Bristol Old Vic invites city to christen the new Weston Studio: Presenting the Theatre and Artists of Tomorrow

8 Oct 2018

Opening weekend – A Telescope into the Future 
Following on from Bristol Old Vic’s momentous reopening of its front of house spaces, on Fri 5 Oct the theatre will officially open the newly-built and newly-christened Weston Studio theatre, a magical, flexible space situated in the old barrel cellars beneath Coopers’ Hall. The Weston Studio has been sponsored by the Garfield Weston Foundation and will open with a programme that wriggles with invention. It sets out its stall as a home to innovation and the theatre-makers of tomorrow, and will also engage, educate and entertain children from every part of the city. 

 To celebrate this new beginning, there will be an Opening Weekend Festival (5–7 Oct) providing a glimpse into the work the new Studio is committed to producing and collaborating on. Showcases from artist development strand Bristol Ferment, Bristol Old Vic Young Company, the pioneering Bristol Old Vic Literary department and Bristol Old Vic Theatre School will sit alongside inspirational work for the audiences and artists of the future – your children. 

The weekend will kick off on Fri 5 Oct with a Ferment fly-by, inviting audiences to have a sneak peek of the new Studio from midday onwards and an opportunity to meet Ferment Producer Ben Atterbury, followed by an evening of music, drinks and creative chats. 

 On Saturday, the Weston Studio will become home to work for our tiniest theatre fans, featuring Monkey Trousers’ Mr Gotalot’s Pop-Up Shop, an interactive storytelling adventure for 2 to 5 year olds. From 8pm onwards, the voices of West Country writers will provide a taste of just some of the abundant writing talent in our region honed by our Literary Department’s talent call-out, The Open Session. 

Finally, Sun 7 Oct will focus on the award-winning Bristol Old Vic Young Company and the Engagement team’s city-wide collaborations. They will be presenting Headlong Futures’ bold examination of greed, fear, youth and hope, The Garden of Earthly Destruction as well as welcoming back T***k you, a Young Company production exploring the relationship between youth and power, originally presented in 2017.

Studio Programme begins Bristol Old Vic is delighted to announce the Weston Studio’s first major production of 2019 (9 - 23 Feb), The Princess and the Hustler. Written by Bristol writer Chinonyerem Odimba (Medea, Bristol Old Vic) and directed by Dawn Walton, the play tells the story of Bristol in 1963, as Black British Civil Rights activists walk onto the streets and Princess finds out what it really means to be black and beautiful. 

The Princess and the Hustler is a co-production between Bristol Old Vic, Eclipse Theatre Company and Hull Truck. It also marks a second national tour born from Revolution Mix – an Eclipse Theatre Company movement that is spearheading the largest ever delivery of New Black British stories. The first Revolution Mix story was last year’s sell-out production of Black Men Walking, also directed by Eclipse Artistic Director Dawn Walton, which played to packed houses in Bristol in 2018The Princess and the Hustler will go on sale to the general public Nov 6. It joins the following season of Weston Studio work, which is already on sale: 

Following the Opening Weekend in October 2018, the Weston Studio Season will launch with a Ferment double-bill (16 Oct - 20 Oct) from two Bristol-based artists. Amy Mason’s Hollering Woman Creek follows newly pregnant Amy as she travels around Texas to research the death penalty, and Vic Llewellyn’s A Little Death, which tells the story of local butcher William Williams’ epiphanic moment and explores themes of mass hysteria, loss and the need for positive change.  

The Weston Studio will also be home to ground-breaking Inspiring Visitors, welcoming back Little Bulb Theatre on Wed 24 Oct with The Future, a musical evening of experimental electronica and polyphonic singing. In November, Katori Hall’s (Tina: The Tina Turner Musical) critically acclaimed play The Mountaintop will offer a powerful and intimate glimpse at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s last night on earth. The Mountaintop will be directed by JMK Award Winner Roy Alexander Weise. 

 A major aim of the new Weston Studio is to engage and entertain younger audiences, starting in October with Sleepyheada Little Angel Theatre production for ages 2-5, which features magic, a pinch of circus and a large dollop of silliness. Older children will also be able to enjoy Living Spit’s Giants of Sciencean evening of jarring jokes, pitiful puppetry and the silliest of scientific songs, perfect for ages 12+. 

This year’s Bristol Old Vic Christmas Season will take full advantage of the Weston Studio with a brand-new production of an original story by Bristol theatre-makers Ad Infinitum, Chloe and the Colour CatcherChloe’s brave journey to unleash all the shades of the rainbow is perfect for ages 4 to 7 and will run from Fri 30 Nov to Sun 6 Jan. In addition, Living Spit will also return over the festive season with their riotous take on the Nativity, which promises to be a cornucopia of Christmassy crudeness. 

The opening of the Weston Studio also marks the continued relationship between Bristol Old Vic and the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School with a new production of Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play Clybourne Park.The future stars of stage and screen will reimagine Bruce Norris’ contemporary satire about the politics of race, with performances starting on Fri 9 Nov. 

We’re also extending a warm ‘Welcome Home!’ to Blahblahblah, Bristol’s spoken word incubator, from October. Lorra Laureates is a celebration of what it is to be a poet laureate in today’s society. It will feature Caleb Femi and Momtaza Mehri, the original and current Young People’s Laureate for London, as well as Bristol’s very own City Poet Laureate, Vanessa Kissule. Blahblahblah returns in November with This Never Happened, a one-woman show about the importance of recounting difficult experiences by Emily Harrison, winner of Best Spoken Word Performer at The Saboteur Awards.

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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