Young Vic launches 50th anniversary programme

The Young Vic has long stepped out of the shadow of its more distinguished older sibling, but now the venue has something else to celebrate - its 50th birthday. Peter Gray reports.

Credit: Aaron Imuere/The Young Vic

This September marks the 50th anniversary of one of our most prestigious institutions – the Young Vic. Built to offer a younger and more experimental mode of theatre to Londoners than its older sibling the Old Vic, the theatre has grown to become one of our most beloved entertainment venues.

To celebrate this momentous event, the Young Vic have this week launched an ambitious year long programme of events, entitled We Are The New Tide. Central to this programme is three major commissions which the Old Vic’s management team hope will ensure that the occasion is marked in appropriate style.

The YV 50th Projection Project will see the front façade of the famous theatre lit up each evening, with a video which celebrates some of the artists and productions that have graced the theatre in its distinguished half century history.

The Unforgotten will focus in on the Black Lives Matter movement, with an interaction installation by artists Sadeysa Greenaway-Bailey and Anna Fleischle which celebrates some of the great figures of Black history including Mary Seacole, Marsha P. Johnson, and Ulric Cross.

The New Tomorrow, meanwhile, which will see a plethora of artists and writers envisaging what the next fifty years might hold for the Young Vic in a weekend of short commissioned performances and activist speeches.

Artists set to take part include Isobel Waller-Bridge, Jade Anouka, Jasmine Lee Jones, Stef Smith, Marine Carr, Jack Thorne, Ruth Madeley and Steve Waters.

The Young Vic’s Artistic Director had this to say about the festival: “This year has taken a very different turn, and it feels vital our revised birthday plans serve this urgent moment, on this precipice of monumental change. The YV’s extraordinary past will be rightly celebrated, but we cannot do this without acknowledging the seriousness of this present moment and also looking towards our future”.

Meanwhile, Glenn Earle, the Chair of the Young Vic Board, said: “Our fiftieth birthday is a chance to celebrate the Young Vic’s ambition and brilliance, and also the spirit of community at the heart of this very special theatre. It is a chance to look back on fifty wonderful years of art and impact – and to dream about the next fifty.”

The Young Vic began life in 1970 as a younger, hipper version of its older sibling, the Old Vic. The aim of the theatre was to create unconventional and experimental productions for a younger audience.

Led by Royal National Theatre Associate Director Frank Dunlop, the theatre saw itself as a paperback version of the Old Vic, one that would offer the same high quality but at a much lower cost.

The theatre’s home at The Cut, a former bomb site, cost just £60,000, and was expected to last for no more than five years. However, the building, much like the theatre itself, quickly outlived those modest expectations.

Today, the Young Vic is one of the most famous theatres in the world, with a body of work that stands comparison to the best theatres in the world.

More information about The Young Vic can be found here.

For information on other theatre productions in London, please click here.


-London's Best Events-
What: theatre festival
When: year long
Where: various
Website: The Young Vic