This exhibition at the National Theatre celebrates The Old Vic’s 200th birthday and highlights an extraordinary and innovative period in British theatre history. Located on The Cut, just south of the river in Lambeth, The Old Vic first opened its doors 1818. In 1963 the National Theatre was established and spent its first 13 years at The Old Vic.
Led by Sir Laurence Olivier, the NT established a company of young and emerging actors, playwrights, designers and movement directors, who would go on to have a significant impact not only on British theatre but on the development of 20th century theatre as a whole. The 13-year period at The Old Vic witnessed productions of new writing, the creation of innovative stage designs and a dynamic approach to theatre making.
National Theatre Archive Associate, and curator of the exhibition, Natasha Bonnelame said:
“The NT’s history at The Old Vic is fascinatingly global in its outlook. Theatre makers from across the world connected in these tiny offices in Waterloo in 1960s London, and the outcome was seminal productions on The Old Vic stage which have defined theatre practice in the UK ever since. This exhibition celebrates this pioneering time in the history of both organisations.”
Artistic Director of The Old Vic, Matthew Warchus said: “Reflecting on the sheer range and scale of creative ambition that The Old Vic has nurtured over its two centuries is a mind-boggling exercise. In its 200th birthday year we are proud to celebrate the rich history and vibrant future of this great theatre and renew our connection with some of the world-renowned companies which The Old Vic has helped bring into existence – the ENO, Sadler’s Wells and, of course, the mighty National Theatre. It’s a great pleasure to be collaborating on this exhibition to highlight the passion, inspiration and determination of the theatre makers who built the National in its earliest days and at its first home – The Old Vic.”
As part of this exhibition the NT and The Old Vic have commissioned sound artist Jesc Bunyard to create a new sound artwork which will feature in the exhibition, inspired by archive materials from this time. Jesc said:
“I am interested in capturing the history of the NT and The Old Vic through sound and to use the sheer weight of voices to convey the dramatic history whilst providing a soundtrack to the exhibition. The murmur of voices should follow the visitor around during their visit to the exhibition space in the Lyttelton Lounge.”
Entry to the exhibition is free.
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