Full Cast Announced for The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk

26 Oct 2020


Bristol Old Vic, Kneehigh and Wise Children present

Kneehigh’s The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk Written by Daniel Jamieson

Directed by Emma Rice

With music by Ian Ross

Set and Costume design: Sophia Clist; Lighting design: Malcolm Rippeth; Sound design: Simon Baker


Wise Children, Kneehigh and Bristol Old Vic, announce dates for the digital tour of Daniel Jamieson’sThe Flying Lovers of Vitebsk directed by Emma Rice. The production will feature Marc Antolin (Marc Chagall) and Audrey Brisson (Bella Chagall), reprising their roles from the original production. The production will be performed at Bristol Old Vic, and broadcast live to audience’s homes nationally and globally, 3 – 5 December 2020 with tickets available at www.wisechildrendigital.com / bristololdvic.org.uk

Theatres across the UK and abroad will sell tickets to their audiences, with partners including Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse, York Theatre Royal and Oxford Playhouse, The Lowry, Spoleto Festival USA and Wallis Annenberg Centre for the Performing Arts with more to be announced.

Perhaps you’ve seen them floating over a Russian village? Or perhaps you’ve seen her toppling forward, arms full of wild flowers, as he arches above her head and steals a kiss. 

Meet Marc and Bella Chagall—the flying lovers of Vitebsk! Partners in life and on canvas, Marc and Bella are immortalised as the picture of romance. But whilst on canvas they flew, in life they walked through some of the most devastating times in history.

Implementing a COVID-secure procedure, the company will each have a Coronavirus test before forming a bubble in Bristol. These rigorous measures mean that they will be able to perform the show without social distancing.

Tom Morris, Artistic Director of Bristol Old Vic, also commented, “The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk is one of those very rare and very special shows that people just fall in love with. You go weak at the knees. You giggle. You weep. And very often people tell us they have never forgotten it. The show is shaded with the dark brutality of the mid 20th century, but the love at its heart feels so strong, courageous and joyful that its beat can endure any hardship. Now, in the strange dark winter of 2020, again inspired by the trademark panache of Emma’s work, we are offering the show to global audiences that will reach from China to Kentucky and back home to Minsk.”

Mike Shepherd and Carl Grose added “Kneehigh has enjoyed success with digital projects like our Walk with Me stories app and the Kneehigh Cookbook education site. But when it comes to productions, we’ve always struggled with how we’d present work online while staying faithful to the spontaneous, live element that’s so intrinsic to our work. Seeing Romantics Anonymous made us both realise that it is possible, and that there is a very real need from audiences to experience live theatre, even if they can’t be there in person. We’re excited about developing this through working alongside Wise Children and Bristol Old Vic: collaboration is more vital than ever and we can’t wait to learn and explore together what live streaming means for the timeless story of Marc and Bella Chagall.”

Emma Rice said today, “Following the heady success of our Romantics Anonymous live broadcast, we have decided to get straight back on the theatre horse and do it again!  There are so few creative ‘wins’ in these topsy turvy times that we thought it would be rude not to create all the joy, community and employment that we can - and to do it as fast as we can.  It is strange to find myself so exhilarated and energised by this new digital platform. I have devoted my life to the thrill of live experience and the celebration of the collective imagination - but as these precious things fade into memory, it is time to stray to pastures new. And, whilst nothing will ever replace the thrill of a night out at the theatre, live broadcast is a wonderful new adventure.  Fresh, fun and intimate; it feels like we are flying on a motorcycle with nothing ahead of us. We are intoxicated as we learn new skills, build new teams and experience new triumphs! We are taking the utmost care to protect all of our valued team but all the preparation will all be worth it when, for one short week, we immerse ourselves in the spiritually intimate and genuinely moving, real life love story of Marc and Bella Chagall.”

The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk was originally produced by Kneehigh and Bristol Old Vic.

Daniel Jamieson has worked for Exeter-based Theatre Alibi as an actor, joint artistic director (1995-2000) and writer. His writing credits for the company include FallingHammer and Tongs, Goucher’s WarCobbo, Caught, One in a MillionThe FreezeShelf LifeLittle White LiesThe SwellSea of Faces and Birthday, as well as adapting novels by Charles Dickens, Graham Greene, Michael Morpurgo and Dick King-Smith for the stage. Other theatre credits include A Box of PhotographsWe’re Going on a Bear Hunt (Polka Theatre), Where’s the Bear, Wish WashKnitwits and Flathampton (Royal & Derngate).

Marc Antolin plays Marc Chagall. His previous credits for Wise Children include Romantics Anonymous (Bristol Old Vic, digital tour). Other theatre credits include Camelot (Watermill Theatre), Hedda Gabler (Sherman Theatre), Cry Havoc (Park Theatre), Little Shop of Horrors – for which he received an Olivier Award nomination for Best Actor in a Musical, Into the Woods, Hello Dolly! (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), Twelfth Night (Shakespeare's Globe), The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk (Kneehigh), Peter Pan (National Theatre), The Trial (Young Vic), Taken at Midnight (Theatre Royal Haymarket/ Chichester Festival Theatre), Amadeus, Singin’ in the Rain, The Music Man (Chichester Festival Theatre), From Here to Eternity (Shaftsbury Theatre), Matilda (RSC/Cambridge Theatre), Billy Liar (UK tour) and Imagine This (New London Theatre). His television credits include Keeping Faith; and for film his credits include London Road and Love Actually.

Audrey Brisson plays Bella Chagall. Her previous theatre credits include Amelie (The Other Palace, Watermill Theatre – for which she was nominated for the Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical), Pericles, Pinocchio, Elephantom (National Theatre), The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk, Dead Dog in a Suitcase & Other Love Songs, The Wild Bride, Midnight’s Pumpkin (Kneehigh), La Strada (The Other Palace, UK tour), The Grinning Man (Bristol Old Vic), and Romeo and Juliet (Rose Theatre Kingston). Her television credits include Money, and Outlander II; and for films her credits include Hereafter

Emma Rice is the proud and excited Artistic Director of her new company, Wise Children. She adapted and directed Angela Carter’s Wise Children (The Old Vic/UK tour), Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers (Bristol Passenger Shed/UK tour) and Romantics Anoonymous (Bristol Old Vic/Digital tour). For the ENO she directed Orpheus in the Underworld. As Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe (2016/18), she directed Romantics Anonymous, Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Little Matchgirl (and Other Happier Tales). For the previous 20 years, she worked for Kneehigh as an actor, director and Artistic Director. Her productions for Kneehigh include The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk, Tristan & Yseult, 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips, The Wild Bride, The Red Shoes, The Wooden Frock, The Bacchae, Cymbeline (in association with RSC), A Matter of Life and Death (in association with National Theatre), Rapunzel (in association with Battersea Arts Centre), Brief Encounter (in association with David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers Productions), Don John (in association with the RSC and Bristol Old Vic), Wah! Wah! Girls (in association with Sadler’s Wells and Theatre Royal Stratford East for World Stages), and Steptoe and Son. Other work includes the West End production of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Oedipussy (Spymonkey), The Empress (RSC), and An Audience with Meow Meow (Berkeley Repertory Theatre). She was awarded the Outstanding Contribution to British Theatre at the 2019 UK Theatre Awards.


Thursday 3 December – Saturday 5 December at 7.30pm

book here
Captioned and audio-described versions of the production will be available. 

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.

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