Bristol Old Vic has appointed Nancy Medina as its new artistic director and successor to Tom Morris, who is stepping down after 12 years in the role.
Medina said she felt a sense of awe and excitement at leading England’s oldest working theatre, where she will take up the post full-time in spring 2023. “It will be a great honour to listen, reflect and engage with the people of Bristol and together imagine what the future of theatre and the arts can be in this shining city of the south-west,” she said.
Morris called Medina a “visionary creative leader” and a director at the height of her powers. “Through her own rehearsal rooms and the extraordinary achievement of setting up the Bristol School of Acting, she has established an unmatched reputation in combining radical change with artistic excellence. This combination is precious and rare.” He continued: “To survive and flourish over the next decades, British theatre is going to have to change and that will need outstanding leadership. Through this appointment, Bristol Old Vic has put itself in the best possible position to be in the vanguard of that process.”
Sado Jirde, vice-chair of Bristol Old Vic, said Medina is “passionate about producing accessible and truthful theatre”, and added: “At a time in which institutions across the country are looking at the challenging legacies of our history, for Bristol Old Vic to appoint a highly talented Black Latinx woman as artistic director provides a real opportunity to effect real change in how we express the multiplicity of British identities, experiences and histories.”
Originally from New York, Medina has lived in Bristol for 14 years and is the joint artistic director of Bristol School of Acting. She has directed plays including Trouble in Mind at the National Theatre, Strange Fruit at the Bush and a revival of August Wilson’s Two Trains Running at the Royal and Derngate in Northampton in a co-production with English Touring Theatre. Next month, she will direct The Darkest Part of the Night by Zodwa Nyoni at the Kiln theatre in London.
Bristol Old Vic is one of several majorEnglish theatres to be undergoing a change at the top. In November, Suba Das was announced as the new creative director of Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse and Pooja Ghai was appointed Tamasha’s new boss. The Orange Tree theatre recently named Tom Littler as its new artistic director and the Royal Shakespeare Company is currently recruiting a successor to its artistic director, Gregory Doran.