Some of the biggest names in stage and screen have been paying tribute to the Bristol Old Vic tonight as it celebrate its 250th anniversary. Proceeds from the gala performance will go towards the theatre’s major redevelopment.
The oldest working theatre in the English speaking world can also claim the greatest number of stars having started their careers here. And this evening many of them will return to mark two and a half centuries.
Lesley Manville, who was once in ITV’s #Emmerdale, is full of praise for the theatre
Peter O’Toole, Patrick Stewart, Stephanie Cole, and Daniel Day-Lewis count Bristol as their first home and some can’t stay away. As well as playing a part on stage Timothy West was once associate director and was also on the board of trustees for 6 years. He says he’s seen it go through quite an eventful history.
Some of the UK’s most famous and best-loved actors learned their trade at the #Bristol Old Vic.
Graduates of the famous Bristol Old Vic Theatre School include Sir Patrick Stewart, Jeremy Irons, Miranda Richardson, Daniel Day Lewis, Patricia Routledge, Tim Pigott-Smith, Pete Postlethwaite, Mark Strong, Brian Blessed, Olivia Colman, Gene Wilder, Amanda Redman and Naomie Harris.
The historic playhouse, which opened on 30 May 1766, is the oldest continuously working theatre in the English speaking world.
As part of the anniversary celebrations an 18th Century “thunder run”, which recreates the sound of thunder above the auditorium, was recently restored.
It will be used for the first time since 1942 in a production of #King Lear next month
The theatre was originally built without Royal patent and was therefore technically illegal, so it had to disguise plays as musical concerts and hide its entrance from public sight.
It finally got a royal patent in 1778 when it became the #Theatre Royal.
It became the Bristol Old Vic in 1946 when a company of actors from #London’s Old Vic was sent there to perform.
To mark the 250th anniversary plays from each of the four centuries it has been in existence have been, or will be, performed
The original theatre was founded in 1766 by 50 men and women, who each paid £50 in return for a “silver ticket”, which granted the bearer the right to watch every performance in the theatre, forever.
Investors included local councillors, two future MPs and at least three Quakers.
To mark the 250th anniversary new silver tickets have been minted. Each one has been sold for £50,000 to help raise funds for the theatre’s redevelopment
The theatre has survived for two and a half centuries despite coming near to closure on several occasions.
During #World War Two much of ancient Bristol was destroyed, but the theatre sustained only slight damage.
It fell into disrepair and in 1942 it was sold after a series of failed attempts to revive it.
The new buyers planned to turn it into a banana ripening warehouse, but an appeal was launched to save the theatre and it reopened in 1943.
HAPPY 250TH ANNIVERSARY BRISTOL OLD VIC