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Last Updated: Monday, 30 July 2007, 07:12 GMT 08:12 UK
Stars unite to save city theatre
Bristol Old Vic
The signatories fear the theatre company will fade away
A host of Britain's best-known actors, writers and directors have signed a letter of support to help save Bristol's Old Vic company.

Sir Ian McKellen, Dame Judi Dench, Patrick Stewart, Alan Rickman, Simon Curtis, Sir Derek Jacobi and Emma Thompson are among 120 signatories.

It warns the Old Vic Theatre Company could "fade away" while the theatre is closed for a 7m revamp.

The theatre's chairman said future plays would depend on funding.

The theatre is due to close on 1 August until December 2008.

Rupert Rhymes, the theatre chairman, has admitted there is a 2m shortfall in funding.

"We've got to get a further 2m by Christmas and there's a save Bristol Old Vic appeal that's very much on the cards.

"I'm looking forward to the result of the names giving inspiration to the appeal that is currently around."

'Fade away'

The letter raises fears the resident theatre company will die under plans to rent out the repaired building and calls for a new artistic director to be appointed after the resignation of Simon Reade.

But Mr Rhymes said unless they get the money for the repair work there would be no point in bringing in a new artistic director as there would be no money to pay for the position.

"We're taking advantage of this pause to make sure that what we produce in future will appeal to Bristol and the wider region's audiences.

"It's no good us putting on plays if in fact one runs out of money and it's very important we gear future resources available to what is possible to put on," he said.

The signatories write in the letter to The Times: "What is clear is that the Bristol Old Vic Theatre Company is in danger of being allowed to fade away.

"There is apparently no plan for the company to produce work during the closure period and, more importantly, no guarantee it will have a future at the Theatre Royal when it reopens in 2009."

Equity has demanded a full and rigorous investigation and a clear statement from the Bristol Old Vic Trust about its plans for the future.

Malcolm Sinclair, of Equity, said: "If the theatre closed, it would have a very bad effect on the profession. It is perhaps the leading regional theatre."

Parlous state of city's theatres
13 Jul 07 |  Bristol/Somerset
Old Vic's improvements detailed
20 Jun 07 |  Bristol/Somerset
Appeal for cash from city theatre
14 Jun 07 |  Bristol/Somerset
Theatre answers closure critics
04 Jun 07 |  Bristol/Somerset
Theatre shuts for refurbishment
10 May 07 |  Bristol/Somerset
Theatre school's anniversary plea
16 Oct 06 |  Bristol/Somerset
City theatre plans 7m facelift
10 Jul 06 |  Bristol/Somerset

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