New Year Review 2017-18

In 2017, Bristol Old Vic continued to reap the rewards of its 250th anniversary year with two of the productions going on to a West End run – The Grinning Man and Long Day’s Journey into Night – and Jane Eyre making a triumphant return to the National Theatre.

In Bristol, the theatre continued to deliver a programme of world-class theatre, alongside its prolific engagement and artist development strands.

Through this time, the multi-million-pound redevelopment of Bristol Old Vic’s front of house and studio theatre continued apace, on track to open in September 2018.



  • The Grinning Man opened in the West End at Trafalgar Studios in December 2017. Jon Bausor won best set design UK Theatre Award for The Grinning Man in October 2017.

  • Jane Eyre embarked on a large-scale tour across the UK and was screened as part of NT Live in national cinemas.

  • Junkyard co-production with Headlong looked at the creation of the adventure playground in Lockleaze in the 1970s and told the story of this under-represented part of Bristol. It also heralded the start of the Headlong Futures project – a long-term community outreach project connecting the theatre to the Lockleaze community.

  • Bristol Old Vic welcomed its first ever all-female audience for Medea.

  • Hugely successful Edinburgh Fringe. Made in Bristol founding company Wardrobe Ensemble won Fringe First and The Stage Edinburgh Award. Bristol Ferment supported Palmyra won the Total Theatre Award.

  • We have worked with over 10,000 children and young people and delivered over 1,700 workshops – equating to over 91,000 participations. Over 24,000 young people have also seen a show in the Theatre this year.

  • The final leg of Bristol Old Vic’s multi-million-pound redevelopment began with demolition of the old 1970s sections of the building, changing the face of the 251-year-old theatre once again. Throughout 2017, architect Haworth Tompkins’ dynamic vision has been taking shape. Creating an open and accessible public space for the whole of Bristol to enjoy day and night, alongside a new Studio Theatre and refurbished Coopers’ Hall.

  • Fosters Events announced as Catering Partners for Bristol Old Vic’s new commercial business, beginning in autumn 2018.


  • Bristol Old Vic, in partnership with Ujima Radio and the Bristol Post launches the Year of Change, exploring ways in which the city of Bristol could address its complex history and relationship with the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

  • Celebrated former director of the RSC, Michael Boyd will direct his first Chekhov play The Cherry Orchard in March 2018. The auditorium will be transformed to an ‘in the round’ space for the first time in its history.

  • Tom Morris to direct the world premiere stage adaptation of Touching The Void in September – the first production to open the new front of house.

  • October sees the first workshop performance of The Meaning Of Zong, Giles Terera’s debut play which examines the massacre aboard the slave ship Zong in 1781, ahead of the play being fully staged in spring 2019.

  • Long Day’s Journey Into Night to open at the Wyndham’s Theatre, London in January 2018, prior to touring to US venues of BAM, New York May 8-27, 2018 and The Wallis, Los Angeles June 8-July 1. Jeremy Irons and Lesley Manville reprise their roles.

  • Tom Morris’ critically acclaimed 2017 production of Messiah to be released to cinema audiences across the UK and Ireland for Easter 2018.

  • Bristol Old Vic collaborates for the first time with its historic ‘mother company’ The Old Vic, London for the world premiere production of Patrick Ness’ A Monster Calls, directed by Sally Cookson in June 2018.

  • The Elephant Man will be a three-way collaboration between Bristol Old Vic, Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and Diverse City in summer 2018.

  • Bristol Old Vic’s new front of house and Studio Theatre will be opening in September 2018, completing its multi-million-pound redevelopment.


Bristol Old Vic is the longest continuously running theatre in the UK, and celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2016.

Under artistic director Tom Morris, the historic playhouse aims to inspire audiences with its own original productions, both at home and on tour, while nurturing the next generation of artists, whether that be through their 350-strong Young Company, their many outreach and education projects or their trailblazing artist development programme, Bristol Ferment.
They use their funding to support experiment and innovation, to allow access to their programme for people who would not otherwise encounter it, or be able to afford it, and to keep their extraordinary heritage alive and animated.
Since 2016, while the theatre continues to present work, it has simultaneously been undergoing a multi-million pound redevelopment project to transform its front of house space into a warm and welcoming public building for all of Bristol to enjoy, create a new studio theatre and open up its unique theatrical heritage to the public for the first time.

The project is due to be completed in autumn 2018.