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Bristol Old Vic’s grand unveiling

24 September 2018
Bristol Old Vic just before its grand unveiling
Bristol Old Vic just before its grand unveiling

Yesterday Bristol Old Vic had a party to celebrate the completion of their major building redevelopment project. As their digital agency, we were lucky enough to go along and have an early explore of the place. And very fine it is too.

The frontage is a complete change from what was the studio theatre wall – now it’s mostly glass, so the original auditorium wall and entire front of house area are visible from the street.

A bold part of the frontage, the six pairs of shutters carry two poems – David Garrick’s prologue from when the theatre first opened in 1766, and Bristol, Bristol by the city’s first poet laureate, Miles Chambers.

Tom Morris, Emma Stenning (and a BSL interpreter, left) give a speech from the balcony, just before the big reveal
Tom Morris, Emma Stenning (and a BSL interpreter, left) give a speech from the balcony, just before the big reveal

Before the doors opened, Chief Executive Emma Stenning and Artistic Director Tom Morris gave impassioned speeches about their key focus for the new front of house. That is: for the building be completely open and welcoming to everyone. No matter who you are or where you’re from, you’re welcome at Bristol Old Vic.

Tom Morris said “When it was first built in 1766, the theatre was a space where people from every walk of life would congregate to be inspired and entertained. Over 250 years, as fashions changed and the theatre became increasingly hidden from public view, Bristol Old Vic may sometimes have seemed to only belong to the privileged few. With this transformation, we are returning the theatre to its origins as a place for all and a new welcoming space where everyone can feel at home.”

The front of house entrance, with 'Come on in' neon signage
The front of house entrance
The main bar, from Level 1 balcony
The main bar, from the first level balcony
The original auditorium wall (lit beautifully)
The original auditorium wall (lit beautifully)
Signage, from the inside
Signage, from the inside
Front of house as seen from one of the 'windows' in the original wall
Front of house as seen from one of the 'windows' in the original wall

As one of the oldest working theatres in the land, another purpose of the building revamp was to make more of the theatre’s historical importance, and showcase the artefacts found in the building over its lifetime. So, while it remains a globally renowned and locally loved theatre, Bristol Old Vic is now also a heritage venue.

The grand unveiling coincides with the 6-month anniversary of us launching Bristol Old Vic’s website.

You can read more about that over in our Bristol Old Vic case study but a couple of nice stats – it's so far achieved a 7% increase in online donations since go-live – and an impressive 71% of tickets are now being sold online.

And because it’s not all about cold, hard, and super-impressive facts …

“LOVE the assisted performance listings page - this should be on every booking site ever!”

via Twitter

“Just noticed that @BristolOldVic have got a TOTALLY gorgeous new website, image led and infinitely better than before, congrats.”

via Twitter

Not a bad start to the newest phase in the life of Bristol Old Vic. Here’s to the next 252 years …

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