Bristol Old Vic will throw open its theatre to the public, a host of celebrity alumni and the city’s creative community for its 250th anniversary weekend of celebrations this coming May Bank Holiday weekend from the 28th to the 30th of May 2016.
The festivities will throw a spotlight on the past, present and future of this historic playhouse and highlight Bristol’s cultural richness and diversity.
A full programme of celebrations has been revealed, giving the general public a unique opportunity to explore behind the scenes of the oldest working theatre in the English speaking world and celebrate the extraordinary survival of this unique theatre.
The weekend kicks off on Saturday with an opportunity for the public to learn more about the historic playhouse and how theatre works behind the scenes. Workshops, tours and events include stage combat demonstrations, talks from Bristol Old Vic’s technical team and advice on how to become an actor from those working in the industry today. In the evening, the main stage will play host to a free performance of Kneehigh’s The Flying Lovers aimed at encouraging new audiences to try the theatre for the first time.
A star-studded gala on Sunday night will highlight the role the theatre has played in nurturing the careers of some of UK theatre’s leading lights. Performances by celebrity alumni include Stephanie Cole, Samantha Bond, Pippa Haywood, Greta Scacchi and Tim Pigott-Smith as well as theatre greats who have performed at Bristol Old Vic in the recent past, such as Caroline Quentin, Timothy West, Dame Siân Phillips, Sir Tony Robinson, Toby Jones and Michael Morpurgo.
On bank holiday Monday, the 250th birthday itself, Bristol Old Vic and King Street will see a takeover by cultural and community groups from across the city to celebrate the creativity for which Bristol has become renowned. This includes performers selected through Bristol Open Stage, an initiative where the theatre invited the people of Bristol to evoke the city’s imaginative spirit on the iconic stage, from theatre to music, poetry to circus and dance.
The party will culminate in a state-of-the-art animation that will be projected onto the theatre frontage showing the changing face of the theatre and an exclusive reveal of how it will look after the redevelopment project, which is set to begin in June.