The Hairy Ape, starring Bertie Carvel, is the second production in Matthew Warchus’ opening season as Artistic Director of the Old Vic and sees the theatre transformed back to its original proscenium arch layout. A classic expressionist masterpiece by Nobel prize-winner Eugene O'Neill, The Hairy Ape tells the story of Yank, a labourer who revels in his status as the strongest stoker on a transatlantic ocean liner. But when Yank is called a ‘filthy beast’ by the overbred daughter of a steel … [Read more...]
Old Vic Theatre
The Old Vic is one of the oldest theatres in London, being built in 1818, and is popular throughout the English-speaking world. Often referred to as “the actors’ theatre”, as many of the leading performing artists of the last century have acted on its stage, including Sir Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud, Sybil Thorndyke, Dame Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Kevin Spacey, Edith Evans, Peggy Ashcroft, Alec Guiness, Vivien Leigh, Ralph Richardson, Michael Redgrave and Peter O’Toole.
The Theatre was built on former marsh land that was Lambeth Marsh and it took many years to construct due to a severe lack of finance. The Foundation stone was placed by the Prince of Saxe Coburg and Princess Charlotte of Wales in September 1816, thus the Old Vic started life as The Royal Coburg, promising the nobility and the gentry “entirely new entertainment”. The opening night in 1818 included a Melodrama, an Asiatic ballet and a Harlequinade. This followed in 1831 with Edmund Kean plays Richard III, Othello, Macbeth and King Lear during a six-night engagement. In 1833 the theatre re-opened ‘for the encouragement of Native Dramatic Talent’, and named The Royal Victoria, in honour of Princess Victoria. Subsequently in 1871 the theatre once again re-opens and this time as The New Victoria. During the decade it was twice put up for sale by auction, before closing down. In 1880 a leading Victorian social reformist Emma Cons, opens the theatre as The Royal Victoria Coffee and Music Hall. The word ‘theatre’ is dropped supposedly because of its ‘impure associations’. In 1884 philanthropist Samuel Morley prevents the theatre from closing down and renames it The Royal Victoria Hall and Coffee Tavern.
In 1914 Shakespeare's productions make their debut at the theatre, under the direction of Ben Greet. From 1920-25 under the direction of Robert Atkins all 36 Shakespeare plays in the First Folio are performed. During 1925 West End Star Edith Evans joins the company.
From 1929-31 John Gielgud’s Hamlet and Richard II established him as the new Shakespearean star. During 1932 Peggy Ashcroft joins the company to play Rosalind, Portia, Juliet and Miranda. Michael Redgrave and Edith Evans in As you like it.
During 1936 Michael Redgrave, Alec Guinness and Laurence Olivier join the company. During the Second World War in 1941 the theatre was very badly damaged by German bombs.
Following renovations the theatre opens again in 1950 with a performance of Twelfth Night. During 1957 Judi Dench joins for the first of the four seasons. Her roles include Ophelia, Hermia, and Juliet in Franco Zeffirelli’s production of Romeo and Juliet. John Stride and Judi Dench star in Romeo and Juliet in 1960.
The impressive Laurence Olivier and Maggie Smith star in Othello in 1964. Sadly in 1963 The Old Vic company disbands. Over the next thirteen years company regulars include Albert Finney, Anthony Hopkins, Geraldine McEwan, Joan Plowright and Maggie Smith.
During 1977 the theatre is leased to visiting companies with the first production being The White Devil, starring Glenda Jackson.
In 1982 the theatre is put up for sale and bought by Canadian businessman Ed Mirvish who restored it to its former glory. The facade of the building is founded on an 1830 engraving, with the auditorium on the designs of 1871.
During 1998 the Mirvish family wish to sell the theatre. There are proposals for altering it into a themed pub, a bingo hall or a lap-dancing club. In answer to the public demand and political pressure, the theatre is taken over by The Old Vic Theatre Trust 2000, a registered charity set up by Sally Greene.
Coming to The Old Vic Almeida’s production of The Iceman Cometh is transferred and is a big success. Kevin Spacey deservedly wins the Evening Standard Drama and Olivier Awards as Best Actor (1999). With The Old Vic presently back to its former glory the theatre has continued to produce spectacular shows.
Old Vic Theatre
103 The Cut, London, SE1 8NB
Old Vic Seating Plan
Venue and Travel Information
Nearest Tube: Waterloo
Tube Lines: Waterloo & City, Bakerloo, Northern, Jubilee
Directions from nearest tube: (7mins) Take Mepham Street (100 metres) down to Waterloo Road. Turn right on Waterloo Road, but keep left as the theatre is 100 metres further along on the opposite corner.
Railway Station: Waterloo
Bus Numbers: (Waterloo Road) 1, 4, 26, 59, 68, 139, 168, 171, 172, 176, 188, 521, X68; (Mepham Street) 211, 243, 507
Night Bus Numbers: (Waterloo Road) 139, 176, 188, N1, N68, N171; (Mepham Street) 243
Car Park: Waterloo Station (4mins)
Within Congestion Zone: Yes
Venue Facilities: Air conditioned, Bar, Disabled toilets, Infrared hearing loop, Toilets, Wheelchair accessible
The author Tamsin Oglesby wrote “Future Conditional” because she felt, from her own experience, that the “…hypocrisies, deceptions and compromises [in the British Education system] teach our children a terrible almost anti-education lesson”. So this is a campaigning play which looks at the problem and fairly directly proposes one change which Ms Oglesby thinks could help. In his speech when receiving the Nobel Prize Harold Pinter said: "Political theatre presents an entirely different set of … [Read more...]
Commemorating his last time on The Old Vic stage whilst Artistic Director, Kevin Spacey, returns to the iconic role of Clarence Darrow following his sell-out and critically acclaimed run of 22 performances in 2014. Clarence Darrow previews from 3rd March for six weeks only until 11th April 2015. In Rintels’ compelling one man play, the larger than life Darrow with his legendary wit relives some of his pivotal experiences, including the infamous Scopes ‘Monkey’ and ‘Thrill … [Read more...]
The Old Vic today announced its programme for Summer/Autumn 2014. The CQS Space, The Old Vic in the round, will be the residence of the whole season of productions, continuing after Other Desert Cities which opens this month. The plays will be performed in the round, a transformation of The Old Vic's auditorium first seen for the award-winning 2008 production of The Norman Conquests. The season of productions is supported for the fourth consecutive year by Bank of America Merrill Lynch. In … [Read more...]
Sheridan Smith will play the title role in a revival of Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen at London’s Old Vic Theatre. The production, which will be directed by Anna Mackmin, is the opening show in the theatre’s autumn/winter season. Alongside Sheridan Smith will be Buffy Davis, Anne Reid, Adrian Scarborough and Fenella Woolgar. The season will also feature Trevor Nunn’s revival of the Cole Porter musical Kiss Me Kate, which is a co-production with Chichester Festival Theatre and will transfer … [Read more...]