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The Old Vic: Meet the Bicentenary Ambassadors

Countdown to Old Vic’s 200th Birthday

Staff | February, 12, 2018 |

As the countdown to our 200th birthday continues, we’re proud to announce our Bicentenary Ambassadors – friends from stage and screen who will lend their support to this momentous occasion by celebrating the past, present and future of our beloved theatre.

Actors, TV personalities, writers and many more including Nikki Amuka-Bird, Sheila Atim, John Boyega, Cate Blanchett AC, Kim Cattrall, Lily Cole, Alan Cumming OBE, Dame Judi Dench CH, DBE, Michelle Dockery, Rupert Everett, Martin Freeman, Tamsin Greig, David Harewood MBE, Sir Derek Jacobi CBE, Toby Jones, Cush Jumbo, Pearl Mackie, Sir Ian McKellen CH, CBE, Sir Ben Kingsley, Bill Nighy, Anika Noni Rose, Sir Mark Rylance, Andrew Scott, Sir Tom Stoppard OM, CBE, Stanley Tucci and Dame Julie Walters DBE, are joining the theatre in marking 200 years of creative adventure. This roll call of talent, emergent and established, demonstrates the role of The Old Vic as a crucible for both artistic pioneers and great entertainment over its 200 year history.

The Bicentenary Ambassadors will variously curate monologues, appear on stage, share their reflections on the theatre, attend special events around the birthday itself and throughout the year, and help to raise awareness of the education and community programmes that serve 10,000 young people each year.

Confirmed highlights include Maxine Peake curating a series of monologues called One Hand Tied Behind Us to mark International Women’s Day and the 100th anniversary of the Representation of the People Act of 1918; actor Bertie Carvel running the London Marathon to raise much needed funds; Helen McCrory conducting an acting workshop for budding actors or actresses; as well as Ambassadors such as Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Glenda Jackson, David Haig, Jane Horrocks, Tim Key, Joshua McGuire, Rhys Ifans, Daniel Radcliffe and Rufus Sewell sharing birthday messages to the theatre that will be released during the week of the birthday in May.

Following his appointment in September 2015, Artistic Director Matthew Warchus has redefined The Old Vic for today as a beacon of entertaining, provoking, uplifting art with the introduction of eclectic seasons of a wide range of work that to-date have welcomed more people through the doors than ever before.

The Old Vic, originally named the Royal Coburg, first opened its doors in 1818 and over the last two centuries has played host to opera, dance, cinema, music hall, classical dramas, variety, clowns, big spectacles and novelty acts. It was the original home of the English National Opera, the Sadler’s Wells dance company and the National Theatre. It has also been a tavern, a college, a coffee house, a lecture hall and a meeting place. The theatre is unique. It stands alone, an independent charity producing groundbreaking work, with no public subsidy, and a social mission running through all it does on and off stage. The adventurous spirit that has permeated every chapter of its history remains as strong today, 200 years on, as it was in 1818.

Artistic Director Matthew Warchus said ‘I’m determined that the celebrations to mark this milestone shouldn’t be about eulogising a historic artefact. For me, it’s essential to recognise that the illustrious history of this building is also characterised by mischief, populism, sometimes breathtaking boldness and risk. Above all, it’s been a place full of youthful vitality and an urge to reinvent itself to stay relevant and always engaged with the world around it. The Old Vic is important not just because of what it’s been but because of what it can be – now and in the future.

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