LocationThe Old Vic Theatre is situated on the South Bank of the River Thames in what has become the cultural heart of the city, away from the tourist-driven and flashy pavements of the West End. The South Bank is an eclectic area with a diverse array of cultural attractions, ranging from the cinematic schedule at the BFI Southbank and BFI IMAX to the rotating installations and exhibitions at the main Southbank Centre. The National Theatre is based in the same district, as are the Tate Modern and the London Eye. The pavements of the South Bank are generally packed with secondhand book sales, food carts and performers, and it is an exciting and innovative part of London to spend an afternoon in.
Getting thereBy Tube: The nearest stations to the Old Vic Theatre are Waterloo on the Northern, Bakerloo, Jubilee and National Rail lines, or Southwark on the Jubilee line.By bus: Numbers 1, 4, 26, 59, 68, 76, 139, 168, 171, 172, 176, 188, 211, 243, 341, 381, 507 and 521 all stop near the theatre.By taxi or car: There is a taxi rank outside Waterloo station. Drivers can use the three NCP car parks close to the theatre, which are located at Waterloo station, Cornwall Road and Doon Street. There is also limited on-street parking with a meter outside the theatre.
SeatingThe Old Vic is one of the most beautiful theatres in London, situated South of the River. It has recently been refurbished and now offers a more versatile seating space which can be adapted for various performances. The auditorium has a deep curve around the Stalls and Stage, meaning that some seats can be restricted on both balcony levels.
The Stalls section is wide and deep and exists as one large section. The stage can feel rather high so it may be worth sitting a few rows back to gain a better view. The overhang does not begin to affect seats until the final rows, meaning that many seats offer a clearer view. Towards the middle of the section rows are particularly wide and may fall outside the proscenium, therefore providing a view across the stage rather than directly looking at it. The Dress Circle has a deep curve, with seats at the end of each row wrapping around the stalls towards the stage. These seats face across the auditorium, although it is possible to angle yourself to see the stage directly. No safety rails obstruct views, but towards the rear of the section they are present to lean against. The better seats are those in the central section.
The Lillian Baylis Circle is the highest level of the theatre and looks down directly on the action. Slips along the side of the circle look across the stage but do provide a bargain for under 25 year olds.
AccessibilityThe Old Vic Theatre is made up of 3 levels: the Stalls, Dress Circle and Lilian Baylis Circle. There are 4 steps from the street into the main entrance, although the alternative entrance on Webber Street provides direct access to the auditorium via a ramp. From the foyer there are 3 steps up to the Stalls, 29 steps up to the Dress Circle and 58 steps up to the Lilian Baylis Circle, where there are 3 steep steps between rows. Concessions are available to all disabled patrons and their carers.
There is one space for wheelchair users in the Stalls, which can be reached via the ramped entrance on Webber Street. Companions can sit close to the wheelchair space. There is an adapted toilet close to the alternative entrance. Each of the bars within the Old Vic can only be reached via the stairs; however, drinks can be brought to patrons in their seats if required.
A Sennheiser infra-red system is installed in the main auditorium, with headsets available from the cloakroom for a £5 deposit. There is also an induction loop point at the Box Office. Guide dogs are welcome inside the auditorium if their owner is sitting in an aisle seat - alternatively, the theatre staff are happy to dog-sit for the duration of the performance.Access bookings telephone line +44 (0) 344 871 7628 or access booking form
HistoryEstablished in 1818 under the name of the Royal Coburg Theatre, the Old Vic has enjoyed a colourful history and has long been known as ‘the actors’ theatre’ due to the impressive number of stars that have performed under its roof. Located near Waterloo station to the south of the River Thames, the theatre seats over 1000 patrons per performance and as of 2010 has also expanded to include the Old Vic Tunnels, a series of old rail tunnels that can be used to host installations, performance art and full-scale productions.
The Old Vic Theatre has been known by many names during its long history, including the Royal Victorian Theatre and the Royal Victoria Hall and Coffee Tavern; however, by 1880 it had become informally known as the Old Vic and this title was to stick with it to the present day. From 1912 the theatre became known for both ballet and drama with the establishment of two separate companies: the Old Vic Company, led by Sir John Gielgud, and the Sadler’s Wells ballet. Productions from both companies rotated at the theatre until 1935. During the Second World War the theatre was badly damaged and closed until 1950, during which time the Old Vic Company performed instead at the New Theatre.
An exciting part of the Old Vic’s history began in 1963, when the old theatre company was closed to make way for the new and influential National Theatre Company under the direction of Laurence Olivier. The theatre was the base for the company until it moved to its own quarters in 1976. Since this time the theatre has been renowned as a place to see quality dramatic productions ranging from Shakespeare to contemporary plays, and an array of stars including Alec Guinness, Vivien Leigh, Peter O’Toole, Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Kevin Spacey have all taken to the boards at some point in its heritage. Spacey was appointed as new artistic director of the Old Vic Theatre Company in 2003, and performs in productions at the theatre twice each year. In March 2012 the Old Vic showcased a production of John Webster’s classic tragedy The Duchess of Malfi. In 2018, Simon Stephens' monologue Sea Wall was revived for a limited stint, starring Andrew Scott. Announced mid 2018 to mark the Old Vic's bicentennial celebrations were the acclaimed A Monster Calls, Joe Penhall's Mood Music, ZooNation: The Kate Prince Company's Sylvia and Emma Rice's Wise Children (her first show with her theatre company of the same name).
- Wise Children, opened 12 Oct 2018, closed 10 Nov 2018
- Sylvia, opened 01 Sep 2018, closed 22 Sep 2018
- A Monster Calls, opened 12 Jul 2018, closed 25 Aug 2018
- Sea Wall, opened 18 Jun 2018, closed 30 Jun 2018
- Mood Music, opened 21 Apr 2018, closed 16 Jun 2018
- Fanny & Alexander, opened 21 Feb 2018, closed 14 Apr 2018
- The Divide Part 1, opened 01 Feb 2018, closed 10 Feb 2018
- The Divide Part 2, opened 02 Feb 2018, closed 10 Feb 2018
- A Christmas Carol, opened 25 Nov 2017, closed 20 Jan 2018
- Dr Seuss's The Lorax, opened 15 Oct 2017, closed 05 Nov 2017
- Girl From The North Country, opened 12 Jul 2017, closed 07 Oct 2017
- Woyzeck, opened 06 May 2017, closed 24 Jun 2017
- Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, opened 25 Feb 2017, closed 29 Apr 2017
- Art, opened 10 Dec 2016, closed 18 Feb 2017
- King Lear, opened 25 Oct 2016, closed 30 Nov 2016
- Groundhog Day, opened 11 Jul 2016, closed 07 Sep 2016
- The Caretaker, opened 26 Mar 2016, closed 12 May 2016
- The Master Builder, opened 23 Jan 2016, closed 27 Feb 2016
- Dr Seuss's The Lorax, opened 02 Dec 2015, closed 16 Jan 2016
- The Hairy Ape, opened 17 Oct 2015, closed 21 Nov 2015
- Future Conditional, opened 01 Sep 2015, closed 03 Oct 2015
- Electra, opened 20 Sep 2014, closed 20 Dec 2014
- Much Ado About Nothing, opened 07 Sep 2013, closed 30 Nov 2013
- Sweet Bird of Youth, opened 01 Jun 2013, closed 31 Aug 2013
- The Winslow Boy, opened 08 Mar 2013, closed 25 May 2013
- Kiss Me, Kate, opened 20 Nov 2012, closed 02 Mar 2013
- Hedda Gabler, opened 05 Sep 2012, closed 10 Nov 2012
- The Duchess Of Malfi, opened 17 Mar 2012, closed 09 Jun 2012