Bristol Old Vic Announces Free Season Of Streamed Shows As Part Of City-Wide Arts Channel

15 May 2020

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Bristol Old Vic today announced three of the five titles that will be streamed on YouTube as part of the Bristol Arts Channel, a lockdown lifeline for audiences missing the buzz and community of Bristol’s brilliant arts scene. The Bristol Arts Channel will unveil its pilot programme next week, bringing together venues and artists from across the city to create moments of online togetherness in May and June. Founding partners include Bristol Old Vic, Watershed, Colston Hall, St Pauls Carnival, Trinity, Spike Island, St George’s Bristol, MAYK, Arnolfini, Paraorchestra & Friends and Bristol Museums with support from Bristol & Bath Creative R&D and The Space. More details on how artists and audiences can get involved will also be shared.

The programme will include streamed performances, live and archived, interactive events, carnivalesque experiments, online galleries and mini-festivals, all curated by Bristol’s cultural organisations to give audiences the pleasure and thrill of going out from the comfort of their own home. Curtain-raiser events include Colston Hall's live-streamed music festival Bristol Takeover Online on Sat 23 May and Complicité's ground-breaking show The Encounter.

Bristol Old Vic’s season will form a part of Bristol Old Vic’s At Home offer, launched in April and designed to maintain the theatre’s close connection to its audiences, artists and city.

Bristol Old Vic’s pilot season will include Messiah, A Monster Calls and The Grinning Man, with two more titles announced shortly. Each production will preview on Friday evenings at 7pm and will be available through Bristol Old Vic's website free of charge for a week.

Performances will feature additional material in order to make the experience closer to ‘going out’ while actually being at home.

Tom Morris said today, “Watching theatre on your screen at home is not the same as experiencing a play in a beautiful auditorium with hundreds of others. That is why our ambition for this pilot season is not only to make some of Bristol’s most-loved plays accessible to a wider audience, but also to give people a little taste of the magic they may experience when they step into our theatre on King Street, from arriving at the bar to taking your seat as the lights go down. It’s that transformational feeling of surprise and delight that we want to share and celebrate.”

From Fri 29 May, Bristol Old Vic will present the cinema capture of its critically acclaimed 2017 production of Handel’s Messiah. The dramatised production was staged by Bristol Old Vic’s Tony Award-winning Artistic Director Tom Morris, with design by Anna Orton (KingLear, ExtraordinaryWallofSilence). It features internationally renowned soloists CatherineWynRogers and JuliaDoyle, TheErebusEnsemble (SongsofHope) and Europe’s most celebrated Baroque orchestra, TheEnglishConcert, under the revered baton of Conductor HarryBicket. JamieBeddard (The Elephant Man) performs the central non-speaking role of The Beloved. 

On Fri 5 Jun, Bristol Old Vic will co-present the Olivier Award-winning Old Vic production of A Monster Calls, created in association with Bristol Old Vic, Jonathan Church Productions and Global Creatures. Based on the bestselling novel by Patrick Ness and inspired by an original idea from Siobhan Dowd, the stage adaptation directed by Sally Cookson (Jane Eyre, Peter Pan) was captured featuring the original cast on camera at the Old Vic in August 2018. The play centres on thirteen-year-old Conor who is visited by a monster who has come to tell him tales from when it walked before, offering a dazzling insight into love, life and healing.

To finish off its first At Home season, on Fri 26 Jun, Bristol Old Vic will stream the trailblazing musical from Artistic Director Tom Morris, The Grinning Man. Following a triumphant premiere as part of the Theatre’s 250th Anniversary Season, the show went on to play in London’s West End in 2017 where it garnered a cult-following across the globe. Based on Victor Hugo’s The Man Who Laughs, the macabre musical tells the story of Grinpayne, a fairground act with a hideous smile, who is helped by an old man, a lone wolf and a blind girl as he journeys to share his terrible secret with the world. Brought to life by writer Carl Grose (Dead Dog in a Suitcase) and “powered by an outstanding score” (The Sunday Times) from Tim Phillips and Marc Teitler, the production features puppetry from Gyre & Gimble, the original puppeteers of War Horse. Bristol Old Vic hopes that this blackly comic conclusion to the season will prove that laughter really is the best medicine.

In the interim, ahead of the premiere of Messiah, Bristol Old Vic will be broadcasting Complicité’s The Encounter, a solo performance by Simon McBurney which was last seen on the Bristol Old Vic stage in 2017. Inspired by National Geographic photographer Loren McIntyre, who, in 1969, became lost in a remote part of the Brazilian rainforest, The Encouter incorporates ground-breaking binaural sound design to question our perceptions of time and our own consciousness. Audiences will be able to tune into the performance from Fri 15 May at 7pm from the Bristol Old Vic website.

The remaining two titles of Bristol Old Vic’s pilot season of streamed work will be announced on 29 May.

Click here to find out more about Bristol Old Vic At Home.
Click here to subscribe to Bristol Old Vic’s YouTube channel.

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Bristol Old Vic is the longest continuously running theatre in the UK, and celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2016. The historic playhouse aims to inspire audiences with its own original productions, both at home and on tour, whilst nurturing the next generation of artists, whether that be through their 350-strong Young Company, their many outreach and education projects or their trailblazing artist development programme, Bristol Ferment.

They use their funding to support experiment and innovation, to allow access to their programme for people who would not otherwise encounter it, or be able to afford it, and to keep their extraordinary heritage alive and animated.

On 24 Sep 2018, Bristol Old Vic completed its 2-year multi-million pound redevelopment project, which transformed its front of house space into a warm and welcoming public building for all of Bristol to enjoy, created a new studio theatre and opened up its unique theatrical heritage to the public for the first time.

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