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250th Anniversary Programme

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Bristol Old Vic, the UK's oldest working theatre, has revealed its full 250th anniversary programme, featuring shows from each century of the theatre's life
and a Shakespeare to mark the 400th anniversary of his death.

2016 represents an extraordinary moment in theatre history as Bristol Old Vic, the oldest continuously working theatre in the English speaking world, celebrates its 250th birthday.

To mark this momentous occasion, we hosted a weekend of celebrations over the May Bank Holiday (28-30 May) to mark the extraordinary survival of this unique theatre and its 250 year love affair with the city that built it. Featuring three smashing days of entertainment, free events and one brilliant street party. We hope you can drop in and help us celebrate!

Coming soon...

18th Century

Bristol Old Vic, Citizens Theatre, Glasgow and Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse

A comedy of love and manners...

In the summer streets of Bath, social climber and "pineapple of politeness" Mrs Malaprop is determined to make her niece Lydia Languish a fortuitous match. Lydia, however, fuelled by an excessive indulgence in romantic fiction, has other ideas and plans to fall in love with a penniless man. Introducing the inconveniently wealthy Captain Jack Absolute who, in an attempt to fulfil Lydia's romantic ambition and capture her heart, disguises himself as a poor soldier - with hilarious consequences!

An elegant comedy of manners, The Rivals will be brought to life by director Dominic Hill (The Libertine), Artistic Director of Citizens Theatre Glasgow. Inspired by Sheridan's own romantic entanglements, which fed the gossip-mongers of his day with endless scandal and tittle-tattle, his first and most loved play will transport you to Bath in 1775 for a story which has been entertaining audiences for almost as long as our Theatre.


A Bristol Old Vic production

The king is dead, but who the hell cares? A strange new act has arrived at the fair in the centre of the capital, a grotesque oasis of entertainment. Soon everyone from the gutter-rats to the new queen has fallen for the hand-made freak Grinpayne and his hideously beautiful face. But who is he really? And how did he come to be so marked? Together with an old man, a blind girl and wolf he has a story to tell. A tale so tragic and so strange that not even he can guess how it will end.

Cracked hearts. Strange fates. Monstrous souls. Impossible dreams. The Grinning Man is a wonderfully weird and wickedly wild new musical that offers a vision of how an alternate history might have unfolded.

Brought to life by writer Carl Grose (Dead Dog in a Suitcase, Tristan and Yseult), director Tom Morris (Swallows and Amazons, War Horse) and composed by Tim Phillips and Marc Teitler (Juliet and her Romeo), The Grinning Man is a brand new musical, based on The Man Who Laughs by Victor Hugo.


250th Anniversary Season

19th Century

A Bristol Old Vic production

The 19th Century is represented by the return of Bristol Old Vic's smash hit Jane Eyre. First staged at Bristol Old Vic in 2014, Director Sally Cookson now brings her acclaimed re-imagining of Brontë's masterpiece back to us presented as a single, exhilarating performance following its transfer to the National Theatre.

21st Century

A Bristol Old Vic production

A thread of 21st century work running throughout the year will be launched with the return of Pink Mist, the critically acclaimed Bristol Old Vic production. Pink Mist tells the story of three young Bristol men deployed to Afghanistan. Returning to the women in their lives who must now share the physical and psychological aftershocks of their service, Arthur, Hads and Taff find their journey home is their greatest battle.

20th Century

A Bristol Old Vic production

Eugene O'Neill's Pulitzer prize-winning masterpiece captures one fateful summer's day in the life of the Tyrones, a family tied together by a lifetime of secrets. Directed by Sir Richard Eyre and starring Jeremy Irons and Lesley Manville.

This is the first time that the acclaimed British film, theatre, television and opera director has directed a production at Bristol Old Vic, the place which inspired him as a schoolboy to work in theatre after seeing Peter O'Toole play Hamlet in 1957.

Peepolykus with Bristol Old Vic, Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse, Nuffield and Royal & Derngate, Northampton

For your viewing pleasure, Peepolykus (Let the Donkey Go, The Hound of the Baskervilles) proudly present Gustave Flaubert's masterpiece The Massive Tragedy of Madame Bovary! The seminal 19th Century novel will be brought spectacularly to life by director Gemma Bodinetz and her ‘bijoux' cast (with a fair amount of doubling).

A Kneehigh and Bristol Old Vic production

Kneehigh and Bristol Old Vic's The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk traces the lives of Marc and Bella Chegall who walked through some of the most devastating times in history. Emma Rice's final production as Kneehigh's Artistic Director is drawn in a theatrical language as fluid as Chagall's paintings, and woven throughout with music and dance inspired by the Russian Jewish tradition.


A collaboration between Bristol Old Vic and Bristol Old Vic Theatre School

British theatre legend Timothy West plays Lear in Tom Morris' production of Shakespeare great tragedy. West returns to his beloved Theatre where he has not only appeared in landmark productions of Uncle Vanya and Long Day's Journey Into Night but also worked as associate director and member of the Board of Trustees.

With a cast of acclaimed actors including Stephanie Cole and David Hargreaves working alongside the stars of tomorrow from the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, this production will celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, Bristol Old Vic's 250th anniversary and the Theatre School's 70th anniversary.


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