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The Old Vic announces a programme of creative, fun and inspiring events…

The Old Vic We'll Be Back - Photo by Manuel Harlan.
The Old Vic We’ll Be Back – Photo by Manuel Harlan.

The Old Vic announces details of Your Old Vic, a programme of creative, fun and inspiring events, projects and content to keep the theatre connected with audiences, and audiences connected with each other.

Highlights are:

● New online Old Vic Education Hub with resources, how-to guides, and interviews to inspire teachers, students, and parents, guardians and carers during lockdown, supported by Hub Ambassadors Claire Foy and Matt Smith;
● Online youth employment and training scheme, Front Line, teaching customer service training, CV skills, cover letter writing and interview technique plus mentoring sessions and task work;
● OV Pen Pals, an intergenerational scheme connecting people aged 60+ with primary school children through letters, emails and phone calls, as part of this year’s Great Get Together in memory of Jo Cox;
● New monologue commission to celebrate the NHS from Bernardine Evaristo, plus a chance to revisit all eight of the existing Old Vic The Greatest Wealth monologues;
● A major artistic celebration of the NHS, from inception to present day, currently in development for 2021;
● A new podcast collaboration with the Sherman Theatre, Cardiff, called Playcrush, hosted by Joe Murphy as he talks to well-known names about their favourite plays;
● Creatives’ Corner hosted on The Old Vic’s Instagram Live by award-winning playwright Ella Hickson (Old Vic Associate Artist) with emerging creative talent to learn more about making theatre today;
● As a first step in exploring sharing productions digitally with audiences, several of The Old Vic’s archive recordings will be released for free starting with A Monster Calls.

A MESSAGE FROM ARTISTIC DIRECTOR MATTHEW WARCHUS
I hope this finds you well and coping.
We seem to be turning a corner with the government’s conditional plan to reopen society, but we can expect events like theatre, which involve mass gatherings, will be amongst the last to return. There’s clearly still some way to go before we can resume performances from our stage.

I think, because The Old Vic has been a significant part of London’s theatrical landscape for 200 years, it’s inevitable to sometimes view the lockdown in an historical context. This building has been forcibly closed only once before, for 10 years between 1940–1950, and, as I and the remaining Old Vic team (the vast majority of our staff are currently furloughed) grapple with how to maintain an active readiness to return, I find myself wondering what the brilliant and formidable Lilian Baylis – and her visionary aunt, Emma Cons, before her – would’ve made of the current crisis.

They ran this theatre concurrently from 1880 to 1937 and were fuelled by a determined social mission: to provide a crucial lifeline (and that’s not only a metaphor) for many families and individuals in Lambeth and Southwark. Here’s a characteristically typical quote from Lilian in the midst of the Great Depression of the 1930s: ‘In the meantime we struggle on as best we can. But our work has gone steadily forward and expanded from year to year and I cannot but feel that we must win through in the end to still greater achievement and security’.

Emma and Lilian’s vision for this great 1,000-seat theatre still resonates today and fuels the dual values we have sought to apply over the last five years. Like them, we aim to deliver intelligent, daring and popular entertainment alongside simultaneously finding ways to make day-to-day life better for the various audiences that surround us in Lambeth, Southwark and beyond.

The Old Vic is without question one of the greatest theatre buildings in the world (in my view its auditorium is pretty much unbeatable). Whilst we are very eager for it to be back in action, thanks to the extraordinary generosity and vision of our steadfast supporters, Royal Bank of Canada and PwC, and along with support from the TS Eliot Estate, we’re able to continue to meaningfully connect with our audiences and sustain our social mission through Your Old Vic, even while our doors are closed.

Today I’m very happy to announce this array of free online content which we aim to be fun, engaging, useful and supportive to our various audiences during this difficult time. We are facing a tough and even perilous year ahead, fighting for our survival like so many others in the cultural sector. But whilst our building is dormant, its heart is still beating and our sense of purpose – as an artistic powerhouse, fuelled by a spirit of fun and adventure, with an equally strong social mission – is stronger than ever.

DETAILS OF YOUR OLD VIC
EDUCATION: The Old Vic Education Hub
Supported by Hub Ambassadors Claire Foy and Matt Smith, the new Education Hub takes you behind-the-scenes at The Old Vic to hear from artists and performers, learn new skills and get employability tips. At a time of great uncertainty regarding the reopening of schools, this has been especially created for young people, teachers, parents, guardians and carers who are home schooling, emerging talent, and anyone interested in theatre. We can now reach people all over the world with these resource packs, how-to guides and interviews to inspire everyone.

EMPLOYMENT: Front Line Online
With the need to support youth employment more resonant now than ever, we are taking Front Line, our unique employability programme, online. For as long as The Old Vic remains closed, we are determined to continue to meet the needs of those struggling to find employment, experiencing inequality of opportunity or lacking confidence through the provision of new digital content. This scheme usually offers direct training opportunities with The Old Vic’s Front of House team, and will now offer two cohorts the chance to take part in an online programme of teamwork and customer service training, CV skills, cover letter writing and interview techniques plus weekly mentoring sessions and task work.

Applications for the upcoming cohorts will be open to 19–25 year olds from Lambeth and will open on Wednesday 20 May. Front Line Online is supported by Lambeth Council.

WELLBEING: OV Pen Pals
As part of this year’s online Great Get Together, inspired by Jo Cox, we are launching OV Pen Pals, an intergenerational scheme to connect members of our aged 60+ Matinee Idols scheme during this time of isolation with primary school children through letters, emails and phone calls. Matinee Idols was created by The Old Vic in 2018 to address the growing epidemic of loneliness and isolation amongst older generations and to provide these communities with the chance to socialise and meet new people through the provision of very low cost tickets and an opportunity to learn more about theatre through pre-show workshops and talks. OV Pen Pals is supported by PwC.

FOR AUDIENCES:
New commission to celebrate NHS from Bernardine Evaristo
The Old Vic commissioned and presented a series of monologues in 2018 to mark the 70th anniversary of the NHS, curated by Lolita Chakrabarti and directed by Adrian Lester. We are delighted to present a brand new commission in this series for 2020, to mark the dedication of those in the service at this time of national crisis, written by Booker Prize-winning author Bernardine Evaristo. Spanning each decade since the creation of the NHS, all eight of the existing monologues will be released every Thursday at 12noon on The Old Vic’s YouTube channel. The first in the series – 1940s: Boo by Jack Thorne, performed by Sophie Stone – will air on Thursday 14 May. The new commission will air as a special feature on Sunday 5 July to coincide with the NHS’ 72nd birthday.

This series also serves as an apt precursor to a major Old Vic artistic celebration of the NHS, from inception to present day, currently in development for the 2021 season. Details to follow. One Voice monologues are funded by the TS Eliot Estate.

Creatives’ Corner
We are delighted to announce award-winning playwright Ella Hickson as our new Old Vic Associate Artist. Every Wednesday at 3pm, Ella will be leading conversations on Instagram Live with emerging talent from across different creative disciplines as we gain an insight into what it means to be working in theatre today. In a series of six, the first conversation will be live with playwright and Old Vic 12 alumni Charlotte Josephine at 3pm on Wednesday 20 May. Creatives’ Corner is supported by Royal Bank of Canada in association with the TS Eliot Estate.

Playcrush Podcast
The Old Vic in collaboration with the Sherman Theatre, Cardiff.
Together the two theatres present our brand new Playcrush Podcast hosted by the Sherman’s Artistic Director (and previous Old Vic Baylis Director) Joe Murphy as he talks to a host of well-known names about their favourite plays.

The first episode will air on Acast on Monday 25 May at 10am and will feature Pride and 1917 actor George MacKay, with the second episode on Monday 1 June featuring the Olivier Award-winning Sheila Atim. Playcrush Podcast is supported by Royal Bank of Canada in association with the TS Eliot Estate.

Our Shows
With heartfelt thanks to the generosity of all the casts, creatives and companies involved, a selection of full length Old Vic archive recordings of selected productions since Matthew Warchus became Artistic Director in 2015 will be hosted for free on The Old Vic’s YouTube channel. This will give audiences the chance to revisit loved collector’s item productions, or watch for the first time.

The first show to air will be A Monster Calls, The Old Vic in association with Bristol Old Vic, Jonathan Church Productions & Global Creatures’ Olivier Award-winning production. First seen on stage in 2018, Patrick Ness’ piercing novel, inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd, was brought to The Old Vic by visionary director Sally Cookson. The production, featuring the original cast, will go live at 7pm on Friday 5 June and will be available to watch until Thursday 11 June. Age guidance: 10+

The Old Vic Our Shows Screenings are supported by Royal Bank of Canada and PwC.
For up-to-date information people can visit oldvictheatre.com/youroldvic or follow @oldvictheatre #YourOldVic on social media.

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