Built in 1970 as an offshoot of the Old Vic Theatre, the Young Vic has become one of London’s most popular theatres because of its highly-inclusive ethos and mould-breaking productions.
- Buy one of the theatre’s Lucky Dip tickets for just £10; you’ll be guaranteed a standing ticket, but you could also be upgraded to a seat if one becomes available at short notice
- Take a photo of the box office entrance’s neon sign, behind which you can clearly see the original butcher shop name in its faded paints
- Enjoy a drink or a meal at the Cut Bar Restaurant and Café, which offers a wide menu to cater for all ages, tastes and fancies
What to see and do
Take a Touch Tour of one of the many productions
As part of its drive towards inclusivity, the Young Vic offers visually-impaired theatre fans the chance to get to know the auditorium and the various sets better. A Touch Tour lets people feel the sets, the costumes and other important elements of a performance so they can get more out of the experience.
Attend one of the discussions held in the Young Vic
The Young Vic’s new artistic director, Kwame Kwei-Armah, started a programme of discussions and talks last year, known as YV:IDmystify. These discussions are open to the public and tickets are free, so if you’re interested in the performing arts, in writing for theatre or just want to hear from industry leaders about the future of UK theatre, you can book a maximum of two tickets.
Become a Friend of the Young Vic
For as little as £40 a year you can become a Friend, which means you get priority booking, access to the best seats, a monthly behind-the-scenes newsletter and a dedicated phone line to the box office. Even better, your annual subscription helps to fund the theatre’s outreach work in Southwark and Lambeth, as well as maintain the Director’s Programme for aspiring playwrights.
Did you know? (5 Interesting Facts)
- The Young Vic theatre opened on September 11 1970 and the first performance was an adaptation of Molière’s The Cheats of Scapin, starring Jim Dale.
- The breeze-block building was only meant to stay open for five years, but it’s still going strong half a century later and even has a couple of new additions, the Maria and the Clare studios. The main house has a capacity of 420, with Maria and Clare having 150 and 70.
- The theatre is built on a bombsite left partly derelict after the Blitz in World War Two. The box office is actually on the site of the Wilson Brothers butcher shop. Sadly, during the Blitz in April 1941, a bomb killed 54 people who were sheltering from the raid in a bakery shop near to the butcher.
- The Young Vic theatre company was started in 1946 as a sister project to the Old Vic. The idea behind the company, which disbanded in 1948, was to bring classic plays to schoolchildren aged nine to 15.
- The company started up again in 1969, led by Frank Dunlop, but this time with its own base. The theatre, designed by architect Bill Howell, cost just £60,000 to build and aimed to bring theatre to children and people who might not usually see plays.
- 1970: The theatre opened on August 12 1970 and the first production started in September.
- 1971: The Who played at the Young Vic on April 26 1971 and the gig was recorded and released as a bonus disc on the enhanced version of the Who’s Next album (August 1971).
- 1982: The theatre hosted the Third Poetry Olympics in December of this year. The three-day event featured Benjamin Zephaniah, Attila the Stockbroker and Roger Gough.
- 2004-2006: The Young Vic was rebuilt, at a cost of around £7 million, to create a larger, more permanent structure. The old foyer and the butcher shop front stayed put, but the theatre gained a new steel-framed auditorium with a moveable back wall. The Young Vic also benefitted from some new entrances, the Clare and Maria studios and some backstage facilities, as well as extra seating and updated technological equipment.
- 2009: The Young Vic becomes one of the launch theatres for Digital theatre, a project which films live performances and makes them available in video form to educational facilities and the public. The first performance for Digital Theatre was The Container.
- 2010: The Young Vic left behind it’s old “sit anywhere” policy as part of a rebranding drive.
Facilities and accessibility
The Young Vic is committed to making its buildings and performances accessible to as many people as possible. Visually-impaired visitors can take Touch Tours and there are also audio description services available; you need to call ahead on 02079222922 to book this live commentary service.
Assistance dogs are always welcome and staff are happy to look after dogs during the show. Call 02079222922 to let the theatre know you’ll be coming along with your dog.
Theatregoers with learning disabilities and sensory or communication issues are also welcome at the Young Vic’s relaxed performances. These performances are very informal and offer a friendly space for audiences to move about and express themselves.
The Young Vic also offers speech-to-text transcription and captioning.
The Cut Bar Restaurant and Café is an attractive and open ground-floor space in which to drink and dine in style. There are two sets of gender-neutral toilets and one gender-neutral accessible toilet on this floor too, with another set of toilets on the second floor.