured and in the numerous artists she has championed and supported, and it is fitting that she herself is now off to tread her own creative path – we send her huge love and wish her luck.”

Bristol Ferment is supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. Grants from the Foundation are invested directly in artists and the development of their work, through bespoke programmes of research and development, mentoring, dramaturgical support and a variety of public-facing performances, including work-in-progress scratch events, such as Ferment Fortnight.

Ferment Fortnight runs at Bristol Old Vic until Sat 21 July

Further details of Bristol Old Vic’s Summer-Winter programme announced

Year of Change
Year of Change

Year of Change

Year of Change programme continues.
Further details of Bristol Old Vic’s Summer-Winter programme announced

  • The Elephant Manannounces increase in access performances.
  • Royal Lyceum/Bristol Old Vic co-productions Touching the Void and Twelfth Night to extend due to popular demand.
  • Bristol Old Vic’s brand new Weston Studio season on general sale from Wed 12 June.
  • Full Christmas programme for all ages announced.

Production news:
Further details of the Bristol Old Vic’s productions taking the theatre up to Jan 2019 were revealed today.

Bristol Old Vic, Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and Diverse City collaboration The Elephant Man (currently in rehearsals) has confirmed that it will increase audience access during its two-week run. The show will include integrated captioning at every performance, audio description and touch tours,  BSL interpretation, and, in a first for Bristol Old Vic, relaxed performances for all (14+ yrs), not just for young families. Bristol Old Vic is also trialling more user-friendly wheelchair positions in the Georgian auditorium with a view to including them permanently in the future.

The two lead actors in Tom Morris’ ambitious new production Touching the Void were also announced today. Rising stars, Josh Williams and Edward Hayter will play climbers Joe Simpson and Simon Yates respectively in this world premiere. This Bristol Old Vic, Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh, Royal & Derngate, Northampton and Fuel co-production marks the 30th anniversary of the publication of Simpson’s best-selling memoir, charting his battle back from the brink of death on the treacherous Siula Grande Mountain. The award-winning book has been adapted for the stage by The Lyceum’s Artistic Director, David Greig.

Touching the Void and Twelfth Night, both co-productions with Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh today announced extensions to their runs in Bristol, due to popular demand.Touching the Void now running until 6 October and Twelfth Night until 17 Nov.

These Bristol Old Vic productions are joined by inspiring visitors old and new – Phoenix Dance Theatre bring their critical hit Windrush: Movement of the People to the theatre celebrating the 70th anniversary of the arrival of SS Empire Windrush (10 Oct), Chocolate Cake based on the poem by Michael Rosen (24-28 Jul)and one-night comedy from Jeremy Hardy, Ruby Wax, Elis James & John Robins and Marcus Brigstock.

The Studio Walkabout is still marching through the city and this season includes Rash Dash’s radical reimagining of Chekhov’s Three Sisters hosted by the Tobacco Factory (12–16 Jun), alongside Blah’s Big Weekend at the Wardrobe Theatre (15–17 Jun)and the return of regular Halloween fixture The Spooky Ship aboard the SS Great Britain (31 Oct–3 Nov).

Christmas crackers for all ages 
Christmas at Bristol Old Vic has always been something special and we’re delighted to be able to return to a full house of productions for all ages, taking full advantage of the new spaces on offer. The main Theatre production A Christmas Carol is already on sale, with the creative team announced today. Tom Morris (Swallows & Amazons, The Grinning Man) will be adapting Dicken’s classic story, working with director Lee Lyford (The Snow Queen) who is reunited with The Snow Queen’s creative team, designer Tom Rogers and composer Gwyneth Herbert for this musical festive treat. (29 Nov–13 Jan).

Sitting alongside A Christmas Carol this winter is Chloe and the Colour Catcher a co-production with Ad Infinitum for ages 4–7. The new Weston Studio will be transformed into a vibrant world of colour and rhyme in this wholly original tale about bravery, self-expression and fighting for what your heart knows to be true (30 Nov–6 Jan).

Following on from last year’s sell out show for 0–3 years, Ice Ice Baby, The Weston Studio’s intimate and fully accessible sister space Coopers’ Loft Studio will be home to our co-production with Travelling Light, Igloo, a sensory experience filled with sights, sounds and play for toddlers and babes in arms (8 Dec–6 Jan).

For all the grown-ups out there who are in need of a festive shot of fun too, join Living Spit in The Weston Studio for their wholly irreverent Living Spit’s Nativity (14–22 Dec).

The Weston Studio programme announced 
The first productions for the inaugural Weston Studio season go on sale to the general public from 10am on Wed 12 June, with a programme of in-house and visiting productions inspired by the space’s commitment to invention.

The programme includes the Bristol Ferment-supported works Hollering Woman Creek,the latest work from Amy Mason whose production Mass took Bristol audiences by storm (16–20 Oct); A Little Death (16–20 Oct) from Vic Llewellyn (The Castle Builder) and Oh Europa (20 Oct) celebrating the return of Action Hero (Wrecking Ball). The unstoppable Bristol Old Vic Associate Company, Firebird Theatre, return with their majestic A Spark and a Beating Heart (2528 Oct) and Bristol Old Vic Theatre School present Clybourne Park (9–17 Nov). In addition, from 30 Oct–3 Nov, Little Angel theatre bring their magicalSleepyhead for ages 2–5 while ages 12+ can experience a massive dollop of craziness with Living Spit’s Giants of Science (30 Oct–3 Nov).

In November, one of theatre’s recent heavyweight productions The Mountaintop comes to The Weston Studio (21–24 Nov). Katori Hall’s sharp and powerful play was originally presented at the Young Vic. This Reading Rep, Nuffield Theatres and Desara Bosnja co-production is set at the height of the American Civil Rights Movement, on the night before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s death.


Opening date for redeveloped Bristol Old Vic announced

Bristol Old Vic

On Monday 24 September at 8am, Bristol Old Vic will fling open its brand new doors, inviting the city to be part of a new era for the world-famous theatre. After a two-year, multi-million pound redevelopment project, the theatre has finally knocked down the walls that have separated it from the city for over 250 years, creating a welcoming, open and fully accessible space where everyone can feel at home. 2018 was heralded as a Year of Change and this autumn, not only does the programme reflect this theme, but the building itself is leading the way.

A theatre for everyone in Bristol
When the theatre was first built it was a space where people from every walk of life would congregate to be inspired and entertained. Over 250 years, as fashions changed and the theatre became increasingly hidden from the street, Bristol Old Vic has sometimes seemed only to belong to the privileged few.

With this refurbishment, the theatre is renewing its contract to welcome all Bristolians to its unique atmosphere and the company of extraordinary artists who make work here. The theatre is proud to be a place which stretches beyond its walls to engage with young people from every city postcode, but now this building and programme of work can also bring that promise to fruition, here in the heart of Bristol.

Two New Studio Theatres – presenting the theatre and the Artists oftomorrow 
Today’s announcement also includes the newly-built and newly-christenedWeston Studio theatre, a magical, flexible space situated in the old barrel cellars beneath Coopers’ Hall. The Weston Studio has been sponsored by the Garfield Weston Foundation and will open on 5 Oct with a programme that wriggles with invention. It sets out its stall as a home to innovation and the theatre-makers of tomorrow, and will also engage, educate and entertain children from every part of the city. To celebrate this new beginning, there will be an opening weekend festival (5–7 Oct) showcasing the developmental work of Bristol Ferment, Bristol Old Vic Young Company, the pioneering Bristol Old Vic Literary department, Bristol Old Vic Theatre School alongside inspirational work for the audiences and artists of the future – your children.

Directly above Coopers’ Hall is the Coopers’ Loft Studio at the very top of the building, which has been transformed into another fully-accessible, intimate and flexible space for both performance and events hire.

Full details of The Weston Studio’s programme can be found in the new, SPECIAL EDITION BROCHURE, HERE

1766 Bar & Kitchen
There will also be a fabulous food and drink offer daily from 8am11pmfrom the newly-named 1766 Bar & Kitchen which will fire up its coffee machine and begin trading at 8am on 24 Sep.

1766 Bar & Kitchen will be open all hours for breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks, in an atmosphere inspired by the theatre itself.

Another Accolade for Britain’s foremost Theatre Architects
Since 2015, Bristol Old Vic has been working with the award-winning architects Haworth Tompkins to create a bright, welcoming and fully accessible foyer, showcasing the newly uncovered 252 year-old Theatre wall and complete with ‘Juliet’ balconies. Even before opening the front doors, their work here has already been awarded BD’s Public Building Architect of the Year 2018.

We can also exclusively reveal some architectural gems awaiting visitors this autumn. The six shutters that will form the front design of the new building are created from weathered steel, inscribed with the words from two artists who performed on the stage at Bristol Old Vic exactly 250 years apart: the opening prologue spoken by David Garrick at the Theatre’s opening night on 30 May 1766, and Bristol poet Miles Chambers’ Bristol! Bristol! which he performed on stage on 30 May 2016, marking the Theatre’s 250th birthday.

Latest images of the magnificent Coopers’ Hall, now restored to its former glory were also revealed today – complete with oak floors, the famous Georgian windows newly refurbished, and the high ceilings freshly painted. This historic space is available to hire from 1 Oct and will be catered by Bristol Old Vic’s event partners Fosters. There is no finer space in Bristol for a wedding, a spectacular celebration or a unique event for your business.

A brand new Heritage destination for Bristol’s tourists and residents
In November, Bristol Old Vic’s new year-round Heritage offer begins, opening up the theatre’s unique history to the public for the very first time through exhibitions, workshops, interactive experiences and character-led tours. Generously supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, we shine a light on the amazing stories of a theatre that has been entertaining Bristol for over 250 years. The Heritage experience will be open to the public fromFriday 9 November, kicking off with a weekend of taster sessions and events. More information will follow in the autumn when we will unveil the full range of new heritage activities to celebrate the oldest working theatre in the English speaking world.

New production of The Elephant Man starring Jamie Beddard reclaims the play for our time

The Elephant Man
The Elephant Man

The Elephant Man

Disabled actor Jamie Beddard is to play Joseph Merrick in a bold, new production of Bernard Pomerance’s moving play, highlighting views of disability and difference, in past times and in the present day. 

Joseph Merrick is ‘The Elephant Man’ – the wretched spectacle of a traveling freak show who is mercilessly put on display to the horrified delight of Victorian audiences. A London surgeon also takes a keen interest, but is faced with a moral dilemma – to help Merrick or to use him to advance his scientific career?

This year, as the theatre industry begins to reflect the diversity of the world we live in, the Bristol Old Vic/Bristol Old Vic Theatre School annual production has become a three-way collaboration with Bristol Old Vic’s new Associate Company, Diverse City. Together they are creating a new, professionally integrated production with actor and Diverse City’s co-artistic director Jamie Beddard and the Theatre School’s graduating class of 2018.

Speaking today, Jamie said: “This is a really exciting opportunity to be working with drama school graduates and hopefully, by working with someone like me, it will normalise inclusion and exciting approaches to casting. Merrick is also a really iconic part for a disabled performer. In the past, the role of Joseph Merrick has been performed by non-disabled actors, which is really bizarre. It’s time to reclaim The Elephant Man.”

Jamie Beddard was most recently seen on Bristol Old Vic’s stage (and consequently across 300 cinemas worldwide) playing The Beloved in Handel’sMessiah. Jamie’s acting career began with the BBC film Skallagrigg and since then he has taken the arts world by storm. He has previously performed in the National Theatre’s The Threepenny Opera, directed by Rufus Norris, and he has also appeared in the West End production Carrie’s War and the BBC series All The King’s Men.

Director Lee Lyford says: “This is a play I have wanted to do for some time. In many ways the world has become less tolerant and accepting, and The Elephant Man is about how we dehumanise people that are not like ‘us’ (whatever that means). It also felt essential in this day and age that this disabled character should be played by a disabled actor – it’s about seeing opportunities for representation and taking them. We’re not equating Jamie with Merrick but we are exploring what is at the heart of the play and the character, and Jamie has both the skills and life experience to do this. We’re extremely lucky to have him leading the company.” 

Bristol Old Vic, Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and Diverse City collaboration The Elephant Man has confirmed that it will increase audience access during the two-week run. The show will include integrated captioning at every performance, audio description and touch tours, integrated BSL interpretation, and, in a first for Bristol Old Vic, relaxed performances for all (14+ yrs), not just for families. Bristol Old Vic is also trialling more user-friendly wheelchair positions in the Georgian auditorium with a view to including them permanently in the future.

Jamie Beddard as Joseph Merrick is joined by a cast of theatre school graduatesStephanie Booth (Countess), Micky Dartford (Ross), Max Dinnen (Bishop Walsham How), Gerald Gyimah (Carr Gomm), Grainne O’ Mahony (Mrs Kendal),Madeleine Schofield (Duchess), Charlie Suff (Snork), Liyah Summers (Princess Alexandra) and Alex Wilson (Frederick Treves).

Director Lee Lyford is joined by a creative team comprising professionals and graduating students including set designer Caitlin Abbott, costume designer Stavri Papa, lighting designer and AV consultant Ziggy Jacobs-Wyburn, AV/captioning designer Emily Leonard and composer/sound designer/musical director Adrienne Quartly.

The Elephant Man is part of Bristol Old Vic’s Year of Change, examining change through a series of ground-breaking theatre productions and provocative city-wide events.

26 Jun – 7 Jul
The Elephant Man
Venue: Bristol Old Vic
Tickets: £31.50 – £7.50
Ages 14+
Please note: this show contains mature themes and some nudity
@BristolOldVic @BOVTS @diversecity1 #ElephantMan

Press night Thu 28 Jun
Signed Performance Sat 7 Jul
Audio Described Performance Sat 7 Jul
Relaxed Performances Sat 30 Jun & Wed 4 Jul
Captioned Performances throughout