A new look on the past

old vic heritage launch

With 252 years to draw on, Bristol Old Vic’s new heritage experience promises to share a secret or two from the vaults of this iconic institution, writes James Higgins

After an ambitious relaunch programme that has spanned months, the Bristol Old Vic’s new interactive experience showcases the pedigree and spectacle that has made the oldest continuously working theatre in the English-speaking world what it is today.

With the help of Bristol Archives and the University of Bristol Theatre Collection, the theatre will be unveiling its new exhibition, tours and workshops on the weekend of November 9–11. Visitors will be able to access all the heritage experiences on offer every day of the week during theatre opening hours. With guided tours, video projections, immersive augmented reality experiences and radically redesigned public areas, it promises to open a new dimension on this unique building.

Heritage Engagement Manager Liam Wiseman says: “True to the purpose of the organisation, our heritage experiences are theatrical and dynamic, and we can’t wait for everyone to see what we’ve been up to!” The exhibits have utilised the skills of artists and designers to bring theatre, excitement and sensory stimulation to the stories they present. It is a bold opportunity to engage new audiences and generations in the importance of theatre.

An augmented reality app allows visitors to use a tablet or phone to step back in time and view in 360° how the foyer would have looked to generations of theatre-goers. A gallery corridor has been transformed into a soundscape which explores everything from how actors project their voice to how atmosphere is created by back-room techniques. There are also 10,000 archival images, documents and posters as well as street art, guided tours and actors to help transport visitors back in time.

To celebrate the launch, the Bristol Old Vic team have laid on a special tour for the open weekend only – and it will bring back to life some of the famous faces who’ve trodden the boards over the last two-and-a-half centuries. Made in Bristol theatre company have produced Limelight – a ticketed tour leading visitors around the theatre to meet a host of characters from the past, telling tales of the theatre’s rich history!

When: Open all year-round. Limelight tours will take place every 30 minutes on Saturday, November 10 (9.30am–12.30pm) and Sunday, November 11 (9am–6pm), Tours cost £12.

Where: Bristol Old Vic

Website: www.bristololdvic.org.uk

Image credit: Jon Craig

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