Dear Young Vic: a snapshot of a year in letters

Love letters to the Young Vic to mark the year anniversary of theatres closing their doors.

Love letters to the Young Vic to mark the year anniversary of theatres closing their doors.


You also want an ePaper? Increase the reach of your titles

YUMPU automatically turns print PDFs into web optimized ePapers that Google loves.


A snapshot of a year



Dear Young Vic,

The following pages are our attempt to record the hardest year this theatre has

experienced in living memory. The human impulse to gather and share stories is

centuries in the making, and to be denied this joy is near impossible to describe.

But attempt to describe we must. We must because we hope a year like this never

happens again. We must in order to understand the complex effect this pandemic

has had on our sector. We must because capturing a human narrative of the year,

filled with personal reflections and reactions, might just help us to make sense of it


Looking back on the year is a strange experience. Despite being denied the thing the

Young Vic does – welcoming people into spaces to hear stories – it has been a year

filled with extraordinary moments. The YV spirit has remained vivid through the art

that has been created, whether that be on our screens or in our communities. The

theatre celebrated its milestone 50th birthday. The Directors Program helped

support a wealth of artists across this country. Taking Part connected in meaningful

ways with its networks. And departments across the organisation – Artistic, General

Management, Producing, IT, Administration, Development, Finance, Front of House,

Press, Marketing, Production and the Welcome Team – navigated an extraordinary,

difficult year and have kept our theatre going.

This summer saw a collective reflection for the theatre industry, motivated by the

rallying cry of Black Lives Matter and the activism of so many. As we look to the

future and the rebuilding of our sector, we will work towards an inclusive one,

hostile to racism.

We dedicate this document to our staff, collaborators, supporters, friends and

audiences. We look forward to the day we can gather in the walls of the building

once again, to feel the lights dim and the hushed silence fall in the space, in the

presence of art being made before our eyes.

Glenn Earle, Chair of the Young Vic Board

Photo (c) Philip Vile.

MARCH 2020

In March 2020, theatres across the UK closed their doors as a

result of the Coronavirus Pandemic. For the YV, this meant our

show Nora: A Doll's House never played its final few

performances in our Main House, and Orfeus stopped midrehearsals.

All other shows in our upcoming season were placed

on immediate hold, with no clarity as to when they could resume.

Similarly, our Associate Companies were both affected;

Conundrum, a show by Crying in the Wilderness, stopped midrehearsal,

and Belarus Free Theatre paused progress of their

upcoming show Dogs of Europe at the Barbican Centre.

ShezAr X Soul Sirens, who just nights before

had played their first gig in our Clare theatre

launching our new Music Nights series to

rapturous reception, were a heady high before

a year which was to be like no other.

Throughout this document, members

of our community have penned

letters to the YV, reflecting on

moments of hope and sadness,

invention and anticipation, to

help unpack and understand

this period in our history.

Dear Young Vic,

What a year it has been. Despite the challenges, which we are all

too familiar with, those dark periods have also been contrasted with

some tremendous examples of great foresight, courage, kindness

and strength.

When our play, Conundrum, was postponed and the weeks began to

roll into months, invention became our new mantra. In isolation we

had to reconsider the value of both life and theatre, of how to reengage

with the magic of performance when the doors of the

Young Vic would finally be opened.

From the Young Vic’s leadership we observed, alighting from the

conversations about the economic sustainability of the industry, a

new constellation of ideas, practise and relationships that were

specifically aimed at reinvigorating our passion for invention and

service to both the art and especially to the wider public. Ultimately

the conscious combination of invention, service and economics is

what creates a platform on stage for shared experiences that are

enriching. This is where we believe that the Young Vic’s greatest

contribution to the revisioning of our industry, and the culture of this

city, will be most appreciated by its artists and its community in

decades to come. Thank you for your foresight.

Paul Anthony Morris, Artistic Director of Crying in the Wilderness

Anthony Ofoegbu in Conundrum.

Photo (c) Sarah Hickson

Dear Young Vic,

Nora was the first show I had ever performed under your roof and it

was an HONOUR.

And to work there under Black leadership was a comfort I have never

really experienced.

When we were suddenly stopped, I didn’t get to say goodbye to my

cast, as I was in isolation in a dressing room upstairs. I waited alone up

there, while my fellow cast got briefed in the auditorium, all the while

pinging me WhatsApps to keep me up to speed.

It was weird. I then had 5mins to dash to the dressing room, grab my

stuff and go home. To isolate. Goodbye Nora.

Then followed a year of disappearing into the countryside with my

daughter. We homeschooled, walked for miles everyday, ran, I sat up

till the early hours chatting with my dad. We healed neglected wounds. I

found meaning that wasn’t centered around work. Which I’m so glad I

was forced to do.

But Theatre is one of those valuable tools that must not be lost. Putting

its potential power into words reduces it. A play can change your mind

about a thing you thought you knew. And let’s face it, we need to keep

learning. We need to keep being forced to look at the world through

someone else’s eyes. Someone who is less able to speak, or who gets

shut down.

I look forward to getting back to that.

One Love,

Amaka Okafor, Cast of Nora: A Doll's House

Amaka Okafor in Nora: A Doll's House by Stef Smith,

with Design by Tom Piper. Photo (c) Marc Brenner


As lockdown stretched into weeks, the conversation at the YV

quickly turned to how we might serve and survive.

The following pages spotlight some of the ways the YV

continued to be the theatre for our community, pivoting as we

went to be what artists, audiences and friends needed or were

asking for.

With the YV company adapting to life working remotely,

George Mills and Rodger Cox became custodians of our

building. They walked the corridors and inhabited the spaces

which were normally so rich with voices and alive with art,

keeping our theatre safe until we could return.

Artistic Director Kwame Kwei-Armah painted a banner with

the words 'We Miss U', hanging it on the front of the YV

building, an inspiring display of love to the people who were to

pass our theatre each day.

A number of photographers and designers found ways to

interact with our empty building. We were part of Helen

Murray's beautiful portfolio of images shot in 22 empty

theatres as a sobering reminder of how humans normally

populate the spaces. SCENE/CHANGE, a community of Set

and Costume Designers, lovingly wrapped theatre buildings

across the country in tape to bring attention to the specialist

craftspeople in our industry left without support.

Meanwhile, a small but exceptional Finance and HR team -

Rathi, Ivor, Sophie, Janine and Sarah. - spent months

grappling with Job Retention Schemes, ever-changing

Budgets, and planning on sand.

Above: 'We Miss U' Banner on the YV Building.

Below: The Young Vic Box Office, shot during the first lockdown. (c) Helen Murray / Our Empty Theatres

The Young Vic Main House, shot during the first lockdown. Remenants of the Set Design for

Nora: A Doll's House can be seen on the stage (c) Helen Murray / Our Empty Theatres


Our Directors Program serves a network of early-career directors,

designers, artists and producers. When lockdown began, we knew these

members still needed access to career development opportunities and

support. The Directors Program immediately moved the entire output online,

and over the last 12 months, the team:












An example weekly schedule for the Network

Thank you to the Genesis Foundation for their ongoing support of the Directors Program

Dear Young Vic,

When Covid hit we had to re-think. 95% of the Genesis Network are freelancers – all lost income, had

projects postponed or cancelled, had little certainty of when they would work again or how they

would financially or emotionally survive.

We thought about what our members of the Genesis Network needed. We couldn’t give them all

employment, but we could help give them connections to the industry and each other. Exercise their

creative muscles, build their skills. Create a sense of forward momentum.

We moved all our activity online. Early on, we quickly realised the most useful offer was a series of

wellbeing sessions, led by director and coach Rachel Bagshaw, that gave people a chance to focus on

self-care. Then as people’s ability to engage grew, we increased the skills-based sessions. We covered

working with writers, rehearsing online; discussions on resilience, artistic freedom. Members were still

part of an industry, even when it was on hold and its future was uncertain.

As lockdown persisted, we sensed more need for consistency and connection. We programmed a 12-

week series run by director Sacha Wares. Each week, 65 – 75 directors met with Sacha three times a

week to develop and deepen skills. Participating contributed to their wellbeing as humans and as


The pandemic has more adversely hit a number of specific communities. Artists from these

communities created safe spaces to talk about issues, challenges that faced them specifically. These

artist-led groups were established for, amongst others: Black theatre-makers, East Asian artists, and

working, benefit, criminal and underclass artists.

There have been few upsides to Covid, but I imagine this time will have a long-term impact on our

approach and programme. Online sessions aren’t for everyone, but they do create flexibility. Fully

participating with video on, listening in the background like it’s a podcast - some said it helped with

social anxiety as they could decide how they engaged with the sessions, others shielding could take

part. People could fit in around work – joining from restaurant stock cupboards, working on receptions,

in the canteen. We could record sessions for those who had to work.

The core of what we aimed to create was a community, connection and creativity. And feedback

suggests we achieved this; as some people said it was a life-line in very choppy waters.

Sue Emmas,

Associate Artistic Director Young Vic, Artistic Director Regional Theatre Young Directors Scheme

A Directors Program Workshop taking place on Zoom

Dear Young Vic,

When we next walk through your doors we will enter a theatre that

has re-emerged triumphantly from its Covid chrysalis. While we’ve

missed the energy and spirit of human theatre at The Cut, we have

remained confident in your positivity, agility and resourcefulness.

Having risen creatively to every challenge, you will have grown in

strength and stature.

In 2021, the Genesis Foundation’s 20th anniversary year, you give us

good cause for celebration and optimism. 17 years ago we joined you

in inaugurating your Directors Program. Over our long association the

Genesis Network has partnered with you in nurturing thousands of

emerging theatre professionals and you have played a major role in

shaping the Foundation’s identity and mission.

The Genesis Network has developed as a living organism, not tied to

physical infrastructure. While the rest of the world took time to get

used to remote working, the Network just kept going from strength to

strength, growing in both reach and impact. You haven’t missed a

beat over the past, extraordinary year and you will continue to set

the pace as a role model for the future of theatre.

Keep up the momentum and the good work – we know you will.

John Studzinski CBE

Founder and Chairman, Genesis Foundation

Photo (c) Philip Vile.


Feedback from. our Genesis Network Members

following a variety of workshops and events...

"I so so appreciated that you made it happen despite not being able to be there

physically. I was feeling totally overwhelmed and drained before it...and I've felt

really inspired since."

"I have to say how much I appreciate everything that you guys are offering at

the moment, it's just amazing how much you have all put together in such a short

time under these ridiculous circumstances!"

"It's given me a brilliant structure to my week and something to work towards,

which wasn't there before. It's also helped me feel like a director again despite


Spotlight on Creative Headspace

We provided members of the Genesis

Network with £100, funding a session for

them to think about making theatre again.

Nearly 300 directors, designers and

producers signed up for this paid

opportunity to engage with their craft.

“First of all, thank you for this brilliant

idea! I think all of us need to be

motivated, when we still have hope.

Thank you!”

- Genesis Network Member & recipient of

Creative Headspace fund

We thank the Genesis Foundation for their

support of Creative Headspace

Spotlight on: Five Plays

We brought together five directors, to

work with five writers, to make five

minute plays.

"It has been such a dream to work with

all of you on the whole process of Five

Plays, thank you for letting us try things

out & for making all our ideas possible.

And what a close experience we had to

live theatre last night!"

- Five Plays Director

We thank Jerwood Arts for their ongoing support

of Five Plays and our Assistant Directors

Photo (c) Helen Murray


In September 2020, we celebrated our 50th Birthday. Whilst not the

street party we had planned, marking this milestone in a safe way still

involved a herculean effort from all departments - from Producing

securing street permits, and Production pulling off extraordinary

installation feats in record time as well as remobilising the building to

ensure everyone was kept safe, to Marketing mining our archives so we

could relive fifty years of history.

A projection celebrating the past 50 years of the YV was unveiled.

Designed by Duncan McLean, the photographic display lit up our

building each evening for our birthday month, as a testament to all the

people who were part of half a century of YV history.

"One of London’s bravest and boldest theatres, the Young Vic

first opened in 1970 as a young people’s offshoot of the

National Theatre, and since 1974 it’s very much done its own


Apparently the original plan for the theatre’s fiftieth birthday

was a street party with 50 stages. This absolutely isn’t

happening, but there’s still very much a celebration of sorts. In

fact, several sorts of celebration....

...Okay, it’s not a 50-stage street party. But as celebrations go,

it seems eminently worthy of one of London’s – and the world’s

– most important theatres."

Time Out London, 11 September 2020

Kwame Kwei-Armah (far left) and Sue Emmas (centre), with former Young Vic Artistic Directors

(left to right) David Lan, Tim Supple and David Thacker. Photo (c) Aaron Imuere

"What a career the Young Vic has had. It warms my heart

to see that groundbreaking theatre space (kept intact with

the butchers' shop entry on rebuilding), being still the most

exciting and inspiring theatre in Britain. May it soon recover

from the lockdown, and continue its joyful and creative

work full of diversity and availability to both audience and


Frank Dunlop, Young Vic Founder


As part of our 50th celebrations, we unveiled The Unforgotten. Created by Sadeysa

Greenaway-Bailey and Anna Fleischle, and inspired by the Black Lives Matter

movement, the piece interrogated who we celebrate and consider our heroes.

The Unforgotten designed by Sadeysa Greenaway-Bailey

and Anna Fleischle.

Photo (c) Aaron Imuere

The Young Vic community contributed to the installation by submitting their own

nominations in writing on the side of the building and online, in response to provocations

written by Jennifer Akre. Each month for an entire year, we asked our online

community to nominate heroes from different themes, from Frontline Health Care

Workers, to Academics, Artists, and War Heroes.

The Unforgotten was made possible thanks to the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation & an anonymous donor

Dear Young Vic,

We created The Unforgotten in September of 2020, seeking to

unify two ideas. One had to do with the question ‘how can we

still keep engaged with our audience in times when theatres are

shut?’ As designers, we think about spaces and the effect the

visual and our environment has on us as humans. The YV has

always been a lively part of The Cut, and since the audience is

still passing by, it felt right to take that conversation to the


Secondly, as events unfolded after the murder of George Floyd,

the question arose of ‘how is history remembered and who in

turn does history immortalise?’ In examining these questions and

as the world demonstrated against the continued blinding

inequalities which still exist in our society today. We felt we

needed to visually address this and to add the momentum of a

necessary shift in focus.

The result was an intervention including a set of provocations

placed at the front of the building, which reached out to people

in the street and then online, engaging everyone in a shared

conversation. People often feel like their voice and their lived

experience does not matter. But people now more than ever

need to feel seen, need their thoughts considered, and their

experience respected. A lot of the responses from our audience

reflected this need to passionately communicate. Some of the

answers literally feel like explosions of expression.

We want to see this energy carried forward. As we look to the

future, we need to ensure voices are heard, we need to find

deeper and more nuanced ways to communicate. That is our

shared desire.

Sadeysa Greenaway-Bailey and Anna Fleischle

Co-Creators of The Unforgotten

Co-creators Anna Fleischle and Sadeysa Greenaway- Bailey in front ofThe

Unforgotten. Photo (c) Aaron Imuere


The third element of our 50th Birthday celebrations, The New Tomorrow, was a weekend of scratch performances interrogating what the

next 50 years might hold for our theatre. Directed by Genesis Fellow and Associate Director Jennifer Tang, and with a socially-distanced

audience in attendance and thousands more joining via an online live-stream, the pieces tackled the most pressing themes of today.

Jade Anouka, Marina Carr, Jasmine Lee-Jones, Ruth Madeley, Amy Ng, Stef Smith, Jack Thorne, Isobel Waller-Bridge and Steve Waters

penned pieces performed by Ronkẹ Adékọluẹ́jọ́, Adjoa Andoh, Matthew Dunster, Paapa Essiedu, Martina Laird, Anoushka Lucas and Sophie

Stone, with speeches from Shahidha Bari and Tom Gill.

"A jagged, challenging, and vital birthday party...seizing the opportunity for growth and change"

The Independent

The cast of The New Tomorrow. Photos (c) Marc Brenner

Dear Young Vic,

It feels like I’ve been waiting for you a long time. It’s been 10 years since we first met: me as a Taking

Part participant, green and keen and overwhelmed that you’d invited me in. And 10 years later here I

am as the Genesis Fellow & Associate Director, maybe a little less green but still keen and still

overwhelmed that you’ve invited me in.

It was a Monday morning in October last year. My phone was buzzing with 9 missed calls and 3

voicemails with you asking me to direct The New Tomorrow – the YV’s 50th Birthday performance.

Live. In the actual theatre. The Main House. Teching that Friday, performing that Saturday. Could I do

it? YES.

Stepping into the auditorium on that Friday – the first time I’d been in a theatre since March 16 – it was

a slightly surreal experience. Familiar and alien all at once. Theatre lights burning into the darkness

have such a special smell. It had been a wait of months; but also of years. I was a bit wobbly, a bit

emotional, I’m not ashamed to say.

Two days later and it was all over. But those two performances felt like an intense moment of artists

and audiences coming together to remind ourselves of the importance and unparalleled experience of

live theatre, but also of our shared love of you – the Young Vic.

I am incredibly lucky and privileged to have been able to direct that work written by brilliant writers,

performed by fantastic artists, in the middle of a pandemic. But I also count myself incredibly lucky to

have met some of the brilliant theatre-makers on the Young Vic Directors Program in the workshops

we have been running throughout this past year. I have been blown away by the kindness, resilience,

generosity and ingenuity of these artists: all committed to their craft; all committed to re-shaping our

industry into something bigger and better than before. And if I have one hope for the future, it is that

we take the learning and thinking and conversations from this past year and put it all into action. I hope

we’re not seduced by our eagerness to get back up and running, and in doing so, slip back into toxic

habits. I hope we can come together to refuse the old ways and build a better and stronger future.

Thanks Young Vic. I can’t wait to get into the building again – hopefully soon. And hopefully, this time,

for more than two days. Love, x

Jennifer Tang, Director of The New Tomorrow

YV Genesis Fellow & Associate Director

Photo (c) Philip Vile.

Dear Young Vic,

2020…though one big event overshadows all other memories, there are

lights to catch…

From the fear of quickly learning Covid compliancy in Costume for The New

Tomorrow and dressing more plates of food than people in TWENTY

TWENTY, to advising what to wear/not wear in Neighbourhood Voices and

giving lipstick tips in Five Plays, the core reason of community remains (even

if the platforms and lockdown rules all trip around you). I’ve learned that the

core lessons remain the same too –you’re not alone, always ask for help,

and sometimes it's good to switch on your camera.

The shared sound of laughter, live and unrestricted by yellow or mute boxes,

debriefing the day’s madness, flurry and last-minute dashes – classic theatre

traits. Sorting out sequins around the cutting table with the design team

whilst waiting for a sofa to be collected – never in any other workplace.

Applauding the cast and crew for a first pandemic show whilst head

counting and backing into the kitchen to keep a distance – that’s a team.

When you can go home and relay a different story every time you’re asked

‘how’s your day been?’ those moments are now, no matter how stressful at

the time, my moments of happiness.

I miss the in-person camaraderie; my quiet nature usually thrives in loud

surroundings. The mix of personalities that converge in the theatre world is

its unique feeder and the sociability that goes hand in hand with the work…

well, I certainly won’t take for granted the invite to after-work drinks


See you soon.

Sarah Hamza, Head of Costume

Photo (c) Anthony Lee

Dear Young Vic,

What a year it has been. When I left for my

holiday this time last year I never would have

thought that one week would turn into months,

before I would be back in the building.

Before this year we have always spoken about

live streaming and how to get our content out to a

wider audience, but little did I know the fast

learning curve I was about to go through. I learnt

a lot of new skills very quickly from how to live

stream to how to do a show on Zoom. Zoom! I

don’t think I had even heard of Zoom before


Throughout this year, from online shows to

supporting the IT requirements of the building, the

highlight for me will always be The New

Tomorrow. The feeling of doing a show again after

all that time off and adding the new element of

live streaming... it will not be matched. There is no

better feeling than the buzz of seeing something

live and knowing your work is helping others see it

too. Especially after a long break.

I have missed the production team and the

building and I cannot wait to be back.

Kyle MacPherson, Head of Sound

Above: Just some of the technical equipment needed to deliver the live-stream of the show.

Below: Sam from the lighting team makes final adjustments before the show

Photos (c) Jenny Grand

Technical Rehearsal for the New Tomorrow. Photo (c) Marc Brenner


In September, Christiane Amanpour and

Kwame sat down in our theater’s empty

auditorium for an episode of CNN's

Amanpour & Co. They discussed the impact

of coronavirus, the vitality of the Black Lives

Matter movement, and the importance of reimagining

the future of theatre. The interview

between the award-winning journalist and

our Artistic Director aired across the USA

and online.

Throughout this last year, Kwame has given

interviews on news programmes as varied as

ITV News, Newsnight, LBC, BBC Radio 4

Today, Sky News and Channel 4,

highlighting the various urgent concerns of

the sector, including the need for better

freelance artist support, safeguarding the

future of a representative and inclusive

sector, and building new pathways for earlycareer


Kwame Kwei-Armah and Christiane Amanpour on the Main House stage..

Photo (c) John Torigoe for CNN

"I have to demand a new world view.

In every aspect of life, we need to make sure every

citizen has the ability to fulfill their potential."

- Kwame Kwei-Armah


"The South Bank area of my constituency not only contributes to our

culture's enormous identity, but generates so much income and

employment.... Alongside those big, hard-hitting cultural heritage sites, we

have smaller but no less important sites: live music venues and theatres,

such as the Young Vic theatre and the historic Royal Vauxhall Tavern.

Aside from their cultural importance, what makes them so special is that

they are embedded in the communities where they are located...

... They bring a cultural, economic and social enrichment to the lives of our

residents in the form of employment, and artistic and creative support


Last month, I had the honour of attending a socially distanced 50th

anniversary celebration for the Young Vic theatre. The Young Vic is an

incredible, innovative theatre that is embedded in schools and the

community. Under the leadership of the inspiring playwright and director

Kwame Kwei-Armah, it runs a year-round programme for residents,

championing diversity. For those people who are traditionally underrepresented

in arts and culture, that is so important.

These organisations, from the smaller theatres to the big ones, will

continue to suffer under the financial challenges of Covid. We have seen a

dramatic fall in audiences-and, in some cases, no audiences whatsoever.

Many of my constituents who work in the sector will not return to business

as usual, even as the lockdown eases.

They will continue to be hit hard."

Vauxhall MP Florence Eshalomi

Speaking to the House of Commons, 6 October 2020

Florence Eshalomi outside the Young Vic. Photo (c) Florence Eshalomi


Olivier Awards

Best Actress - Sharon D Clarke for Death of a Salesman

Sir Peter Hall Award for Best Director - Marianne Elliott

and Miranda Cromwell for Death of a Salesman

At the start of the pandemic, our

sector looked to find ways to

continue to bringing arts into homes.

Thanks to our friends at the National

Theatre, our production of A

Streetcar Named Desire was

broadcast into living rooms around

the world in May.

Over the course of one week, the

production was streamed over 1

million times worldwide, raising over

£60k in donations.

Our production of Yerma was made

available via National Theatre

Collection, a free resource for

schools across the UK.

Mousetrap Awards

Winner: Home Sweet Home - The Young Vic Theatre


Nominated: Short form programme - Soon Gone: A

Windrush Chronicle

Black British Theatre Awards

Winner: Best Director – Nadia

Latif, Fairview

The Stage 100

Ensuring a Healthy Future for


Kwame Kwei-Armah,

Sue Emmas and

Despina Tsatsas

Our productions of Yerma and Cat

on a Hot Tin Roof were added to the

NT At Home subscription service.

Gillian Anderson in A Streetcar Named Desire, Designed by Magda Willi with

Costumes by Victoria Behr. Photo (c) Johan Persson


Sharon D Clarke in Death of a Salesman, Designed by Anna Fleischle.

Photo (c) Brinkhoff/Moegenburg


Each year, our Taking Part team delivers an ambitious

programme, engaging the UK’s leading theatre artists to

create work for and with our local community. Taking Part

produce work responsive to the people they work with,

helping our community to develop their creative skills, build

meaningful relationships, and ultimately tell compelling stories

about the world we live in.

Since the pandemic began, projects pivoted to taking place

online and in the digital world, with freelance creative teams

– from musicians and writers, to directors, sound designers,

and animators – working on each project with participants.

Projects were developed which could be shared via post for

those without access to technology. The team also helped our

community partner Blackfriars Settlement deliver weekly

meals to those shielding using the Young Vic van.

"Theatre has been such an archaic industry and

this has been a moment when we’ve had to

change the way we work, think differently and

incorporate new ways of working into our

practice. Many of these changes will be

permanent and we need to make sure they are,

because they extend theatre’s accessibility and

change our relationships for the better.”

Shereen Jasmin Phillips, Director of Taking Part

speaking to The Stage newspaper

Spotlight On: Write From Home

This programme gave participants an introduction to the

art of playwrighting, with packs posted or emailed out.

"I keep using the resource packs when I get stuck in a

writing rut. They've been so helpful at getting out of my

head and onto the page and having that confidence and

guidance as a writer in a time when everyone's motivation

is so clearly lacking has been amazing."

Write From Home Participant


Over the year, Taking Part's digital projects have been wide-ranging and

engaged people from all areas of our community. We've found ways to help our

networks stay creative, tackling subjects most prescient to the time.

We also diversified our activities and programmes, launching Young Mentors, a

reverse mentoring scheme for 18-25 year olds and Neighbourhood Acting an

intensive programme for aspiring actors in the local area. We've continued our

popular Neighbourhood Play and Neighbourhood Voices programmes remotely


Spotlight On: Under My Barbie Duvet

Originally written as a piece of live theatre with members of Brixton’s

Baytree Centre, a social inclusion charity for women and girls. The piece,

exploring female agency, was reimagined as a stop-motion animation and

released online.

"I've never laughed so much in my whole life!"

Under My Barbie Duvet Participant

With thanks to Audible and the John Thaw Foundation for their support of this project.

Spotlight On: Hear Us – A Digital Zine

Created by young people, with script weaved together from a series of

online workshops about important social and political events of 2020,

including the Black Lives Matter movement.

"For years I’ve never really found a group that are actually passionate

about making and presenting art, that enjoy the process and aren’t

afraid to be questioned or educated. It was new for me and something I

hope I can continue with."

Hear Us Participant

With thanks to Karl-Johan Persson, the H&M Foundation and The Austin and Hope

Pilkington Trust for their ongoing support of our Young Associates and Taking Part.



Spotlight on: TWENTY TWENTY

TWENTY TWENTY, was our year-long community project,

developed to form deep-rooted enrichment in our local area.

We worked with participants from three extraordinary

community venues; Thames Reach – committed to ending

street homelessness; Blackfriars Settlement – supporting

people over 60; and Certitude - supporting people with

learning disabilities.

TWENTY TWENTY began in November 2019 with weekly

workshops and theatre visits. When the UK went into

lockdown, the workshops moved online, with rehearsals

taking place via Zoom in kitchens and living rooms.

The project concluded in January 2021 with the premiere of

three short films, starring the participants and shot in

socially-distanced conditions, and created by an elevenperson

freelance creative team, a stage management crew

and a film production team, as well as teams from across the

Young Vic. Despite the challenges of this year, creative

enrichment was able to thrive.

“This project has brought so many benefits into my life. It has

allowed me to express my creativity and this makes me feel

happy. I get to work with wonderful creative people and get

to share my time with the participants. This especially during

this pandemic has been so helpful. Being able to connect

stops me from feeling isolated.”










With thanks to the Paul Hamlyn Foundation for their support of TWENTY TWENTY

and our Neighbourhood Theatre Programme


TWENTY TWENTY in rehearsal.

Photo (c) Anthony Lee



We continued our commitment to reducing the opaqueness

about the mechanisms at play in our sector.

"TWENTY TWENTY’s long-term focus on enhancing the

creativity of members of the community... is the kind of

project which offers an important version of the theatre

sector we could choose for our future, where we

collectively remove as many barriers as possible to who

creates and consumes art."

Author Bernardine Evaristo

"The TWENTY TWENTY Project has allowed me to

become more myself, because it allowed me to explore all

the ways I can express myself in drama, which then also

boosts my confidence to express myself in real life."


"The devastating impact of Covid-19 over the past year

has demonstrated the importance of art and culture as a

way of promoting wellbeing and keeping our community

united... the Young Vic’s TWENTY TWENTY project shows

the powerful role culture has in sustaining and enriching

our unique neighbourhood."

Cllr Sonia Winifred,

Lambeth’s Cabinet member for Equalities and Culture

To serve this aim, we launched a new series of YV:IDemysify

events, reconfigured to take place online. With themes ranging

from the future of theatre criticism and the systemic challenges

of recruitment, to exploring routes for mid-career theatre

makers, the events saw speakers coming together from a

variety of disciplines and backgrounds to cover topics resonant

to the makers of work for the stage.

We also published a report on learnings from the first series of

YV:IDemysify events, summarised by Creative Associate

Teunkie Van Der Sluijs. His reflection distilled down the

learnings and thought-provoking contributions from the panel

speakers and over 1,100 audience members across the 2019-

2020 series.

"Given the impact of this past year on the theatre industry

and the systemic obstacles it has made acutely visible, we

wanted to make sure the experiences, concerns and ideas

shared in the YV:IDemystify conversations can continue to

feed into our thinking about how to rebuild our sector more

fairly, transparently and resiliently."

Teunkie Van Der Sluijs, Creative Associate

Dear Young Vic...

I've been thinking a lot lately about what it is that I miss most about my job.

Is it the people I work with? That group of people who go above and beyond

to make incredible things happen? The people I used to see every day, used to

share laughs, ideas, lunch, music and art with.

Is it that moment before we open the house to that evening's audience? The

empty theatre expectant with the strangest calmest quiet that is difficult to

put into words? Or is it the moment that I give clearance to the stage

manager, and the show begins? A strange relief after 30 mins of herding

audience members into the theatre so we can start the show on time?

Perhaps it's the feeling before a press night, where the energy is so high, and

everyone has done everything possible to prepare, knowing fullwell a

curveball is almost certainly just around the corner? Maybe it's the office? Or

the duty office? Or the corridors? Or the very specific smell the building has?

Is it perhaps the pre-show energy in the bar? That very specific Young Vic

buzz, that only seems come into its full sparkle between 6pm and 7.30pm.

It could be that feeling of solving a very specific problem? The kind of problem

that means almost nothing to anyone outside the walls of the theatre, but

feels earth shattering in the moment.

But I think the most likely thing, the thing that comes to mind most often, is the

daily usher briefing by fire exit two. We all huddle before the show, talk

about what's happening that night, anyone exciting who is attending the

show... and a few who aren't as exciting...

We talk about our day, talk about our lives, talk about the show, talk about

the building, talk about upcoming shows, art that we've seen... I get a tiny

snapshot into 15 people's lives. I know many of their family's names, what they

are up to, how healthy or unhealthy they are, amongst other things, and its

taken all of this for me to realise how important that moment is, and how much

I miss it. That tiny gathering, sitting on the old carpet, checking floats,

checking stock and checking in with each other. It's human. Something we

don't have right now... but we will again.

So yeah. I miss my team: Aisha, Albert, Aly, Aran, Cass, Chris,

Daniel, Daniella, Debbie, Donal, Dynzell, Eboni, Edd, Eve,

Francesca, Glenn, Grace, Gracjana, Isaac, Jess, Joanna, Joe, Jon,

Julie, Kitti, Lethaniel, Liz, Luca, Lynn, Mark, Maryam, Maurice,

Melina, Oliver, Owen, Paula, Rosemarie, Shankho, Simone,

Sophie, Susan, Taz, Thea, Tobi.

Big love. x

Will Bowden, Front of House Manager


One of our ushers, Aisha, spoke to BBC News about working at the YV and missing

theatre. Whilst furloughed from the Young Vic, Aisha worked as a disability

campaigner. Her interview, organised in associate with Mencap, helped raise

awareness of what people with a learning disability can achieve in the world of work,

and how the pandemic has affected people.


"I am looking forward to being submerged into the live atmosphere

of that powerful energy exchange between performers and

audience. Being physically present in that specific moment of time is

an exquisite experience!"

Slav Kirichok, Security

"I am looking forward to enjoying a live shared experience, where

the energy of a room is something that can be felt in the moment

and carried through into conversation after that experience."

Rathi Kumar, Director of IT and Administration

"When theatres reopen, I am most looking forward to

experiencing the ripple: that sudden wave of shared

understanding or recognition that ripples through an audience

when their truths or experiences are directly spoken to - that

moment in a show when we all, suddenly, see, feel and

understand something about ourselves, and do so collectively."

Teunkie Van Der Sluijs, Creative Associate

"I can't wait to bring my new baby (in his Young Vic onesie)

to meet my beloved colleagues...

and then I'll sneak off to watch a matinee!!"

Holly Aston, Producer

"I’m looking forward to the dimmed lights, the sudden hush, the

collective sense of pure anticipation. I miss experiencing that

strange and significant intensification or suspension of reality. I

can’t wait to go on a personal journey alongside countless others.

To laugh and applaud with total strangers. To once again bear

witness to and be in dialogue with the extraordinary efforts of

numerous artistic, technical and administrative minds."

Olivia Nwabali, Executive Assistant to the Artistic Director

Spotlight On: Hamlet

Our highly anticipated

production of Hamlet,

starring Cush Jumbo and

directed by Greg Hersov,

was set for the summer of

2020. It's been on pause,

and we can't wait for

audiences to join us in 2021.

"I am not someone who

blanket believes that I

should just get to play

every man that’s ever

written because I want to,

but with Shakespeare, I

see no boundary at all. I

want to do Shakespeare

with the best possible

people – I want my mum to

understand it, and my 14-

year-old niece to

understand it, and a critic

to like it and it to entertain

everybody. I don’t really

care who’s in it.”

Cush Jumbo speaking to

British Vogue

Cush Jumbo as Hamlet. Photo by Dean Chalkley. Concept by Émilie Chen.

Dear Young Vic,

We’ve missed you for TWELVE months.

Naturally we want to create and serve delicious food

and drinks. During our closure we enjoyed moments of

reflection, developing, nurturing and of course lots of

baking! But nothing compares with the motivation of a

happy customer.

Our short re-openings in Autumn and December were

brilliant but short-lived teasers. Just as we got going -

we had to shut down. Twice.

Time passed and you’ve all missed what should have

been our building’s loudest applause ever. Young Vic’s

50th birthday party. Others missed their mum’s 75th


And that is why our return will be a celebration with

our most exciting menu ever. New outdoor seating and

improved event and restaurant spaces. Musical and DJ

nights making our building as vibrant as ever.

We can’t wait to see you.

Nicolai Outzen, Owner of The Cut Bar

Photo (c) Ellie Kurttz.


This year, we've continued with our mission to become a more

environmentally responsible and sustainable theatre.

We are very proud to have been awarded 5*s from Julie's Bicycle for our

continued commitment to reducing our carbon footprint. Sustainability is a

core part of our business plan, and our improvements and changes are

evident from across our theatre; from using more ethical supplies and

reducing our waste through to conducting regular energy audits and

engaging staff in sustainable initiatives.

In December of 2020, London Mayor Sadiq Khan visited the YV as part of

his Street Space for London scheme. The road outside our theatre, The

Cut, is now a car-free zone, making it a safer place for pedestrians and


Our Directors Program continues to engage a network of artists in

conversations around sustainability, holding workshops and discussions

that explore how to make work that engages with the climate crisis – in

terms of its content, the way in which the work itself is made, and how it

can connect audiences to the wider dialogue. Sessions over the year

included workshops such as: ‘The Crisis on Stage: How do we engage with

the climate and ecological emergency in our work’; ‘Constant Growth:

Upscaling & Sustainability – is bigger always better?’ and an

Artist/Scientist speed networking event.

We take this opportunity to thank IHS Markit for investing in a more sustainable

future for our theatre.

Kwame Kwei-Armah and Major for London

Sadiq Khan outside the Young Vic


The Co-Chairs of our Development Board, Ebele Okobi and Rachel Conlan give

their impression of the philanthropic landscape after Covid, and what they're

looking forward to.

What is going to be the biggest challenge for philanthropy post-Covid?

EO: There are so many worthy causes, even more in the wreckage of

Covid, so donor fatigue will be a challenge. The economic forecast for

many is also worrying, so that may lead to people being much more

cautious about giving. That said, many people/companies are clearer

now than ever about the importance of mission/purpose/values, so there

is an opportunity for organizations to be even more clear about precisely

how what we do intersects with mission/purpose/values.

RC: The pandemic has shone an even brighter spotlight on the

importance of philanthropy in the arts.

I think we’ll see a big shift in donor giving, from both private or corporate

sources, that prioritizes purpose driven arts organizations that are not

only inclusive but provide platforms for thought provoking narratives.

The challenge for these Art organizations will be whether they can

capitalize on this opportunity in a smart and impactful way.

What are you most looking forward to about live theatre’s return?

What have you missed most?

EO: I have missed the kind of beautiful storytelling that allows me to get

completely lost, or which challenges the way I think. I so look forward to

the expectant hush right before the play begins, when all are rapt,

anticipating magic, and grateful to be in beloved community.

RC: Live theatre transports you to another world – it provides an

escapism, in a way that other storytelling medium such as Cinema and TV

cannot. When compelling stories are brought to life on stage by

performers, there is a special type of magic that is created in the

auditorium. I personally am counting down the days to those meaningful

moments of escape!

Photo (c) Philip Vile.

Dear Young Vic.

I’m writing this on my way home from actual in-person rehearsals. My first inperson

rehearsals in just over a year. That feels like a really important thing to

share right now, whilst as an industry we’re searching for sprouts of hope and

normality. But I’ve been reflecting on whether ‘normality’ is what we should be

striving for.

During the pandemic I have been fortunate enough to have joined the board of

Young Vic and to have successfully launched Uproot Productions. Through these

roles, I’ve learned an invaluable amount about the theatre industry. I’m acutely

aware that both the Ambassador Trustee position and the existence of Uproot

came from a need to create new pathways and opportunities. And it’s got me

thinking about where many of us would be if these targeted pathways didn’t exist.

The other day a colleague and friend called me a leader and I rejected the title.

She challenged me and suggested that I, like many of us, perhaps have a skewed

and limited understanding of what leadership actually looks like. That really stuck

with me and led me to contemplate all the things that we’ve subconsciously

inherited as the norm. Many of us had accepted the structures of our society as

the default, yet in 2020 we saw them crumble in a way that we could never have


We’re all out here rushing to get back to normal, when actually, ‘normal’ was

pretty butterz if you ask me. And there is no better time to consciously reimagine

the world that we would like to rebuild. So as we approach the time when the

doors of theatres finally reopen, let’s all tek time and consider what we'd like to

see change. And to consider how we each can take responsibility to implement it. I

think that one way to do that, is to redefine leadership, redistribute power and

collectively lead with care.

Abigail Sewell, Theatre and Film Director, Co-Founder and Artistic Director of

Uproot Productions and Ambassador Trustee, Young Vic

Photo (c) Ellie Kurttz

Dear Young Vic,

For us at the Young Vic, acts of selflessness and kindness

have been a thread that has run through the course of this

pandemic year; they have been one of the things that

have been crucial not only in our practical survival, but in

our ability to intellectually and emotionally keep going.

From our wonderful staff team, to supporters to artists,

audiences and other stakeholders who were right

alongside us - this has been an encouragement and a


It’s been a brutal year, and our hearts go out to those

who’ve lost loved ones and been debilitated by the

pandemic. But as we reflect back in these pages we can

see the resilience of those with a common purpose. We

have much to be proud of.

We always say that theatre is a collaborative art form,

but over the last 12 months, it has never been more true. I

have endless gratitude to everyone who stepped

forwards in solidarity with us at times when they

themselves were personally or professionally impacted

and sometimes grieving. We are grateful to our whole


So, I want this as a moment on record to say...

Top: SCENE/CHANGE Set and Costume Designers outside the YV.

Middle: YV Staff helping the Blackfriars Settlement team to deliver food to those shielding using the YV van

Bottom: The Guardian Front Page announcing the YV's receipt of Cultural Recovery Fund support


The tailors who hosted projectors in their windows to celebrate our 50th Anniversary

The donors and members of the development board who made truly personal offers of support - contributing

proceeds from the sales of books, and of beautiful handmade dresses; to advancing money sooner rather

than later to help us out when we needed it most; to funding our charitable food delivery services &

homeless meals

Commercial investors who donated back the profit generated on our last West End transfer, and audience

members who donated back their tickets

Theatre photographers who captured the silence of our building, and donated back the proceeds of their

labour to a sector they love

The awesome artists who brought our exterior building alive when we needed to connect with the people

around us the most

Our Corporate Members and Partners who remained firmly by our side, and presented new opportunities to

work together and support our goals

The freelancers who have offered their ingenuity and creativity even whilst their livelihoods were

depleted, and our beautiful new collective of associate artists who offered their collaboration so generously

Professional services and other contractors who reduced their fees or provided pro bono support

Co-Producers who extended their hands to co-fund our weekend performances of The New Tomorrow in

October 2020 – so generously and collaboratively making work with us again

Trusts and Foundations who unrestricted funds, making it easy for us to pivot to digital and continue to

provide opportunities for our community. Thank you also to those Trusts and Foundations who are supporting

our efforts to reopen safely in 2021

The participants, the artists and the facilitators of all the work we have managed to produce this year…and

all those who created, managed and monitored the Covid regulations that made this possible


The individual supporter who shared his military experience with our leadership – to encourage and

reassure that these times too will pass and to keep the faith in one’s own instinct

Our remarkable consultants who have helped us begin our journey to becoming an anti-racist organisation

Those who spoke truth to power this year and took on their own emotional labour and tax to do so

Sector leadership that have collaborated and held us up, helping us advocate and lobby to Government

local and national – and the ministers, mayors, and councillors who heard us

The donors of a legacy gift remarkable in its timing

Anyone who helped leadership to lead during this time – the texts, the calls, the emails of support

Our statutory and arts sector funders who provided emergency funds to keep us standing

The amazing culture team at Lambeth (and the brilliant individual who helped us licence cherry pickers and

pavement closures at the last minute!)

Our incredible staff team who volunteered for other charities, mentored artists, home-schooled their

children, cared for elders, went on furlough to help the YV, covered roles not normally their own, lost loved

ones, suffered from ongoing structural inequality – and still stayed here with us

Everyone in our staff team who has been at the (very) sharp end of managing our finances; our people; our

theatre operations; our IT capacity; and our customer service during the time of Coronavirus

Our senior managers past and present who have supported the organisation and leadership endlessly and


Glenn, our Chair, and our Board of Trustees who have given so much of their time and energy during periods

that were as hard for them as they were for us


Despina Tsatsas, Executive Director

Dear Young Vic,

A year like no other. A refrain repeated across our industry, and across the UK,

and the world.

Trauma is perhaps best served at a distance. We cannot yet quantify the trauma

of the past year. The personal and collective losses which have been felt through

our country. The loss within our theatre community, including the freelancers who

have been left largely without support, some forced to leave our sector entirely.

How will that manifest in our art and in our practice?

The pages of this document are testament to the people who gather in the world

of art. From the actors and artists most visible, to all the people behind the

scenes who have kept the wheels turning and the environment for artmaking

thriving, and the generosity of those who support through financial means: I give

thanks. And in particular, I take this moment to acknowledge the support and

boundless energy of my friend and colleague Despina Tsatsas.

As an artist and an Artistic Director, I am always trying to see around corners.

As we look to reopening our doors, this endeavour to anticipate and to adapt

feels more important than ever. In approach, in form, in theme. We must reach

further and stretch our arms wider. We must return in new and innovative ways,

redefining liveness across physical and digital spaces. We will lean into new

collaborations, rebuilding a better sector. The summer of racial reckoning means

that returning as we were before simply cannot happen. And we are going to be

led by artists and creatives who, through experiencing what it felt like to not be

able to make art, will look at their craft in an entirely new way.

I hope to soon be inviting our community back into the YV, to collect once more

at the altar of live theatre. My wish is that our art will heal, doing justice to the

hurt, the trauma, and lessons of this last year.

Until then, I send strength and hope from the YV family to yours.

Photo (c) Ellie Kurttz

Kwame Kwei-Armah, Artistic Director

Document (c) Emma Hardy, 2021. Front and back cover images (c) Philip Vile

The Young Vic (registered charity

number 268876) receives public

subsidy from Arts Council England

and Lambeth & Southwark

Borough Councils. In 2020, the

Young Vic was a UK Government

Cultural Recovery Fund recipient.

Hooray! Your file is uploaded and ready to be published.

Saved successfully!

Ooh no, something went wrong!