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First Night in Bristol: Reflections on a 250th Anniversary

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 June 2016


The 250th anniversary of the opening of the Bristol Old Vic, the country's longest-serving theatre, was celebrated on 30 May 2016. In this article David Roberts considers the repertory choices of the opening night, the way the occasion sought to address anxiety in the city about the presence of a professional theatre in its midst, and the precarious means by which the theatre itself came into being. Where previous historians have emphasized the legal context for objections to the theatre, it is argued here that discourses arising from the Jeremy Collier controversy informed local opposition and were specifically addressed both through programming and through writing for and about the event. David Roberts is Dean of the Arts, Design, and Media at Birmingham City University. His recent publications include Thomas Betterton and Restoration Plays and Players, both for Cambridge University Press. This article is based on a lecture given to celebrate the anniversary of the Bristol Old Vic.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2016 

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