The Old Vic in London is to submit a planning application to the local council to create a dedicated space for its talent development arm as part of major restoration works aimed at securing the future of the “crumbling” building.
If Lambeth Council approves the proposals, the venue will build a 70-person studio behind the theatre to house its Old Vic New Voices scheme.
The venue has already acquired the site for the flexible studio, which would have its own entrance on Waterloo Road. In addition to this performance space, the theatre plans to include areas for education work, a reception, meeting rooms and offices within the new building.
Plans drawn up by Bennetts Associates Architects – a firm that has previously worked on the restoration of the Shaftesbury Theatre in London and the redevelopment of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s main theatre – also include “urgent” repairs to its roof.
A document outlining the restoration project, called Illuminating the Future, says the building is currently “crumbling” which is “putting its future at risk”.
“The roof leaks and may collapse if we don’t act soon,” it says. “If we don’t act now, there’s a risk that the Old Vic won’t be around for the next generation to enjoy, ” the document adds.
Improvements to the front of house areas at the Old Vic will also go ahead if the proposals are approved. Space in these areas would be increased by around 50% and the front façade would be opened up to allow light to “flood into the foyers”.
There are plans for creating an outside terrace overlooking the entrance, and an events space for community groups and supporters, alongside a new all-day café.
Backstage upgrades would include new energy efficient mechanical and electrical systems, the venue’s first ever green room for actors, crew and the administration team, plus updated rehearsal, workshop and wardrobe spaces.
The venue aims to begin the works in the next five years, but has no timeframe confirmed. It said it hopes to raise the required funds through private donations.
The Old Vic is conducting a survey on the proposals via its website.