Birmingham Repertory Theatre is also affectionately known as ‘Birmingham Rep’ or ‘The REP’.
The theatre is a producing theatre situated on Centenary Square. Often cited as one of the most consistently innovative and longest-established of Britain’s building-based theatre companies The REP is always pushing the boundaries with colourful and exciting shows.
The REP benefits from three onsite auditoria with a wide range of drama performed – The HOUSE with 825 seats, The STUDIO with 300 seats and The DOOR with 140 seats. There is a wealth of drama to choose from, classic dramas to brand new work, from dance shows to comedies, each season brings new material and reworks of old classics to the heart of Birmingham.
The REP’s mission has always been to produce excellent theatrical experiences, to entertain, enlighten and engage audiences and, wherever possible, to reflect the diversity of Birmingham and the surrounding region. This supports their vision, which is to ‘Inspire the city of Birmingham to a lifelong love of theatre’.
Making theatre from scratch remains at the heart of the theatre’s work. Birmingham and the Black Country have historically been known as the workshop of the world. They are now celebrated as great cultural workshops too. Birmingham City Council vision has put cultural ingenuity at the centre of regeneration and The REP is a force at the heart of that vision.
The REP also has a rather cool little bar & restaurant named Marmalade which caters for re-theatre guests and the general public.
Born into a wealthy merchant grocer’s family in 1879, Barry Jackson founded the amateur Pilgrim Players in 1907 and went on to build an elegant 464-seat Repertory Theatre in Station Street in 1913, now known as The Old Rep.
The theatre rapidly became home to one of most famous and exciting repertory theatre companies in the country, reinventing the idea of Shakespeare in modern dress, presenting many world premieres (including George Bernard Shaw’s epic Back to Methuselah in 1923) and launching the careers of an array of great British actors, including Ralph Richardson, Edith Evans and Laurence Olivier.
Knighted in 1925, Sir Barry founded the Malvern Theatre Festival in 1929 and was Director of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford in the late 40s. At Birmingham, Sir Barry continued to discover and promote great actors at the Station Street theatre including Paul Scofield, Derek Jacobi, Elizabeth Spriggs and Albert Finney. He toured plays to the city’s parks, established a theatre school and made Birmingham Repertory Theatre one of the most renowned theatres in the world.
In 1971 the company moved to Broad Street to a newly built theatre with a stage of epic proportions and a democratic auditorium with no balconies, pillars or boxes. Everyone shares the same space and everyone gets a great view. New generations of artists have launched their careers here and new ideas continue to flourish reflecting changes in the city and the world.
From 2011 to 2013, the theatre underwent redevelopment as part of the Library of Birmingham project. The company moved back to their improved home, following two years presenting shows in other theatres and site-specific spaces across the city, ready for the grand re-opening on 3 September 2013.
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