Twitter Facebook
Off West End About Us Theatre Listings Adopt a playwright The Offies Links Sponsors
theatres
Old Vic
The Cut
London
SE1 8NB
0844 871 7628
ovtcadmin@oldvictheatre.com
http://www.oldvictheatre.com
Nearest Tube/Train Station:
Waterloo tube/BR
DINING SNACKS BAR
 
Old Vic History

1818

Theatre starts life as the Royal Coburg, promising the nobility and the gentry 'entirely new entertainment... on a scale of magnitude and great expense'. Opening night includes a melodrama, an Asiatic ballet and a harlequinade.


1831

The great tragedian Edmund Kean plays Richard III, Othello, Macbeth and King Lear during a six-night engagement. He tells a rowdy audience: 'In my life I have never acted to such a set of ignorant, unmitigated brutes as I have before me'.


1833

Theatre re-opens, 'for the encouragement of Native Dramatic Talent', as The Royal Victoria, in honour of Princess (later Queen) Victoria.


1850s

Charles Kingsley describes the theatre as 'a licensed pit of darkness, a trap of temptation, profligacy and ruin'. Dickens writes: 'Whatever changes of fashion the drama knows elsewhere, it is always fashionable in the New Cut.'


1871

Theatre re-opens as The New Victoria. During the decade it's twice put up for sale by auction, before closing down.


1880

Emma Cons, a leading Victorian social reformer, re-opens it as The Royal Victoria Coffee and Music Hall, 'a cheap and decent place of amusement on strict temperance lines'. The word 'theatre' is dropped because of its 'impure associations'.


1884

The philanthropist Samuel Morley saves it from closure. Re-christened The Royal Victoria Hall and Coffee Tavern.


1889

Morley Memorial College, offering evening classes for working men and women, opens backstage. Concerts of opera excerpts begin. Bernard Shaw an occasional member of the orchestra: 'If the masses were not improved it was not my fault.'


1898

Emma Cons' niece Lilian Baylis, aged 23, appointed acting manager.


1912

Emma Cons dies. Baylis takes over as manager and lessee, and obtains a theatre licence from the Lord Chamberlain. Opera programme begins.


1914

Shakespeare productions staged for the first time, under director Ben Greet.


1914-18

Sybil Thorndike leads company during war years. Productions continue during Zeppelin and bombing raids. Baylis: 'What's a raid when my curtain's up!'


1918

Royal centenary gala. Baylis to Queen Mary: 'Your dear husband's picture isn't as big as Aunt Emmie's, but then he hasn't done so much for The Old Vic.'


1920-25

Under director Robert Atkins all 36 Shakespeare plays in the First Folio are performed.


1925

Edith Evans becomes first West End star to join the company, after having been turned down six years earlier. Baylis: 'She didn't look the leading type. I was a fool.'


1929-31

John Gielgud's Hamlet and Richard II establish him as exciting new Shakespearean star. 'The Old Vic is pre-eminently the place for artistic experiment, even if some eggshells of prejudice have to be smashed in the process.'


1930

Ralph Richardson joins the company, to play Caliban, Sir Toby Belch, Prince Hal.


1931

Sadler's Wells opens as Baylis' second theatre. The Old Vic Sadler's Wells Ballet Company is formed, led by Ninette de Valois. The two theatres alternate drama, opera and ballet for four years, until opera and ballet move to Sadler's Wells.


1932

Peggy Ashcroft joins the company to play Rosalind, Portia, Juliet and Miranda.


1933

Tyrone Guthrie's first season as director. Flora Robson, Charles Laughton and other stars brought in. Baylis to Laughton: 'I'm sure that one day you may be quite a good Macbeth.'


1936

Michael Redgrave, Alec Guinness and Laurence Olivier join the company for the first time. Guthrie appointed permanent director.


1937

Lilian Baylis dies as Macbeth is about to open.


1940

John Gielgud leads a season that includes King Lear, directed by Harley Granville-Barker, and The Tempest, directed by George Devine. Because of air-raids, the headquarters are moved to Burnley. Several companies tour Shakespeare to mining and other industrial areas, subsidised by the newly formed Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts, the forerunner of the Arts Council.


1941

Theatre badly damaged by bombs.


1944-49

Ralph Richardson, Laurence Olivier and John Burrell lead a new company at the New Theatre (now the Albery), its temporary home. Successful productions feature Olivier as Richard III and Oedipus, Richardson as Peer Gynt and Falstaff.


1947

Damaged auditorium used by newly established Old Vic School, run by director Michel Saint-Denis.


1950

Theatre re-opens after repairs and renovations with a performance of Twelfth Night.


1953-58

Under director Michael Benthall the complete First Folio is staged for a second time, beginning with Richard Burton as Hamlet.


1957

Judi Dench joins for the first of four seasons. Her parts include Ophelia, Hermia, and Juliet in Franco Zeffirelli's production of Romeo and Juliet.


1962

Olivier appointed first director of the National Theatre. Old Vic governors agree to offer the theatre as its temporary home, initially for five years.


1963

The Old Vic company disbands. The National opens with Hamlet, starring Peter O'Toole. Over the next 13 years company regulars include Albert Finney, Anthony Hopkins, Geraldine McEwan, Joan Plowright and Maggie Smith.


1970

Money from recent surpluses is used to finance the Young Vic, which serves the National as a studio theatre for three years, after which it becomes a separate company.


1973

Olivier's last stage performance, in Trevor Griffiths' The Party. He resigns as director of the National, and is succeeded by Peter Hall. His productions include John Gabriel Borkman with Richardson, Ashcroft and Wendy Hiller, No Man's Land with Richardson and Gielgud, and Hamlet with Albert Finney.


1976

The National's last performance before moving to the South Bank is Tribute to the Lady. Peggy Ashcroft plays Baylis, Gielgud and Richardson are among those taking part, Redgrave and Thorndike are in the audience. In her curtain speech Ashcroft repeats Baylis' threat to come back and haunt The Old Vic should her and her aunt Emma Cons' work ever be put at risk.


1977

Theatre leased to visiting companies. The first production is The White Devil, with Glenda Jackson.


1978

It becomes the home of Prospect at The Old Vic under the artistic directorship of Toby Robertson. Productions include Hamlet with Derek Jacobi, Antony and Cleopatra with Alec McCowen and Dorothy Tutin, and Saint Joan with Eileen Atkins.


1982

The theatre is put up for sale. Canadian businessman Ed Mirvish restores it to its former glory. The facade of the building is based on an 1830 engraving, and the auditorium on the designs of 1871. A giant sign is hung on the scaffolding: 'Lilian Baylis, you're going to love this. Honest Ed.'


1987-90

Jonathan Miller directs 17 productions and collects five Olivier Awards.


1997

Peter Hall's classic repertory season includes Beckett's Waiting for Godot, with Ben Kingsley and Alan Howard.


1998

The Mirvish family puts the theatre on the market. Suggestions for changing it into a themed pub, a bingo hall or a lap-dancing club provoke widespread outrage and protests. In response to public and political pressure, it's acquired by The Old Vic Theatre Trust 2000, a registered charity set up by Sally Greene.


1998

Transfer of the Almeida's production of The Iceman Cometh is a huge success. Kevin Spacey wins the Evening Standard Drama and Olivier Awards as Best Actor.


1999

First production under the ownership of the Trust is Peter Hall's production of Amadeus, which is nominated for five Olivier Awards.


2003

Announcement that The Old Vic will once again become a producing house. Kevin Spacey is appointed first artistic director of The Old Vic Theatre Company.


2004

The new Company's first season opens in September with the British premiere of Cloaca by Maria Goos, directed by Spacey. It continues with a new version of Aladdin, with Ian McKellen as Widow Twankey.


2005

The season's third production is the British premiere of National Anthems by Dennis McIntyre, starring Spacey, Mary Stuart Masterson and Steven Weber. It's followed by Philip Barry's The Philadelphia Story with Jennifer Ehle as Tracy Lord.

 

Old Vic
Nearest Tube/Train Station:
Waterloo tube/BR
click here for a big map


Subscribe
Get Our Special Offers & Latest News from Off West End
pic:OffWestEnd.com logo
NEWS/OFFERS/PODCASTS
SUBSCRIBE
Get Our Special Offers & Latest News from Off West End

ABOUT US | CONTACT US | SUPPORT US | TERMS OF USE | ADVERTISE WITH US

OffWestEnd.com is the London UK theatre information and bookings site that makes it easy to find great plays and performances in some of London's innovative theatres outside the West End. Buy tickets directly from these Off West End London theatres - with no fees and no commission ever being charged by us! OffWestEnd.com - Browse our theatre list below for what's on:
Above the Stag Theatre | Albany | Almeida Theatre | Arcola Theatre | Arts Theatre | artsdepot | BAC | Barbican | Barons Court Theatre | Bloomsbury Theatre | Blue Elephant Theatre | Bridewell Theatre | The Bush Theatre | Camden People's Theatre | Canal Cafe Theatre | Chickenshed | Cochrane Theatre | Cock Tavern Theatre | Cockpit Theatre | Courtyard | Drill Hall | Donmar Warehouse | Drill Hall | Finborough Theatre | Etcetera Theatre | Gate Theatre | The Globe Theatre | Greenwich Playhouse | Greenwich Theatre | Hackney Empire | Half Moon | Hampstead Theatre | Jacksons Lane | Jermyn Street Theatre | Jerwood Vanburgh Theatre | King's Head Theatre | Landor Theatre | Leicester Square Theatre | Lion & Unicorn Theatre | Little Angel Theatre | Lyric Hammersmith | Menier Chocolate Factory | National Theatre | New End Theatre | New Players Theatre | Normansfield | Old Red Lion Theatre | The Old Vic | Orange Tree Theatre | Oval House Theatre | People Show | Pleasance Theatre | Polka Theatre | The Queen's Theatre | Rich Mix | Riverside Studios | Rose Theatre | Riverside Studios | Roundhouse | Rosemary Branch | Royal Court Theatre | Shaw Theatre | Soho Theatre | Southbank Centre | Southwark Playhouse | Tabard Theatre | Tara Studio | The Space | Theatre Royal Stratford East | THEATRE 503 | Toynbee Studios | Tricycle Theatre | Unicorn Theatre | Union Theatre | Upstairs at the Gatehouse | Warehouse Theatre | Watermans | Watford Palace Theatre | White Bear | Wilton's Music Hall | Young Vic
OffWestEnd.com is a United Kingdom (UK) based company serving the international, the UK and London based theatres and theatre goers.
Write to Us at: OffWestEnd.com, 19 Eugene Cotter House, Beckway Street, London SE17 1QS, United Kingdom
Registered office address: OffWestEnd.com Ltd., 19 Eugene Cotter House, Beckway Street, London SE17 1QS United Kingdom - Company Registration No. 5308910



Google+