A brief history of the historic Birmingham Repertory Theatre including its beginnings, key personnel and the theatre today ensues. The article will cover why the theatre was built, its role in the wider theatrical community and some of the many projects and performances it has played host to over the years.
In 1913, a wealthy merchant's son, Barry Jackson built the 464-seat Birmingham Repertory Theatre as a home for his production company the Pilgrim Players. Known today as 'The Old Rep", the theatre rapidly became one of the world's most popular venues for repertory theatre (a style of theatre little used today in which a resident company stages works from a particular repertoire, using a schedule of rotation). Birmingham's Old Rep staged many modern adaptions of Shakespeare, housed countless world premieres and launched the careers of actors including Derek Jacobi and the great Sir Laurence Olivier.
Over the years
Old Rep founder, Sir Barry Jackson was knighted in 1925 and ten years later, he founded a trust to run the theatre. When Jackson died in 1981, the Sir Barry Jackson Trust became a theatre charity, funding tours by the Rep to schools and other community locations. Community involvement Community involvement is still a large part of the theatre's mission today, aiming to make the theatre accessible to a diverse range of citizens in Birmingham and the West Midlands through projects such as its Learning and Participation scheme, community engagements and summer schools. In 1971, the Birmingham Repertory Theatre moved from its original site in Station St to what is now a state of the art venue in Broad St, Birmingham. Following this move, the Rep developed a new studio theatre, now known as the 'Door' dedicated to the performance of new plays.
The Old Rep today
The Old Rep remains one of the most important theatre venues in Britain. Today, the theatre is home to several amateur theatre groups as well as The Birmingham Stage Company: A theatrical troupe producing shows for children, adults and families.
Performances Audiences are treated to a diverse range of performances at The Rep, ranging from classics such as The Secret Garden, A Christmas Carol and The Importance of Being Earnest to groundbreaking new works from emerging playwrights. The Rep also offers a range of free events such as post-show discussions with cast members, play readings, pre-show discussions and youth theatre performances.