|Public transit|| Waterloo; Southwark|
Waterloo; Waterloo East
|Owner||The Young Vic Company|
|Type||Non-commercial resident company|
|Capacity||420 Main house|
150 Maria (studio)
70 Clare (studio)
|Rebuilt||2006: Haworth Tompkins|
In the period after World War II, a Young Vic Company was formed in 1946 by director George Devine 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 Scapino, his free adaptation of Molière's The Cheats of Scapin, 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 Björnson (costumes).
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.
Frank Dunlop completed creation of the theatre venue in 1970, a breeze-block building on The Cut constructed out of a former butcher's 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 an approximate capacity of 420, although the configuration and capacity can vary depending on the design of 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 Björnson, 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 the two smaller auditoriums seating is usually 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, Robert Lindsay, Willard White, John Malkovich, Michael Sheen and Arthur Lowe.
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. One of these shows was released on the Deluxe edition of this album.
In 1982 the theatre hosted a Poetry Olympics, where comedian Pat Condell took part. Virginia Woolf taught at Morley College from 1905, which represented the natural precursor of the Young Vic's education and community engagement programme. The latter now runs an office which accomodates and paradoxically houses the 'homeless' Belarus Free Theatre, of Nikolai Khalezin, Natalia Koliada, inspiring a new feminist generation and aesthetic, with Sarah Kane's '4.48 Psychosis' performed underground, illegally in Minsk and Farringdon, in cold cells of Clerkenwell House of Detention, a secret location in London.Echoing the words of Woolf and mirroring her suicide, Kane's play benefitted from another feminist, Sue Emmas, who since the year 1993 has been Associate Director of the social engagement programme, working closely with Kwame Kwei-Armah and leads the Directors Program which provides initiatives for emerging directors, with emphasis on seeking out and nurturing artists from under-represented backgrounds.
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 butcher's 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 was one of the launch theatres for Digital Theatre, a project that makes theatre productions available in video download form. The first performances that were filmed were Kafka's Monkey and The Container.