Bristol Old Vic’s artistic director Tom Morris has announced the upcoming 2011 season:

As the critically acclaimed production of Swallows and Amazons closes, and he prepares open his smash hit production of War Horse on Broadway, Morris announces the company’s plans for the forthcoming year. Highlights of the new season include a revival of Brian Friel’s masterpiece Faith Healer with Finbar Lynch, the third season of Bristol Ferment, a large-scale outdoor production of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic Treasure Island, a collaboration with Kneehigh, and a new production of Coram Boy, reconceived especially for Bristol.

Following the final performances of Swallows and Amazons, Bristol Old Vic will commence a refurbishment of its Georgian auditorium and the spaces around it. On 5 February, the company will host a ball to begin their capital campaign – the ball will take place around the theatre and will feature performances by some of Bristol’s matchless theatrical alumni, ground-breaking contemporary Bristolian artists and the Southbank Sinfonia, who last worked with Tom Morris on Every Good Boy Deserves Favour at the National Theatre.

Daniel Day Lewis, President of the company’s fundraising campaign, said: “During our three years as students at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, the sublimely beautiful Theatre Royal glowed in the night, within our reach yet just beyond it. For my first year as a professional actor it was my home and I was proud of that.

“When the restoration is completed on this exquisite theatre it shall once again become the rightful home of the Bristol Old Vic and for the sake of the actors, directors, stage management and front of house lucky enough to work there; for the sake of the audiences from Bristol, the West Country, Great Britain and abroad; it should be treasured now and for all time and never again be allowed to go dark or fall into disrepair.”

While work is completed in the auditorium, Bristol Old Vic has a full year of work planned in spaces around the theatre, and in new collaborations with companies and venues across the city. Speaking on the company’s future plans, Tom Morris said “Bristol is an extraordinary city and this year we are celebrating its cultural strength in collaboration with venues such as Colston Hall, Watershed, the Cube, St George’s and Bristol’s new museum, MShed.”

Morris also announced the generous donation made by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation to Bristol Ferment, which provides five years of funding for the theatre’s artist development programme; and a new collaboration with John Retallack and the Company of Angels. Company of Angels will be working with Bristol Old Vic on a number of different projects for young people and to strengthen this partnership, Retallack has been appointed Bristol Old Vic’s Associate Director.

Bristol Ferment
11 – 22 January

The new season begins with the second year of Bristol Ferment – a mini explosion of new ideas and work-in-progress from local and regional artists. It is a scheme that runs throughout the year, providing space for theatre makers to develop their ideas in a supportive environment. It encourages playfulness, risk and experimentation, and is open to artists from all disciplines including writers, performers, designers, devisors, writers, directors, live artists, puppeteers, musicians and many more.

Faith Healer
By Brian Friel
27 January – 5 March

Finbar Lynch leads the company of Simon Godwin’s new production of Brian Friel’s masterpiece Faith Healer. He is joined by Kathy Kiera Clarke and Richard Bremmer.

Frank is a faith healer. Travelling with his two companions, Grace and Teddy, he roams the British Isles healing the sick. By the edge of forests, at the base of mountains, in remote coastal villages, the lame, the ill and the broken hearted gather for the Fantastic Francis Hardy; Faith Healer. But who is Frank? Are his miracles real or imaginary? And what is the true price the saved must pay?

Haunting, tender and passionate, Faith Healer takes us into the heart of what it means to believe. As we are drawn deeper into the world of Frank and his companions, our certainties fall away as we are led towards the play’s magisterial, unforgettable climax.

The season also includes Muscle by Tom Wainwright – a Hull Truck Production in association with Bristol Old Vic (8-12 March), and the world première of Frankenspine – My Big Break (14-23 April) by Kneehigh’s Tristan Sturrock in a Bristol Old Vic and Theatre Damfino collaboration developed through Bristol Ferment.

Family shows includes Shoofly Theatre’s Two, Four, Six, Eight! (22-26 February), and And The Rain Falls Down (6-10 April), a Fevered Sleep and Lyric Hammersmith co-production.

Later in the season...

Treasure Island
Come back 300 years, to a time when Bristol was the home of pirates, buried treasure and adventures on the high seas. This summer BOV bring the city an epic adventure of treasure maps, far away islands and one-legged men with parrots on their shoulders. Performed entirely in the open air and created with artists from Bristol, this classic tale is brought home to the city it has always been linked to.

Bristol Jam
Rapidly establishing itself as a regular on Bristol’s burgeoning festival scene, Bristol Jam is back for a third year. The UK’s only festival of improvisation, this Bristol Old Vic are working with Bristol’s St George’s and The Cube to take Jam across the city. Expect a bit of mayhem, a bit of madness and a whole lot of joy, as Bristol once again becomes the destination for improvisers from across the UK.

Coram Boy
Colston Hall and Bristol Old Vic will collaborate on a rather special Christmas show in December 2011. Coram Boy is a story of dastardly villains, cold hearted aristocrats, devoted friends and passionate lovers. Written by Helen Edmundson (Swallows and Amazons) and directed by Melly Still (Coram Boy, National Theatre), the story has been reimagined especially for Bristol and will involve both professional actors and community choirs from across the city.

Kneehigh
Bristol Old Vic is currently working with Kneehigh to bring their latest project to a surprising venue in the city later this year. Further details will be announced at a later date.

Bristol Old Vic Outreach
John Retallack - Director of Company of Angels, which produces new and experimental work for young audiences - has been appointed Associate Director at Bristol Old Vic, and Director of the Bristol Old Vic Outreach Team. Bristol Old Vic and Company of Angels will be collaborating on a number of projects throughout the season.

In 2011/2012 Bristol Old Vic Outreach will collaborate with Company of Angels on five different projects. The first of these is fairymonsterghost (17 – 21 May - Studio) a trilogy of three self-contained one-man shows, I Peaseblossom, I, Caliban, and I, Banquo. Each piece provides an exciting and original new look at one of three classic plays - A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Tempest and Macbeth.