Performing at the Bristol Old Vic - Monkey Trousers Theatre

Our Bristol Claim to Fame…Performing at the Bristol Old Vic!

You are probably aware that Monkey Trousers Theatre has performed all over Bristol in the six years that we've been around - but did you know that we have an extra-special connection to one of Bristol's oldest and best-loved theatres? Indeed, the oldest continuously working theatre in the English speaking world?

It’s the Bristol Old Vic!

Or the BOV for short – yes, that’s right, we are proud to declare a very special claim to fame with this magnificent place!

Built in 1766, the Bristol Old Vic has been entertaining the citizens of Bristol and beyond for over 250 years. It has recently undergone a fabulous redevelopment, with a fancy new foyer, lovely café, and the brilliant Weston Studio Theatre, which has hosted some amazing children’s theatre as well as the BOV’s usual dynamic programming.

Bristol Old Vic Birthday Celebrations

Do you remember the BOV’s 250th birthday celebrations? Back in February 2016, the BOV decided to commemorate that extra-special birthday by inviting groups and individuals from all over Bristol to have the opportunity to perform there, as part of their Open Stage programme. Now, here at Monkey Trousers Theatre HQ we love a good opportunity to show off our great theatre show for children, so we applied – and got a place!

Of course, we were nervous, but totally excited as well – we were going to perform on the famous Bristol Old Vic stage! With our crazy characters from Mr Gotalot’s Gotalot Shop! We were given a ten minute slot, like all the other acts, so we knew we wouldn’t be able to do a full-length show (by this point, we’d performed The Pants of Power, The Snot Rocket, The Chinchilla Thriller, and Santa School at the Kelvin Players Studio Theatre – and were preparing for The Great British Cheese Off – phew!) so we had to write an extra-special little show, exclusively for the children and families that would be coming to see the variety of performances at Bristol Old Vic that weekend.

Getting ready to perform at the Bristol Old Vic.
Pre show in the BOV bar.

Time to Party…

We called our little show Cheese Party, with the premise that Sidney, Mr Gotalot, and Ms Barnet would introduce themselves to the audience, with Ms B then declaring her intention to run for mayor of Bristol (an idea that eventually developed into our most recent full-length show The Cheese Party, which we performed in February 2020 at the Wardrobe Theatre, before lockdown – hopefully returning there this year with the same show!) but of course, her evil plans are scuppered by the perky shop boy Sidney, and magical puppet shopkeeper Mr G.

It was completely nerve-racking waiting in the wings for our turn on stage. We had had no chance for a technical rehearsal, so we had to trust all the BOV crew to follow our script and press buttons in the right places! It felt like the longest few minutes in the world as we watched the act before us perform. We had our minimal set ready to go (the trusty clothes rail) and we were resplendent in our colourful costumes, plus epic hair and make-up courtesy of the awesome Make Up Monkey (no relation!). And then it was our go!

When we performed at the Bristol Old Vic!
Live on the Bristol Old Vic stage.

We had a wonderfully warm reception from the audience – there were some avid Gotalot fans sitting there, which was lovely to know, and gave us a real boost. The whole show went down very well, with particular love for Ms Barnet’s silly jokes, Mr Gotalot saving the day, and Sidney’s cool rap:

Yo, listen up, here’s the Bristol Old Vic
The city’s best theatre, this place is sick
Check out this stage, the lights, and the seats
Now watch me turn as I drop my beats!

…accompanied by his most super-awesome dance moves, obvs!

Mr Gotalot's Bristol Old Vic main stage debut.
Mr Gotalot’s Bristol Old Vic main stage debut.

And we went back to the Bristol Old Vic!

We had so much fun performing at the Bristol Old Vic as part of their Open Stage festival, so we were properly chuffed to bits when they got in touch with us later that year to ask if we’d like to perform AGAIN – this time as part of their actual birthday weekend celebrations!

Of course we said YES PLEASE!

So on the May Bank Holiday Monday in 2016 we were back at the BOV – this time on their old Studio stage. The whole place was due to be demolished shortly, to start the process of their exciting new refurbishment. We were able to perform our full-length show The Great British Cheese Off this time, which we had already done at the Kelvin Players Studio Theatre earlier that month, with guest star Tom Colebrook as Hairy Mary Berry. In fact, we were asked to perform it TWICE – the Bristol Old Vic had organised a whole day of free festivities for families, and our first show was so popular, we had to do it again!

Out show was at the Bristol Old Vic
Hairy Mary Berry gets the best of Mildew Barnet.

We were the very last people to perform on that Bristol Old Vic Studio stage before it closed

Claim to Fame

And here is our very special claim to fame – when the Bristol Old Vic opened again in the autumn of 2018, we were the very first people to perform in the Weston Studio Theatre! YES!

They wanted a children’s theatre company they knew would maintain their commitment to producing top entertainment for families in Bristol, so they asked us – and of course, we delivered! This time, we didn’t have a full-length show prepared, but that was not a problem – we had been running our interactive storytelling adventures The Pop Up Shop for a few years by then, and we had several to choose from. These shows are suitable for children and families aged 3 years and up – plus, they are great for getting kids involved, with plenty of songs, games, and interactive fun, so we knew they’d be perfect in the space.

Our Pop Up Shop starring Mr Gotalot and the world famous chef Gordon Bleurgh was, once again, very popular with old and new fans alike, and we opened the theatre with a sell-out performance. Plenty of other children’s theatre groups have now performed there, and we like to think we set the bar high!

Monkey Trousers Theatre performed at the Bristol Old Vic
Pronouncing Gordon Bleurgh.

In the future?

At the moment, we are unable to produce our live performances, but we hope to return to the theatre one day soon, while in the meantime we develop our online children’s entertainment channel, Gotalot TV. And who knows – we could be back at the Bristol Old Vic in the future… see you there!

If you would like to donate to Monkey Trousers Theatre, to help keep our online channel running and help us prepare for when we are able to perform again, you can do so on our Donate page.

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Post By

Fran Lewis

Fran spends a great deal of her time concocting stories for Monkey Trousers Theatre about Mr Gotalot and his magical shop.

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