Creative Green Awards 2017 – Best Performing Arts Venue

By Daniel de la Motte-Harrison

The other week, Julie’s Bicycle hosted their inaugural Creative Green Awards, held in the splendor Of Somerset House, and presented by Caroline Lucas, the Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion. These awards are in recognition of environmental, sustainable and ethical commitment, understanding and improvement within arts and cultural venues, galleries and festivals.

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The Creative Green Award-winners with Caroline Lucas. Photo by Alick Cotterill.

The Young Vic was delighted to be nominated for three awards; Outstanding Achievement, Best Commitment; and Best Performing Arts Venue. We were even more delighted to win the last award. In recent years, the Young Vic has become a 4* accredited Industry Green venue and has undertaken small-scale and larger initiatives to green the theatre, its ethos, staff and productions further.

Recent changes at the Young Vic have included:

  • Becoming a zero-waste-to-landfill theatre
  • Securing our energy from green sources
  • Installing LED lighting in our corridors and public toilets
  • Putting on two ‘Classics for a New Climate’ productions, most recently La Musica, which had almost half the energy emissions of a similar scale production[1]
  • Dealing with the waste we create through productions as sustainably as possible. Two tonnes of peat from A Midsummer Night’s Dream went to a local community garden, and the sand used in Ah, Wilderness! was donated to a local nursery.

We are also proud of the ethical and sustainable commitments of The Cut Bar, widely regarded as one of the best theatre bars and restaurants in London. There are several vegetarian and vegan options available, and produce comes from local, ethical or organic suppliers. The beer on tap come from Bermondsey, just 0.4 miles down the road, and the wine comes from a biodynamic vineyard in Tuscany.

Janie Dee and members of the company in Ah, Wilderness! at the Young Vic. Photo by Johan Persson (2).jpg

Janie Dee in Ah, Wilderness! Photo by Johan Persson. The sand used in this production was donated to a local nursery.

The Young Vic will always continue to work closely with our friends and colleagues at Julie’s Bicycle and the London Theatre Consortium to collectively attempt to reduce our emissions and impact further, making work of the highest artistic quality which doesn’t cost the earth.

For more information on the Young Vic’s sustainability policies and practices, or with any ideas on how we can improve further, please get in touch with Daniel at

[1] 5.38 tonnes of CO2 created through energy use, compared to 9.88 tonnes created through energy use during The Changeling in the same space.

11 Questions with the cast of Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere – Lara Sawalha

Paul Mason and Lara Sawalha in Why It's Kicking Off Everywhere at the Young Vic. Photo by David Sandison..jpg

Paul Mason and Lara Sawalha in Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere at the Young Vic. Photo by David Sandison.

What’s your favourite play you’ve ever seen, been in or read?

There are too many to pick from because each play I’ve seen has left a mark and impacted me in different ways. One that comes to mind is a play I read called The Heresy of Love – a must read.

What can the audience expect from this production that’s different to anything else they are likely to have seen before?

To feel completely immersed in what’s happening around them, like they’re leading the revolution.

What protest or activism have you most recently taken part in or supported?

Protesting against apartheid in Palestine.

Describe in one word what you hope the audience will take away from this show?


What is your favourite midnight snack?

Humous and pitta bread.

What is the funniest protest sign you’ve ever seen?

“I can’t believe we still have to protest this shit”.

Where is your favourite place in the world?

Once I get those wings and fly I’ll let you know (refer to supernatural question). My favourite place constantly changes, so I always have many!

Who is your ultimate hero, and what would you say to them if you ever met them?

I have many but one of them is Maya Angelou and I would take her dancing.

Which historic revolution or protest do you wish you could have been a part of?

Walking across the bridge with Martin Luther King Jr.

If you could have any one supernatural power which would you choose and why?

To fly so everyday I could experience a different part of the world.

What role do you think the arts plays in activism?

It’s another platform to speak and be heard to express and change the world.

If you could swap lives with anybody for one day, who would it be and why?

Donald Trump so that I can actually understand how his brain works, because it really doesn’t make sense.

What’s one thing about the future that makes you feel positive?

Seeing people around me working hard to improve the world of today for the generations of tomorrow.

Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere will be broadcast on BBC Two this year as part of Performance Live, a two-year strand of programmes developed between Arts Council England and Battersea Arts Centre.

Read what audiences have been saying about #KickingOffLive so far.

Holly Williams in discussion with David Lan

Young Vic production ofA Midsummer Night's Dream Directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins

It starts with a play – and a passion. The Young Vic may have developed a reputation as the home of so-called ‘director’s theatre’, offering radical takes on classic plays directed by the likes of Joe Hill-Gibbins, Ivo van Hove, Benedict Andrews, Carrie Cracknell and Simon Stone, but for artistic director David Lan, the really crucial component is still the play. The right director is the person who mounts a convincing case for urgently staging it right here, right now.

“What I start from is the premise that there’s no point doing the play unless we’re excited by what’s in the play,” he explains. “You’ve got to love it. With A Midsummer Night’s Dream, we’re doing it because Joe said, ‘I really really want to do it’.” It’s this compulsion to revisit a classic, looking anew at “how is this relevant now?” that often leads to the “most surprising and deep response.”

A surprising response to a well-loved play – including A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with its magic, fairies and romance – can raise hackles, even if it does spring from a director’s own love affair with the material.

Lan recognises that unusual stagings of classic plays make some audiences anxious.

“Part of my job is to find a way to say ‘it’s fine: it may not be exactly what you think it’s going to be, but it’s good! It’s real.  You’re not being cheated out of anything.’” Indeed, the hope is that by shaking off the shackles of over-familiarity, the play comes into a sharp new focus – as was the case with van Hove’s A View from the Bridge, Cracknell’s A Doll’s House or Stone’s Yerma.

“People say, don’t you sometimes want to get out of the way and just ‘do’ the play? But you can’t just ‘do’ the play,” Lan suggests. To him, any production is a series of choices, from what the actors bring to their parts to the visual world a designer creates. Any performance that has a director is, in a sense, director’s theatre because they guide these choices. “With any production, you’re always going to see the particular director’s take on the play; it just might not be a very interesting director!”

The notion, especially when it comes to Shakespeare, that actors should simply speak the text or trust the language is also naive. “A robot could just ‘say the words’, but an actor can’t, because they’re a human being and what they’re responding to is the meaning those words have in the situation they’re in.”

And this response can be – should be – complicated and multifaceted. If there’s one thing Lan really wants a Young Vic production to do, it’s to explore the contradictions inherent in being human, contradictions which the best dramatists reveal. They’re certainly there in Shakespeare.

Young Vic production ofA Midsummer Night's Dream Directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins

“We’re trying to say, all human life is here. And audiences feel that, they’re not patronised, the characters in this play are as complicated and complex as they are. Everybody’s life is a complete mess, everybody is going ‘god I don’t know what to do’ – and that’s in the plays. Don’t try to resolve it. Stage the contradiction.”

That means allowing the play to be complex: A Midsummer Night’s Dream might turn out to be stranger than we expect. The material shouldn’t be treated with stuffy reverence but as an obligatory dose of cultural medicine.

“It’s not to do with simplifying, or saying ‘oh this is a bit like a druggy rave so let’s get a lot of polythene…’ No bullshit, [but also] no worthiness, no saying it’s good for us.” Just the question: is there actually something there for us, today, in a certain play?

In attempting to answer this question, the Young Vic has become known for its distinctive takes on familiar works (not that, as Lan points out, the theatre would be considered radical compared to most European theatres) but while he’s “delighted that people think that if you go to the Young Vic you will get something special, or unexpected, or surprising”, he also hopes that people think of the Young Vic as a place where you still “really get the play.” That’s where it starts – and that’s where it ends, too.

By Holly Williams

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is running at the Young Vic until 1 April. Find our more about the show and book tickets here.

YV Blind Date – Zoe & Dan 💘 – “Catching sight of my terrible red wine lips in the mirror!”

Zoe and Dan

Zoe on Dan:

What were you hoping for?

An interesting person, a good laugh, and some good theatre.

First impressions?

Positive, felt quite at ease. Neither of us ran away, so that was good.

What did you drink in The Cut Bar and was it a good place for pre-theatre mingling?

We both went for wine, white for me. The Cut is great pre-show – lively, buzzing atmosphere.

What did you talk about before the show?

Mainly acting – we’re both actors, figures!

Any awkward moments?

Selfie-taking was a bit of an ordeal, not big on selfies in any context. Also, probably finding out he has my ex on Snapchat…

Describe him/her in 3 words.

Genuinely nice guy.

What did you think of #YVDream and was it a good date night play?

Definitely the darkest, dirtiest Dream I’ve seen. Good for discussion, probably not for romance.

Did you stay on after the show to discuss?

We did indeed, over a Midsummer-themed cocktail. Got a bit distracted by Ben Whishaw at the bar at one point.

If you could change one thing about the date, what would it be?

Nothing really, had a great time overall.

Rate the date using as many emojis as you like.


Would you meet again? (Romantically/as friends/as theatre companions)

Sure, he made a great theatre buddy.


Dan on Zoe:

What were you hoping for?

Spellbinding theatre and perhaps spellbinding company

First impressions?

She seemed pretty chilled at meeting a random stranger! Also lovely eyes.

What did you drink in The Cut Bar and was it a good place for pre-theatre mingling?

I had a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon and she had a glass of white. There’s a great atmosphere to the place whilst also feeling cozy and intimate, kudos to whoever designed the warm low lighting.

What did you talk about before the show?

As we’re both actors conversation inevitably circled towards that. The difficulties of the Edinburgh fringe. Post- drama school life.

Any awkward moments?

Conversation flowed pretty easy but I did feel embarrassed after catching sight of my terrible red wine lips in the bathroom mirror.

Describe her in 3 words.

Witty, intelligent, composed.

What did you think of #YVDream and was it a good date night play?

I enjoyed the bold choices that were made but it  is a very dark version of the play that doesn’t leave you optimistic about love and romance so maybe not! On the other hand all the mud on stage leaves you feeling a bit dirty so there is that….

Did you stay on after the show to discuss?

Yes, we grabbed a couple of cocktails in the bar upstairs. I’d recommend the Peckham Pelican.

If you could change one thing about the date, what would it be?

Would have chosen white instead of red wine.

Rate the date using as many emojis as you like. 


Would you meet again? (Romantically/as friends/as theatre companions)

She’s the first person I’ve met whose even a more avid theatre goer than me. Would definitely meet again for theatre trips and speculating on how much washing the stage manager has to do.

Zoe and Dan met at The Cut Bar & Restaurant before watching A Midsummer Night’s Dream, running at the Young Vic until 1 April. Find our more about the show here, or let us know if you want us to carry on with #YVBlindDate and would apply yourself:

🌟🌟🌟🌟 “Deviant and dazzlingly imaginative” | A Midsummer Night’s Dream reviews

Director Joe Hill-Gibbins has teamed up with designer Johannes Schütz (Three Sisters) to dive into the subconscious of Shakespeare’s masterpiece, giving us a nightmarish #YVDream that everyone’s talking about.

See what the critics, press night guests and audiences alike have been saying in our round-up below.


John Dagleish and Jemima Rooper as Lysander and Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Photo by Keith Pattison.

“Lust and violence are never far away. Delves into the collective unconscious.”
The Guardian | Read the full review here

“Deviant and dazzlingly imaginative”
The Independent | Read the full review here


“I loved so much about last night. All one wants is for people to speak with their souls present, and to remind us that this language and the contradiction of peoples’ personalities shines across 500 years.”
– Fiona Shaw

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Check out what else audiences have been saying over on our Storify and catch #YVDream while tickets last at Young Vic until 1 April .

What’s your name and where do you come from? 💘 YV Blind Date 💘


An artist’s impression of what love at the Young Vic might look like

“Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind,
And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.”
– A Midsummer Night’s Dream

This Valentine’s Day, we’re playing Cupid. We’re offering 6 lucky contestants the opportunity to be set up on a blind date by the Young Vic’s expert matchmaking services*.

You’ll get a free drink in The Cut Bar while you get to know your one-and-only, and then settle down in the dark together to watch A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

True love might bloom, maybe you’ll have a new theatre companion for life, or maybe you’ll just have a fun night out on us. All we ask of you, is that you take a selfie together, fill in our post-date survey, and let us write it up on the blog.

Applications are now open, and you have until midday 17 Feb to send us the following:

  1. Name
  2. Age
  3. The gender you identify with
  4. The gender you would like to be set up with
  5. An emoji that best describes your personality

To: with the subject line ‘YV Blind Date’.


*Marketing team

11 questions with the cast of A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Aaron Heffernan

Aaron Heffernan joins us in our virtual 11 Questions booth today providing some of the most surprising answers we’ve ever encountered. Aaron plays Francis Flute in upcoming A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which is also his YV debut.

Aaron Heffernan.jpg

Describe your character in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in three emojis?

🚹 ⏭ 🚺

What’s it been like working with Joe Hill-Gibbins?

This is my first time working with big JHG and I think I speak for the whole cast when I say it’s been a terrifyingly totalitarian, spirit-shattering experience. The process is solely based around breaking the acting company down psychologically as individuals and peeling back the layers of physical and mental strength that our life experiences have afforded us to date. So by learning and performing words from an old, old story we are expected to really expose the weak and transparent fallibility of the disgusting stain that is the human soul. Which I honesty feel is going quite well?

Which Dream character would you pick as your Valentine ❤ and why? 

From all the wonderful characters of the Dream narrative I would have to choose Puck as my Valentine if it came to it. And it’s not just because he’s the only other Irish actor in the cast. Not only would he be good craic but on the night, if the date was going sour and I realised I wasn’t into his buzz he could just whip out his magic little flower and squeeze some of its sweet love juice into my cocktail and I’d be head-over-heels with his witty nymphish quips and rough Northern charm in no time. 

What was it that first got you interested in the theatre?

Having been reared by my parents on an eclectic diet of the best music, television and film spanning the last four centuries and amidst the many galaxies of stimulating art forms that cosmically spun trough my mind as a young man, I remember that it was when I was taken to see France’s Footsbarn Theatre Company perform in a tent on a metal frame suspended on Dublin’s River Liffey that initially set my burning hunger for theatre ablaze. I was around 11 or 12 years old and seeing this travelling troupe of virtuosic performers dancing, jamming, acting and puppeteering back & forth and up & down the straw-peppered floors of the big-top circus tent was mind-blowing. Now I co-run a dance-choreographing, music-making, scene-writing and, most of all, puppeteering travelling theatre troupe of my own, expeditions of which include tours in Ireland, Scotland, London, Moscow and New York; and gratitude for which I afford to Footsbarn. It was this consistent artistic excitement that my family and school teachers provided that kept me in the game.

What is your favourite play (seen, read or worked on)?

My favourite play to watch is any one of the many plays I’ve done that have been recorded so I can watch the footage of myself in plays that I’ve been in. As for my favourite play to read, I’d say that would have to be Of Mice & Men by John Steinbeck. It’s a novel, I know, but… I like to read it like a play and imagine the school production I saw in my formative years as a young man looking up to my older, less talented peers. My favourite play to be in is anything Shakespeare or anything with puppets, and my favourite song is Chasin’ Waterfalls by TLC.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream rehearsal 05 © Keith Pattison.jpg(L to R): Joe Hill-Gibbins, Aaron Heffernan & Michaela Barth in rehearsal for A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Photo by Keith Pattison. 


There’s a common conception that hearing about other people’s dreams are boring. Tell us about your least-boring dream. 😴 zzzz

The most exciting, most recent & least boring dream of mine took place last Wednesday and, as ever, saw me firing arrows made from hard pasta at bottles of sausages while riding bareback atop an androgynous centaur. But when I dismount the beast it turns into a melting oil painting of Theresa May.

If you hadn’t become an actor, what job would you be doing now?

In this bizarre upside-down world of backwards ridiculousness that sees me doing something other than this, if I wasn’t acting myself I would be teaching speech, drama and stagecraft to non-humanoid species. The thrill of seeing wild and dangerous animals like dolphins or spiders performing passages from Richard III or All My Sons can be the only logical next step in western entertainment.

Who is your ultimate hero and why?

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is my ultimate hero as his trajectory is a masterclass in relentless hard work and unflinching genre-spanning brand management. I would love to morph into him for a day/year.

If you could have any one supernatural power which would you choose and why?

The superpower of being able to morph into Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson for a day/year.

What are you usually doing 10 minutes before the show begins?

10 minutes before the show I will be most likely looking in the mirror or if there are no mirrors near me then I will be looking in my reflection in the reverse-angle camera of my phone. 

Okay, so this is actually only 10 Questions because Aaron’s dinner party guests answer is lost in the ether, but we’re on the hunt for it so watch this space! In the mean time, check out the A Midsummer Night’s Dream rehearsal pictures, and book your tickets now to see Aaron and the rest of the cast in the Main House 16 Feb – 1 Apr.