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The old and the new at the Vic
22 January 2003 1521 GMT

2003 ushers in a new phase for the Old Vic with the arrival of artistic directors David Farr and Simon Read - and heralds the return of some classic drama.
Actor Samuel West brings his directing talents to the Old Vic this season
:: This story
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Bristol Old Vic

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Productions to look out for during the spring and summer season include Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Great Expectations and A Midsummer Night's Dream.

In addition, the new generation takes over the theatre when Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and Circomedia move into the spaces with their student showcases.

Speaking at the launch of the new season, David and Simon said: “We’re very honoured to be joining this historic theatre in this great city.

"We believe audiences will be as excited by the range of these plays as we are.

"We’re bringing front rank directors and designers who have been working in the best of British theatre – dynamic creative teams to produce this packed repertoire.

"We are all looking forward to collaborating with the skilled and experienced in-house team. This is a defining moment for Bristol and the Bristol Old Vic, where we seek to become a true national theatre.”

Dangerous liaisons

The Old Vic's Theatre Royal programme begins in March with Les Liaisons Dangerous, directed by Samuel West.

West, son of Timothy West and Prunella Scales, is a respected actor in his own right and this is his third production as director.

Previous works include directing Hamlet at the RSC Fringe and film work includes Iris, A Room With A View and Notting Hill.

Tom Piper will design Les Liaisons, taking audiences to the world of Paris in 1782 where reputation is everything and nothing is sacred.

Based on the 1782 novel by Choderlos de Laclos, Christopher Hampton’s 1985 play is a cold-blooded, erotic and comic romp.

The production's creative team also includes lighting designer Mark Jonathan, composer Gary Yershon and fight director Terry King.

Great Expectations

Next on the list is Great Expectations, directed by Gordon Anderson and designed by Dick Bird, which comes to the Old Vic in April.

Charles Dickens' masterpiece follows the fortunes of Pip Pirrip, a poor young blacksmith’s apprentice, who is inexplicably given a fortune.

It is a sharply comic tale of self discovery, passion and mystery told through the eyes of a child.

In May Shakespeare's most magical of plays, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, comes to the theatre.

Directed by David Farr and designed by Angela Davies it transports the audience to an enchanted world of love, desire, fairy guile and an ass.

This is new-boy Farr's first production as director at the Old Vic, though he has a great founding in Shakespeare's work after his critically acclaimed production of Coriolanus which is currently on tour with the RSC.

Theatre RoyalTheatre Royal - Old Vic
King Street, Bristol BS1 4ED
Tel: 0117 987 7877
Read all about the autumn season
March 13th – April 5th
Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Christopher Hampton. Directed by Samuel West.

April 10th – May 3rd

Great Expectations a new dramatisation by David Farr from the novel by Charles Dickens. Directed by Gordon Anderson.

May 8th – June 7th
A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare. Directed by David Farr.

June 12th - 21st
Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer.

June 24th - 28th
Birmingham Stage Company’s production of James and the Giant Peach.

July 2nd - 5th
Circomedia perform Midnight Summer Dreams. A showcase of circus skills and physical theatre.

Meanwhile Farr's new job-share partner Simon Reade brings his writing talents to the stage in April with an adaptation of children's classic The Owl who was Afraid of the Dark

The story for the under sevens, by author Jill Tomlinson, tells the tale of Plop, the only owl in the world who is afraid of the dark, until his parents help him see the wonders of the night.

Rising new director Rebecca Gatward directs the story which is on throughout April and the Easter holidays.

Gatward previously worked with Simon Reade at the RSC where she was an assistant director.

Youth theatre

Other treats for the season include works by the Bristol Old Vic Youth Theatre, who present five extraordinary plays including Pains of Youth by Bruckner and League of Youth by Ibsen, two European classics rarely performed in this country.

Meanwhile Eclipse by Simon Armitage, The Queen Must Die by David Farr and The Ice Palace by Lucinda Coxon are produced as part of the National Theatre Connections programme which is aimed at creating new writing for and about young people.

To accompany the new season there will be a series of discussions, talks and workshops including: Simon Reade in conversation with the season’s directors, workshops in Victorian melodrama and an open forum with the two new artistic directors.

In addition, there is a series of tours to local primary schools of educational projects which are both unique and innovative. Heroes and Zeros (in collaboration with Weston Education Action Zone), and Project Myrtle (in Collaboration with The Primary Care Trust), explore numeracy and drugs awareness respectively, through theatrical performance and participatory workshops.

The Education Department will also continue its ground-breaking work with the National Children’s Bureau to promote the use of drama in developing well-being in children and young people.

New VicNew Vic Studio
King Street, Bristol BS1 4ED
Tel: 0117 987 7877
Read all about the autumn season
March 13th –15th
Pains of Youth by Ferdinand Bruckner.

March 14th –15th
Eclipse by Simon Armitage.

March 19th–21st
League of Youth by Henrik Ibsen.

March 27th – 29th
The Queen must Die by David Farr.
The Ice Palace by Lucinda Coxon.

April 2nd – 26th
The Owl who was Afraid of the Dark.
A new dramatisation by Simon Reade. Directed by Rebecca Gatwood.

April 28th – May 31st
Mayfest is a month long celebration of new visual theatre from across Britain including The Clod Ensemble, Horse and Bamboo, Point Blank, Living Pictures, Dark Horse, News from Nowhere, Marc von Henning and People Show.

May 10th
The Great Big Story Mix Up

June 11th - 21st

Bristol Old Vic Theatre School - Tonight at 8.30. Three one act plays by Noel Coward

"This is a defining moment for Bristol and the Bristol Old Vic, where we seek to become a true national theatre."

David Farr and Simon Read
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