Live indoor performances to return this week at Bristol Old Vic

17 Aug 2020

Five months after its forced closure on 17 March, Bristol Old Vic is set to reopen with a series of experimental performances this August and September.

This announcement follows hot on the heels of the theatre's Reopening Appeal launch and the re-opening of its bar and café. Funds raised through the appeal will commission new work from Bristol artists as part of Bristol Old Vic's growing and evolving programme as the theatre and city emerge from the pandemic.

Thu 20 Aug: Vanessa Kisuule  
Fri 21 Aug: Mark Olver presents Who Said That?
Sat 22: Patrycja Kujawska & James Gow

Announcing this week’s performances, Artistic Director Tom Morris said:

“Our doors are already open, but we can only call ourselves a theatre when we are sharing live performance again. While we’ve been fighting to keep our business alive, we’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of our friends and supporters whose kindness is funding this programme.  

We begin with three tiny performances by brilliant and beloved Bristolian artists.  

And behind the scenes, we’ve already commissioned a series of experiments through Bristol Ferment, which will be performed in early September. Very shortly we will also announce new work by our renowned Young Company and collaborations with the Associate Companies and artists whose work has made our building sing with life over the last decade. 

Our aim is to re-grow our programme gradually, ensuring that the audience experience is safe and the creative process properly protected, too. There will be pioneering experiments in hybrid live/streamed performance to give those who prefer to stay at home a front seat experience alongside the growing audiences we are able to entertain live.  

The journey might be long before we can get close to the scale of work we were enjoying last year, but it’s exciting, too, giving us the opportunity to rethink our relationship with the city, and to take a leap forward in the style of work we can present and audiences we can welcome. This theatre must be for everyone in the city, sharing and celebrating the creativity of us all. And we are thrilled to be embarking on a new journey towards that goal this week.”

Further details of this week’s performances:

The programme starts on Thu 20 Aug with a live performance by Vanessa Kisuule, whose recent poem ‘Hollow’ about the toppling of Edward Colston’s statue went viral online.

The Bristol City Poet for 2018 – 2020, Vanessa has won over ten slam titles and has performed across the country and abroad. She was the recipient of The Jerwood Micro Arts Bursary in 2017 and the Leverhulme Arts Scholarship. SEXY, Vanessa’s one woman show, toured the UK in 2018.

The following evening, on Fri 21 Aug, local stand-up Mark Olver invites you to join him for a game of Who Said That?, the comedy panel show in which four comedians dial in to ask each other questions and try to work out whose ridiculous, hilarious and occasionally baffling answers are whose. This live edition of the show will see Mark hosting from Bristol Old Vic with his four guests Jayde Adams, Luke Kempner, Robin Morgan and Lou Conran joining in remotely for an evening of questions, answers and no doubt some minor technical difficulties.  To conclude the weekend, on Sat 22 Aug, actor and violinist Patrycja Kujawska and musician James Gow, who have both worked with companies like Kneehigh and Wise Children to perform all over the world, will be serenading audiences with a repertoire of light miniatures for violin and cello, developed over the past months together in their gardens. Expect to hear Bach, Mozart, Handel and other classics brought to life from Bristol Old Vic's atmospheric new indoor stage.

The newly pedestrianised King Street and reopened café and bar will play a key role in welcoming people from across Bristol into the building to explore what is on offer. Visitors can find out more about food and drink provisions here.

Bristol Old Vic will be announcing further productions that will take place in its café and bar throughout August and September very soon. 

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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