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London’s Old Vic announces 200th birthday season of world premieres

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London’s Old Vic has announced a season of world premieres in celebration of its 200th birthday, including new work by Joe Penhall and Sally Cookson.

The season opens with two previously announced productions.

Matthew Warchus will direct an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol by Jack Thorne. It will run from November 20 to January 20, with press night on November 29.

Alan Ayckbourn’s The Divide, directed by Annabel Bolton, is set in a “dystopian society of repression”. It runs from February 1 to 10.

The new season is announced as a 200-day countdown begins to the theatre’s 200th birthday on May 11.

The birthday will be marked with a three-day party, comprising a free, balloted performance on May 11, an open house and street party for families on May 12, followed by a performance for young people in the evening, and a fundraiser on May 13.

Other highlights in the new season include an adaptation of Ingmar Bergman’s Fanny and Alexander by Stephen Beresford, and the Penhall’s Mood Music, which stages a battle between two songwriters, their lawyers, and their psychotherapists.

Cookson’s stage adaptation of the book A Monster Calls runs from July 7 to August 25, and Sylvia, a dance, hip-hop, soul and funk work about the first women to be given the vote, runs from September 1.

The Old Vic has also announced seven new associate artists. These include writers Beresford, Thorne, David Greig, Conor McPherson, Tamsin Oglesby and Lucy Prebble, as well as composer Claire van Kampen.
Additionally, Joe Murphy has been appointed as an associate director at the theatre, and Bolton has been announced as the bicentenary season Baylis director.

Artistic director of the Old Vic Warchus said: “We love and care for the elderly members of our family and community out of respect for all that they have achieved and contributed in their long lives. On the other hand, we love and care for the young because we are excited about their future and we want them to exuberantly fulfil their potential.

“To honour the Old Vic’s 200th birthday we are celebrating it partly as a treasured historic icon but mostly as an adventurous, youthful, hub of creativity with a vibrant future ahead of it.”

He added: “The Old Vic will of course continue to mix pertinent revivals and refreshed classics into future seasons, but for this birthday year we are allowing ourselves to focus on new work.”

The season at a glance:

A Christmas Carol by Jack Thorne

Directed by Matthew Warchus
November 20 to January 20, press night November 29

The Divide by Alan Ayckbourn

Directed by Annabel Bolton
February 1 to 10, press night February 7

Fanny and Alexander by Ingmar Bergman, adapted by Stephen Beresford

Directed by Max Webster
February 21 to April 14, press night March 1

Mood Music by Joe Penhall

Directed by Roger Michell
April 21 to June 30, press night May 2

A Monster Calls

Based on the novel by Patrick Ness
Devised by the company
Directed by Sally Cookson
July 7 to August 25, press night July 17

Sylvia by Kate Prince and Priya Parmar

Directed and Choreographed by Kate Prince
September 1 to 22, press night September 6