Hot on the heels of its hugely successful reopening, which has seen over 35,000 tickets sold and 170,000 people visiting the newly refurbished theatre in the first month of opening, Birmingham Repertory Theatre has announced its plans for 2014.
Highlights from January to June 2014 include: the return of writer Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti with the premiere of her latest play, Khandan; the premiere of Birmingham-born Rachel De-lahay’s Circles; David Essex’s return to his acting roots for the European premiere of The Dishwashers; a major Brecht celebration curated by Mark Ravenhill and centred around Roxana Silbert’s critically acclaimed production of A Life of Galileo starring Ian McDiarmid, plus a new staging of The Threepenny Opera; Never Try This At Home, a new collaboration with Told By An Idiot, which pays homage to Saturday morning TV; and a revival of Bryony Lavery’s award-winning 1998 play for The REP, Frozen.
Roxana Silbert, Artistic Director of Birmingham Repertory Theatre says of the new season: “The REP has had an amazing 2013: we’ve celebrated our centenary as well as our re-opening alongside the Library of Birmingham. And we had an incredible 170,000 visitors to the building in the month of opening alone.
“But there’s no time for us to sit on our laurels, so I’m announcing our exciting new programme for the first half of 2014. Next year I’m commissioning work from new writers as well as existing major talent. I want to use our beautifully refurbished theatre to its full potential, to have it bursting with exciting work, people, exhibitions and to entice new audiences and thrill regular visitors.”
Opening the season in the main auditorium will be the European premiere of The Dishwashers by Canadian playwright Morris Panych (31 January – 15 February), a delicious play about the Zen of dishwashing directed by Nikolai Foster which will tour the UK following its opening in Birmingham.
A major celebration of the great German poet and playwright, Bertolt Brecht will explore his work and influence with a programme, curated by Mark Ravenhill, across all spaces of the theatre. At the centre of this celebration will be a revival of Roxana Silbert’s critically acclaimed 2013 RSC production of A Life of Galileo adapted by Mark Ravenhill and starring Ian McDiarmid (28 Feb – 4 March). This too will tour the UK after its opening in Birmingham.
Brecht’s The Threepenny Opera (27 March – 12 April) also comes to the main stage in an anarchic new version. A motley cast of characters will reinvent this classic with live music played on stage by the actors themselves. All performances will include live audio description and a creative combination of BSL interpretation and captioning plus an integrated cast of disabled and non-disabled performers. This innovative production will be presented by The REP in partnership with Graeae Theatre and three of the country’s leading regional theatres – Nottingham Playhouse, New Wolsey Ipswich and West Yorkshire Playhouse.
The first production in the new Studio will be a revival of Bryony Lavery’s Frozen (6 – 15 February) co-produced with the Fingersmiths Ltd – a company who are committed to bringing modern classics to deaf and non-deaf audiences. First performed in 1998 at Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Frozen won the TMA Best New Play Award and was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play.
A new collaboration with Told By An Idiot, Never Try This At Home (27 Feb – 15 March) by Carl Grose is a homage to Saturday morning TV. Inspired by legendary Saturday morning shows such as Tiswas and Going Live, Never Try This At Home re-unites the remaining survivors of an infamous TV show, Shushi, and throws the spotlight on those presenters who are soon to realise the insidious side to fame. Following its run in Birmingham, the show will do a short UK tour before transferring to London’s Soho Theatre.
Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti makes a welcome return to The REP with Khandan (Family) (22 May – 7 June) – a bold, warm and extremely funny tale of contemporary extended family life. Khandan is co-produced with the Royal Court Theatre where it will run for three weeks immediately after its premiere in Birmingham.
The world premiere of Rachel De-lahay’s Circles takes place in The Door (9 – 24 May). One of the most exciting young writers working in Britain today, Birmingham-born Rachel De-lahay’s vivid and powerful new play set on Birmingham’s number 11 outer circle bus boldly explores cycles of violence and what it takes to break them.
Tickets for The REP’s Spring and Summer 2014 Season go on sale to members on Tuesday 22 October at 10am and to the general public on Friday 25 October at 10am. Box Office: 0121 236 4455 Online booking: birmingham-rep.co.uk