SMALL SCALE. BIG IDEAS. Bristol Old Vic launches its first set of Digital Shorts by emerging artists - specifically for YouTube and Instagram audiences.

23 Sep 2021
Title: 'Sudden Connections' in glitchy font

Bristol Old Vic today announced a first set of original shorts made by exciting South West artists, specifically for You Tube and Instagram - Sudden Connections.

Sudden Connections is a series of multi-disciplinary digital commissions from Bristol Old Vic Ferment (the theatre's talent development strand), funded by the Genesis Foundation's Genesis Kickstart Fund and commissioned in partnership with Rising Arts Agency. This bold experiment in digital work sees five South West artists create new pieces of work, to be experienced online, that say something about who we are now and who we might be tomorrow. 

Each short will be released weekly from 4 Oct on Bristol Old Vic’s Instagram and YouTube channels. These pieces will be free to watch and range up to 10minutes in length - perfect for grabbing a cultural hit at any time of the day - presenting big ideas but on the small scale.

The artists involved include Anna Rathbone, an artist who works across multiple disciplines - exploring themes of loss after the death of a loved-one with All The Threads You Left Behind; Asmaa Jama & Gouled Ahmed with their moving-image collaboration unfolding from their perspective in the Somali diaspora, The Season of Burning Things; Ash Kayser's darkly whimsical animated short Retail Therapy, designed to be experienced on IGTV;  Muneersa Pilgrim' s exploration of consent and sexuality Lessons Taught to Boys and Girls, and Caroline Williams' irreverent and theatrical ode to the mobility scooter she began to use in the wake of Long COVID, A Love Letter to Penelope Cruiser.

Talent Development Producer Ben Atterbury said:
"Our explorations in digital theatre began in 2020 and continue to go from strength to strength. Now, the opportunities for reaching new audiences are greater than ever - sharing work beyond Bristol Old Vic's walls and being able to create new work that's accessible to anyone is a vital part of our future. 

Sudden Connections, generously supported by the Genesis Foundation's Genesis Kickstart Fund and commissioned in partnership with the pioneering Rising Arts Agency, is a new future-facing strand of our work, doing two exciting things. It is supporting early and mid-career independent and freelance artists from the region as they explore how digital media could be used to create work in new and experimental ways, while also giving us an opportunity to start to engage with our digital audience differently, using the channels most of us use daily to release brand new work from the artists we're most excited about, completely free to watch.

Sudden Connections is a new way for Bristol Old Vic to take the work to where the audience is, and we're excited to share the results.”


LtoR (top): Ash Kayser, Asmaa Jama, Gouled Ahmed, LtoR (bottom): Anna Rathbone, Muneera Pilgrim, Caroline Williams

A Bristol Old Vic Ferment Commission
A Genesis Kickstart Fund project, supported by the Genesis Foundation
Commissioned in partnership with Rising Arts Agency

Releasing weekly from 4 Oct
Bristol Old Vic Website:

MON 4 Oct
All The Threads You Left Behind 
by Anna Rathbone.
Exploring themes of grief, loss, and what’s “left behind” after the death of a loved one, this curated multi-media online experience will offer audiences a window into a thoughtful and moving contemplation of what we mean to each other. 

Anna is a maker-of-things based in Bristol, working across a range of disciplines including theatre, textiles, installation and live art. She is passionate about breaking down barriers to access and inclusion in everything she does. Recent projects include: Night Out In Nature with Frozen Light theatre, A Map Made by Stitching collaborative quilt with Arnolfini gallery and ongoing work with Taking Flight Theatre’s youth theatre for d/Deaf young people.

MON 11 Oct
The Season of Burning Things
 by Gouled Ahmed and Asmaa Jama
The Season of Burning Things is a moving-image collaboration between poet and artist Asmaa Jama and costume designer Gouled Ahmed. Unfolding from the creators’ perspectives in the Somali diaspora, the piece takes the lead from East African mythos and Islamic imagery to explore mythmaking, Blackness; a ‘generation of ghosts’; the transient spirit.
Gouled and Asmaa's last collaboration was Before We Disappear, an interactive film exploring hypervisibility/invisibility and surveillance commissioned by BBC New Creatives. 

Gouled Abdishakour Ahmed is an Addis Ababa-based Somali visual artist, stylist, costume designer and writer. Their work explores the themes of memory and belonging. Their ongoing self-portrait series One Day These Names Will Be Ours explores the gaps that exist within formal language in the understanding, and contextualization of gender expressions that exist outside of the binary. 

Asmaa Jama is a Bristol-based Somali poet and visual artist who often works between languages, exploring migration and transience. They are the co-founder of Dhaqan Collective, a feminist art collective. Recently, they were shortlisted for the Brunel African Poetry Prize and longlisted for the National Poetry Competition. 

MON 18 Oct
Retail Therapy
 by Ash Kayser
Retail Therapy is a darkly whimsical animated short film for the digital age. Designed to be experienced on Instagram’s IGTV, the piece leads the viewer on an adventure through the trials and tribulations of online shopping, artificial intelligence and materialist self-reinvention by plunging them into a world in which ‘instant delivery’ exists.

Ash Kayser is a graphic artist, designer & poet. He tells stories and experiments with letterforms with the aim to impress, stress and humour their audience. Commissions include a 3D typography piece created as a television ident for ITV. Poems include ‘An Ode To The Hot Drink We Call Tea’, featured on BBC Radio Bristol.

MON 25 Oct
Lessons Taught to Boys and Girls
 by Muneera Pilgrim
Lessons Taught to Boys and Girls is an exploration of consent and sexuality; the way women's bodies and particularly Black women’s bodies move through the world. Through the lens of a WhatsApp chat, a woman — ‘the poet’ — pulls on a thread: ‘I’m not saying it was rape, but…’.

Muneera Pilgrim is an international Poet, Cultural Producer, Writer, Broadcaster and TEDx speaker. She regularly contributes to BBC 2’s Pause for Thought, and is a community artist-researcher with IBT, where she developed The Joy Project. She is also a mental health practitioner and an alumni associate artist with The English Touring Theatre where she is working on her first play. Muneera's debut poetry collection will be released late 2021 with Burning Eye books. 
MON 1 Nov
A Love Letter to Penelope Cruiser
 by Caroline Williams is an irreverent and theatrical ode to ‘Penelope Cruiser,’ the mobility scooter Caroline began to use in the wake of Long COVID. Using rom-com tropes of meet-cutes, montage and the ricochet of highs and lows, this off-kilter black comedy tugs at what it means to experience a life-changing illness. Who do you blame, when it’s no one's fault?

Caroline’s background is in social and environmental activism. Her work is often in dialogue with current political issues, for example the semantics of screens in relation to the war in Syria (Now is the Time to Say Nothing, extensive touring 2018/19 produced by MAYK), multiple deaths in police custody in East London (You Do Not Have to Say Anything, The Yard Theatre) or the relationship between loneliness and technology (Can You Hear Me Now –British Council/ MAYK).

Using personal narratives, she works to find a performative language that can powerfully communicate the heart of these stories.

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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