The Duke and Duchess of Sussex visited Bristol Old Vic on a snowy February 1st to officially open the newly redeveloped front of house space, despite the snowy weather.
The Royal couple shared the historic moment with the next generation of theatre makers in a series of school workshops held throughout the building for children from across the city. The Duke and Duchess were able to sit in on a workshop with fifteen Year 9 students from Ashton Park School, who were part of Bristol Old Vic’s Future Quest project, and thirteen young people from Bristol Old Vic’s Made in Bristol training programme. The workshop used theatre as a tool to develop speaking and listening skills and to increase self-confidence and creativity.
They explored one of the theatre’s new interactive exhibitions with the youngest cast members of the recent Bristol Old Vic Young Company production Hercules. ‘Noises Off’ demonstrates 250-years of sound technology in the theatre, taking visitors from the present day back to Bristol Old Vic’s 18th-century sound equipment: the Thunder Run. Kouni Dillanove, aged 12, spoke to the couple and explained the interactive elements she was demonstrating; ‘They were really interested and wanted to know all about the music I make as well as how much I liked the exhibition.’
The tour concluded with a performance from the theatre’s Young Company cast of Hercules which was performed in the foyer, in front of the theatre’s newly revealed, ancient wall. Their Royal Highnesses unveiled a plaque commemorating the day.
Speaking at the plaque unveiling, Bristol Old Vic’s Artistic Director, Tom Morris said: ‘We are thrilled to welcome the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to Bristol Old Vic today to officially open the new foyer and studio theatres.
‘We asked our wonderful architects, Howarth Tompkins, to knock down the barriers which have kept this beautiful theatre hidden for 250 years and help us to share it with every community in this beautiful city, and they have achieved this in spectacular fashion.
‘This theatre’s aim is to be a place of welcome, entertainment and discovery for everyone from every part of Bristol and beyond. It is therefore particularly special to welcome the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to Bristol Old Vic as they are such great advocates for theatre; not only its ability to tell huge stories with unforgettable impact but as a means to transform lives and bring different communities together – something that encapsulates everything we have been working towards throughout the Year of Change with our partners across Bristol. We are delighted to be able to share a small part of this work with Their Royal Highnesses today.’