REP reveals details of 100th season in Birmingham
Birmingham REP’s new artistic director Roxana Silbert has announced details of the company’s 100th birthday season which starts next February.
She has also outlined her plans for the REP’s future when it moves back to its newly developed theatre alongside the Library of Birmingham next September.
The 100th birthday season will take place at the original home of the company, the Old Rep Theatre in Station Street.
There will be two new commissions and a programme of talks, exhibitions, tours and activity days celebrating the company’s heritage.
Paying homage to its founder Sir Barry Jackson and the many great actors, directors and writers who worked at the Old Rep, Roxana Silbert said, “The Old Rep is where it all began and it’s fitting that we celebrate this landmark anniversary there.
“Sir Barry Jackson was a remarkable man who gave rise to burgeoning talent, championed new plays, was groundbreaking and brave with his artistic vision and put Birmingham firmly on the theatrical map. I’m hugely excited to be leading his company into a new era.”
The birthday season opens with the world premiere of Philip Pullman’s fantastical tale, I Was A Rat! from 12 February until 2 March.
It will be co-produced with Nottingham Playhouse, Ipswich New Wolsey Theatre and Teatro Kismet from Bari, Italy.
Adapted and directed by Teresa Ludovico, this “moving and darkly comic” tale is brought to life on the professional stage for the first time.
The English version of Teresa Ludovico’s adaptation is by David Watson, the writer whose first play was written for the REP’s Transmissions programme when he was a teenager.
Music for the show is composed by Frank Moon and recorded by Birmingham Balkan gypsy folk band the Destroyers.
After its premiere in Birmingham, I Was A Rat! will go on tour to Nottingham, Ipswich, Liverpool, Salford, Exeter, Truro and Bury St Edmunds. It will go to France and Italy next year.
Heather Gardner (14 to 28 March) is Birmingham writer Robin French’s fresh take on Ibsen’s classic Hedda Gabler which will be set in 1960s Edgbaston.
The weekend of 23 and 24 March will be devoted to a series of talks and discussions on Sir Barry Jackson's achievements and influence on the development of British theatre.
Topics to be covered include his ground-breaking productions of Shakespeare in modern dress in the 1930s, the theatre's championing of women performers and writers, and Sir Barry's pivotal role in setting up both the Malvern Festival and the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Roxana Silbert will also be looking to the future by focusing on new talent. REP Foundry will invest and support emerging local directors, writers, artists and companies by offering them a year-long development and mentoring programme aimed at bringing new stories, new voices and new vision to the stage.
She said, “Making theatre from scratch remains at the heart of the REP's work.
“Birmingham and the Black Country have historically been known as the workshop of the world and they are now celebrated as great cultural workshops too.
“I want to develop a hub of creativity and excellence, nurturing local talent and building partnerships at home, throughout the UK and overseas to create world-class theatre made in Birmingham."
Actors David Suchet, Josie Lawrence, Mark Williams and Dame Janet Suzman, all of whom have either worked at or who have a close relationship with the REP, have become patrons, giving their support and helping to promote the centenary celebrations.