Bristol Old Vic Theatre – Long John Silver & All!
I have always loved the theatre, and particularly Britain’s oldest continuously working theatre, Bristol’s famous Old Vic which opened in 1766.
This wonderful little theatre is located in King Street, which reputedly is where the famous pirate Long John Silver, a character in Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, Treasure Island, used to sup ale in The Llandoger Trow public house.
Many celebrity actors have followed Long Johns example and popped across the road from The Old Vic for a swift one (or more) after performing on stage.
With its stunningly sumptuous red and gold livery and horseshoe shape interior, few venues can match this beautiful Georgian theatre for its atmosphere. It really is a wonderful place to visit, but book early as shows often sell out.
Americans particularly will find it fascinating as they wander around Bristol’s waterfront where the theatre has been based for the last 250 years or so, and which may well remind them of Boston.
The Theatre Royal at the Old Vic, to give its proper name, has a close working relationship with the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School based in Clifton one of Bristol’s oldest areas which with its stunning Georgian terraces, including Royal York Crescent, reputed to be the longest in Europe, continues to be one of Britain’s poshest and most expensive suburbs.
The Old Vic Theatre School has turned out many famous actors including, Daniel Day-Lewis who starred in movies such as Gangs of New York, There Will be Blood, and of course, Lincoln.
Day-Lewis is one of the most acclaimed actors of his generation which says a lot for his training in Bristol. In 2012 he was named by Time as “The World’s Greatest Actor”
Jason Connery who starred in Dr Who and is the son of Sean Connery, also trained at The Old Vic Theatre School as did Jeremy Irons as well as Adam Carter who played a major part in the BBC1 spy drama Spooks and as Clive Reader QC in the legal drama Silk. Other famous actors who graduated from Bristol include:
Gene Wilder……..and many, many, many more!
Since its major refurbishment which was finished in 2012, The Old Vic has gone from strength to strength showing classic and modern plays of international standing. There is usually a fabulous pantomime at Christmas too.
As I say I love the Old Vic, especially on a summers evening after a stroll along the Harbourside with a little glass of vino enroute followed by one during, and another after the show with any luck! Well I did say I was walking!!
There are some great eateries close to the Theatre, with the well known Chinese Restaurant, Cathay Rendezvous, only doors away, and my particular favorite, The Glass Boat, right on the water and within three or four minutes walk.
It’s little wonder why Bristol keeps winning The Best Place To Live in Britain Awards. Despite it’s phenomenal growth in recent years it retains a warmth and style which is tough to repeat elsewhere.
I spend a lot of my time out of the city these days but love being in, and walking around the city of my birth. It’s a wonderful place to visit and has such diversity.
Tourists should walk around St Nicholas Market which is just off Corn Street, for individual treats and to smell the aromas from cooking food, spices, and to absorb the atmosphere. It really is a vibrant place! Get a cab up to Clifton Village after which has been a shopping and dining haven since the seventeenth century.
Bristol was European Green City in 2015 which has deservedly won it much international acclaim, but the true essence of the place is its diversity and culture.
The City is easy to reach for tourists as it has major railway stations at Temple Meads & Bristol Parkway and a modern and growing international airport where nearly 7 million passengers arrive annually.
Driving is easy too, standing as it does at the junction of the M4 & M5 motorways.
This very old European City with a modern agenda is a ‘must visit’ but remember to book those theatre tickets early!