For over 200 years, The Old Vic has been at the centre of its civic, creative and cultural community: London’s local theatre with global impact, reaching audiences of 350k+ every year with over 60% of those visiting for the first time. As a theatre operating independently as a registered charity, The Old Vic’s identity is built around its wider societal contribution and its mission to make The Old Vic accessible.
The theatre that began life as a music hall, a notorious drinking den, a temperance tavern and an opera house went on to become the home of great acting, dance, musical extravaganzas, vaudeville and spectacle. Many of our greatest actors have appeared here, including Laurence Olivier, Sybil Thorndike, John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson. Others, like Judi Dench, Michael Gambon and Maggie Smith first made their names here. Olivier led the first National Theatre Company at The Old Vic and independence, integrity and a fighting spirit have permeated throughout The Old Vic’s history as it has triumphed over adversity when faced with bankruptcy, fires, bombing during the Second World War and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The last two centuries have seen The Old Vic take on many identities but throughout this time one element has endured; an unwavering determination to remain a British beacon of hope, entertainment, education, solace and inspiration with a social mission to be a force for good.