Bristol Old Vic to launch digital theatre platform for audiences, artists and families

16 Apr 2020

While the COVID-19 outbreak has closed theatres across the country, Bristol Old Vic has pledged to maintain a close connection to its audiences, artists and city.

The oldest continuously operating theatre in the English-speaking world today announced a digital version of its programme of work – Bristol Old Vic At Home. The new platform will continue to provide the invaluable community connections and creative opportunities to young people, up and coming artists and the vulnerable members of our community that is so important to the theatre’s life. It will also enable us to link up with Watershed, Colston Hall and other arts providers across the city to create a Bristol Arts Channel to share content online in the month of May.

“Bristol Old Vic’s programme extends far beyond creating the shows which have been so wonderfully supported by the city over the last ten years,” says Artistic Director Tom Morris. “Equally important is developing talent from across the region through The Bristol Ferment programme, and bringing creative opportunity to all parts of our community through our Young Company, outreach activities and school and heritage resources. During this strange and frightening time, it is more important than ever to celebrate creativity in everyone and to support the sense of community through which it can best flourish. These things are happening spontaneously across Bristol with new digital networks springing up in every postcode. It is part of our job as the city’s theatre to ensure that this energetic and generous spirit is extended to the most isolated and the most vulnerable too.”

Bristol Old Vic At Home replicates the three strands of the theatre's year-round programme:

Bristol Old Vic's Engagement Department goes online with: 
FAMILY ARTS HUB - Available to download now
Created by the people behind Bristol Old Vic’s Young Company, the Made in Bristol trainee scheme, and engagement programmes, the Family Arts Hub is full of rich educational resources for those who need them. 

Engagement Director Lucy Hunt said: “The theatre’s connection to young people, schools and nurseries across the city is very important to us and we understand the struggles families and teachers are having at the moment to find ways to entertain and educate children in their care. 

Our hugely popular Heritage Family Days at the theatre have inspired us to give young people as many options as possible to stay connected to us and get creative as a family.” 

Covering Early Years to Key Stage 3, the Family Arts Hub includes a free database of downloadable acting workshops, arts and crafts “how to” guides, drama games, soundtracks, heritage-based lessons, recommended play-reading lists, scripts and monologues, streamed family shows and competitions to get involved with, with more content being added on a weekly basis: 

Bristol Old Vic's Talent Development goes online with:
OPEN STAGE ONLINE - Submissions open on Wed 22 April 
Today sees the theatre's first callout for participants and collaborators to generate the most wide-ranging and imaginative content it can. Open Stage Online is inspired by Bristol Old Vic’s annual birthday invitation where anyone can perform on the historic stage – no auditions, no experience needed. 

This online version creates a place to connect and share your own contributions, not just with Bristol, but beyond. Whether it’s a song that cheers you up, a dance that gives you space to reflect, a drawing that reminds you of someone you love, a poem, a painting or even plate-juggling. Upload anything that feels important to you or gives you joy in these mood-bending times to the Open Stage Online Webform (live from 22 April). Your submissions will sit side by side on our website with contributions from famous faces, up and coming artists and enthusiastic newcomers - there’s no need for any experience - just the contents of your imaginations.  

Bristol Old Vic's artistic programme goes online with:
Bristol Old Vic is working with The Space and sister venues Colston Hall, Watershed and others to explore an online channel for Bristol - to amplify and share the rich variety of art, culture and stories found across the city. Taking place over a month and dedicating different nights of the week to art forms including music, dance, film and theatre, we will look to reach out across the city and share content in a collaborative and considered way. More details to be announced soon.

As part of Bristol Arts Channel, Bristol Old Vic will present a season of eight productions, collated from our extensive archive of show material, featuring some of Bristol’s most-loved theatre shows and new work by emerging artists. Productions will be streamed via the Bristol Old Vic YouTube channel and Facebook Live platforms every Friday at 7pm from May. 

Bristol Old Vic At Home is completely free to help Bristol artists, audiences and families connect and nurture their own creativity until such times as we can once again throw open our doors and welcome the city back in person.

If you would like to get involved with Bristol Old Vic At Home, check out the website for further details:

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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