Year of Artists in Bristol

DURING 2019 Bristol consolidated its position as one of the country’s most exciting cities for performing artists and their growing audiences, and the programme published by Bristol Old Vic – with Mark Rylance on the front – proves there will be no let-up in the coming year.

Even before the end of the repeat run of A Christmas Carol on 12th January, the Bristol Young Vic Company will be bringing a new version of Antigone to the Weston Studio. Made by Canadian poet Anne Carson and directed by Maisie Newman, the show runs from 8th to 11th January.

And from 8th to 25th January, the Old Vic joins forces again with Cornish-based Kneehigh for their show Ubu! a Singalong Satire, (pictured).  It opened in The Asylum in the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Summer 2018 (see the FTR review) and now returns to the south west after its sellout London performances.  Based on Alfred Jarry’s play, the Kneehigh version expects high energy audience participation, and you’ll want to join in as Ubu and Mrs Ubu set out to take over the world.With music by Somerset resident Charled Hazlewood, and words by Carl Grose, Mike Shepherd and the company, it’s riotous fun and a warning of just how easily despots can draw us into their thrall.

In 2019, the first show from Emma Rice’s new company Wise Children was eagerly anticipated, and it didn’t disappoint at the Old Vic.  This year, from 18th January to 1st February, the company returns with its adaptation of Romantics Anonymous (pictured), a French story of love and chocolate, at Bristol ahead of an international tour.

The always-exciting and challenging Ferment comes to the Weston Studio from 27th January to 8th February – a host of shows that are being prepared for audiences.  You will be there to help, generously!

The 2020 programme continues with chances to see The Laramie Project (pictured), Le Navet Bete,  Wardrobe in Riot, Opera Up Close in Madam Butterfly, Diverse City in Mid Life, Headlong in Faustus: That Damned Woman, the return of the wonderful Pride and Prejudice (sort of) [see review], and a show entitled The Last of the Pelican Daughters, by Wardrobe Ensemble, Complicité, the Royal and Derngate and Bristol Old Vic.

Later in the year A Monster Calls returns, Mark Rylance stars in Semmelweis, there is a new production of Gatsby, Sally Cookson’s Wonder Boy and the Christmas 2020-21 show is The Little Mermaid.

There is dance from Rambert 2, Candoco (pictured by Stephen Wright), and Akram Khan,  family shows, comedy from Suzi Ruffell, Josie Long, Sophie Hagen and more.

2020 is named The Year of Artists at the Old Vic. Collect your programme from your local library or arts centre or visit the website,, for full details.

Watch out for regular updates and full listings on The Fine Times Recorder.