Old Vic is a theatre
located just south-east of Waterloo Station in London on the
corner of The
Cut and Waterloo Road.
Established in 1818 as the Royal Coburg
, it was taken over by Emma
in 1880 when it was known formally as the Royal
. In 1898, a niece of Cons, Lilian Baylis
assumed management and began a
series of Shakespeare
1914. The building was damaged in 1940 during air raids and it
became a Grade II* listed
in 1951 after it reopened..
It was also the name of a repertory
company that was based at the theatre. The company formed the
core of the National Theatre of Great
Britain on its formation in 1963, under Laurence Olivier. The National Theatre
remained at the Old Vic until new premises were constructed on the
Bank, opening in 1976.
It underwent complete
refurbishment in 1985 and in 2003, American actor Kevin Spacey
appointed as new artistic director of the Old Vic Theatre
which received considerable media attention.
theatre was founded in 1818 by James King and Daniel Dunn (formerly
managers of the Surrey
Theatre in Bermondsey), and Thomas Serres, then Marine painter to the
King who managed to secure the formal patronage of Princess Charlotte and
her husband Prince Leopold of
Saxe-Coburg naming the theatre the Royal Coburg
Royal Coburg Theatre in 1822
The theatre was a "minor" theatre (as opposed
to one of the two patent theatres
and was thus technically forbidden to show serious drama.
Nevertheless, when the theatre passed to William Bolwell Davidge in
1824 he succeeded in bringing legendary actor Edmund Kean
south of the river to play six
Shakespeare plays in six nights. The theatre's role in bringing
high art to the masses was confirmed when Kean addressed the
audience during his curtain call saying "I have never acted to such
a set of ignorant, unmitigated brutes as I see before me."
Davidge left to take over the Surrey Theatre in 1833 it was bought by Daniel Egerton and William
Abbott who tried to capitalise on the abolition of the legal
distinction between patent and minor theatres and also in 1833 the
theatre was renamed the Royal Victorian Theatre after the
heir to the throne Princess Victoria.
1880, under the ownership of Emma Cons
whom there are plaques outside & inside the theatre, it became
The Royal Victoria Hall And Coffee Tavern
and was run on
this time it was already known as the "Old Vic"
penny lectures given in the hall led to the foundation of
College, an adult education
college, that moved to its own premises nearby, in the
Old Vic company
The theatre at night
With Emma Cons's death in 1912 the theatre passed to her niece
, who emphasized the
repertoire. The Old
was established in 1929, led by Sir John Gielgud
. Between 1925 and 1931,
Lilian Baylis championed the
re-building of the then-derelict Sadler's Wells Theatre, and established a ballet company under the direction of Ninette de Valois.
For a few years
the drama and ballet companies rotated between the two theatres,
with the ballet becoming permanently based at Sadler's Wells in
Vic was damaged badly during the Blitz,
and the war-depleted company spent all its time touring, based in
Lancashire at the Victoria Theatre during the years 1940 to
1943. In 1944, the company was re-established in
London with Ralph Richardson and
Laurence Olivier as its stars,
performing mainly at the New Theatre (now the Noël Coward Theatre) until the Old Vic was
ready to re-open in 1950. In 1946, an offshoot of the company was
established in Bristol as the Bristol Old Vic.
National Theatre company
the Old Vic company was dissolved and the new National
Theatre Company, under the artistic direction of Lord Olivier, was based at the Old Vic
until its own building was opened on the South Bank near Waterloo Bridge in 1976.
Stairwell of the Old Vic
In July 1974 the Old Vic presented a rock concert for the first
time. National Theatre director Sir Peter Hall
the progressive folk-rock band Gryphon
to première Midnight
, the fantasia inspired by Hall's own 1974 Old Vic
production of The Tempest
starring John Gielgud
for which Gryphon
had supplied the music.
After the departure of the NT, the Old Vic continued as a home for
classic and new drama, and was significantly restored under the
ownership of Toronto department-store entrepreneur 'Honest Ed' Mirvish
in 1985. In 1998, the
building was bought by a new charitable trust, The Old Vic
Theatre Trust 2000
. In 2000, the production company Criterion
Productions was renamed Old Vic Productions plc
relatively few of its productions are at the Old Vic theatre.
In 2003, actor Kevin
was appointed as new artistic director of the Old
Vic Theatre Company
receiving considerable media attention.
said he wanted to inject new life into the British theatre industry, and bring British and American theatrical talent to the stage.
in one or two shows per season, and performs some directorial
duties on other shows.