Young Vic celebrates 50th birthday

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KWAME KWEI-Armah, Artistic Director of the Young Vic, today announced the start of the Young Vic’s 50th birthday with a year-long programme of work entitled We are the New Tide, dedicated to the theatre’s milestone birthday.

The 50th birthday year of work begins with three major commissions:

YV 50th Projection Project – a projection celebrating the people and productions from across five extraordinary decades, illuminating the front of the Young Vic building each evening, with video design by Duncan McLean

Kwame Kwei-Armah

The Unforgotten – an interactive outdoor art installation commemorating trailblazers Mary Seacole, Marsha P. Johnson and Ulric Cross. Furthering the conversation within the Black Lives Matter movement, the Young Vic community will be invited to contribute to the installation by submitting their own nominations in writing on the side of the building and online, asking us all to (re)consider who we celebrate as our heroes. Created by artists Sadeysa Greenaway-Bailey and Anna Fleischle.

The New Tomorrow – for the first piece of live theatre since the pandemic closed UK theatres, this weekend festival of speeches and monologues asks what the next fifty years hold. Writers and artists Jade Anouka, Marina Carr, Jasmine Lee-Jones, Ruth Madeley, Amy Ng, Stef Smith, Jack Thorne, Isobel Waller-Bridge and Steve Waters will explore the change that has come and is coming. Cast to be announced.

The 50th Projection Project and The Unforgotten will be unveiled this evening, Friday 11 September, marking the beginning of We are the New Tide, the year-long 50th birthday programme running until September 2021.

Kwei-Armah said: “We had planned to hold a giant street party celebration to mark the beginning of our 50th birthday year– we had envisioned 50 individual stages in and around the YV featuring the people who make up its DNA – drama students and community members, actors, artists, creatives, technical crews… – and we were going to invite hundreds of people to join us.

“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.

“Therefore, the beginning of our 50th birthday year sees three commissions: a projection project on the front of the building to celebrate the past people and productions who have contributed to this unique theatre over the last five decades; a commission called The Unforgotten which speaks entirely to the present moment and the urgent conversations which are taking place right now.

“Finally The New Tomorrow, a chance for brilliant writers and artists to take a look forward at what the next 50 years might hold for us. By channelling as much of this work into the digital sphere as possible, we continue our YV mission of being as accessible as possible.

“The beginning of our 50th year marks a moment of change for everyone, but it is a year I go into with absolute optimism, for We are the New Tide.”

Glenn Earle, Chair of the Young Vic Board, said: “The Young Vic has been a theatrical powerhouse for five decades. 

“A daring display of what theatre can be, the Young Vic is both deeply rooted in the local community and applauded internationally for artistic excellence. 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.”

YV 50th Projection Project

From 11 Sept – 4 October, 7.30pm – 10.30pm daily except Sundays, free

To begin the 50th birthday year, each evening the front of the Young Vic building will become a giant canvas, illuminated by a video projection celebrating the past people and productions who collectively represent five extraordinary decades. With video design by Duncan McLean, the projection captures the spirit of the Young Vic, including decades of world-leading productions under the leadership of seven artistic directors, inspiring work made for and with the local community, and hundreds of emerging and established creatives and artists who have each found a place and home within the theatre’s four walls to make their art. The projection is a homage to the entire community who make up the DNA of the Young Vic.   

The Unforgotten

From 11 September, free

The Unforgotten is an interactive art installation which participates in and contributes to the ongoing conversation within the Black Lives Matter movement regarding whose image we uphold and elevate, offering our community an alternative view of leadership. This interactive art piece adorning the Young Vic building commemorates three unsung trailblazers of the Black community: Mary Seacole, a British-Jamaican businesswoman who set up the ‘British Hotel’ behind the lines during the Crimean War, Marsha P. Johnson, an advocate and activist for LGBTQ+ rights and Ulric Cross, a Trinidadian diplomat, RAF navigator, legal visionary and most decorated black serviceman of World War II.

Created by artists Sadeysa Greenaway-Bailey and Anna Fleischle, the Young Vic community will be invited to contribute to the installation by submitting their own nominations in writing on the side of the building and online in response to provocations written by Jennifer Akre, asking us all to (re)consider who we celebrate as our heroes.In doing so, The Unforgotten typifies the Young Vic’s mission of speaking to the present moment and continually catalysing debate beyond our four walls.

The Unforgotten is generously supported by The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. Andrew Barnett, Director, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch), said: “As we emerge into the ‘new normal’, arts organisations are helping shape what the future looks like. Through a new interactive installation, the Young Vic can continue to act as a ‘town hall’ in its community – providing a safe space for debate, encouraging creativity, and ensuring its community’s voice is heard during this challenging time.”

The New Tomorrow

3 & 4 October, 4pm, Main House, free

‘What is the new tomorrow?’

For the first piece of live theatre at the YV since the pandemic closed UK theatres in March,this free weekend festival of performances will include short commissioned performances and activist speeches exploring what the next fifty years might hold. Writers and artists including Jade Anouka, Marina Carr, Jasmine Lee-Jones, Ruth Madeley, Amy Ng, Stef Smith, Jack Thorne, Isobel Waller-Bridge and Steve Waters will explore the change that has come and is coming. Cast to be announced.

The performance will be streamed via Facebook Live, with a limited number of in-person tickets also available via ticket lottery. More ticket information to be released soon.

The New Tomorrow is co-produced with Benjamin Lowy and Emily Vaughan-Barratt for Wessex Grove.

The Cut Bar

The Cut Bar & Restaurant Reopening

The Young Vic’s vibrant and much-loved The Cut has now reopened to the public, serving SE1 with coffee, breakfast, lunch, dinner, cocktails, wines and craft beer.


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