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Young Vic
Theatre entrance
Country  United Kingdom
Architect Haworth Tompkins
Capacity 420 Main house
160 Maria (studio)
80 Claire (studio)
Type Non-commercial resident company
Opened 1970
Rebuilt 2006 Haworth Tompkins
Production Repertory seasons
Coordinates: 51°30′12″N 0°06′27″W / 51.50323°N 0.10748°W / 51.50323; -0.10748

The Young Vic is a theatre in The Cut, located near the South Bank, in the London Borough of Lambeth. It specialises in giving opportunities to young actors and directors. The theatre is publicly subsidised and has a high artistic reputation. Playwright David Lan has been the theatre's artistic director since 2000. Its philosophy is to "produce great plays for great audiences, now and in the future".



The Young Vic's name derives from the nearby Old Vic, one of the most celebrated of London's theatres and the first home of the National Theatre.

In the period after World War II a Young Vic Company was formed in 1946 by director George Devine[1] as an offshoot of the Old Vic Theatre School for the purpose of performing classic plays for audiences aged nine to fifteen.

This was discontinued in 1948 when Devine and the entire faculty resigned from the Old Vic, but in 1969 Frank Dunlop became founder-director of The Young Vic theatre with his free adaptation of Molière's The Cheats of Scapino, presented at the new venue as a National Theatre production, opening on 11 September 1970 and starring Jim Dale in the title role with designs by Carl Toms (decor) and Maria Bjornson (costumes).[2]

Initially part of the National Theatre, the Young Vic Theatre became an independent body in 1974.[3]

In the words of Laurence Olivier, then director of the National Theatre: "Here we think to develop plays for young audiences, an experimental workshop for authors, actors and producers." The aim was to create an accessible theatre which offered high quality at low cost in an informal environment. The aim was to appeal to young audiences, but this time not specifically to children.

Young Vic Theatre

Frank Dunlop completed creation of the theatre venue in 1970, a breeze-block building in The Cut constructed out of a former butchers' shop and an adjacent bomb-site. It was intended to last for five years, but has become permanent.

The auditorium, with a thrust stage, has a capacity of around 500 but this can vary depending on the configuration of the stage for each production.

In addition to the Young Vic's main house, there are now two smaller theatre spaces. The Maria, named after theatre designer Maria Bjornson, is the larger of the two with a capacity of 150. The Clare, named after the former artistic director of the Sheffield Crucible, Clare Venables, seats 70. Like the main house, both smaller theatres have flexible seating configurations which can be arranged to suit the production design. In all of the Young Vic's theatres, seating is unreserved with the actors performing in close proximity to the audience.

The Young Vic primarily performs classic plays, but often in innovative productions. Many well-known actors have worked at the Young Vic including Ian Charleson, who made his memorable professional debut with the Young Vic 1972-74, and who played Jimmy Porter in Look Back in Anger and Hamlet in the first revival of Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead in 1973. Others include Vanessa Redgrave, Helen Mirren, Judi Dench, Timothy Dalton, Ian McKellen, Willard White, Clive Owen, and Jude Law.

Quintessential rock band The Who held free, weekly concerts at the Young Vic in early 1971 in order to rehearse what would become their masterpiece album, Who's Next.

A memorial in the theatre's auditorium commemorates the 54 people killed in 1941 while sheltering in the cellars of the former building on the site, during The Blitz.[4]

In 1982 the theatre hosted a Poetry Olympics, where comedian Pat Condell took part.[5]


2004 - Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre

2008 - Laurence Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre

Refurbishment 2004-2006

The Clare

In 2003, the Young Vic launched a campaign to raise £12.5 million for a major reconstruction of its building and closed in 2004 for work to start.

Designed by architects Haworth Tompkins - also known for their refurbishment of the Royal Court Theatre, Regent's Park Open-Air Theatre, and two temporary venues for the Almeida - and with Jane Wernick Associates as the structural engineers, and consulting engineers Max Fordham LLP designing the building services, the refurbishment was completed in October, 2006.

The main auditorium has been left intact, but refurbished and technically enhanced. The butchers' shop has also been retained as the main entrance to the building and also the box office.

The remainder of the 1970s structure has been rebuilt to provide new foyers, dressing rooms, two studio theatres, and workshop spaces. An award of £5 million was received from the Arts Council of England.

The Young Vic re-opened on 11 October 2006, with a production of the community opera Tobias and the Angel; with music by Jonathan Dove and a libretto by David Lan. The Stage review [1].

On 16 May 2007, the refurbished Young Vic won the RIBA London Building of the Year Award.[6] Following this award, the Young Vic was also short-listed for the RIBA Stirling Prize on 27 July 2007.[7]



October 2009 - January 2010

May 2009 - August 2010

  • Sweet nothings based on Arthur Schnitzler's Liebelei from 1895, arranged by David Harrower, directed by Luc Bondy
  • Pictures from an Exhibition based on the suite by Modest Mussorgsky. Direction Daniel Kramer. Choreography Frauke Requardt.
  • Kursk by Sound&Fury, in collaboration with Bryony Lavery.
  • Been So Long Book, lyrics and direction Che Walker. Music and lyrics Arthur Darvill.
  • Sus by Barrie Keefe. Direction Gbolahan Obisesan.
  • Brilliant by Fevered Sleep. Direction David Harradine.
  • The Container by Clare Bayley. Direction Tom Wright. Design Naomi Dawson.
  • 4.48 Psychosis by Sarah Kane. Direction Christian Benedetti. With Anamaria Marinca.
  • The Girlfriend Experience by Alecky Blythe. Direction Joe Hill-Gibbins.

January 2009 - April 2009

  • King Lear by William Shakespeare. Direction Rupert Gould. With Pete Postlethwaite as King Lear.
  • The Indian Wants the Bronx by Israel Horovitz. Direction Daljinder Singh. Design Paul Wills.
  • Kafka's Monkey Based on A Report to an Academy by Franz Kafka. Adaptation Colin Teevan. Direction Walter Meierjohann. With Kathryn Hunter.[9]
  • Bay devised by the company with writer Joel Horwood. Direction Sarah Tipple.
  • After Dido Purcell's Dido and Aeneas in a new film and theatre piece. Direction Katie Mitchell.
  • You Can See the Hills written and directed by Matthew Dunster. With William Ash.

July 2008 - January 2009

  • Street Scene. Music by Kurt Weill. Book by Edgar Rice. Lyrics by Langston Hughes.
  • Fragments by Samuel Beckett. Direction Peter Brook.
  • In the Red and Brown Water by Tarell Alvin McCraney (part of the Brother/Sister plays). Direction Walter Meierjohann. Design Miriam Buether.
  • The Brothers Size by Tarell Alvin McCraney (part of the Brother/Sister plays). Direction Bijan Sheibani. Design Patrick Burnier.
  • You Can See the Hills by Matthew Dunster. Direction Matthew Dunster. Designer Anna Fleischle.
  • Amazônia by Colin Teevan and Paul Heritage. Direction Paul Heritage. Designer Gringo Cardia.
  • Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen, adaptation Frank McGuiness. Direction William Oldroyd.

January 2008 - June 2008

June 2007 - January 2008

October 2006 - June 2007

Digital Theatre

The Young Vic was one of the launch theatres for Digital Theatre, a project which makes theatre productions available in video download form. The first performances that were filmed were 'Kafka's Monkey' and 'The Container'.[10]


  1. ^ The Theatres of George Devine by Irving Wardle, Cape 1978 ISBN 0-224-01415-3
  2. ^ Frank Dunlop's CV for Who's Who in the Theatre 17th edition, Gale (1981) ISBN 0-8103-0235-7
  3. ^ The Oxford Companion to the Theatre, OUP (1983) ISBN 0-19-211546-4
  4. ^ City Themes, list of WWII memorials in London accessed 12 July 2007
  5. ^ "Poets' marathon at Young Vic 'Olympics'". The Times. November 30, 1982. Retrieved 2009-03-24. 
  6. ^ RIBA London Building of the Year Award accessed 27 July 2007
  7. ^ RIBA announcement online. See also the RIBA profile of the Young Vic accessed 27 July 2007
  8. ^ WhatsOnStage announcement for Annie Get Your Gun
  9. ^ Kafka's Monkey, Guardian online review
  10. ^ "Leading theatres launch downloadable shows". Official London Theatre Guide. Retrieved 2010-02-15. 

External links


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