Theatre News

Nancy Medina’s first season at Bristol Old Vic to open with Tarell Alvin McCraney’s ”Choir Boy”

Nancy Medina
Nancy Medina
© Barbara Evripdou

Nancy Medina has announced her first season as artistic director of Bristol Old Vic, which includes her production of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s play Choir Boy and a new musical adaptation of David Nicholls’ Starter for Ten.

She described the season, which also includes a modern reimagining of Arabian Nights, as an “invitation to Bristol to join me as we work out together what this theatre means to its city and beyond”.

The season opens, from 12 October to 11 November, with Choir Boy, the Tony-nominated play which follows Pharus, a young queer Black student, who leads the legendary gospel choir at his elite all-boys prep school in America.

McCraney, who also scripted the Oscar-winning film Moonlight, said: “I wrote this play in 2009 as a reminder of how far we’d come, but it serves today, still, as an immediate lament on how very far we have to go, and Nancy’s keen eye for everyday justice and sure hand for intoxicating productions will serve us a powerful gathering around this necessary story.”

It’s preceded by Edinburgh hit Kathy and Stella Solve a Murder! (13 to 30 September), a whodunnit from the Olivier Award-winning team behind Fleabag, which plays as part of a UK tour.

Meanwhile the Weston Studio’s autumn programme begins with cheeky little brown (21 September to 14 October), a new co-production with tiata fahodzi. It’s written by Nkenna Akunna and directed by tiata fahodzi’s artistic director, Chinonyerem Odimba, who described it as “a contemporary story that has heart, humour and a humanity at its very centre”.

For October half term, the Weston Studio presents The Colour of Dinosaurs (20 to 28 October), described as “a rip-roaring prehistoric science pop gig”, featuring five musicians and a palaeontologist, and made for curious humans of all ages. It’s been created by Otic and Lloyd Coleman, a Bristol-based collective of musicians, makers and performers.

The centrepiece of the festive season is Arabian Nights, which is reimagined by writer Sonali Bhattacharyya (Chasing Hares, Young Vic) and runs from 23 November to 6 January. It will be directed by Blanche McIntyre, whose credits span Shakespeare’s Globe, the National Theatre, Almeida and more.

For younger families, the Weston Studio sees the return of Olivier Award-winning Little Bulb theatre company with their latest “theatrical love letter to nature”, Four Seasons (1 December to 7 January). Featuring puppetry, dance and clowning it will “celebrate the wonder and weirdness of nature and our place in it”.

The new year sees a major collaboration between Bristol Old Vic, Antic Productions, Longshot Films and Playtone on the world premiere of Starter for Ten (29 February to 30 March), a new musical adapted from the novel by best-selling author David Nicholls and the subsequent 2006 film.

The main house will also stage Frantic Assembly’s Metamorphosis (10 to 20 January), adapted by Lemn Sissay from Franz Kafka’s seminal story, while ETT’s new production of Macbeth directed by Richard Twyman, follows from 25 January to 10 February as part of a UK tour.

Apphia Campbell’s play Black is the Color of my Voice (12 to 17 February 2024), inspired by the life of Nina Simone, also visits as part of a major national tour.

Medina, who has themed the season around music, joy and resilience, concluded: “We will make a theatre which is for our whole community. Not a passive place but one of activism. Not one voice but many. We will ask questions of ourselves and of Bristol. We invite you to come on in to help us make this building sing with possibility.”

Tickets for the autumn/winter season will go on sale to priority bookers from 20 April and are on general sale from 27 April.

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