The Old Vic has played a significant role in shaping theatre as we know it today.

Many of our best known institutions started life right here on The Cut including the English National Opera, Morley College, the National Theatre, the Royal Ballet and Sadler’s Wells. We are delighted to be working with some of these organisations over the next year plus some other exciting collaborators.

We are extremely grateful to all our Bicentenary Partners and Collaborators.

Birthplace Partners
  • Morley College

    In the early 1880s, Old Vic owner Emma Cons turned the theatre into the Royal Victoria Coffee and Music Hall to provide inexpensive entertainment for the people of Lambeth and Southwark. The programme included music-hall turns with opera recitals, temperance meetings, and, from 1882, lectures every Tuesday by eminent scientists. The Penny Lectures, as they were known, attracted great philanthropic support which led to the opening of Morley Memorial College for Working Men and Women. The College was run separately from the theatre, but held its classes and student meetings backstage and in the theatre dressing rooms. The two split in the 1920s, when Emma's niece and successor Lilian Baylis raised funds to acquire a separate site nearby.

    Morley College
  • National Theatre

    The National Theatre, under the leadership of Laurence Olivier, began life at The Old Vic in 1963 with a production of Hamlet, starring Peter O'Toole. The organisation spent 13 years on The Cut before moving to its home on the Southbank in 1976 with Peter Hall at the helm.

    National Theatre
  • Sadler's Wells

    Since 1898, Old Vic Manager Lilian Baylis had been presenting drama and opera at the theatre, motivated by a profound belief that great art should belong to everybody. In 1925 she began fundraising to rebuild the defunct Sadler’s Wells so that the people of north London could enjoy the same opportunities as those in the south. In 1931, the fifth Sadler’s Wells, designed by the prolific theatre architect Frank Matcham, opened with John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson in Twelfth Night. For four years, drama productions, opera and ballet shuttled between The Old Vic and Sadler’s Wells until Baylis decided to dedicate Sadler’s Wells to opera and ballet for eight months of the year and give the Vic-Wells Ballet a permanent base.

    Sadler's Wells
Bicentenary Collaborators
  • Bella Freud

    Bella Freud is a London based fashion designer. She is renowned for her graphic knits featuring the words Ginsberg is God, Je t'aime Jane and 1970 and her designs are sold internationally. She has made eight short films, three with John Malkovich.

    Bella Freud
  • Fine Cell Work

    Fine Cell Work is a charity and social enterprise which trains prisoners in highly-skilled, creative needlework. The work is undertaken in the long hours spent in their cells and fosters hope, discipline and self-esteem, ultimately resulting in our stitchers leading fulfilling, crime-free lives. Prisoners also learn sewing machine and textile production skills in our prison based workshops. Our aim is to allow them to finish their sentences with work skills, money earned and saved, and the self-belief to not re-offend. We also guide them towards training and support on release in our community hub, where ex-prisoners can gain valuable work experience, formal training and employment mentoring.

    Fine Cell Work
  • TfL

    TfL are the integrated transport authority responsible for delivering Mayor of London Sadiq Khan's strategy and commitments on transport. They run the day-to-day operation of the Capital's public transport network and manage London's main roads. No other city is as recognised by its transport system as London. Its red buses, black cabs and Tube trains are known the world over. Every day more than 31 million journeys are made across the network. We do all we can to keep the city moving, working and growing and to make life in the city better.

    Transport for London
  • The Prince's Trust

    The Prince’s Trust holds the belief that every young person should have the chance to embrace exciting opportunities and they help 11 to 30 year-olds who are unemployed or struggling at school to transform their lives. Their free programmes give young people the practical and financial support they need to stabilise their lives. They help them to develop key skills while boosting their confidence and motivation so they can continue to dream big

    The Prince's Trust
  • University of Bristol Theatre Collection

    The Theatre Collection is one of the world’s largest archives of British theatre history and Live Art. Founded in 1951 to serve the first UK university drama department, the collections cover the period from 1572 to the 21st century. Since 1951, the University of Bristol Theatre Collection has expanded to become a fully accredited museum and theatrical research centre. It also continues to serve its original purpose as a research resource for the members of the University of Bristol and the Bristol community.

    Theatre Collection
  • V&A

    The V&A is the world’s leading museum of art and design, housing a permanent collection of over 2.3 million objects that span over 5,000 years of human creativity. The Museum holds many of the UK's national collections and houses some of the greatest resources for the study of architecture, furniture, fashion, textiles, photography, sculpture, painting, jewellery, glass, ceramics, book arts, Asian art and design, theatre and performance.