Birmingham Repertory Theatre Artistic Director, Roxana Silbert, has today announced the programme for Spring and Summer 2018 which mirrors and examines the stormy age in which we live, across The REP’s three stages.
Roxana Silbert said:
This season we are reflecting the increasingly turbulent times we live in with stories that explore this extraordinary era – James Graham’s This House is a searing look at British politics, Truth by Helen Chadwick and Steven Hoggett, looks at the once simple notion of truth in a messy modern age, The Kite Runner highlights a friendship on the verge of war, and Terrence Rattigan’s masterpiece, The Winslow Boy offers a compelling investigation of the fallout on one family of a very different war in a very different time.
New times call for new ways of presenting stories and I am pleased to welcome back one of Europe’s most exciting directors, Calixto Bieito, with an ambitious new work, The String Quartet’s Guide To Sex and Anxiety, featuring live music from The Heath Quartet.
For this season I’m particularly thrilled to welcome back two playwrights who have been important figures in The REP’s history: Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti’s latest play, Elephant premières in February and playwright, David Edgar, marks his debut as a performer, with the auto-biographical, Trying It On.
- The world première of Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti’s latest play, Elephant.
- Visionary director Calixto Bieito returns to the UK with an ambitious new work, The String Quartet’s Guide To Sex and Anxiety, featuring The Heath Quartet.
- Penguins – a world première play for young audiences about the ever-changing meaning of family.
- The return of The REP’s highly successful production of Noel Coward’s Brief Encounter, originally created with Kneehigh Theatre.
- This House, James Graham’s darkly funny and searing look at British politics embarks on its first UK tour.
- Playwright David Edgar marks his debut as a performer in Trying It On.
- New adaptations of classic books The Kite Runner and Brighton Rock.
SEASON AT A GLANCE:
Adapted and directed by Emma Rice
2 – 17 February 2018. Press night: Tuesday 6 February, 7pm (local press)
The REP’s Spring 2018 season opens with a welcome return of its highly successful co-production with Kneehigh Theatre of Noel Coward’s Brief Encounter. Adapted and directed by Emma Rice, Brief Encounter memorably combines one of the most haunting and romantic love stories ever with the characteristic wit and musicality of Kneehigh Theatre’s work. The production has been ecstatically received by audiences around the world since it premièred at The REP in 2007.
The Winslow Boy
By Terence Rattigan. Directed by Rachel Kavanaugh
21 February – 3 March. Press night: Thursday 22 February, 7pm
A major revival of Terence Rattigan’s classic drama, directed by Olivier Award-winning nominated Rachel Kavanaugh, starring Tessa Peake-Jones and Aden Gillett.
Having been expelled from the Royal Navy College for stealing a five-shilling postal order, young cadet Ronnie Winslow and his entire family are pulled apart by the repercussions of this charge. Set against the values of 1910 Edwardian London, the Winslow family fight to clear his name or face social ostracism as the case becomes a national scandal. Based on a real-life event, The Winslow Boy is a courageous and often delicately humorous window into the class and political hypocrisy of the time.
By Ronald Harwood. Directed by Peter Rowe.
6 – 10 March. Press Night: Tuesday 6 March, 7pm
Quartet is the charming tale of four ageing opera singers. Cecily, Reggie and Wilfred reside in a magnificent retirement home in Kent. The rumour circling the halls is that the home is soon to play host to a new resident. Word is, it’s a star. Jean arrives and old rivalries resurface, secrets are revealed and chaos unfolds, but in true theatrical tradition – the show must go on! The cast includes Paul Nicholas, Wendi Peters, Sue Holderness, and Jeff Rawle.
The Kite Runner
Adapted by Matthew Spangler from the novel by Khaled Hosseini
13 – 24 March. Press Night: Tuesday 13 March, 7pm
Following an outstanding West End Run, this unforgettable theatrical tour de force returns to The REP. Based on Khaled Hosseini’s international bestselling novel, this haunting tale of friendship which spans cultures and continents, follows one man’s journey to confront his past and find redemption.
Afghanistan is a divided country on the verge of war and two childhood friends are about to be torn apart. It’s a beautiful afternoon in Kabul and the skies are full of the excitement and joy of a kite flying tournament. But neither Hassan nor Amir can foresee the terrible incident which will shatter their lives forever.
By Graham Greene
Adapted by Bryony Lavery. Directed by Esther Richardson
10 – 14 April. Press night: Tuesday 10 April, 7pm
As two seventeen year olds, Pinkie and Rose get embroiled in a vicious gang war in Brighton, one brutal murder leads to the next. The police are impassive – but the courageous and life embracing Ida Arnold wants the truth. Nothing scares her. Whatever the cost, she’ll see justice done.
Pilot Theatre and York Theatre Royal bring the dark underworld of Graham Greene’s classic novel Brighton Rock to the stage in this new adaptation by acclaimed writer Bryony Lavery.
By James Graham. Directed by Jeremy Herrin
17 – 21 April. Press Night: Tuesday 17 April, 7pm
Following sell-out runs at the National Theatre and in the West End this extraordinarily prescient play takes on a new importance in the current political climate. Are we in the midst of a political revolution? Can the country stay united?
This House rolls back to 1974. The corridors of Westminster ring with the sound of infighting and back-biting as Britain’s political parties battle to change the future of the nation, whatever it takes. James Graham’s biting, energetic and critically-acclaimed play gives us a timely, moving and often amusing insight into the workings of British politics.
To A Simple Rock ‘N’ Roll Song
Michael Clark Company
The latest work by Michael Clark, acclaimed by audiences and critics alike. This Olivier Award nominated show comprises a triple bill of gorgeously arresting choreography including a reflection on Erik Satie, commanding choreography pulsating with a propulsive force to the punk rock of Patti Smith’s landmark album, Horses and an iridescent tribute to David Bowie.
Hofesh Shechter Company
Internationally celebrated choreographer Hofesh Shechter’s latest work is a spectacularly bold and ambitious new piece featuring 10 dancers and six musicians.
Grand Finale is at once comic, bleak and beautiful, evoking a world at odds with itself, full of anarchic energy and violent comedy. Filtering this irrepressible spirit, Shechter creates a vision of a world in freefall: part gig, part dance, part theatre and wholly original.
The String Quartet’s Guide To Sex and Anxiety
Created and directed by Calixto Bieito
12 – 19 May. Press Night: Tuesday 15 May, 7pm
The tempestuous relationship between anxiety, sex and music comes to a head in the remarkable new production from one of Europe’s most exciting theatre directors, Calixto Bieito.
Music and drama collide as the award-winning string powerhouse The Heath Quartet performs alongside an equally stunning quartet of actors to deliver an unmissable montage of melody and madness.
Co-produced in association with Brighton Festival and The Holland Festival, the show will have its world première at The REP before touring to Brighton, Amsterdam, Luxembourg and Bilbao.
Our Country’s Good
By Timberlake Wertenbaker. Directed by Fiona Buffini.
23 May – 2 June. Press Night: Thursday 24 May, 7pm
In 1787, ships with over 700 convicts on board set sail on an eight month voyage. When they arrive in Australia, their survival is by no means certain: supplies are running out, the convicts are stealing food or trying to escape and the guards are threatening mutiny. Our Country’s Good tells the extraordinary true story of a group of convicts and a young officer who rehearse and perform a play – Australia’s first theatrical production. With opposition from the officers and a leading lady who may be hanged, the odds are stacked against them.
Our Country’s Good is a fully accessible show, co-produced with Ramps on the Moon, and features the creative use of audio description, captioning and British Sign Language interpretation.
Ahir Shah: Control
Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee for Best Show, Ahir Shah explores the current global socio-political turmoil in a show about freedom, fascism, history, hope, and resistance.
Barbara Nice’s Raffle
A special evening of chance and luck with housewife and superstar Mrs Barbara Nice – ‘queen of fun’ and star of BBC Radio 2 sitcom, Barbara Nice.
Nina – A Story About Me And Nina Simone
Devised by Dritëro Kasapi & Josette Bushell-Mingo
6 – 10 March. Press Night: Wednesday 7 March, 7.45pm
Backed by a brilliant band, Olivier Award-nominated actress Josette Bushell-Mingo (Disney’s The Lion King) mixes story and song as she draws together tales from the life of Nina Simone and her own extraordinary career; touching upon the 1960’s civil rights movement, and drawing into parallel the struggles of the civil rights movement today.
Nina Simone was one of the most extraordinary artists of the twentieth century. She was the consummate musical storyteller who used her remarkable talent to create a legacy of liberation, empowerment, and love through a magnificent body of work.
Up ’N’ Under
By John Godber
12 – 14 March. Press Night: Mon 12 March, 7.45pm
The Wheatsheaf Arms rugby team – the laughing stock of Castleford’s Amateur Rugby League Seven-a-Side tournament, have never won a game, don’t have seven players and spend more time in the pub than on the pitch. With just five weeks to go, our hero coach Arthur has to convince them they can beat the mighty Cobbler’s Arms, but first he has to work out how to communicate with them.
John Godber’s award-winning comedy, Up ’n’ Under, is presented by Fingersmiths with a cast of Deaf and hearing actors using British Sign Language and spoken English to delight all audiences.
By Dennis Kelly. Directed by Tom Saunders
27 March – 7 April. Press Night: Thursday 29 March
We all have our secrets. That something from our past that we aren’t proud of. Mark, Jan, Leah, Phil, John, Cathy, Richard, Brian, Danny and Lou have a shared secret and their ‘something’ is significantly more troubling than yours.
They are fairly sure that Adam was in on the joke. That he was laughing along with them. That what happened to him wasn’t really their fault. Should they cover it up? It might be better for everyone if they did.
Dennis Kelly’s play is an explosive look at youth mentality performed by The Young REP.
The Death Show
Created and performed by Antonia Beck and Lucy Nicholls. Directed by Bernadette Russell
26 – 27 January
Death. A bit grim, isn’t it. Morbid, macabre and even unmentionable, but does it have to be that way? Drawn together by their shared fear of death, ‘thanatophobes’ Lucy Nicholls and Antonia Beck invite you to embark on a journey of discovery, contemplation and courage. Take time to celebrate your own mortality, laugh, cry, stick two fingers up at the grim reaper and discover why talking about death is ultimately life affirming.
Directed by Paul Bosco McEneaney with choreographer Carlos Pons Guerra.
1 – 10 February. Press performance: TBC
Roy and Silo are two male Chinstrap penguins. Just like the other penguin pairs at Central Park Zoo, they walk, play, swim and dance together. When the duo decide to try and hatch a rock in place of an egg, they find themselves on an adventure that could mean raising a chick for real.
Penguins is a unique and engaging show for children about friendship, fun, identity and the ever-changing meaning of family. This delightful new theatre and dance production is inspired by a true story reported in the New York Times that touched hearts worldwide. Following its world première at The REP the show will tour Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
By Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti.
15 February – 4 March. Press Night: Tuesday 20 February, 7pm
The world première of Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti’s latest play. Vira hasn’t seen her sister Deesh for years. Deesh’s kids, Amy and Bill, want to know why but nobody’s telling them anything.
When Deesh invites her sister to Amy’s flashy party, Vira reckons it’s time to come home and move on. Time to stop watching the telly, get out of her council flat, stick on a glitzy sari and embrace her flesh and blood.But is it possible to forgive and forget? And when a family is built on lies, will it be destroyed by the truth?
Elephant sees the highly anticipated return of Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti’s work to The REP following Besharam (Shameless), Behzti (Dishonour) and Khandan (Family).
A comic alternative history by Told by an Idiot
Based on the novel The Death of Napoleon by Simon Leys
15 – 17 March. Press Night: Thursday 15 March, 8pm
What if Napoleon didn’t die in exile? What if he swapped identities with a lowly sailor and made it back to Paris? What then?
Using their trademark comic physicality, Told by an Idiot creates this poignantly moving and wryly humorous re-imagining of the final years of Napoleon Bonaparte. An irreverent and hugely playful show about what it is to lose immense power but gain personal freedom; to transition from one identity to another, and to lose public face. Paul Hunter will take the role of Napoleon under the direction of award-winning actor and director Kathryn Hunter.
By Paddy Campbell. Directed by Amy Golding
11 – 14 April. Press Night: Wed 11 April, 8pm
Leaving home for the first time is a step into the dark. If you’re leaving the care system, the reality hits even harder.
Leaving, presented by Curious Monkey and Northern Stage, tells the real stories of care leavers and their experiences at the pivotal moment when they leave care. It also gives voice to those working within the system from staff in children’s homes to MPs and policy makers. Using the young people’s own words, this production brings these real voices to the stage and creates an immediate, immersive experience that will change the way you think about young people in care and beyond.
By Breach Theatre
2 – 5 May. Press Night: Wed 2 May, 8pm
Breach investigates rehearsals for the future – taking a theatrical look at safety drills and emergency response training. Mashing up documentary film and devised theatre, The Drill examines what today’s disaster education says about our anxieties around security and terrorism.
From workshops in workplaces to large-scale scenarios using actors, fake wounds and explosives, what kinds of futures are we being encouraged to imagine and prepare for? And how do these “rehearsals” bleed into our off-stage lives?
By Sukh Ojla
8 – 12 May. Press Night: Tue 8 May, 8pm
Polly has a reliable husband, two bright children, a well-paid job at the council and detached house with a double garage. She’s got it all. She may not be living the life she dreamed of back when she was a teenager, but who does?
Bali is a successful businessman. Loving his jet set lifestyle he swore he’d never return to the small town he grew up in. So why is he back? Is it too late for second chances? And is love, actually, all you need? Presented by Rifco Studio and Watford Palace Theatre.
By Helen Chadwick Song Theatre.
17 – 19 May
Truth is a unique and dazzling new show that looks at the once-simple notion of truth in a messy modern age.
Helen Chadwick and Steven Hoggett have created a spellbinding fusion of song and choreography using testimonies collected from all over the world – some brutal, some hilarious. All are presented in a fresh and exhilarating style that truly pushes the idea of what theatre could be.
Written and performed by Polarbear
23 – 26 May. Press Night: Wed 23 May, 8pm
What happens when you take a risk? How wrong can it go? A new storytelling performance from Polarbear about how the decisions we’re scared to make can come back to haunt us. And maybe even hunt us.
Dark Corners follows a 13 year-old Polarbear over 24 fateful hours when he takes a risk that leads to a showdown with his future selves. Polarbear, aka Steven Camden, is one of the UK’s most respected spoken word artists and returns to The REP following the première of his latest acclaimed play, I Knew You.
Trying It On
Written and performed by David Edgar. Directed by Christopher Haydon
12 – 13 June
It’s 1968. David is 20 and in his second year at University. It is the height of the world-wide student revolt. The Vietnam war rages. Powell delivers his “rivers of blood” speech. Martin Luther King is assassinated. These events will define David’s politics and give focus to his writing.
It’s 50 years on. The 70-year-old is confronted by the 20-year-old. Do they share the same beliefs? If not, is it the world that’s changed, or him? Why did his generation vote Brexit? Has he sold in or sold out?
David Edgar’s plays have been presented by The REP, the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company. After 50 years of writing, Trying It On marks David’s debut as a performer.
Tickets on sale to members now. General booking opens on 18 October.
Box Office: 0121 236 4455. Online Booking: birmingham-rep.co.uk