The Old Vic Theatre

The Old Vic Theatre

Top Tourist Attractions

The Old Vic is London’s independent not-for-profit theatre, a world leader in creativity and entertainment. We aim to be a surprising, unpredictable, groundbreaking, rule-breaking, independent beacon of accessible, uplifting and unintimidating art. It’s also been a tavern, a college, a coffee house, a lecture hall and a meeting place.

The Old Vic is a 1,000-seat, not-for-profit producing theatre in Waterloo, London, England. Established in 1818 as the Royal Coburg Theatre and renamed in 1833 the Royal Victoria Theatre.  In 1871 it was rebuilt and reopened as the Royal Victoria Palace.

For over 200 years, The Old Vic has been at the centre of its civic, creative, and cultural community: London’s local theatre with global impact, reaching audiences of 350k+ every year with over 60% of those visiting for the first time.

The theatre that began life as a music hall, a notorious drinking den, a temperance tavern, and an opera house went on to become the home of great acting, dance, musical extravaganzas, vaudeville, and spectacle. Many of our great actors have appeared here, including Laurence Olivier, Sybil Thorndike, John Gielgud, and Ralph Richardson. Others, like Judi Dench, Michael Gambon, and Maggie Smith first made their names here. Olivier led the first National Theatre Company at The Old Vic and independence, integrity and a fighting spirit have permeated throughout The Old Vic’s history as it has triumphed over adversity when faced with bankruptcy, fires, bombing during the Second World War and the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 1963, the Old Vic became the home base of the National Theatre of Great Britain during its formation under Laurence Olivier and continued to host the National Theatre until the move to South Bank in 1976. The Old Vic has housed acclaimed performances with such celebrated actors as John Gielgud’s Hamlet, Laurence Olivier’s Macbeth and Othello in 1937, and Judi Dench’s Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, which was privately performed for The Queen in 1957.

Throughout 2018 The Old Vic celebrated its 200th birthday and here are some snapshots into the work of The Old Vic.


Kevin Spacey was appointed the first artistic director of The Old Vic Theatre Company in 2003. His programming included performances by Ian McKellen and Mark Gatiss. Recent hits for the Old Vic include Hedda Gabler, Groundhog Day, and A Christmas Carol.

There are two entrances to the Old Vic: one on The Cut and the other on Waterloo Road, which is an accessible entrance. In 2019, 'Penny', an accessible basement cafe and bar was opened, offering drinks, sandwiches, and snacks.

Old Vic Seating Information

The auditorium has three levels - Stalls, Dress Circle, and the Lilian Baylis Circle.

Despite the Dress Circle overhanging over Stalls row T, this doesn’t affect the view due to the pillars. There is also a staggering rake that will be noticeable from row J to allow better viewing.

The Lilian Baylis Circle is high above the ground and overhangs the Dress Circle at row C meaning row E will miss the top of the stage. It should be noted that the two rows that extend along the sides of the theatre are padded concrete benches with only a rail to lean on.

There are also standing seats available at the sides of this circle.


Artist Development

It is a place for theatre makers to develop their craft and spread their wings with unique opportunities to develop on The Old Vic stage and beyond.

An annual post that provides one director the opportunity to direct a full-scale production at The Old Vic, a fund with which to commission a new piece of work, and a chance to shadow the Artistic Director.

School Opportunities

Their renowned education projects give schools access to theatre tickets to Old Vic productions as well as bespoke learning experiences at the theatre, in classrooms, and online.

Café and Bar

All-day and late-night neighbourhood cafe-bar with a heart – and you don’t need a ticket to come inside. With a passion for ethical production, sustainability, and local produce, it’s a place to grab the morning coffee, share a healthy, hearty meal and end the night once all the pubs (and shows) have closed.

It is a privilege to visit such a theatre with brilliant plays in the new, modernized theatre, which is not only well-lit, bright, and airy, but also has genius staging, lighting, sound, and visualization. It surely raises the theatre experience to a new level.