Welcome to A Christmas Carol at The Old Vic

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Welcome to The Old Vic and our production of A Christmas Carol. Charles Dickens wrote his famous 1843 Christmas novella having been shocked by the deprivation he saw around him in London’s streets and by the lack of motivation, from those with power and influence, to do anything to fix it.

A prolific journalist, Dickens could have chosen to write about the bald facts of the labour reports which recorded the desperate situation of working people, both adults and children, in factories and mines across the country. Instead, understanding the enormous power of storytelling to grab our imaginations, to move us and to inspire compassion and action, he wrote a ghost story. In Ebenezer Scrooge, he gave us a figure who has shut himself off from the world and opted out of the community around him. Via a fantastical modern fairy tale (complete with phantoms and time travel) set in a familiar world, Dickens wove an archetypal story, deceptive in its simplicity, which proposes a roadmap for us all — to interrogate our own lives, to embrace the possibility of change and to recognise the transformative power of generosity, empathy and engagement.

The Old Vic sits one street away from the official geographic centre of London and is one of the most prominent landmarks in a vibrant neighbourhood which has grown around it over the last 200 years. But just being here isn’t enough. In tandem with the shows we stage, which specialise in thought-provoking entertainment, we enthusiastically embrace our building’s potential to serve our community in as many different ways as possible and take seriously our moral responsibility to give back to those around us. 10,000 people a year are currently involved in our social engagement programmes working with people from the local area to support growth, employment, social mobility and provide enriching education experiences for school children across London. This is a number we know we can (at least) double. However, a lack of physical space in The Old Vic’s building is currently a major barrier to realising the full potential of this work, with the majority of our engagement projects taking place off-site. This is why, in addition to the £4 million we raise every year to continue our work as an independent, unsubsidised, charitably operated producing theatre, we are now fundraising £12 million for the creation of The Annex. This new five-story space, (complete with café and bar) immediately behind and connected into our existing site, represents the opportunity to amplify our social mission, turbocharge our invaluable engagement programmes and further welcome, inspire, serve and draw together the communities around us.

We are excited to get started on The Annex as we work to support and consolidate the identity of The Old Vic as an artistic powerhouse with a driving social mission for our community today and for generations into the future. If you’d like to find out more or you’d like to help us to realise this vision, please take a look at the plans on our website.

The Old Vic Artistic Director Matthew Warchus

A Christmas Carol is now playing until Sat 18 Jan.