Bristol Old Vic celebrates 10-year anniversary of Made In Bristol with return of The Wardrobe Ensemble’s RIOT

10 years after The Wardrobe Ensemble formed during Bristol Old Vic’s first iteration of its Made In Bristol scheme in 2010, an annual professional training scheme for emerging-theatre makers from the South West, the company are now returning to perform their debut show, RIOT, on the mainstage.

Hannah Smith from The Wardrobe Ensemble said today, “Ten years ago, Made In Bristol threw us together, sort of like a manufactured pop band, and, by some miracle, we’ve been making theatre ever since. Performing RIOT on the main stage will be so much fun – we just have to hope our bodies can still do all the things they did ten years ago… Young Companies and programmes like Made In Bristol are so important for the gateway they offer into a sometimes impenetrable industry – long may they continue!”

Made In Bristol is Bristol Old Vic’s artist development programme for twelve young people aged 18–25 who become resident in the building for two days a week for one year. The scheme is designed to give young theatre-makers an opportunity to train together, to become workshop leaders, facilitators and to create work that can reach out across Bristol and the South West, engaging with other local arts organisations as well as performing their own final piece of theatre at the end of the course.

Previous Made In Bristol companies have included Propolis Theatre, INKBLOC Ensemble and last year’s Play The Goat.

10 Years of Made In Bristol, Left to Right: Tin Can Collective, Guilty Party, INKBLOC Ensemble, Splint Theatre, Play The Goat, The Wardrobe Ensemble, Hotel Echo, Propolis Theatre, WILDERBEAST

Since completing their residency at Bristol Old Vic in 2011, the Wardrobe Ensemble have gone on to produce internationally renowned theatre, from their family shows, including Little Tim and the Brave Sea Captain, to their award-winning Education, Education, Education, which recently completed its run in London’s West End.

In November 2017, a plaque honouring The Wardrobe Ensemble was unveiled inside Bristol Old Vic’s rehearsal room, intended to inspire each new generation of theatre makers who use the room on a regular basis, from the Young Company to visiting companies and all of those who come into contact with Bristol Old Vic’s Engagement department.

Tom Morris, Artistic Director of Bristol Old Vic said today, “The fact that Made In Bristol turns 10 in Bristol Old Vic’s Year of Artists couldn’t be more fitting. This year is about celebrating the creative spark in everyone and how that creativity can be truly transformative. The success of The Wardrobe Ensemble is the story of everything we are trying to achieve at Bristol Old Vic, not for ourselves, but for the artists who we think can make theatre brilliant in the future. The fact that this company has become a powerful element in the UK’s theatre ecology, and blazed a trail for each following Made In Bristol company, that’s a very special thing for us.”

The company are now returning to Bristol Old Vic with the show that started it all: RIOT, a comedic tragedy telling the true story of the 2005 Tottenham IKEA riots, when the British public punched, kick, strangled and eventually stabbed their way to £45 sofas and £35 bed frames at the opening of their favourite Swedish furniture store. Full of physical theatre and music, the show was nominated for a Stage Award for Best Ensemble and sold out at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2011.

Following RIOT, The Wardrobe Ensemble will return to the Theatre again in April, this time with their latest production The Last of the Pelican Daughters, previewed as a scratch performance during last year’s January Ferment Fortnight in the Bristol Old Vic studio. Telling the story of four sisters trying to divide their mother’s house between them, the company use their trademark humour and loveable characters to tackle the idea of what it means for young people to grapple with inheritance, loss and justice.

About Author /

Kath is an actor, singer and writer with a passion for theatre. She has been reviewing for At The Theatre since 2014. Kath has a Masters in Performance at Liverpool Hope University and is Creative Engagement Worker for B arts, a participatory arts organisation.

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