Old Vic

Old Vic

Infobox Theatre
name = The Old Vic

caption = The exterior of the Old Vic from the corner of Baylis Road and Waterloo Road
address = The Cut
city = Lambeth, London
country = United Kingdom
designation = Grade II* listed
latitude = 51.5022
longitude = -0.1096
architect = Rudolph Cabanel of Aachen
owner = Old Vic Theatre Trust
capacity = 1,067
type = Resident company
opened = 1818
yearsactive =
rebuilt = 1871 J T Robinson 1880/1902 Elijah Hoole 1922/1927 by Frank Matcham 1933-8 F Green and Co
1950 Pierre Sonrel 1960 Sean Kenny 1983 Renton, Howard, Wood and Levine.
closed =
othernames = Royal Coburg Theatre Royal Victorian Theatre Royal Victoria Hall and Coffee Tavern
production = 'The Norman Conquests" (11 Sep - 20 Dec 2008)
currentuse =
website = www.oldvictheatre.com

The Old Vic is a theatre located just south-east of Waterloo Station in London on the corner of The Cut and Waterloo Road. It became a Grade II* listed building in 1951 [ [http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/search/details.aspx?pid=2&id=204779 English Heritage listing details] 28 Apr 2007] .

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 South Bank, opening in 1976.



The 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 Theatre". 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." When 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. In 1880, under the ownership of Emma Cons, it became "The Royal Victoria Hall And Coffee Tavern" and was run on "strict temperance lines"; by this time it was already known as the "Old Vic" [ [http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=47035 'The Royal Victoria Hall - "The Old Vic"', Survey of London: volume 23: Lambeth: South Bank and Vauxhall (1951), pp. 37-9] accessed: 28 April 2007.] . The "penny lectures" given in the hall led to the foundation of Morley College [An endowment from the estate of Samuel Morley led to the creation of the "Morley Memorial College for Working Men and Women" on the premises", these were shared and lectures were given back stage, and in the theatre dressing rooms.] , an adult education college, that moved to its own premises nearby, in the 1920s.

Old Vic company

With Emma Cons's death in 1912 the theatre passed to her niece Lilian Baylis, who emphasized the Shakespearean repertoire. The "Old Vic Company" 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 1935.

Wartime exile

The Old Vic was improved greatly during the Blitz, and the war-depleted company spent all its time touring, based in Burnley, 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

In 1963, 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.

In July 1974 the Old Vic presented a rock concert for the first time. National Theatre director Sir Peter Hall arranged for the progressive folk-rock band Gryphon to première "Midnight Mushrumps", the fantasia inspired by Hall's own 1974 Old Vic production of "The Tempest" starring Sir 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 during the 1980s. 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", though relatively few of its productions are at the Old Vic theatre.

Current developments

In 2003, actor Kevin Spacey was appointed as new artistic director of the "Old Vic Theatre Company" receiving considerable media attention. Spacey said he wanted to inject new life into the British theatre industry, and bring British and American theatrical talent to the stage. He appears in one or two shows per season, and performs some directorial duties on other shows.


* "Guide to British Theatres 1750-1950", John Earl and Michael Sell pp. 128-9 (Theatres Trust, 2000) ISBN 0-7136-5688-3
* [http://www.peopleplayuk.org.uk/guided_tours/drama_tour/1900_1945/old_vic.php Pictures and early history of Vic-Wells]
* [http://www.old-vic-theatre.com Guide to events at the Old Vic Theatre]
* [http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk/OldVicTheatre.htm Old Vic Theatre History]

External links

* [http://www.oldvictheatre.com/ Old Vic Theatre] official website
* [http://www.uktheatre.net UK Theatre Network]
* [http://www.bris.ac.uk/theatrecollection/oldvic.html Old Vic archive at the University of Bristol Theatre Collection] , University of Bristol
* [http://www.bris.ac.uk/theatrecollection/baylis.html Lilian Baylis archive at the University of Bristol Theatre Collection] , University of Bristol

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Old Vic —   [ əʊld vɪk], Londoner Theater, eröffnet 1818 als Royal Coburg (Aufführung populärer Melodramen); ab 1833 unter dem Namen Royal Victoria, daher die Bezeichnung Old Vic; ab 1900 Stätte für Konzerte, Shakespeare Szenen und Opern, ab 1914… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Old Vic — the Old Vic a theatre in South London, famous especially for its productions of plays by William Shakespeare …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Old Vic — a famous theatre in south London, built in 1818. It was officially named the Royal Victoria Theatre in 1833, and was given the nickname the ‘Old Vic’ later in the century. It became well known in the early 20th century when Lilian Baylis began… …   Universalium

  • Old Vic — Außenansicht des Old Vic Das Treppenhaus im Old Vic Theatre Das Old Vic Theatre ist ein Theater in London. Es wurde 1818 von William Barrymore als Royal C …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Old Vic — The Old Vic Vista exterior del Old Vic desde la esquina de Baylis Road y Waterloo Road Otros nombres Royal Coburg Theatre Royal Victorian Theatre Royal Victoria Hall and Coffee Tavern …   Wikipedia Español

  • Old Vic — Compañía teatral londinense. En 1818, la sala de la compañía se inauguró bajo el nombre de Royal Coburg y, en 1833, fue denominada el Royal Victoria, que luego fue popularmente conocido como el Old Vic. En 1914 la compañía, dirigida por Lilian… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Old Vic — Royal Victoria Hall in London …   Eponyms, nicknames, and geographical games

  • Old Vic — [ vik] the popular name of the Royal Victoria Theatre in London. Under the management of Lilian Baylis from 1912, it gained an enduring reputation for its Shakespearean productions …   Useful english dictionary

  • Old Vic Travellers Inn Nelspruit — (Нелспрёйт,Южно Африканская Республика) Категория отеля: 4 звездочный отель …   Каталог отелей

  • Old Vic Theatre — Außenansicht des Old Vic Das Treppenhaus im Old Vic Theatre …   Deutsch Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”