Would you like to find out how they managed to squeeze a live African elephant on stage? Or see what Bristol graffiti looked like in 1859? Do you want to know what play was on the day your grandma was born? And what a Thunder Run is? Maybe you’ll spot one of our famous ghosts...

A generous grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund has allowed us to open up and discuss the history of Bristol Old Vic with the public for the first time. Working with the University of Bristol Theatre CollectionBristol Archives, and an assortment of historians, designers and creative Bristol talent, our heritage offer has allowed the hidden secrets of our wonderful theatre to be unveiled. 

Our new investigations will shine a light on the amazing stories of a theatre that has been entertaining Bristol for the last 250 years. Heritage will encompass every facet of our building, adding to the world-class Bristol Old Vic experience and providing context for the drama that happens both on and offstage.

This historic theatre has had many names and faces throughout its history; known at different times as the Bristol Theatre, King Street Theatre, and the Theatre Royal there are an infinite amount of stories to tell and interesting figures to explore.

From exhibitions to interactive sound experiences, and even augmented reality, our history is accessible through a variety of creative displays featured throughout the entire building. The Heritage Department is delving into the tales of famous actors, ground-breaking performances, and unique events in the turbulent history of Bristol; and we want you along for the ride. Find out more via the links above.

Bristol Old Vic is the longest continuously working theatre in the English-speaking world. Since its establishment in 1766 the theatre has endured riots, financial decline, and war – surviving them all.

Liam Wiseman, Heritage Engagement Manager