Bristol Old Vic launches autumn and winter studio season with 14 new genre-busting events

2 Sep 2019

Bristol Old Vic today announced its Weston Studio’s autumn/winter season celebrating a wide range of voices and experiences, placing writing that spotlights women and Black culture front and centre, while exploring the hard issues of today with the artists of tomorrow. Designed to inspire future generations of theatre makers and challenge contemporary conventions, The Weston Studio’s latest season encompasses spoken word, poetry, dance, comedy, forum theatre and never-before seen performances.

Following its scratch performance at Bristol Old Vic’s July Ferment Fortnight, Edson Burton and Ruth Ramsay return this Christmas with a fully-formed studio version of Anansi and the Grand Prize (9 – 21 Dec). Set in a fictitious melting pot of culture during festival season and featuring original music and movement, this colourful adaptation of the ancient folk tale about trickster and spider-man Anansi weaves together the colour, humour and dynamic dance of the Caribbean and African diaspora.

Bristol Old Vic’s Writers Department, which also uses The Weston Studio as its home, will be hosting a week-long studio takeover with Missing Pieces (24 – 28 Sep), a series of staged play readings showcasing Black British, Caribbean and African work from new writing to classics. The week will feature Girls by Theresa Ikoko, a play about the infamous Boko Haram kidnappings, Crowning Glory by Somalia Seaton, an exploration of the ways in which ideas of Western beauty affect Black women and Kwame Kwei-Armah’s Elmina’s Kitchen, set in a Caribbean takeaway diner on Hackney’s Murder Mile. The week will launch with an In Conversation event focusing on Black Theatre’s past, present and future with Missing Pieces Artistic Director Anton Phillips and a panel discussion about Black women theatre-makers including some of the most talented writers and directors in the South West. 

Also returning to the studio is Blahblahblah, one of Bristol’s longest running and best loved poetry events. Featuring some of the UK’s leading spoken word performers, poets and performers, Blahblahblah will introduce B*ll*cks to Brexit: European and British Voices Together (14 Oct) and Maria Ferguson: Essex Girl (18 Nov) for two evenings of foot-stomping live poetry.

Back by popular demand is Angie Belcher’s daytime comedy club for parents, Aftermirth. Featuring three top circuit comedians delivering their usual club routines, adults are invited to bring their babies under 18 months. The studio will have more gentle sound and lighting levels, while audiences are encouraged to bottle, breast or Haribo-feed without anyone moaning if a little one screams. Performances will take place on 7 Oct and 11 Nov, both at 11.30am.

Cardboard Citizens will be hosting a performance to conclude their three-week residency at Bristol Old Vic on Fri 25 Oct. The performance, Get Involved, Change the Outcome, will demonstrate what the participants, all people with lived experience of homelessness from across Bristol, have learned through their in-depth training in Cardboard Citizens and Theatre of the Oppressed techniques. The event will conclude with an interactive debate about what the public can do differently and what systems and policies need to change to help the homeless.

As part of Bristol Old Vic’s ongoing mission to champion more dance within the city, Bristol-favourites and movement experts Impermanence Dance Theatre are presenting two new works this autumn. On 28 Oct, dancer and choreographer Eleanor Sikorski and interdisciplinary dance artist Lewys Holt will introduce Roadhouse, a night of improvised performance featuring guest artists based in the South West. On 24 Nov, Keira Martin will perform Here Comes Trouble, a rigorous personal investigation into womanhood and identity, presented through a series of robust episodes drawing on social and cultural influences from Yorkshire, Ireland and Jamaica.

Once again, Bristol Old Vic will welcome the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School’s final year students back to the studio with Mike Bartlett’s Earthquakes in London from 7 – 16 Nov. Directed by Cressida Brown (The Political History of Smack and Crack), the story centres on three very different sisters –a rebellious teenager, a troubled expectant mother, and a passionate cabinet minister. Their scientist father predicts apocalyptic climate change, whilst the sisters navigate personal and political issues in this intimate, yet surreal story.

Spilling out of The Weston Studio and heading up to our Coopers’ Loft studio space is Theatre West with the culmination of their 'Write On Women' project, a regional call-out to female-identifying writers from across the region. Charlotte Turner-McMullan’s Everyone Is Dead, a darkly humorous new play set in a post-apocalyptic world of shared trauma and furless badgers, was selected as the winner and will premiere at Bristol Old Vic from 16 – 19 Oct.

Also included in the season launch is the return of Bristol Old Vic’s iconic Halloween-inspired collaboration with Brunel’s SS Great Britain: The Spooky Ship: Shipwrecked!. Taking inspiration from the SS Great Britain’s history, professional actors will roam the decks as ghostly figures in a brand-new storyline centring on the true story of Captain James Hosken, whose fatal error caused the ship to run aground in Dundrum Bay in 1846. Performed on board the SS Great Britain between 31 Oct and 2 Nov, promenade performances will take place every 10 minutes with a company consisting of alumni from the theatre’s Made In Bristol scheme and Bristol Old Vic Theatre School graduates.

These productions join shows already announced; Owen Sheer’s Unicorns, Almost (3 – 7 Sep) a story of poet Keith Douglas’ Faustian pact with World War II, the return of FullRogue’s Wild Swimming (10 – 21 Sep), following their wildly successful 5-star run at the Edinburgh Fringe and Ad Infinitum’s brand new Extraordinary Wall of Silence (5 – 19 Oct), a powerful coming-of-age story told through physical storytelling and British Sign Language. The well-loved Wardrobe Ensemble will also be returning with The Deep Sea Seekers (30 Oct – 2 Nov), an interactive journey across the seven seas for 3–8 year olds, followed by Travis Alabanza’s award-winning Burgerz (20 – 23 Nov), an unsettling and powerful show about trans bodies and Sally Cookson’s Christmas miracle Boing! (29 Nov – 5 Jan), returning home after nine years spent across the globe.

Tickets for shows announced today will go on sale to Bristol Old Vic Friends and Best Friends on 3 Sep at 10am. General tickets will go on sale on Tue 10 Sep at 10am.

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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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