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Bristol Old Vic celebrates its 252-year history with a new heritage attraction

Hana Sunny Whaler at the Bristol Old Vic Bristol Old Vic. Photo: Jon Craig
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Bristol Old Vic has launched a series of heritage exhibitions and experiences to celebrate its 252-year history.

Visitors will be able to step back in time and view the theatre’s foyer as it was in the 1760s, 1860s, 1910s and 1970s using a special app, as part of augmented reality experience A Window to the Past.

The plans also include an exhibition, Noises Off – 250 Years of Sound Technology in the Theatre, which tells the story of sound at Bristol Old Vic, designed by Joe Ravenhill’s company 2 Feet Below.

Other highlights include a film looking at the history of the building called The House Is Open! by Aardman, developed with Limbic Cinema, and Trials and Triumphs: 250 years of Bristol Old Vic, which is a timeline illustrated by sign-painter and illustrator Hana Sunny Whaler showcasing 250 years of the venue’s history.

Partners on the heritage project, which has been supported with a fund from National Lottery, include Bristol Archives and the University of Bristol Theatre Collection.

The heritage exhibitions and experiences will launch on November 9, and can be accessed by the public during the theatre’s opening times.

This new offering follows a 10-year overhaul of the building, costing a total of £26 million, which has included a major refurbishment of the theatre.

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Emma Stenning, chief executive at Bristol Old Vic, said: “Achieving a transformative grant [for the heritage plans] from the Heritage Lottery Fund back in 2016 was quite the best 250th birthday present that we could receive.

“Since then, we’ve been working in thrilling partnership with Bristol Archives and the University of Bristol Theatre Collection to make our extraordinary theatre’s history come alive within the walls of Bristol Old Vic.

“The opportunity to commission local artists and makers to respond to the stories of the theatre’s past has been so exciting.”

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