Theatre News

Bristol Old Vic announces full 2022 season as artistic director Tom Morris reveals departure plans

”The Nutcracker” and ”Hamlet” feature in the season

Bristol Old Vic
Bristol Old Vic
© Ben Robins

Bristol Old Vic has unveiled its 2022 programming – the final season for artistic director Tom Morris.

Joining the three productions commencing the year – Dr Semmelweiss, Wonder Boy and The Meaning of Zong – will be a variety of shows with long and short runs.

Billy Howle (The Serpent) will star in a new production of Hamlet, directed by John Haidar – with the production running from 13 October to 12 November. Sally Cookson's award-winning adaptation of A Monster Calls will play from 13 to 23 April.

Theatre of Bristol poet Malaika Kegode's Outlier will return for a fresh run from 14 to 24 September, while this Christmas will see a fresh take on The Nutcracker running from 24 November to 7 January 2023. The creative team for the show is to be revealed.

Tom Morris said today: "There have been many points since March 2020 when it has seemed questionable whether the theatre industry, which contributes so much to our economy, our international reputation and the health and well-being of our communities, would survive at all. Thanks to the investment of the Cultural Recovery Fund, we and many others have survived, and the next, urgent and thrilling priority is to work out how theatre can contribute to the economic, social and environmental recovery over the next decade.

"This programme is about rebuilding our business after the pandemic and creating a platform for a fully engaged Civic Theatre in Bristol over the next decade. Everything we've done over the last twelve years has been the preparation for this transformation.

"The shock of sudden closure has given us and others in the industry the chance to accelerate our change, both in the way our business works with the thrilling opportunities of digital technologies, and the chance to create a theatre that genuinely connects with and belongs to everyone in this city.

"There is no job in British theatre as exciting as this one, and for much of the rest of this year I will continue to have the immense privilege of holding the relationship between the most beautiful theatre in Britain, the astonishing talent who relish creating and discovering their voices within it, and the endlessly inspiring city and people of Bristol.

"I will also be fighting as hard as I can to encourage all leaders in Bristol to seize our creative potential – the unique combination of energy, architecture, history, diversity, spirit and justice which make it the most creative city I've ever known. Imagine what might happen if we really committed to the celebration and release of creativity in each and every one of our citizens! Bristol could be a national and international benchmark of the value of creativity in society, cited and imitated as a trail-blazer across the world."

Morris added that he "won't be departing in a hurry", and will still be around trying "to win some of the battles I haven't yet managed to win" – including the collectivisation of culture in Bristol.

On the possibility of the current show Dr Semmelweiss, starring Mark Rylance, transferring into London, Morris said: "There's an appetite, but also a massive backlog of shows trying to get into the West End."

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