Tom Morris recognised in The Queen's Birthday Honours List
Bristol Old Vic's Artistic Director Tom Morris was today named in The Queen's Birthday Honours List. The director who is best known for co-directing War Horse - one of the most successful theatre productions of all time - is made an OBE in recognition of outstanding services to Theatre.
This comes at a landmark moment for Bristol Old Vic which celebrates its 250th anniversary this year and is about to embark on the final phase of a major refurbishment later this month.
Tom Morris joined Bristol Old Vic alongside Chief Executive Emma Stenning in 2009, at a time when the theatre was in a state of financial and artistic upheaval. They brought with them a renewed vigour and ambition for the theatre company which has propelled it back into the national and international sphere with productions that also have an integral regional identity.
Since 2009, Tom Morris has directed a series of critically acclaimed productions for the theatre including A Midsummer Night's Dream, Juliet and Her Romeo, Swallows & Amazons and The Crucible. He also founded the Bristol Proms in 2013 and the Bristol Ferment initiative to develop new talent which is now in its 6th year. Bristol Old Vic productions have toured across the USA, as well as becoming an annual feature at the Hong Kong Arts Festival, touring to South Korea and London's West End. Two Bristol Old Vic productions- Jane Eyre and Peter Pan- have also gone on to be co-produced with the National Theatre and will form part of its Autumn/Winter season this year.
Since 2009, Tom has also spearheaded the vision for the refurbishment of Bristol Old Vic's unique 250year old auditorium and the final phase of the refurbishment which will begin later this month and will reveal the 18th-century Theatre to the street for the first time in its 250-year history.
Speaking today, Tom Morris said:
"This immense honour is truly humbling and I am thrilled to accept it because it contributes to the feeling that the extraordinary cultural potential of Bristol is being noticed and celebrated ever more widely.
Bristol is the most creative place I've ever been to. There are parts of the city where every door seems to have a puppeteer, a band, a choreographer, a technology start-up or a film studio whizzing with life behind it. Nothing could be more inspiring than that.
The credit for this honour is therefore rightly shared by the brilliant team I've had the pleasure to work with at Bristol Old Vic, as well as the artists and audiences who together create its success - and also the inspirational creative communities of the Tobacco Factory, The Watershed, Aardman, Spike Island, St Georges, MAYK, Colston Hall, Arnolfini, The Wardrobe Theatre and the many other organisations whose ambition and inventiveness define the creative character of this beautiful city.
As the French video artist Joanie Lemercier once said to me "if you are an aspiring artist with an entrepreneurial spirit, the best city in Europe to take your ideas to is Bristol".
Of course my involvement in any of this would have been impossible without the transforming influence of the artists, public and staff of Battersea Arts Centre and the National Theatre (where Nick Hytner and Nick Starr opened doors for me which I didn't know existed), the creative team of Warhorse, my beloved wife and family and above all, my Mum, who has encouraged me to think creatively since I was one."
Bristol Old Vic's Chief Executive Emma Stenning has worked with Tom Morris since she joined him as Executive Director at BAC from 2002 to 2005. She said: "Tom has always been my favourite theatre maker. He's a constant, endlessly energetic inspiration, and I'm thrilled beyond words that his work as a director, producer and cultural leader is being recognised in this wonderful way."
Tom Morris is currently directing King Lear starring Timothy West for Bristol Old Vic and in collaboration with Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. The production opens 18 Jun.