The Old Vic starts countdown to premiere bicentenary celebrations

Less than 200 days ahead of its 200th birthday, The Old Vic marks the launch of its bicentenary, and Matthew Warchus’ third year as artistic director, with a season made up entirely of world premiere productions.

A new adaptation of Charles Dickens’ timeless classic A Christmas Carol by Jack Thorne, directed by Matthew Warchus, is planned along with The Divide, a ‘narrative for voices’, by Alan Ayckbourn, directed by Baylis Director Annabel Bolton.

The season also includes a new adaptation of Ingmar Bergman’s Fanny & Alexander by Stephen Beresford, directed by Max Webster; Mood Music, a new play by Joe Penhall, directed by Roger Michell; and a new musical dance production, Sylvia, directed and choreographed by Associate Artist Kate Prince and a new adaptation of the children’s classic A Monster Calls.

In the West End The Old Vic has runs for Girl from the North Country at the Noël Coward Theatre from 29 December and the return of Emma Rice’s Brief Encounter at the Empire Cinema, Haymarket from March.

Matthew Warchus said: “We love and care for the elderly members of our family and community out of respect for all that they have achieved and contributed in their long lives.

“On the other hand, we love and care for the young because we are excited about their future and we want them to exuberantly fulfil their potential.

“To honour The Old Vic’s 200th birthday we are celebrating it partly as a treasured historic icon but mostly as an
adventurous, youthful, hub of creativity with a vibrant future ahead of it.

“To emphasise this forward-facing spirit, I’m delighted to present a Bicentenary Season comprised entirely of world premiere productions, including four new commissions.

“The Old Vic will, of course, continue to mix pertinent revivals and refreshed classics into future seasons, but for this birthday year we are allowing ourselves to focus on new work.

“We aim for this famous building to be a welcoming, fun, surprising and indispensable cultural landmark, now and
for another 200 years. Please join us this celebratory season and entertain something new”.

The 200th birthday itself will be marked with a three-day birthday party – comprising a free, balloted performance on 11 May (the date of the first public performance at The Old Vic in 1818); an open house and street party for families on 12 May followed by a performance for young people in the evening; and a fundraiser on 13 May.


A CHRISTMAS CAROL, (November 20-January 20), a new version by Jack Thorne, directed by Matthew Warchus, and starring Rhys Ifans as Ebenezer Scrooge.

Joining him is: Melissa Allan, Jamie Cameron, John Dalgleish, Erin Doherty, Oliver Evans, Tim van Eyken, Alex Gaumond, Siena Kelly, Eugene McCoy, Myra McFadyen, Maria Omakinwa, Alastair Parker and Golda Rosheuvel.

The Divide

THE DIVIDE, PART ONE & PART TWO (February 1-10), by Alan Ayckbourn, directed by Annabel Bolton.

The Divide unfolds in a dystopian society of repression and seething insurrection.

In the aftermath of a deadly contagion which has decimated the population, contact between men and women has become fatal.

Under the dictates of an elusive and authoritarian Preacher, an unthinkable solution has been enforced. The adult survivors are now segregated by gender and, physically separated, men wear white as a sign of their purity and women – still deemed infected – are clothed in black as a mark of their sin.

Cast: Clare Burt, Jake Davies, Erin Doherty, Thusitha Jayasundera, Richard Katz, Joanne McGuinness, Sophie Melville, Clare Lawrence Moody, Weruche Opia, Martin Quinn, Letty Thomas, Sian Thomas and Finty Williams.

FANNY & ALEXANDER, (February 21-April 14), based on Ingmar Bergman’s film and adapted by Stephen Beresford, directed by Max Webster

Among the gilded romance and glamour of 1900s Sweden, siblings Fanny and Alexander’s world is turned upside
down when their widowed mother remarries the iron-willed local bishop.

As creative freedom and rigid orthodoxy clash, a war ensues between imagination and austerity in this magical study of childhood, family and love.

Sylvia Pankhurst

MOOD MUSIC, (April 21-June 30), by Joe Penhall, directed by Roger Michell. In an expensive London recording studio two songwriters, their lawyers and their psychotherapists go to battle over music.

A play about the drama and the psychodrama of making music by the writer of Sunny Afternoon and Blue/Orange.

SYLVIA, (September 1 – 22), written by Kate Prince & Priya Parmar, music by Josh Cohen & DJ Walde, lyrics by Kate Prince, Josh Cohen & DJ Walde, directed & choreographed by Kate Prince.

Votes for Women and a fractured family at a momentous hour in British history. 100 years after the first women in Britain were granted the vote, Kate Prince combines dance, hip hop, soul and funk to shed new light on a remarkable story at the heart of the Suffragette movement.

Sylvia is a modern musical celebrating the life of Sylvia Pankhurst, her pivotal role in the campaign for women’s rights and the price of the passion and politics that tore her family apart.

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