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

Full casting for A Monster Calls at the Old Vic and Bristol Old Vic

A Monster Calls
A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls

The Old Vic and Bristol Old Vic today announced the full casting for the world premiere of A Monster CallsPatrick Ness’ piercing novel A Monster Calls is brought to The Old Vic and Bristol Old Vic stages in The Old Vic’s 200th year in a powerful new adaptation by visionary director Sally Cookson. The cast includes Hammed AnimashaunNandi Bhebhe, Selina Cadell, Matt Costain, Georgia Frost, Stuart Goodwin, Felix Hayes, Jonathan Holby, John Leader, Marianne Oldham, Matthew Tennyson and Witney White.

‘Stories are wild creatures,’ the monster said. ‘When you let them loose, who knows what havoc they might wreak?’

Thirteen-year-old Conor and his mum have managed just fine since his dad moved to America. But now his mum’s very sick and she’s not getting any better. His grandmother won’t stop interfering and the kids at school won’t look him in the eye.

Then, one night, at seven minutes past midnight, Conor is woken by something at his window. A monster has come walking. It’s come to tell Conor tales from when it walked before. And when it’s finished, Conor must tell his own story and face his deepest fears.

On publication, A Monster Calls became a bestseller with children and adults alike with its dazzling insight into love, loss and healing. It garnered huge critical acclaim, including an unprecedented double win of the Carnegie and Greenaway Medals for outstanding children’s literature and illustration. This adaptation is suitable for ages 10+.

Sally Cookson, Director, said The prospect of adapting Patrick Ness’ beautiful book is a tantalising one and I am chomping at the bit to get started. The story of thirteen-year-old Conor lost in a mire of anxiety and fear strikes a chord with anyone who’s been threatened with losing someone they love. The combination of gritty realism and magic make it perfect material for theatre – I love a challenge and the big question will be ‘How are they going to create a Tree Monster on stage?’ Come and find out!’

Patrick Ness, Writer, said ‘A Monster Calls has always been a collaboration, in all its forms. I like to say I took the baton from the late, great Siobhan Dowd, then handed it on to our illustrator Jim Kay, and what came out was something bigger than anything the three of us could have done by ourselves. I’m now so excited to hand that baton on to the amazing Sally Cookson. She’s assembled an outstanding company. What a treat this is going to be!’

Hammed Animashaun plays Anton. His theatre credits include Barber Shop ChroniclesAmadeusThe Threepenny Opera (National Theatre); The Importance of Being EarnestA Midsummer Night’s DreamBugsy MaloneSecret Theatre (Lyric Hammersmith); Measure for Measure (Young Vic); Hate (Barbican); HerosMarried to the Game (Theatre 503); The Boy Who Fell Into a Book (Soho Theatre) and Mogadishu (National Tour). Television work includes Breeders, Furious Andrew-Blap, Black Mirror, Pls Like!, Flowers, Wizard Sleeve, Deadbeats and The Mimic. Film credits include The FestivalThe Ellington KidTwenty8kBorrowed Time and Tooting Broadway.

Nandi Bhebhe plays Teacher. Her theatre credits include The Tin Drum (Liverpool Everyman/UK tour); Twelfth Night, 946, A Midsummer Night’s Dream(Shakespeare’s Globe); A Season in the Congo (Young Vic); Fela! (National Theatre/Broadway) and 5,6,7,8 (Royal Court).

Selina Cadell plays Grandmother. Her theatre credits include Humble Boy (Orange Tree Theatre); The Dresser (Duke Of York’s); People, The Habit of Art, Stanley (National Theatre); The Line (Arcola Theatre); The Cherry Orchard (The Old Vic); The Clean House (Sheffield Crucible); The Government Inspector (Chichester Festival Theatre); The Rivals (Bristol Old Vic); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Albery Theatre); Twelfth Night and Uncle Vanya (Donmar Warehouse). Her television credits include Love Nina, The Lady Vanishes, Father Brown, Upstairs Downstairs, Toast, Spooks, Lewis, Midsomer Murders, Bremner, Bird and Fortune, The Catherine Tate Show, The Amazing Mrs Pritchard, Casanova, Foyle’s War, Sword of Honour, Great Expectations, As Time Goes By, People Like Us and Doc Martin. Her film credits include The Lady in The Van, Papadopoulos & Sons, Gambit, Nativity, Hereafter, Confetti, Snowcake, Festival, Matchpoint, Mrs Dalloway and The Madness of King George.

Matt Costain is in the ensemble. His theatre credits include La Strada (West End/National tour); Hetty Feather (West End/ National tour); Wendy and PeterHenry IV, Henry V, Henry VI, Richard III (RSC); War Horse, The Birds (National Theatre); Macbeth, Pericles, Man Falling Down (Shakespeare’s Globe); The Tempest (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre); A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Dr. Faustus, The Master and Margarita (Chichester Festival Theatre) and Treasure Island (Theatre Royal Haymarket).

Georgia Frost plays Sully. Her theatre credits include The Taming of the Shrew (Shakespeare’s Globe) and Little Mermaid (the egg). Her television credits includeCasualtyMagic of Musicals and Fred and Rose.

Stuart Goodwin plays Monster. His theatre credits include La Strada (The Other Palace/UK tour); Sleeping Beauty (Bristol Old Vic); A Conversation, Two Clouds Over Eden, Peer Gynt (Manchester Royal Exchange); The Gentleman (Jermyn Street Theatre); A Russian in the Woods, Julius Caesar, The Lieutenant of Inishmore (RSC); The Country Wife (Sheffield Crucible) and The Three Musketeers (Young Vic). His television credits include Doctors, Strictly Confidential, The Bill, Prime Suspect 6, State of Play, Wire in The Blood, State of Mind, The Bill and Always and Everyone. His film credits include Cashback and Rita, Sue and Bob Too.

Felix Hayes plays Dad. His theatre credits include Vice Versa, The Tempest, Comedy of Errors, Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, City Madam, Cardenio, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (RSC); Peter Pan, Jane Eyre (Bristol Old Vic/National Theatre); One Hundred and One Dalmatians, The Adventures of Pinocchio, The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and A Christmas Carol (Tobacco Factory). His television credits include Three Girls, A Gert Lush Christmas Special, Drunk HistoriesFriday Night Dinner and Roisin Conaty.

Jonathan Holby is a Swing. His theatre credits include A Tale of Two CitiesLord of the Flies, Peter Pan (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre); Mirrorball (Arcola Theatre) and The Renaissance Body (RSC). His television and film credits include QueensThe Terrible Tale of Henrietta TateThe IntentBlood and Glory and Beatgirl.

John Leader plays Harry. His theatre credits include Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons: A Reimagining (Shakespeare’s Globe); The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe(West Yorkshire Playhouse); Peter Pan, War Horse (National Theatre); Running Wild (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre) and Romeo and Juliet (Orange Tree).

Marianne Oldham plays Mum. Her theatre credits include Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead (The Old Vic); The Argument (Hampstead Theatre); The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (Chichester Festival Theatre); Sons without Fathers, Uncle Vanya (Arcola Theatre/The Belgrade Theatre); You Can Still Make a Killing, The Cherry Orchard (Southwark Playhouse); An Inspector Calls (West End) and How Many Miles to Basra (West Yorkshire Playhouse). Her television credits include The Living and the Dead, Life in Squares, The Musketeers, Foyle’s War, The Crimson Field, Doctors, The Impressionists and WPC56. Her film credits include Finding Your Feet, Absolutely Anything, Silent Girl, Titus and 500 Miles North.

Matthew Tennyson plays Conor. His theatre credits include Making Noise Quietly (Donmar Warehouse); Flare Path (Theatre Royal Haymarket); Salomé (RSC); Cleansed (National Theatre); The Seagull (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre); A Breakfast of Eels (The Print Room); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare’s Globe) and Beautiful Thing (Manchester Royal Exchange). His television credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, GrantchesterHumansBabylonFather Brown and The Hollow Crown. His film credits include Making Noise Quietly. Matthew received an Evening Standard Theatre Award for Outstanding Newcomer in 2012.

Witney White plays Lily. Her theatre credits include Loserville (West End); Wonderland (National Theatre); Dusty (Charing Cross Theatre) and Room (Stratford East/Dundee Rep/Abbey Theatre). Her television credits include Clean Break and Doctors.

Sally Cookson trained at LAMDA and worked as an actor for ten years before embarking on a freelance directing career. Her theatre credits include The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (West Yorkshire Playhouse); Jane Eyre and Peter Pan (Bristol Old Vic/National Theatre). She is an associate artist at Bristol Old Vic, where other productions include Sleeping BeautyTreasure IslandThe Boy Who Cried WolfPapa Please Get the Moon for MeClownStrange CasePericlesPains of Youth and The Visit. Her numerous collaborations with Travelling Light theatre include Strictly BaltiThe Ugly DucklingBoing!How Cold My ToesShadowplayCloudlandLenny and Bob the Man on the Moon. Other theatre includes One Hundred and One DalmatiansAli Baba and the Forty ThievesCinderella – A Fairytale (Tobacco Factory Theatre, Olivier Award nomination); La StradaHetty Feather (Olivier Award nomination); We’re Going On A Bear Hunt (Kenny Wax Productions); Romeo and Juliet (The Rose Theatre); Stick Man and Tiddler (Scamp Theatre).

Director Sally Cookson

Writer in the Room Adam Peck

Set Designer Michael Vale

Costume Designer Katie Sykes

Composer Benji Bower

Lighting Aideen Malone

Sound Mike Beer

Projection Dick Straker

Casting Jessica Ronane CDG

Movement Dan Canham

Puppetry Laura Cubitt

Aerial Matt Costain

Associate Director Miranda Cromwell

Bristol Old Vic’s “Messiah” to be screened at over 300 cinemas this Easter

Image from 2017 Bristol Old Vic revival of "Messiah"
Image from 2017 Bristol Old Vic revival of "Messiah"

Image from 2017 Bristol Old Vic revival of “Messiah”

CinemaLive are to release Handel’s Messiah from Bristol Old Vic in cinemas across the UK and Ireland on Wednesday 28 March 2018.

Bristol Old Vic is delighted to announce their partnership with Event cinema specialists CinemaLive to deliver the theatre’s critically acclaimed 2017 production of Handel’s Messiah to cinema audiences for Easter 2018. It is due to be screened in over 300 cinemas on the 28 March, including Bristol’s Vue Cinemas (Cribbs Causeway and Longwell Green), The Everyman and Bristol Showcase Cinema De Lux.

This dramatised production of Messiah is staged by Bristol Old Vic’s Tony Award-winning Artistic Director Tom Morris. It features internationally-renowned soloists Catherine Wyn Rogers and Julia Doyle, The Erebus Ensemble (Songs of Hope) and Europe’s most celebrated Baroque orchestra The English Concert, under the revered baton of Conductor Harry Bicket. Jamie Beddard (actor and Artistic Director of Bristol company Extraordinary Bodies) reprises his role from the 2017 theatre production as he performs the central non-speaking role of The Beloved.

Recorded in April 2017, Messiah returned to Bristol Old Vic following its sell-out debut at Bristol Proms in 2013. UK Theatre Web, Stage Talk, Classical Source, and The Reviews Hub all gave the production five-star reviews. The Times said “Director Tom Morris makes good use of the Old Vic’s intimate auditorium for this direct and impactful interpretation of Handel’s oratorio”. The Stage called it a “astonishingly beautiful” and “a relatable and very human story of loss and grief.”

Positioned between opera and theatre, this powerfully accessible interpretation of Handel’s seminal work explores the drama and struggle of faith, showing a bereaved community whose grief at the loss of their leader is transformed into hope through a narrative of resurrection. Inspired by early performances of the work, which were staged in theatres and concert halls rather than churches, including its first performance at Bristol Old Vic in 1782, it is a rare treat for connoisseurs and enthusiasts alike.

CinemaLive Director Janelle Mason commented: “We’re absolutely delighted to be working with Bristol Old Vic to bring such a highly acclaimed and powerful production to our cinema audiences for Easter.”

Tom Morris, Artistic Director of Bristol Old Vic and director of Messiahsaid: “The Bristol Proms, staged in our ancient Georgian theatre set out to bring live audiences closer to classical music. For this staging of Messiah, we collaborated with the peerless English Concert and some of the world’s finest vocalists: Catherine Wyn-Rogers, Joshua Ellicott, Brindley Sherratt and Julia Doyle, alongside the charismatic actor Jamie Beddard.  Our aim was to explore the emotional drama of Handel’s music in the unique intimacy of our theatre, and thanks to the talents of film director Nick Wickham, a broader audience beyond our theatre can now also feel this intimacy from a cinema seat.”

For more information, ticketing and a list of all participating cinemas in the UK and Ireland, please visit

Bristol Old Vic unveils major rebrand in its Year of Change

Bristol Old Vic
Bristol Old Vic

Bristol Old Vic

As Michael Boyd’s new and ground-breaking version of The Cherry Orchard nears its opening, Bristol Old Vic celebrates this first production in the Year of Change programme by unveiling a new brand and website fit for its future.

At a moment when the world is experiencing unprecedented social, political and environmental upheaval, the theatre is exploring these ideas through a series of major productions looking at change in all its forms. The programme begins with The Cherry Orchard, Chekhov’s masterpiece, which bridges the divide between the longing to hold onto what is familiar, and the irresistible lure of the new. It opens on 1 March for a five week run, before transferring to the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester.

Further highlights include the world premiere of Sally Cookson’s A Monster Calls, David Greig’s adaptation of Touching the Void, a fantastical Twelfth Night and the ultimate comedy of human change, A Christmas Carol.  Alongside these, Bristol Old Vic is also collaborating with The Bristol Post, Ujima and other arts organisations across the city in a re-examination of Bristol’s relationship with the Transatlantic Slave Trade which will culminate in a new production The Meaning of Zong, workshopped in the Autumn of 2018 and premiering in 2019.

2018 also marks huge change for Bristol Old Vic’s organisation as the theatre completes a major redevelopment project, this autumn. Since the 18th century, the theatre has been hidden from view and for the last 40 years could only be accessed through an imposing and very grand Georgian Hall. Finally, Bristol Old Vic can fling opens its new front doors and reconnect with its city once again.

Chief Executive, Emma Stenning said:“Bristol Old Vic is in the middle of a huge transformation. We are continuing to develop as a world-class theatre, alongside developing into a major heritage destination and commercial business able to provide beautiful events spaces for hire. We have had the previous logo since before Tom Morris and I arrived in 2009 so, at a moment of huge change to the organisation, it was fitting to mark this milestone through a new visual change too. We are absolutely thrilled by the finished product.”

Artistic Director, Tom Morris continued:
“As we knock down the walls which have hidden the most beautiful theatre in the country for 250 years, our aim is to welcome people from every part of the city to explore it, create work for it and share in its rich history and programme.  Throughout its long and turbulent life, this unique theatre has time and again been rescued and restored by the people of Bristol. It is above all, a theatre that belongs to Bristol and its people. The entire aim of the refurbishment has been to celebrate that relationship and better share the theatre with present and future generations of Bristolians. The new brand is designed to make that invitation loud and clear, in a welcoming, bold and truly Bristolian style.”
As Michael Boyd’s new and ground-breaking version of The Cherry Orchard nears its opening, Bristol Old Vic celebrates this first production in the Year of Change programme by unveiling a new brand and website fit for its future.

At a moment when the world is experiencing unprecedented social, political and environmental upheaval, the theatre is exploring these ideas through a series of major productions looking at change in all its forms. The programme begins with The Cherry Orchard, Chekhov’s masterpiece, which bridges the divide between the longing to hold onto what is familiar, and the irresistible lure of the new. It opens on 1 March for a five week run, before transferring to the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester.

Further highlights include the world premiere of Sally Cookson’s A Monster Calls, David Greig’s adaptation of Touching the Void, a fantastical Twelfth Night and the ultimate comedy of human change, A Christmas Carol.  Alongside these, Bristol Old Vic is also collaborating with The Bristol Post, Ujima and other arts organisations across the city in a re-examination of Bristol’s relationship with the Transatlantic Slave Trade which will culminate in a new production The Meaning of Zong, workshopped in the Autumn of 2018 and premiering in 2019.

2018 also marks huge change for Bristol Old Vic’s organisation as the theatre completes a major redevelopment project, this autumn. Since the 18th century, the theatre has been hidden from view and for the last 40 years could only be accessed through an imposing and very grand Georgian Hall. Finally, Bristol Old Vic can fling opens its new front doors and reconnect with its city once again.

Miranda Cromwell returns to Bristol Old Vic with Half Breed

Natasha Marshall
Natasha Marshall

Natasha Marshall

“I am that mixed raced kid, like 50/50, on the fence, luke warm, in-between maybe. Trust me, around here I’m about as black as it goes…”

Jazmin feels different. She doesn’t want to stay in the village. She doesn’t want to have a baby. She doesn’t want to laugh at racist jokes in the local pub. She’s got to get out.

Following its world premiere at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017 and a run at London’s Soho Theatre, Soho Theatre and Talawa Theatre Company present Half BreedNatasha Marshall’s semi-autobiographical dark comedy about finding your voice, fighting for what you want and being fearless in who you are.

Director Miranda Cromwell returns to Bristol Old Vic where she directed the award-winning Young Company for six years.Speaking today, she said: “This theatre is very special to me, I began my career here as the Young Company Director, it shaped me as an artist and a person. Natasha has performed Half Breed in London, Edinburgh and across India, returning to Bristol and the West Country. I am immensely proud of her and the journey that the production has been on and I am thrilled that Half Breed will be playing in the main house at Bristol Old Vic.”

Natasha Marshall trained on Soho Theatre Young Company’s Writer’s Lab and the Talawa First new-writing scheme. Shortlisted for the Soho Young Writers’ Tony Craze Award 2016 , Alfred Fagon Award (2016) and UK Theatre Award for Best New Play, Half Breed has toured to Edinburgh Festival Fringe (Assembly Box), London’s Soho Theatre (where it hit 93% sales) and internationally to four cities in India including the Jagriti Theatre in Bangalore, running workshops with local schools and arts communities.

‘…compelling and impressive performance from Natasha Marshall…slick, clear and…humorous transitions. The writing is excellent…’ ★ ★ ★ ★ To Do List

★ ★ ★ ★ Evening Standard                                                                   ★ ★ ★ ★ Financial Times

Listings Information:
26  27 Apr
Bristol Old Vic

7.30pm2.30pm (Fri mat)
box office: 0117 987 7877 /

Running Time 65 mins, no interval
Ages 14+
@SohoTheatre #HalfBreed

Written and performed by Natasha Marshall
Directed by Miranda Cromwell
Designed by Ruby Spencer Pugh
Lighting Design by Amy Mae
Sound Design by Xana

Full casting announced for The Cherry Orchard, a Bristol Old Vic and Royal Exchange Theatre co-production

The Cherry Orchard
The Cherry Orchard

The Cherry Orchard

Full casting for Michael Boyd’s much anticipated production of The Cherry Orchard is announced today as rehearsals begin for the Bristol Old Vic and Royal Exchange Theatre co-production. Rory Mullarkey’s brand-new translation will be directed by Boyd, celebrated former Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC). Having studied Russian and trained as a director in Moscow, extraordinarily, he will be directing Chekhov – the literary love of his life – for the first time.

Kirsty Bushell and Jude Owusu lead the ensemble in this vivid new production, which opens at Bristol Old Vic 1 March – 7 April, before transferring to Manchester’s Royal Exchange from 19 April – 19 May.

Chekhov’s final masterpiece is full of wild humour and piercing sadness in this fresh, funny and honest new translation. A portrait of changing times, it maps the bittersweet tensions between the desperate longing to hold onto what is familiar, and the restless lure of the new. Revolution hangs in the air, the poor and hungry are pushing at the doors, and a civilised and complacent culture is on the brink of collapse…

 Kirsty Bushell plays Ranyevskaya, a woman whose liberal world of privilege and pleasure is beginning to show cracks while she and her family live on in denial. Kirsty was recently seen on television in BBC’s Motherland, but it is on stage where she has earned her renowned reputation. Her career is one of dynamic variety, spanning roles from Olivia in the RSC’s Twelfth Night and Juliet for Shakespeare’s Globe

to Vittoria in The White Devil (RSC), the title role in Hedda Gabler, and the recent “pitch-perfect” Regan opposite Ian McKellan’s King Lear. Her career also spans new works such as the recent Boys will Be Boys (Headlong/Bush), Torn for the Royal Court and Disgraced (The Bush). She regularly works with some of the leading directors in the world, including Ivo Van Hove, Michael Grandage and Maria Aberg, appearing regularly with the RSC, National Theatre and Royal Court.

 Jude Owusu plays the successful businessman Lopakhin, who has loved Ranyevskaya since childhood and now hopes to be her salvation. Jude’s recent theatre work includes A Tale of Two Cities (Regent’s Park), Gregory Doran’s Julius Caesar, Tim Crouch’s I, Cinna (both RSC/West End) and The Comedy of Errors (National Theatre). His television work includes the acclaimed The Hollow Crown series for BBC.

 They are joined by Simon Coates in the role of Ranyevskaya’s well-intentioned but delusional brother Gayev. Simon has worked extensively with the National Theatre and the RSC, appearing throughout the world in many celebrated productions including: Robert Lepage’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Tim Supple’s The Comedy of Errors, David Farr’s Coriolanus, Robert Icke’s 1984 and Declan Donnellan’s As You Like It, for which he received an Olivier award nomination for Best Supporting Actor and a New York Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Featured Actor.

BAFTA-nominated Togo Igawa takes the role of Gayev’s elderly servant Firs. In 1986, he became the first Japanese actor to join The Royal Shakespeare Company. His work spans stage, film, anime, games and television. Stage work includes, Her Voice (Dublin Theatre Festival), Pacific Overtures (Donmar), and The Fair Maid of the West (RSC). His film work is extensive and includes Star Wars – The Last Jedi (2017), 47 Ronin (2013), The Last Samurai (2004), Topsy-Turvy (2000) and Eyes Wide Shut (1999).

Landowner Pischik is played by Julius D’Silva. His extensive theatre credits include Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom (West Yorkshire Playhouse & Toronto), Made In Dagenham (Adelphi Theatre), Anne Boleyn (Shakespeare’s Globe/ETT), Oliver! (Theatre Royal, Drury Lane) and Macbeth (Shakespeare’s Globe). He has previously worked with Michael Boyd as part of the RSC’s Olivier Award-winningHistories Ensemble 2006–2008. His film credits include Notes on a Scandal and Endgame, and he can currently be seen in TV drama The Crown.

Éva Magyar takes the role of Charlotta. Born in Hungary, she originally took the UK theatre scene by storm with her performance as Yseult in the original Kneehigh/National Theatre production of Tristan and Yseult. Her recent roles include Berthe in Ivo Van Hove’s Hedda Gabler (National Theatre) and the title role of Marlene for Tristan Bates Theatre. Jack Monaghan plays the clerk Yepikhodov. He recently played Benjamin in The Graduate (West Yorkshire Playhouse) and Albert in the West End run of War Horse, as well as performing at Shakespeare’s Globe in As You Like It, and at Hampstead Theatre in Deposit.

Bristol Old Vic welcomes back Emma Naomi in the role of the family’s maid, Dunyasha (previously The Crucible, Bristol Old Vic) andEnyi Okoronkwo as the eternal student Trofimov (previously Junkyard, Bristol Old Vic).

The cast also includes two recent Bristol Old Vic Theatre School graduates and 2017 Peter O’Toole Prize winners, Verity Blyth as Ranyevskaya’s daughter Anya (13, Tobacco Factory Theatres) and Rosy McEwan as Varya (Julius Caesar, Bristol Old Vic).

They are joined by Hayden Mclean as Yasha (Fair to Middling, New Wimbledon Studio; Ages, Old Vic London), Joseph Hardy (Façade/Strange Joy, East London Music Group) and Harry Humberstone (Ablutions, FellSwoop Theatre).

Michael Boyd, lauded former Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, was a trainee director in Moscow at the start of his career, and only now directs his first Chekhov play for Bristol Old Vic and the Royal Exchange Theatre. With a unique ‘in the round’ design created by Tom Piper (co-designer of the poppy installation at the Tower of London in 2014; Romeo and Juliet, RSC; and A Midsummers Night’s Dream, RSC and UK tour), Bristol Old Vic’s theatre will be transformed into a full circle of seating, which mirrors the unique auditorium at the Exchange, allowing audiences to experience every part of this rich and rewarding masterpiece up-close and from every angle.

Rory Mullarkey is a prize-winning playwright and translator. He was the Pearson Writer in Residence at the Royal Exchange, Manchester where he became the youngest playwright ever staged at the Exchange’s main theatre aged just 25. His debut play Cannibals was hailed “one of the most provocative, original and disturbing debuts since Blasted”. In 2014, Rory won the Harold Pinter Playwriting Prize, the George Devine Award (jointly with Alice Birch) and the James Tait Black Prize for Drama. His most recent production was the National theatre’s Saint George and the Dragon and he is currently under commission to the Royal Exchange, The Royal Court, The Almeida and the Michael Grandage Company.


A Bristol Old Vic and Royal Exchange Theatre co-production


Writer Anton Chekhov

Translation Rory Mullarkey

Director Michael Boyd

Designer Tom Piper NATIONAL PRESS NIGHT: Thursday 8 March, 7pm (Bristol Old Vic)

1 Mar – 7 Apr 2018



£35.50-£7.50 / 0117 987 7877 @BristolOldVic #CherryOrchard

19 Apr – 19 May 2018 ROYAL EXCHANGE THEATRE THE THEATRE, St Ann’s Square, Manchester M2 7DH 7.30pm2.30pm (MATS) Standard tickets from £17.00 / 0161 833 9833 @rxtheatre #CherryOrchard

Bristol Old Vic presents Ferment Fortnight

Ferment Fortnight
Ferment Fortnight

Ferment Fortnight

Work-in-progress festival Ferment Fortnight sees the welcome return of some of the South West’s finest artists to a process which helps them light the spark of an idea. To properly kick-off the new year, Ferment will be presenting “scratch” performances not only on Bristol Old Vic’s main stage, but also across the city at Watershed and Loco Klub. The mini festival showcases new and original work from the likes of Amy Mason, Hannah Sullivan, The Invisible Circus and Toby Thompson amongst many other exciting and inspiring theatre-makers, with the aim that Bristol Old Vic Ferment can support the future life of these works into full-blown productions.

Amongst this Fortnight’s sharings, there are also wrap-around activities including a conversation with last year’s Leverhulme scholars and the very first South West Artists/Venue’s “meet-up” (in the form of a Speed Date).

As always, this is a chance for audiences to get stuck in and feedback to each artist and help them to take their work to the next level.

Ferment is the artist development department of Bristol Old Vic. A year round quest to find, support and nurture local talent, Ferment provides South West artists with an opportunity to explore their theatrical ideas in an ongoing dialogue with audiences. By inviting artists whose work spans genre and form to experiment, play and make the theatre of tomorrow, Ferment continues to develop these vital local voices by offering tailored advice to creatives both emerging and established, and works closely with them through the development process.

Wed 24 Jan
In the Dark
Blueprints for a Working Model of the Future World

Thu 25 Jan
What We Found Out
For The Record
Hollering Women Creek

Fri 26 Jan
How to Grow a Story

Wed 31 Jan

Thu 1 Feb

Fri 2 Feb
The Loneliness Epidemic
A Little Death

Sat 3 Feb
Cardboard Arcade

All performances are £5 unless stated otherwise, and take place in various venues across the city. Please see event listings below for further details.

Age guidance for all performances is 12+.