Royal Coburg Theatre
Royal Victoria Theatre
Royal Victoria Palace
Royal Victoria Hall and Coffee Tavern
|Address|| The Cut |
|Public transit|| Waterloo |
|Owner||Old Vic Theatre Trust 2000|
|Designation||Grade II* listed|
|Type||Non-profit producing theatre|
|Rebuilt||1871: J. T. Robinson|
1880/1902: Elijah Hoole
1922/1927: Matcham & Co.(under F. G. M. Chancellor)
1933–38: F. Green & Co
1950: Pierre Sonrel
1960: Sean Kenny
1983: Renton, Howard, Wood & Levine
|Architect||Rudolphe Cabanel of Aachen|
The Old Vic is a 1,000-seat, not-for-profit producing theatre just south-east of Waterloo station on the corner of the Cut and Waterloo Road in Lambeth, London, England. 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 that 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 Old Vic is the crucible of many of the performing arts companies and theatres in London today. It was the name of a repertory company that was based at the theatre and formed (along with the Chichester Festival Theatre) 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 artistic director, which received considerable media attention.Spacey served as artistic director until 2015; two years after he stepped down, he was accused of sexually harassing and assaulting several students. In 2015, Matthew Warchus succeeded Spacey as artistic director.
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 the marine painter to the King. Serres managed to secure the formal patronage of Princess Charlotte and her husband Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, and named 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, the theatre 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 to the British throne. 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".
In 1841, David Osbaldiston took over as lessee, and was 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 1858, sixteen people were crushed to death inside the theatre after mass panic caused while an actor's clothing caught fire.
[ clarification needed ] 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 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 1880, under the ownership of Emma Cons (for whose memory 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 endowment from the estate of Samuel Morley led to the creation of the Morley Memorial College for Working Men and Women on the premises, which were shared; lectures were given back stage, and in the theatre dressing rooms. The adult education college moved to its own premises nearby in the 1920s.
On 24 November 1923, the theatre participated in a pioneering radio event, when the first set of the opera La Traviata was broadcast live by the BBC, using transmitters in London, Manchester and Glasgow, via a specially installed relay transmitter on the roof of the adjacent Royal Victoria Tavern.
With Emma Cons's death in 1912 the theatre passed to her niece Lilian Baylis, who emphasised the Shakespearean repertoire. The first radio broadcasts from the theatre were made as early as October 1923, by the British Broadcasting Company.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. Baylis died in November 1937.
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.[ citation needed ]
In 1963, the Old Vic company was dissolved and the new National Theatre Company, under the artistic direction of Sir Laurence 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 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.[ citation needed ]
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 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.
The Youth groups continued to produce plays with new members auditioning each September until the mid 1980s.
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.
Since 2015 Matthew Warchus has been Artistic Director of The Old Vic.His debut season opened in September 2015 with Warchus's production of a new play about education, Future Conditional by Tamsin Oglesby.
In 2003, actor Kevin Spacey was appointed as new artistic director of the Old Vic Theatre Company. Spacey said he wanted to inject new life into the British theatre industry, and bring British and American theatrical talent to the stage. Spacey served as artistic director until 2015.
In November 2017, amid a series of rape and sexual misconduct allegations against Spacey, 20 people contacted the Old Vic with claims that he had sexually harassed and/or assaulted them at the theatre during his tenure as artistic director.In the wake of the scandal, The Old Vic released a statement apologising for "not creating an environment or culture where people felt able to speak freely", and announced a "commitment to a new way forward". In 2018, the Old Vic announced that it had established the Guardians Programme, a group of trained staff who offer a confidential outlet for colleagues to share concerns about behaviour or the culture at work. Additionally, a Guardians Network has been formed to bring together the group of organisations from all sectors (not just the arts) who have implemented the principles of a Guardian Programme.
On 24 October 2017 The Old Vic announced its bicentenary season.The theatre celebrated its 200th birthday on 11 May 2018 with a free performance of Joe Penhall's Mood Music , featuring Ben Chaplin.
Kevin Spacey Fowler is an American actor and producer. He began his career as a stage actor during the 1980s, obtaining supporting roles in film and television. Spacey's first roles in film were in Mike Nichols' Heartburn (1986), and Working Girl (1988). He gained critical acclaim in the 1990s, with an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the neo-noir crime thriller The Usual Suspects (1995) and an Academy Award for Best Actor for the midlife-crisis-themed drama American Beauty (1999). His other starring roles have included Glengarry Glen Ross (1992), the comedy-drama film Swimming with Sharks (1994), the psychological thriller Seven (1995), the neo-noir crime film L.A. Confidential (1997), the drama Pay It Forward (2000), the science fiction-mystery film K-PAX (2001), the musical biopic Beyond the Sea (2004), the superhero film Superman Returns (2006), and the action film Baby Driver (2017).
The Royal National Theatre in London, commonly known as the National Theatre (NT), is one of the United Kingdom's three most prominent publicly funded performing arts venues, alongside the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal Opera House. Internationally, it is known as the National Theatre of Great Britain.
The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) is a major British theatre company, based in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England. The company employs over 1,000 staff and produces around 20 productions a year. The RSC plays regularly in London, Stratford-upon-Avon, and on tour across the UK and internationally.
English National Opera (ENO) is an opera company based in London, resident at the London Coliseum in St Martin's Lane. It is one of the two principal opera companies in London, along with The Royal Opera, Covent Garden. ENO's productions are sung in English.
The Donmar Warehouse is a 251-seat, not-for-profit theatre in Covent Garden, London, England. It first opened on 18 July 1977.
Lilian Mary Baylis CH was an English theatrical producer and manager. She managed the Old Vic and Sadler's Wells theatres in London and ran an opera company, which became the English National Opera (ENO); a theatre company, which evolved into the English National Theatre; and a ballet company, which eventually became The Royal Ballet.
Amanda Root is an English stage and screen actress and a former voice actress for children's programmes.
Matthew Warchus is a British director and dramatist. He has been Artistic Director of London's Old Vic Theatre since September 2015.
David Mirvish, is a Canadian art collector, art dealer, theatre producer, real estate developer and son of the late Toronto discount department store owner "Honest" Ed Mirvish and artist Anne Lazar Macklin.
Hugh Vanstone is one of the UK’s foremost lighting designers. He has lit more than 160 productions, working in all spheres of live performance lighting, as well as exhibitions and architectural projects. His career has taken him all over the world and his work has been recognised with many awards, including a Tony Award for his lighting of Matilda the Musical, and the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Lighting Design in 1999, 2001 and 2004.
Esme Church was a British actress and theatre director. In a long career she acted with the Old Vic Company, the Royal Shakespeare Company and on Broadway. She directed plays for the Old Vic, became head of the Old Vic Theatre School and then director of the Bradford Civic Playhouse, with its associated Northern Theatre School.
Juliet Rylance is an English actress and producer, known for her roles in The Knick and McMafia. She started a production company, Theater of Memory, with David Sturzaker and Tamara Harvey. She was nominated for a Lucille Lortel Award and was the recipient of a 2010 Obie Award.
Simon Godwin is an English theatre director based in Washington, DC, where he is currently serving as Artistic Director of the Shakespeare Theatre Company. Previously he was based in London, serving as Associate Director of London's National Theatre, Associate Director of the Royal Court Theatre and Associate Director at Bristol Old Vic.
An actor-manager is a leading actor who sets up their own permanent theatrical company and manages the business, sometimes taking over a theatre to perform select plays in which they usually star. It is a method of theatrical production used consistently since the 16th century, particularly common in 19th-century England and the United States.
Sholto David Maurice Robertson, known as Toby Robertson, was the artistic director of the Prospect Theatre Company from 1964 to 1978. He was recognised as having "re-established the good name and reputation of touring theatre in the UK after it had become a byword for second-rate tattiness in the 1950s".
Old Vic New Voices (OVNV) is The Old Vic’s Education, Community and Emerging Talent programme.
The Prospect Theatre Company was an English company founded, as Prospect Productions, in 1961. Based at the Arts Theatre, Cambridge from 1964 until 1969, the company, with Toby Robertson as artistic director and Richard Cottrell as associate director, toured both nationally and internationally with a mainly classical repertoire, providing notable appearances of such actors as Ian McKellen and Timothy West. The company became closely associated with the Edinburgh Festival after its first appearance there in 1967. Separating from the Arts Theatre in 1969, the company, renamed The Prospect Theatre Company, survived without a permanent base for the next eight years under the direction of Toby Robertson, mounting productions in which Derek Jacobi and Dorothy Tutin made significant appearances. Eventually the company found a new home at London's Old Vic in 1977: two years later it became the Old Vic Theatre Company. Though noted for its exemplary ensemble playing, the company lost its Arts Council of Great Britain funding in 1980 after Timothy West's first season as Robertson's successor, leading to Prospect's demise.
The Lorax is a stage adaptation of the children's novel of the same name by Dr. Seuss, adapted by David Greig and featuring songs by Charlie Fink.
A Monster Calls is a play based on the low fantasy novel of the same name by Patrick Ness, from an original idea by Siobhan Dowd. The play was devised by the original company with Adam Peck as the writer in the room.
A Christmas Carol is a play by Jack Thorne based on the 1843 novella of the same name by Charles Dickens.
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