Bristol Old Vic invites city back to the theatre with a month of live music on its Courtyard stage.

2 Sep 2021

While we eagerly await the return of live theatre to Bristol Old Vic's main stage this October, the theatre today invited audiences to take a first step towards normality with a series of live music gigs throughout September, guaranteed to raise the roof and bring some full-throttle energy back to the theatre as Autumn begins.

From 8 Sep, Bristol Old Vic will be hosting show-stopping nights of music, drinking, food and fun in The Courtyard - the theatre's award-winning foyer space - in the lead up to an autumn jam-packed with some of the hottest theatre anywhere in the UK.

The Courtyard Sessions will showcase some of the South West's finest musicians, introduce some special guests who will be performing as part of Bristol Old Vic's autumn season and also welcome back some familiar theatre faces. 

The Courtyard is named after the space where audiences used to congregate before being let into the theatre over 253 years ago. On that same spot today is the Courtyard stage, perfect for an evening with friends and some of the best music Bristol has to offer.

The programme kicks off on 8 Sep with Medicine Creek - a foot-stomping, old time string band from Bristol, playing their whisky-soaked brand of bluegrass and americana since getting together in Bristol in 2010. The Chiff Chaff 4tet, led by double bass player Sol Ahmed take over the stage on 14 Sep for jazz warbling of the finest sort, closely followed by Bristol's gospel and neo-soul The Sondor Choir returning to live performance for the first time post lockdown (15 Sep) guaranteeing an emotional evening packed with sheer joy.  

On 16 Sep, we're thrilled to announce acclaimed playwright, musician, author and Olivier Award-winner Giles Terera (Hamilton), joins us for one night only to perform his critically acclaimed song cycle Black Matter written during the summer lockdown and originally performed and streamed at Crazy Coqs. Join him for a spellbinding hour of songs about protest and joy and anger and love. Giles's debut play The Meaning of Zong was due to take place in September at Bristol Old Vic before being rescheduled due to the pandemic. We are thrilled to now be able to premiere this important work at Bristol Old Vic in April 2022.

The final week of sessions begins with Snazzback's saxophonist and producer Dave Sanders, one of the leading voices of Bristol's explosive jazz scene. On 21 Sep he pulls together fellow Bristolian heavyweights for a unique evening of vivid improvisations and re-imagined compositions. They're followed by a propane-driven, barn-storming night from Bristol favourites The ZuZu Men - with their effortless blend of remarkable musicality and irreverent humour - standing room only!

And finally, on 28 Sep, Bristol's own Celestine joins the line-up. Playful, sensual, bold and endearing; Celestine’s passion and diverse musical ability transcends genres. Now, the Bristol born and raised singer songwriter performs a special acoustic Courtyard Session to round off the September in style. 

For more info on the Courtyard Sessions and all productions at Bristol Old Vic this autumn, visit the website:

Further details of the Courtyard Sessions:

8 Sep Medicine Creek
The band specialise in rootsy bluegrass and alt-country, reinventing dark tales of murder and mayhem from frontier times with gospel-flavoured harmonies and violin abuse. They have gained a cult following for their adrenaline-fuelled live act, and have been invited to play at several major UK festivals, including Glastonbury, Greenman and Shambala.

Medicine Creek

14 Sep Chiff Chaff 4tet.
Join double bass-player Sol Ahmed in our Courtyard as he links up with tenor sax man Dino Christodoulou, joined by Paolo Adamo on drums and Tim Funnell on piano to bring you the groovier side of John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter and more jazz warbling of the finest sort.

15 Sep Sondor Choir
Bristol-based vocal collective incorporating gospel, neo-soul and contemporary influences. Singing together for over 5 years has seen them at countless gigs, festivals and events. This will mark the first time the group are all reunited post lockdown so are utterly delighted to be able to share this moment with Bristol Old Vic and its audiences. Their performance is infused with joy and passion and they invite you to join them on a musical journey as they elevate your soul.   

Sondor Choir

16 Sep Giles Terera's Black Matter.
Join us for an evening of musical exploration and passion as we dive into a collection of songs about communication, love and protest, written and composed by the talented Oliver Award winning star of Hamilton, Giles Terera. 

Giles Terera

21 Sep Dave Sanders' Chaos Ensemble.
Snazzback's saxophonist and producer Dave Sanders is a serial collaborator and one of the leading voices of Bristol's explosive jazz scene.

As part of this series he is drawing together fellow Bristolian heavyweights from Waldo's Gift and other heavyweights for a unique evening of vivid improvisations, punctuated by compositions that inspire them re-imagined through the lens of their own sound and experience.

Dave Sanders

22 Sep The Zu Zu Men
Since their inception in 2012, Bristol favourites, The Zu Zu Men, have graced many a wedding, function, dingy spit-and-sawdust dive and floodlit festival big stage.

Their shows are an effortless blend of remarkable musicality and irreverent humour, boasting a host of toe tapping hits from the ’60’s to the present and their Zu Zu Megamix is the stuff of legend; a non-stop playlist of back to back favourites, sometimes lasting for an hour or more. 

Their specialities include reinterpreting pop/rock favourites and taking audience requests, often miraculously learning them on the spot. This has expanded their repertoire to near gargantuan proportions and their performance style is a propane driven feast of fun which never disappoints. 

Just don’t ask for any Oasis. 

The ZuZu Men

28 Sep Celestine
Playful, sensual, bold and endearing; Celestine’s passion and diverse musical ability transcends genres. Now, the Bristol born and raised singer songwriter joins us for a special acoustic Courtyard Session.
Influenced by her Barbadian and Jamaican heritage, Celestine has worked with the finest musicians from the UK, Europe, Africa and the Caribbean to create a body of exciting original musical compositions which fuses Soul, Funk, Gospel, Jazz & Blues with traditional African rhythms & songs.

Photo by Tricia Armitage 2013

Why is The Courtyard called The Courtyard?
The space we're now calling The Courtyard was exactly that for 140 years…
In 1766 our foyer was a paved courtyard, positioned in front of the Theatre and open to the sky.
The new Courtyard stage sits on the very spot where Bristolians waited patiently over 250 years ago for a great (and often rowdy!) night out.

We hope you have just as much fun while you’re here!

Listings Information
Courtyard Sessions
Courtyard Stage, Bristol Old Vic foyer

Table for 2 - £10 (Open Concession) / £20 (Standard) / £30 (Pay It Forward)
Table for 4 - £20 (Open Concession) / £40 (Standard) / £60 (Pay It Forward)
Table for 6 - £30 (Open Concession) / £60 (Standard) / £90 (Pay It Forward)
Single perch seat - £5 (Open Concession) / £12.50 (Standard) / £20 (Pay It Forward)

Please note: The Zu Zu Men is a standing event. There will be a limited number of tables available on a first come, first served basis on the night. If you have any access requirements, please contact the box office directly:

For tickets
0117 987 7877

Wed 8 Sep
Medicine Creek
80 min, 15 min interval
Pay What You Choose (Per Table/Perch Seat)
Tue 14 Sep
Chiff Chaff 4tet
80 min, 15 min Interval
Pay What You Choose (Per Table/Perch Seat)
Wed 15 Sep
Sondor Choir
80 min, 15 min Interval
Pay What You Choose (Per Table/Perch Seat)
Wed 16 Sep
Giles Terera: Black Matter
80 min, 15 min Interval
Pay What You Choose (Per Table/Perch Seat)

Tue 21 Sep
Dave Sanders' Chaos Ensemble
80 min, 15 min Interval
Pay What You Choose (Per Table/Perch Seat)

Wed 22 Sep
The Zu Zu Men
80 min, 15 min Interval
Pay What You Choose (Standing Event) 

Wed 28 Sep
80 min, 15 min Interval
Pay What You Choose (Per Table/Perch Seat)

Courtyard Sessions | Bristol Old Vic

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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