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Welcome home! New era begins for Bristol Old Vic on Monday 24 September

8th June 2018

Categories: Latest News

Save the Date!
On Monday 24 September at 8am, Bristol Old Vic will fling open its brand new doors, inviting the city to be part of a new era for the world-famous theatre. After a two-year, multi-million pound redevelopment project, the theatre has finally knocked down the walls that have separated it from the city for over 250 years, creating a welcoming, open and fully accessible space where everyone can feel at home. 2018 was heralded as a Year of Change and this autumn, not only does the programme reflect this theme, but the building itself is leading the way.

A theatre for everyone in Bristol
When the theatre was first built it was a space where people from every walk of life would congregate to be inspired and entertained. Over 250 years, as fashions changed and the theatre became increasingly hidden from the street, Bristol Old Vic has sometimes seemed only to belong to the privileged few. 

With this refurbishment, the theatre is renewing its contract to welcome all Bristolians to its unique atmosphere and the company of extraordinary artists who make work here. The theatre is proud to be a place which stretches beyond its walls to engage with young people from every city postcode, but now this building and programme of work can also bring that promise to fruition, here in the heart of Bristol.

Two New Studio Theatres - presenting the theatre and the Artists of tomorrow
Today’s announcement also includes the newly-built and newly-christened Weston Studio theatre, a magical, flexible space situated in the old barrel cellars beneath Coopers’ Hall. The Weston Studio has been sponsored by the Garfield Weston Foundation and will open on 5 Oct with a programme that wriggles with invention. It sets out its stall as a home to innovation and the theatre-makers of tomorrow, and will also engage, educate and entertain children from every part of the city. To celebrate this new beginning, there will be an opening weekend festival (5–7 Oct) showcasing the developmental work of Bristol Ferment, Bristol Old Vic Young Company, the pioneering Bristol Old Vic Literary department, Bristol Old Vic Theatre School alongside inspirational work for the audiences and artists of the future – your children.

Directly above Coopers’ Hall is the Coopers’ Loft Studio at the very top of the building, which has been transformed into another fully-accessible, intimate and flexible space for both performance and events hire.

Full details of The Weston Studio’s programme can be found in the new, SPECIAL EDITION BROCHURE, HERE

1766 Bar & Kitchen
There will also be a fabulous food and drink offer daily from 8am–11pm from the newly-named 1766 Bar & Kitchen which will fire up its coffee machine and begin trading at 8am on 24 Sep.

1766 Bar & Kitchen will be open all hours for breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks, in an atmosphere inspired by the theatre itself.

Another Accolade for Britain’s foremost Theatre Architects
Since 2015, Bristol Old Vic has been working with the award-winning architects Haworth Tompkins to create a bright, welcoming and fully accessible foyer, showcasing the newly uncovered 252 year-old Theatre wall and complete with ‘Juliet’ balconies. Even before opening the front doors, their work here has already been awarded BD’s Public Building Architect of the Year 2018.

We can also exclusively reveal some architectural gems awaiting visitors this autumn. The six shutters that will form the front design of the new building are created from weathered steel, inscribed with the words from two artists who performed on the stage at Bristol Old Vic exactly 250 years apart: the opening prologue spoken by David Garrick at the Theatre’s opening night on 30 May 1766, and Bristol poet Miles Chambers’ Bristol! Bristol! which he performed on stage on 30 May 2016, marking the Theatre’s 250th birthday.

Latest images of the magnificent Coopers’ Hall, now restored to its former glory were also revealed today – complete with oak floors, the famous Georgian windows newly refurbished, and the high ceilings freshly painted. This historic space is available to hire from 1 Oct and will be catered by Bristol Old Vic’s event partners Fosters. There is no finer space in Bristol for a wedding, a spectacular celebration or a unique event for your business.

A brand new Heritage destination for Bristol’s tourists and residents
In November, Bristol Old Vic’s new year-round Heritage offer begins, opening up the theatre’s unique history to the public for the very first time through exhibitions, workshops, interactive experiences and character-led tours. Generously supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, we shine a light on the amazing stories of a theatre that has been entertaining Bristol for over 250 years. The Heritage experience will be open to the public from Friday 9 November, kicking off with a weekend of taster sessions and events. More information will follow in the autumn when we will unveil the full range of new heritage activities to celebrate the oldest working theatre in the English speaking world.


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