Bristol: Old Vic’s 250th birthday

PUBLISHED: 09:00 07 May 2016

Bristol Old Vic is undergoing a transformation

Bristol Old Vic is undergoing a transformation

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Big names in the world of theatre are set to gather for a weekend of celebrations

Stephanie Cole is looking forward to coming backStephanie Cole is looking forward to coming back

The stage is set for the first 250th birthday party in British theatre history as Bristol Old Vic becomes the oldest working theatre in the country.

The special weekend of celebrations over the May Bank Holiday (28-30 May) will include an anniversary gala on the Sunday featuring a host of famous actors such as Samantha Bond, Stephanie Cole, Caroline Quentin, Tim Pigott-Smith, Sir Tony Robinson and Greta Scacchi. The gala will showcase the relationship with the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and the theatre’s Young Company.

Thousands are expected to gather outside in King Street after the gala to watch an animation on the front of the building. This will bring to life the changing face of the theatre’s façade through its 250 year history, as well as reveal how the theatre will look after the completion of its major redevelopment project, which begins later this year. These plans will see the return of the Grade 1 listed Cooper’s Hall to its original 18th century use as an events space. There will be a new entrance foyer, new studio theatre and new bar and restaurant. Future developments also involve transforming Bristol Old Vic into a major heritage destination, where centuries-old archives will be displayed to tell the theatre’s story.

Meanwhile, on the Bank Holiday Monday, the theatre’s beautiful auditorium will be thrown open to the community in an open stage event, showcasing Bristol’s creativity. Looking foward to the rest of the year, highlights of the 2016 programme include the return of Timothy West to the theatre as King Lear (18 June until 10 July). Stephanie Cole, well-known for high-profile television roles, will play The Fool.

Stephanie, who trained at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School says: “I am incredibly excited to be performing in the theatre I love best in all the world, alongside Tim West with whom I’ve performed many times. It is also a thrill to be working with the talented young people of Bristol Old Vic Theatre School after studying there myself so many years ago.”

Others who honed their acting skills at Bristol Old Vic include Peter O’ Toole, Jeremy Irons, Daniel Day-Lewis, Brian Blessed, Olivia Colman and Patrick Stewart. w

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