London’s Old Vic Will Celebrate 200th Birthday With Season of World Premieres

London News   London’s Old Vic Will Celebrate 200th Birthday With Season of World Premieres
Alan Ayckbourn’s The Divide will be part of Matthew Warchus’ season that also includes Fanny & Alexander, Mood Music, A Monster Calls, and more.
Matthew Warchus Joseph Marzullo/WENN
Alan Ayckbourn
Alan Ayckbourn Joseph Marzullo/WENN

On May 11, 2018, The Old Vic will celebrate its 200th birthday; 200 days ahead of that occasion, the London venue marks the launch of its bicentenary and Matthew Warchus' third year as artistic director with a season of world-premiere productions.

The 2017–2018 season will kick off November 20 with a new adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol by Jack Thorne. Directed by Matthew Warchus, the production will officially open November 29 with Rhys Ifans as Ebenezer Scrooge.

The world premiere of Alan Ayckbourn's The Divide: Part One & Part Two will follow, beginning performances February 1, 2018. Written as a “narrative for voices,” the production will be directed by Old Vic Baylis Director Annabel Bolton. The Divide, which is presented in two parts, unfolds in a dystopian society of repression and seething insurrection.

A new adaptation of Ingmar Bergman’s Fanny & Alexander will begin previews February 21 prior to an official opening March 1 under the direction of Old Vic Associate Director Max Webster. Adapted by Stephen Beresford, the play is set in Sweden in the early 1900s when Fanny and Alexander's world is turned upside down as their widowed mother remarries the iron-willed local bishop.

Joe Penhall's Mood Music, directed by Roger Michell, will begin previews April 21. In this play about the drama and the psychodrama of making music, two songwriters, their lawyers, and their psychotherapists go to battle over music in an expensive London recording studio. Opening night is May 2.

A Monster Calls, which is inspired by an original idea from Siobhan Dowd based on the novel of the same name by Patrick Ness, will be directed by Sally Cookson. Devised by the company, the play concerns 13-year-old Conor, who moves to America with his dad and mom, who becomes ill. One night a monster comes to Conor’s window to tell tales from when it walked before. When the monster finishes its stories, Conor must tell him his own. Previews for A Monster Calls, an Old Vic production in association with Bristol Old Vic, will begin July 7 prior to a July 17 opening.


A new musical dance production, Sylvia, will conclude the season with previews set to begin September 1. Co-written by Kate Prince and Priya Parmar with original music by Josh Cohen and DJ Walde, 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. Directed and choreographed by Prince, the production combines dance, hip-hop, soul, and funk. Opening is September 6.

In other news, The Old Vic’s sold-out run of Girl from the North Country, written and directed by Conor McPherson with the music and lyrics of Bob Dylan, transfers to the Noël Coward Theatre in the West End beginning December 29, 2017. Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax will transfer from The Old Vic to the Royal Alexandra Theatre, Toronto, beginning December 9. Later in 2018, with an American cast, the production heads to the Children’s Theatre Company, Minneapolis (beginning April 17, 2018), and The Old Globe, San Diego (beginning July 3). ‘ART’ (produced at The Old Vic in 2016) will embark on a U.K. tour in February 2018, and Kneehigh Theatre's acclaimed production of Noël Coward's Brief Encounter, adapted and directed by Emma Rice, will open at the Empire Cinema in London's West End in a co-production with The Old Vic March 2.

About the upcoming season Artistic Director Warchus said in a statement, “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 fulfill 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.”

It was also announced that joining The Old Vic as Associate Artists are Stephen Beresford (writer), David Greig (writer), Claire van Kampen (composer), Conor McPherson (writer), Tamsin Oglesby (writer), Lucy Prebble (writer), and Jack Thorne (writer). They join existing Associate Artists Simon Baker (sound design), Peter Darling (choreography), David Grindrod (casting), Manuel Harlan (photography), Rob Howell (design), Dennis Kelly (writer), Paul Kieve (magic), Drew McOnie (choreography), Tim Minchin (composer), Christopher Nightingale (composer), Kate Prince (choreography), Hugh Vanstone (lighting), and Gary Yershon (composer).

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