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50 years in 50 images: The 70s | #YV50

By youngvicstaff 10 Sep 2020

Exterior of the Young Vic in 1978 © Donald Cooper / Photostage

For our first chapter, we are throwing it way back to the 70s, when the Young Vic first opened its doors. Our theatre was built on The Cut, on a bomb-site from the Second World War of a bakery. Intended to last just five years at the time, we’re pleased to say we this year we are celebrating the big 5-0!

The below gives you a taster of the first decade of history at the Young Vic. We’d love to hear about your 70s memories of the theatre, the shows, the people…. let us know on social using the tag #YV50.

Catch up on other posts here: 

Frank Dunlop opening the Young Vic in 1970

1. The Young Vic was established by Frank Dunlop in 1970, as an offshoot of the National Theatre. Frank wanted to create a new kind of theatre for a new generation - one that was unconventional, classless, open, and cheap. The Young Vic was conceived as a 'paperback' theatre, where high-quality work would be made available to all at low cost. Pictured here is Frank Dunlop opening the Young Vic in 1970, in front of the building designed by Bill Howell, which was built at a cost of £60,000.

Image credit: Unknown
2.	This is a production shot of the very first show on the Young Vic stage, SCAPINO

2. This is a production shot of the very first show on the Young Vic stage, SCAPINO adapted by Jim Dale & Frank Dunlop from 'Les Fourberies de Scapin' by Moliere, and directed by Frank Dunlop. Jim Dale also starred in the production, and a review by the Oxford Mail declared “this is one ex pop singer who really does know what commedia dell'arte is all about”. Famously, in 1971 rock band The Who gave weekly concerts at the YV, rehearsing what would become their album ‘Who’s Next’.

Image credit: Donald Cooper/Photostage
Joseph And the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Young Vic in 1972

3. The beloved musical Joseph And the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, had its first theatrical staging by The Young Vic Theatre Company at the annual Edinburgh Festival and later moved to the Young Vic stage in 1972. Directed by Frank Dunlop, Gary Bond is seen here in the role of Joseph he helped to create.

Image credit: Donald Cooper/Photostage
Ian Charleson (rear left) in FRENCH WITHOUT TEARS by Terence Rattigan, directed by Frank Dunlop in 1973

4. Ian Charleson (rear left) in FRENCH WITHOUT TEARS by Terence Rattigan, directed by Frank Dunlop in 1973. Ian was part of the Young Vic Theatre Company, and performed many acclaimed roles on our stages including Claudio in Much Ado About Nothing, Jimmy Porter in Look Back In Anger. Ian was a much-celebrated British stage actor whose life was tragically cut short. He died at age 40 of AIDS, and the public announcement of the cause of his death helped to promote awareness and acceptance of the disease in the UK. The Ian Charleson Award, for the best classical stage performances in Britain by actors aged under 30, was set up in his honour and is still awarded every year.

Image credit: Donald Cooper/Photostage
Michael Byrne and Jane Wood in the 1973 production of A Taste of Honey

5. Here’s a production photo of Michael Byrne and Jane Wood in the 1973 production of A Taste of Honey by Shelagh Delany, directed by Pam Brighton. 

Image credit: Donald Cooper/Photostage
Christopher Timothy and Richard O'Callaghan in the 1974 revival of Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead

6. Christopher Timothy and Richard O'Callaghan in the 1974 revival of Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead. The same year, the Young Vic separated from the National Theatre and became an independent body.

Image credit: Donald Cooper/Photostage
. Ian McKellen and Gemma Jones in the 1975 production of Ashes by David Rudkin

7. Ian McKellen and Gemma Jones in the 1975 production of Ashes by David Rudkin. Sir Ian has continued to appear at the Young Vic throughout his career- most recently as part of his 80 venue tour to celebrate his 80th birthday.

© Donald Cooper/Photostage.
Peter Brook’s production of UBU ROI by Alfred Jarry (1978)

8. Peter Brook’s production of UBU ROI by Alfred Jarry (1978). In 2016, the Young Vic created The Roof, a comic video directed by Natalie Abrahami as an homage to the legendary theatre director, exploring what happens when he pays a visit to the Young Vic. Check it out here

© Donald Cooper/Photostage
Members of the Young Vic Educational Services programme outside the theatre (1978)

9. Members of the Young Vic Educational Services programme outside the theatre (1978). Today, the Young Vic’s Taking Part Department works with schools to reach hundreds of children of all ages, making work for and with them which explores the world we live in.

Image credit: Donald Cooper/Photostage
Director Michael Bogdanov rehearsing the Action Man Trilogy (Hamlet, Richard III and The Tempest) at the Young Vic in 1978

10. Director Michael Bogdanov rehearsing the Action Man Trilogy (Hamlet, Richard III and The Tempest) at the Young Vic in 1978. From 1978 – 1980, Michael was also artistic director of the Young Vic, before passing the reigns back to Frank Dunlop. During his time as AD, Michael was renowned for his lively programming and for continuing the Young Vic’s commitment to attracting new and younger audiences.

Image credit: Donald Cooper/Photostage

Don't Miss: 50th Projection Project

To celebrate our 50th birthday year, each evening from Monday to Saturday the front of our building becomes a giant canvas, illuminated by a video projection designed by Duncan Mclean, celebrating the past people and productions who collectively represent five extraordinary decades.