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Timothy West to play King Lear at Bristol Old Vic

Timothy West, pictured in The Old Country. Photo: Tristram Kenton
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Timothy West is to play King Lear in a new production created as part of Bristol Old Vic’s 250th anniversary year.

Other new programming announced by artistic director Tom Morris for the year includes a co-production of The Rivals and new musical The Grinning Man, based on Victor Hugo’s novel The Man Who Laughs.

West will lead the cast of a new adaptation of Shakespeare’s play called Lear: 2016, written by Morris. It will be produced in collaboration with the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and the cast will include 18 actors from the drama school, which celebrates its 70th anniversary in 2016.

Speaking about the production, West – who first performed at BOV in 1967 – said: “To step out onto the stage at Bristol Old Vic again is something I’m hugely looking forward to. 2016 is a very important year for the theatre but also quite an important year for William Shakespeare, so it is a special occasion for me to do King Lear with Bristol Old Vic and the theatre school.”

The production will run in June 2016.

Elsewhere, Morris will direct new musical The Grinning Man, which he described as a “macabre romantic comedy”.

Written by Carl Grose, with music by Tim Phillips and Marc Teitler, the show will run at BOV in October 2016.

The theatre will also mount a new version of Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s restoration comedy The Rivals, which will be directed by Dominic Hill and co-produced by the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow and Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse.

As part of its anniversary celebrations, BOV will also host a weekend of activities and events from May 28 to 30, which will include the culmination of a newly announced project aimed at opening up the theatre’s stages.

Bristol Open Stage will invite anyone that wants to perform on BOV’s stage to do so during one of a number of designated days throughout the spring, with performances being curated for a showcase on the anniversary weekend.

Morris said the project would “harness the creativity that runs through the city”.

The programme also includes previously announced productions The Massive Tragedy of Madame Bovary!, Owen Sheers’ Pink Mist, The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk by Kneehigh and Long Day’s Journey into Night, directed by Richard Eyre.

Lesley Manville and Jeremy Irons have already been confirmed to star in the Eugene O’Neill play, however new casting includes Hadley Fraser, Billy Howle and Jessica Regan.

It will run from March 23 to April 23.

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