A year of change ahead for Bristol Old Vic, Pippa Thornton attended the new season launch for us to find out more.

Tom Morris and Emma Stenning, Artistic Director and Chief Executive Director of the Bristol Old Vic respectively, today announced a new programme of work for 2018 centred on the theme of change. Entitled Year of Change, the new programme will see the theatre through to the completion of its extensive redevelopment in Autumn 2018 and includes both new work and adaptations of some old favourites.

Tom Morris & Emma Stenning

As well as a brand new programme of work, the theatre will also embark on three new business ventures which are made possible by the redevelopment of the building; Cooper’s Hall has been transformed into an events space which is already taking bookings for Autumn 2018, whilst an all-day cafe will be open in the new foyer.

“You’ll be able to come to Bristol Old Vic for breakfast, morning coffee, everything right through to a post-show cocktail.”
Emma Stenning.


A heritage business will also be created, aimed at celebrating the rich history of the 250 year old theatre and engaging with schools and the wider community. The revenue generated by these new sources of income will enable Bristol Old Vic to continue supporting local artists and making work locally.

The redevelopment will also see the opening of a brand new studio theatre which will be used to program new work and support emerging talent; as well as being the new home of Bristol Ferment, it will provide a space for community work and for local schools to engage with theatre.

“it will […] be our own telescope into the future of theatre.”
Tom Morris

The programme for the new studio theatre will be announced in Spring 2018.

Tom Morris unveiled plans for the 2018 programme for Bristol Old Vic, pointing to the many changes that Britain as a country will face in 2018 and announcing that the new productions will reflect this and be unified under the theme of change.

The 2018 programme will include a new translation of Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard, by Rory Mullarkey. Michael Boyd, former RSC Artistic Director, will direct this dark comedy by the celebrated Russian playwright that will see the Georgian auditorium reconfigured for an “in-the-round” performance by designer Tom Piper.

“I feel that this play, of all of Chekhov’s plays, really speaks to our own anxieties now, about change.”
Michael Boyd

Other well-known stories to feature in the new programme include Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night in October, a co-production with Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh and directed by Wils Wilson (Associate Director of the Lyceum), and a new adaption of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

Theatre audiences may be less familiar with A Monster Calls, which will be the first stage adaptation of the book of the same name. The production is created by Sally Cookson, a Bristol Old Vic Associate Artist who directed the critically acclaimed adaptation of Jane Eyre for the theatre’s 250th anniversary programme. Another first time stage adaptation will be Touching the Void, the memoir of mountaineer Joe Simpson, which is directed by Tom Morris to celebrate the long anticipated opening of Bristol Old Vic’s front of house redevelopment.

Perhaps the most significant announcement was the new partnership between Bristol Old Vic, Ujima Radio and Bristol Post to create, in collaboration with the Festival of Ideas, a series of City Conversations focusing on the attitudes held by the city in relation to the transatlantic slave trade. One of these conversations will take place in the theatre in the form of a new major production, The Meaning of Zong by Giles Terera, which is jointly commissioned by the National Theatre and developed in partnership with theatres in Liverpool, Glasgow and London.

“So part of the conversation we are going to have connects at root with the role which Emma and I hope our theatre can have in the future in this city. If we are brave enough to judge people who were involved in the transatlantic slave trade by our own standards, then it becomes possible to judge ourselves by their standards too. It allows us to look at ourselves and our role in the world and ask: what are the things we are doing which we know to be wrong, but which we keep doing , because it is socially, politically and economically difficult to stop doing them? Then we can work out together how we can generate and share the courage and the vision, TO MAKE THOSE THE THINGS WHICH WE START TO CHANGE IN 2018.” Tom Morris, Artistic Director: Bristol Old Vic.

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