|Public transit Waterloo Waterloo|
Phone +44 844 871 7628
|Designation Grade II* listed|
Owner Sally Greene
|Type Non-profit producing theatreArtistic Director: Matthew Warchus|
Rebuilt 1871: J. T. Robinson1880/1902: Elijah Hoole1922/1927: Frank Matcham1933-38: F. Green & Co1950: Pierre Sonrel1960: Sean Kenny1983: Renton, Howard, Wood & Levine
Architect Rudolphe Cabanel of Aachen
Address The Cut, Lambeth, London SE1 8NB, UK
The Old Vic is a theatre located just south-east of Waterloo station in London on the corner of The Cut and Waterloo Road. Established in 1818 as the Royal Coburg Theatre, and renamed in 1833 the Royal Victoria Theatre, in 1871 it was rebuilt and reopened as the Royal Victoria Palace. It was taken over by Emma Cons in 1880 and formally named the Royal Victoria Hall, although by this time it was already known as the "Old Vic". In 1898, a niece of Cons, Lilian Baylis assumed management and began a series of Shakespeare productions in 1914. The building was damaged in 1940 during air raids and it became a Grade II* listed building in 1951 after it reopened.
- The caretaker the old vic
- Old Vic company
- Wartime exile
- National Theatre company
- Prospect Theatre Company
- Youth Theatre
- Kevin Spacey
- Matthew Warchus
- Old Vic Tunnels
- Artists in residence scheme
- Old Vic New Voices
It was also the name of a repertory company that was based at the theatre and formed the core of the National Theatre of Great Britain on its formation in 1963, under Laurence Olivier. The National Theatre remained at the Old Vic until new premises were constructed on the South Bank, opening in 1976. The Old Vic then became the home of Prospect Theatre Company, at that time a highly successful touring company which staged such acclaimed productions as Derek Jacobi's Hamlet. However, with the withdrawal of funding for the company by the Arts Council of Great Britain in 1980 for breaching its touring obligations, Prospect disbanded in 1981. The theatre underwent complete refurbishment in 1985. In 2003, Kevin Spacey was appointed as new artistic director of the Old Vic Theatre Company which received considerable media attention. In 2015, Matthew Warchus succeeded Spacey as artistic director.
The caretaker the old vic
The theatre was founded in 1818 by James King and Daniel Dunn (formerly managers of the Surrey Theatre in Bermondsey), and John Thomas Serres, then Marine painter to the King who managed to secure the formal patronage of Princess Charlotte and her husband Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg naming the theatre the Royal Coburg Theatre. The theatre was a "minor" theatre (as opposed to one of the two patent theatres) and was thus technically forbidden to show serious drama. Nevertheless, when the theatre passed to George Bolwell Davidge in 1824 he succeeded in bringing legendary actor Edmund Kean south of the river to play six Shakespeare plays in six nights. The theatre's role in bringing high art to the masses was confirmed when Kean addressed the audience during his curtain call saying "I have never acted to such a set of ignorant, unmitigated brutes as I see before me." More popular staples in the repertoire were "sensational and violent" melodramas demonstrating the evils of drink, "churned out by the house dramatist", confirmed teetotaller Douglas Jerrold.
When Davidge left to take over the Surrey Theatre in 1833 it was bought by Daniel Egerton and William Abbot who tried to capitalise on the abolition of the legal distinction between patent and minor theatres, enacted in Parliament earlier that year. On 1 July 1833, the theatre was renamed the Royal Victoria Theatre, under the "protection and patronage" of Victoria, Duchess of Kent, mother to Princess Victoria, the 14-year-old heir presumptive. The duchess and the princess visited only once, on 28 November of that year, but enjoyed the performance, of light opera and dance, in the "pretty...clean and comfortable" theatre. The single visit scarcely justified the "Old Vic" its later billing as "Queen Victoria's Own Theayter". By 1835, the theatre was advertising itself simply as the Victoria Theatre. In 1841, David Osbaldiston took over as lessee, succeeded on his death in 1850 by his lover and the theatre's leading lady, Eliza Vincent, until her death in 1856. Under their management, the theatre remained devoted to melodrama. In 1867, Joseph Arnold Cave took over as lessee. In 1871 he transferred the lease to Romaine Delatorre, who raised funds for the theatre to be rebuilt in the style of the Alhambra Music Hall. Jethro Thomas Robinson was engaged as the architect. In September 1871 the old theatre closed, and the new building opened as the Royal Victoria Palace in December of the same year, with Cave staying on as manager. By 1873, however, Cave had left and Delatorre's venture failed.
In 1880, under the ownership of Emma Cons to whom there are plaques outside and inside the theatre, it became The Royal Victoria Hall And Coffee Tavern and was run on "strict temperance lines"; by this time it was already known as the "Old Vic". The "penny lectures" given in the hall led to the foundation of Morley College, an adult education college, that moved to its own premises nearby, in the 1920s.
Old Vic company
With Emma Cons's death in 1912 the theatre passed to her niece Lilian Baylis, who emphasised the Shakespearean repertoire. The Old Vic Company was established in 1929, led by Sir John Gielgud. Between 1925 and 1931, Lilian Baylis championed the re-building of the then-derelict Sadler's Wells Theatre, and established a ballet company under the direction of Dame Ninette de Valois. For a few years the drama and ballet companies rotated between the two theatres, with the ballet becoming permanently based at Sadler's Wells in 1935.
The Old Vic was damaged badly during the Blitz, and the war-depleted company spent all its time touring, based in Burnley, Lancashire at the Victoria Theatre during the years 1940 to 1943. In 1944, the company was re-established in London with Ralph Richardson and Laurence Olivier as its stars, performing mainly at the New Theatre (now the Noël Coward Theatre) until the Old Vic was ready to reopen in 1950. In 1946, an offshoot of the company was established in Bristol as the Bristol Old Vic.
National Theatre company
In 1963, the Old Vic company was dissolved and the new National Theatre Company, under the artistic direction of Lord Olivier, was based at the Old Vic until its own building was opened on the South Bank near Waterloo Bridge in 1976.
In July 1974 the Old Vic presented a rock concert for the first time. National Theatre director Sir Peter Hall arranged for the progressive folk-rock band Gryphon to première Midnight Mushrumps, the fantasia inspired by Hall's own 1974 Old Vic production of The Tempest starring John Gielgud for which Gryphon had supplied the music.
Prospect Theatre Company
For two years prior to the departure of the National Theatre company, Toby Robertson, director of the Prospect Theatre Company, sustained a campaign that the Old Vic should make Prospect its resident company. For the Old Vic, Robertson's overtures proved increasingly hard to resist in the face of poor box office returns achieved by productions staged by other visiting companies; against this, Prospect staged a highly successful season which opened in May 1977, including Hamlet with Derek Jacobi, Antony and Cleopatra with Alec McCowen and Dorothy Tutin; and Saint Joan with Eileen Atkins. In July the Governors of The Old Vic announced "a marriage that was all but a merger" between the Vic and Prospect. In September Toby Robertson, director of Prospect, was asked to take artistic control of The Old Vic, and Christopher Richards, general manager of The Old Vic, became general manager of Prospect.
One major problem, though, was the terms of Prospect's funding by the Arts Council of Great Britain: this was on the basis of it being a touring company, and the Council – already funding the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company in London – could not accept a case for a third major company in the capital and repeatedly refused requests to fund any London seasons staged by Prospect. Therefore, any London-based productions would have to succeed financially without Arts Council support. Prospect's first season at the Old Vic recouped its costs but left no surplus to fund future productions. Further stagings by visiting companies were box office failures and stretched the theatre's finances to breaking point. Yet Prospect continued to draw audiences to the Old Vic where other companies failed. In December 1978, the governors of the Old Vic agreed to a five-year contract with Prospect, announcing to the press on 23 April that henceforth they would be styled "Prospect Productions Ltd., trading as the Old Vic Company". Unfortunately Prospect's touring commitments kept the company out of the theatre for the first half of 1979, leaving the theatre to sink further into debt. The company returned in July with Jacobi's Hamlet (toured afterwards to Denmark, Australia and China, the first English theatre company to tour that country), followed by Romeo and Juliet, and The Government Inspector with Ian Richardson. The following season, however, proved controversial: the proposed programming, including the double bill of The Padlock and Miss in Her Teens, to mark the bicentenary of David Garrick's death, and a revival of What the Butler Saw, were deemed by the Arts Council unsuitable for touring repertory. An internal report by Prospect now questioned "whether Prospect can any longer satisfy the triple task of filling the Vic, of satisfying the Arts Council Director of Touring's requirements for product of a certain familiar sort, and of realising the vision of Toby Robertson".
Robertson was in effect fired as artistic director in 1980 while he was abroad with the company in China, Timothy West replacing him. The following season, West's first as Robertson's successor, saw Macbeth with Peter O'Toole, The Merchant of Venice with West as Shylock, and a gala performance presented to the Queen Mother to celebrate her eightieth birthday. On 22 December 1980, four days after the gala performance, the Arts Council withdrew its funding from the company, sealing its inevitable demise. The company gave a final season at the Old Vic in 1981, staging The Merchant of Venice, then gave a final tour of Europe, giving its last performance in Rome on 14 June before disbanding.
The Old Vic was significantly restored under the ownership of Toronto department-store entrepreneur 'Honest Ed' Mirvish in 1985. In 1987, his son David Mirvish installed Jonathan Miller as artistic director of the Old Vic and the theatre enjoyed several critical successes – including an Olivier Award for a production of the musical Candide, but suffered three straight years of financial loss. In 1990, Mirvish terminated Miller's contract over budgetary issues, earning much negative criticism in the British press.
In 1997, Mirvish appointed Sir Peter Hall as artistic director and, again, enjoyed critical acclaim with such productions as The Master Builder with Alan Bates and Waiting for Godot with Ben Kingsley, but continuing financial loss. Within a year of the appointment, Mirvish terminated Hall's contract – again to much negative comment in the press – and put the Old Vic up for sale. In 1998, the building was bought by a new charitable trust, The Old Vic Theatre Trust 2000. In 2000, the production company Criterion Productions was renamed Old Vic Productions plc, though relatively few of its productions are at the Old Vic theatre.
In 2003, actor Kevin Spacey was appointed as new artistic director of the Old Vic Theatre Company receiving considerable media attention. Spacey said he wanted to inject new life into the British theatre industry, and bring British and American theatrical talent to the stage. He appears in one or two shows per season, and performs some directorial duties on other shows. In 2015, Spacey was replaced by Matthew Warchus as artistic director. His debut season opened on 1 September with Warchus's production of a new play about education, Future Conditional by Tamsin Oglesby. Future plans include the world premiere of the musical Groundhog Day, which will also be directed by Warchus.
‘The Old Vic Youth Theatre’ was an acting company for young people between the ages of 12 and 20 mainly from the London Borough of Southwark. The group was founded by Tom Vaughan of The Old Vic Theatre, Raymond Rivers of Morley College and Barry Anderson of the Southbank Education Institute. The Inner London Education Authority (ILEA) was the enterprise’s main funding body.
During the early spring term of 1977 auditions consisting of improvisational scenes run by the Youth Theatre’s first professional directors Lucy Parker and Frederick Proud took place and around 40 applicants were chosen to form the company.
By the middle of the summer in 1977 ‘The Old Vic Youth Theatre’ had performed two plays for the paying public. First was ‘The Kitchen’ by Arnold Wesker which also incorporated improvised scenes alongside the actual script and was staged in The Emma Cons Hall at Morley College. The Youth Theatre’s second production, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ by William Shakespeare was first performed at The George Inn Courtyard as part of The Southwark Shakespeare Festival the same year and was the company’s debut production at The Old Vic Theatre itself.
In the autumn of 1977 a new round of auditions took place and the existing group expanded into two. One group concentrated on a famous scripted play whilst the other would devise a play through improvisation from which the material was scripted into a play by a professional playwright.
Rehearsals for each group took place twice a week for three hours each time. One was held on an early evening week day and one on an afternoon or early evening on a weekend day from September through to the following April. The plays were performed in the Old Vic Theatre over the course of one week in May.
The Youth groups continued to produce plays with new members auditioning each September until the mid1980’s.
All the directors, choreographers, stage fight arrangers, musicians, designers, musical directors, composers, wardrobe persons, technicians, sound and lighting crew and front of house staff were professionals.
Prior to The Old Vic Theatre ‘sitting dark’ for a time during the middle 1980s, before its refurbishment and Sir Peter Hall’s entry as Artistic Director, ‘The Old Vic Youth Theatre’ moved on to produce productions at The Lyric Theatre and The Jeanetta Cochrane Theatre until ILEA was abolished.
When The Old Vic Youth Theatre dissolved the directors continued in their professional careers within the creative industry. Frederick Proud tutored at The Webber Douglas Academy and founded ‘The Soho Theatre Company’, Lucy Parker became a documentary film maker for the BBC, Valerie Colgan continued as an actor, director, acting and voice coach and Griff Rhys Jones won a contract as a performer on television (Not the 9’O’Clock News) then as a broadcaster.
Several of the Old Vic Youth Theatre’s alumni went on to Universities and Drama Schools to become professional actors, writers, directors, producers, musicians, dancers, poets, stage managers, artistic directors and drama tutors in the world of the creative arts.
The Emma Cons Hall – Morley College
1977 – ‘The Kitchen’ Directors: Frederick Proud and Lucy Parker
The George Inn Courtyard
1977 - ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ Directors: Frederick Proud and Lucy Parker Theatricala
The Old Vic Theatre
1977 – ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ Directors: Frederick Proud and Lucy Parker Theatricala
1978 – ‘The Winners and Missing Persons’ – Director: Lucy Parker Playwright: Olwyn Wymark
‘The Caucasian Chalk Circle’ – Directors: Frederick Proud and Valerie Colgan Theatricala
1979 – ‘Le School Trip’ – Director: Griff Rhys Jones Playwright: Andy Hamilton Music: Mathew Scott
‘Romeo and Juliet’ Director: Valerie Colgan Choreography: Karen Rabinowitz Theatricala
1980 – ‘Out of Focus’ Director: Lucy Parker Playwright: Anne Murray
‘The Merchant of Venice’ Director: Valerie Colgan Choreography Karen Rabinowitz Theatricala
1981 – ‘Carve Your Name’ – Director: Lucy Parker Playwright: Martin McMillan
‘The Beggars Opera’ Director: Valerie Colgan Musical Director: Chuck Mallett Choreography: Karen Rabinowitz - Theatricala
1982 – ‘Peer Gynt’ – Director: Valerie Colgan Musical Director: Chuck Mallett Theatricala
The Lyric Hammersmith
1982 – ‘Get Out of That Then!’ Director: Lucy Parker Playwright: Tony Grounds
1983 – ‘Macbeth’ – Director: Valerie Colgan
Alumni - Youth Company Members:
Danielle Allan – London Academy Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) – Stage Actress, Tutor of Shakespeare, Voice Coach, Director and Acting Tutor City Lit and Sutton College, Flamenco Dancer/ Teacher
Susan Aderin – Stage Actress
Nathan Ariss - Central school of Speech and Drama - Producer, Director, Actor, Cartoonist (Private Eye)
Gary Beadle – Theatre, Film (The Heart of the Sea) and Television Actor (Eastenders - Paul)
John Beschizzia – Drama Centre – Actor, Tutor and Director Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA)
Helena Bonham Carter – International Film and Television Actress
Camille Corduri – Television and Film Actress (Nuns on the Run, A Touch of Frost, Doctor Who)
Rikki Beadle Blair – Actor, Producer, Director, Dance Tutor
Robert Chevara – Writer, Theatre and Opera Director Kings Head, English Touring Opera
Ray Cotter – University of Kent Mike Mansfield Television
Kim Chatterley – The Drama Centre
Rhoda Daker (Evans) – Singer, Songwriter (co-writer ‘Free Nelson Mandela’)
April De Angelis – University of Sussex, East 15 Drama School – Actress, Playwright – Re-Sisters Theatre Company, Monstrous Regiment, Royal Court Theatre, Royal National Theatre, West End – Hush, Playhouse Creatures, Iron Mistress, Jumpy
Judy (Damas) Adams/ Judith C Adams – Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) – Stage Actress Royal National Theatre, Head Teacher and Owner ‘Helen O’Grady Drama School’
Titian Deakin – Television Dancer
Vendela Duclos – Variety Performer Sweden
Mario Frendo – Actor
Kathryn Flett – Journalist, Pundit, Novelist
Tony Grounds – Award-winning Theatre and Television Script Writer – Eastenders, the Bill, Chancer, My Girl
Gabriel Gbadamosi – Churchill College Cambridge – Poet, Playwright, award-winning Author, Presenter (BBC World Service, Night Waves)
Lisa Geoghan – Television Actress
Jennifer George – Central School of Speech and Drama – Stage and Television Actress Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) The Royal National Theatre
Linda (Harris) Henry – Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Arts - Television Actress (Bad Girls, Eastenders – Shirley)
Harold Howitz – Actor
Lennie James – International Actor, Screen Writer, Playwright
Wendy (Harman) Jardine – West End General Management, Stage Management, Actress, Pilates Instructor.
Jennifer John – Newham Academy of Music - Musician, Compose, Singer, Artistic Director Sense of Sound
Hakeem Kae Kazim – International Film Actor (Hotel Rwanda, Coming to America, King Solomon’s Mines)
Sayan (Akaddas) Kent – Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama, University of Birmingham – Actress, Playwright, Composer
Charlotta (Chandrika) Martinus – BBC Television Centre
Niki Mylonas – Morley College Theatre School, Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Arts – Stage Actress, Author Non-fiction, Playwright, Abridger, Review Writer, Producer, Director, Founder ‘Classical Radio Drama’
Elsa O’Toole – Bristol Old Vic Theatre School - Stage and Television Actress Royal National Theatre, The Bill, Writer/Director/Producer WeCan Films Ltd.
Oliver Parker – Film Director (Importance of Being Earnest, Johnny English Reborn, Dorian Gray)
Sonya Ryan – Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Arts
Ben Rosen – Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) – Stage Manager, Technical Manager, Freelance Technical Advisor, Head of Stage of Scottish and English National Opera
Adrian Smith – Producer Education Videos
Jeremy Stockwell – Tutor and Director Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA)
Judith Silver – University of Bristol – Singer, Composer, Songwriter, Musician, Singing Coach
Margaret Tully – Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Arts, University of Reading – Stage Actress, Dancer The Blue Bells Las Vegas, MGM, Teacher of Drama, Director City Lit, Life Coach
Sophie Thompson – Television and Film Actress (Four Weddings and a Funeral – Eastenders Stella)
Tom Tyrwhitt – Television Producer
Christopher Tummings – Actor, Singer, Musician
Carole Viera – Stage Actress
Nick Whitby – Writer
Stephanie Loshak (Stevie Zimmerman) – Actress, Director USA
Christine Augustin, Jackie Burnette, Helen Eden, Vicki Lewis, Dawn Abel, Sharon Simpson, Hugo Sands, Mike Rosen, Louise Layzelle. Marius Hill, Jamie McClean, Sue Taylor, Lisa Parsons, John Roche, Thomas Hampsey, Mick Roche, Alex Benn, Karole Stagg, Edward Ofosu-Osi, Mark Johnston, Andrew Panayi, Paul Sweeny, Colin Jones, Anthony Caravan, Marcus Cornish, Sharon McDuell, Julia Phelps, Claudette (Russell-Cohen) Sweeney, Matthew Weekes, Marie McCarthy, Isabelle Bassett, Ros Symon, Tina (Hussey) Roche, Janice Scammell, Janice Walsh, Lorenza Fenton, Michael Parchment, Elaine Tidey, Edwin Layzelle, Gavin Stokes, Philip Bishop, Kathy Hill, June Lewis, Cathy Kilcoyne, Richard Bench, Orthan Kephalar, Lorraine Baker, Angela Wellington, Frank Collen, Ashley Honey, Amanda Parker, Vikki Ross, Killian Gideon, Pat Bellio, Cynthia Evans, Jessica Morris, David Simons, Christopher Blackman, Kenneth Caravan, Lynval Dunn, Trevor Trevelen, Mischelle Baughan, Roma Davis, Erica Grant, Mischelle James, Pauline Jones, Evelyn Saunders, Francesca Francois, Madeleine Dahl, Rebecca Fayre, Andrew Richier, Jessica Revill, Caspar De La Mare, Paul Beardshaw, Richard Bench, Margaret Blanshard, Howard Brown, Sandra Cole, Fran Francesco, Trevor Georges, Jay Hannaford, Noreena Hertz, Fred Jaques, Michelle James, Hakeem Kazim, Miki-Jayne Long, Paul Tierney, Karen May, Denise Miller, Jenny Parrot, Michael Quain, Sharon Smith, Greg Sturmer, Julie Wellington, Marlene Windett, Nathan Ariss, Colin Heywood, Raymond Farrell, Simon Kitson, Graham Slate, Daniel Lucas, John Fennelly, John Buckeridge, Michael Bonnarias, Elspeth Jacobi, Claire Kingston, Pia Martinus, Melanie Bedwood, Andy Black, Latifat Foka, Tony Founaris, Giselle Glassman, Michelle Halil, Kola Ilori, Colin Lambert, Tony Maxim, Eddie Osai, Wynsam Reid, Tony Ward, Richard Bat, David O’Donovan, Christine Curland, Robert Canniff, Jason Vas Dias, Christopher Pomfret, Shaun Case, Mark Regan, Thelma Lawson, Sara Goldstein, Vernal Scott, Keith Gerard, Tony Gilbert, Mark Rothwell, Millie Langrishe, Debby Lehrer, Colin Salandy, Andrew D’Abreu, Joanne Hensman, Pauline Haynes, Martha Braggins, Rona Lapish, Liz Norris, Bes Brand, Madeleine Dahn, Vernie Barrie, Siobhan Campbell, Carlton Chance, Joe Crilley, Diannah Daley, Jackie Francis, Lorna James, Tracy Miller, Joyce Montague, Sam Rumbelow, Jackie Sheen, Diggory Sladden, Tony Thomas, Robert Canniff, Alexander Watt, Paul Nelson, Peter Sullivan, Gaby Vivien, Dee Cannon, Paul Nelson, Pauline Haynes, Sarah Yorke, Jason Vas Dias, Helena Cullinan, Ondine Shardlow, Cassandra Shardlow, Kim Mnguni, Piers Gibbon, Daniel Stewart, Wanda Dusynska, Dawn O’Donovan, Yolande Anastasi, Kim Wilson, Nicola Yeates, Julie Wellington, Noreena Hertz
Productions with Kevin Spacey as artistic director include:
Productions with Matthew Warchus as artistic director include:
Old Vic Tunnels
In February 2010, The Old Vic acquired a new sister performance space beneath London Waterloo station; a series of cavernous tunnels formerly owned by British Rail. Now operating under the artistic direction of Hamish Jenkinson, this venue plays host to productions, performances and installations. The Old Vic Tunnels was presented the Big Society Award by David Cameron in 2011. The Tunnels closed as a performance space in 2013.
There was an artist-in-residence scheme with a resident photographer, graffiti artist, designer, and filmmaker. In 2011 The Old Vic appointed German film director Grigorij Richters and producer Alex Souabni as their filmmakers-in-residence.
Old Vic New Voices
Old Vic New Voices is the education, community and emerging talent programme of The Old Vic. It aims to discover and nurture emerging actors, writers, producers and directors and draw more diverse audiences into the theatre. The director is Alexander Ferris. A parallel project, OVNV New York, has been set up in New York.