Following the celebratory reopening of Birmingham Rep this autumn with critically acclaimed productions of East is East, the brand-new musical What’s New Pussycat? and the presentation of Grenfell: Value Engineering, Artistic Director Sean Foley announces a new collection of work to follow his own production of the classic comedy The Play What I Wrote.
Featuring six world premieres, the season continues Foley’s aim of bringing artistically ambitious popular theatre to the Rep and Birmingham: The programme includes brand new musicals and new writing that explores issues of class and race, reinventions of classics, and combines work from established and new talent alike.
Representing the diversity of people and artistic form in UK theatre, the season also marks a clear determination to put artists and talent development at the heart of the Rep’s work.
Foley said: “Re-opening The Rep after such a long close-down has been an exhilarating, somewhat hair-raising, and occasionally genuinely electrifying experience. Welcoming audiences back, and re-starting work with great artists, has had an extraordinary rejuvenating effect: it is the life-blood of any theatre, and everyone working at The Rep has been thrilled by the response to our productions.
“We are so grateful that our 25th Anniversary production of East is East went on to re-open the NT’s Lyttleton, and that What’s New Pussycat? has been such a huge hit with audiences. Now, we continue to toast The Rep’s 50th Anniversary in its Centenary Square home with new shows that innovate, investigate and celebrate.
“I am particularly thrilled that Birmingham artists are well represented throughout the season, and that Madeleine Kludje will be directing her first show as Associate Director for The Rep. For over 100 years The Rep has been the home of the new in UK theatre, and we are as excited as ever to invite audiences to the original ‘you had to be there’ experience of live theatre.”
The Park Bench Plays on SKY - SKY Arts Transmission Date from 2 December 2021
Brainchild of The Rep's Artistic Director Sean Foley, this series of brand-new commissions brought together the work of some of UK theatre's biggest writing talents and comedians alongside emerging playwrights to create a suite of new plays that reflected our socially distanced times.
The ten-minute-long plays were written to be performed in pop-up locations throughout Birmingham - at bus stations, community centres, parks, public squares, foyers and train stations – surprising and delighting commuters, shoppers, residents and others going about their daily business in the city. A number of the plays have now been filmed and will be shown on Sky Arts from 2 December 2021.
Wider Still and Wider by David Edgar, directed by The Rep Associate Director, Madeleine Kludje
● Alisha Bailey as Vicks
● Oliver Cotton as Peter
Patties and Pakoras by Tanika Gupta, directed by The Rep Artistic Director, Sean Foley
● Mina Anwar as Sunita
● Delroy Brown as Sebastian
Lovely, Loving, Loved by Bryony Lavery, directed by The Rep Artistic Associate, Danny Alexander
● Carolyn Lyster as Annie
● Marsha Millar as Bernice
Lockdown Riddim by Robin French, directed by The Rep Associate Director, Madeleine Kludje
● Liam Jeavons as Terry
● Elexi Walker as Janelle
Mrs Williams and Mrs Nice by Janice Connolly, directed by The Rep Associate Director, Madeleine Kludje
● Janice Connolly as Mrs Barbara Nice
● Lorna Laidlaw as Mrs Williams
Birmingham Rep and The Children’s Theatre Partnership presents
By George Orwell
Adapted and directed by Robert Icke
The House (22 January - 5 February 2022)
The animals of Manor Farm drive out the farmer to rule the farm themselves. A revolution. And then what – freedom? All animals to be free. All animals to be equal. But some are more equal than others.
Old Major, the prize boar, calls the animals of Manor Farm together. He has a strange dream of a better, brighter future. How will the animals fare as his vision unfolds?
George Orwell’s world-famous fable tells the story of a revolution and its aftermath. The timeless story has been re-imagined by an award-winning creative team in a bold, imaginative and contemporary new production which is accessible to all.
Animal Farm is directed by Robert Icke, whose version of 1984 (co-adapted and directed with Duncan Macmillan) was a smash-hit in the West End and on Broadway. This production features puppetry designed and directed by Toby Olie (whose credits include War Horse) and stage design by four-time Olivier award-winner Bunny Christie.
Tickets for Animal Farm are on sale now.
Birmingham Rep presents
The Covid-19 Variations: A Piano Drama
By Richard Thomas and Alison Jackson
Directed by Sean Foley
The House (8 - 9 February 2022)
A powerful and entertaining take on the last 18 months, The Covid-19 Variations: A Piano Drama is a unique and outrageously funny film and concert in one. Starring everyone from Donald Trump and Stormzy, to Duran Duran and the Royal Family – because everyone has lived through Covid – the film/concert is a World Premiere.
Olivier Award-winning Richard Thomas composed The Covid-19 Variations after having Covid twice. Inspired by his music, BAFTA-winning artist Alison Jackson has created 19 short films for each of the Covid-19 Variations, drawn from her world of fake news, alternative facts, and celebrity lookalikes, and commemorating life in the time of Covid. A Gershwin-esque 23 minute musical riff on our changed world, the music is performed live by world-renowned Birmingham-born pianist Philip Edward Fisher.
Tickets for The Covid Variations are on sale now.
BE FESTIVAL (11-19 February)
The Rep is delighted to be partnering with BE FESTIVAL once again to present this special winter programme. It features work from Switzerland, the UK, Ireland, Germany, Spain and Belgium. Stretching the boundaries of what theatre can be and dealing with a wide range of important contemporary issues, the full programme details will be announced on www.birmingham-rep.co.uk.
Birmingham Rep, Floella Benjamin, Keith Taylor and Nicoll Entertainment present
Coming to England - A musical journey for families of all ages. From the book by Floella Benjamin. Adapted by David Wood, The House is from 19 February - 6 March 2022.
Adaptor: David Wood
Director and Choreographer: Omar Okai
Creative Consultant: Tyrone Huggins (Associate Artist of Birmingham Repertory Theatre)
Set and Lighting Designer: Bretta Gerecke
Sound Designer: Annie May Fletcher
Casting Director: Annelie Powell
Associate Producer: Keith Taylor
Floella Benjamin is delighted to announce the creative team for this world premiere production. Long term collaborator David Wood (The Gingerbread Man, The Papertown Paperchase) joins director and choreographer Omar Okai (Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Ruthless!), The Rep Associate Artist Tyrone Huggins (I Was A Rat!, Of Mice & Men, Perpetua, Season’s Greetings), and design team Bretta Gerecke (East is East, Tartuffe for the RSC, Cirque du Soleil) and Annie May Fletcher (If You Love Me This Might Hurt, Endurance) and casting director Annelie Powell (What’s New Pussycat?), to bring Benjamin’s story to life in this brand new musical.
10-year-old Floella is strong and brave. When her parents leave Trinidad for England her young life is turned upside down when she’s placed with a cruel foster ‘auntie’. Eventually sailing to join her parents, Floella’s excitement for her new life in England is short-lived, with the family subjected to racism and intolerance in 1960s’ London. Guided by her inspirational mother, and working twice as hard as her classmates, young Floella strives to overcome adversity and learns to love and accept herself.
Bursting onto the stage with music, storytelling, humour and pathos, this world premiere production brings Floella Benjamin’s award-winning and iconic book Coming to England to vivid life on stage.
Adapted by David Wood, ‘the national children’s dramatist’ (The Times), this thoughtful stage version of Floella’s inspirational true story follows her difficult and courageous journey towards becoming a TV icon, successful business woman and eventually Baroness Benjamin of Beckenham.
Floella Benjamin said: “I am absolutely thrilled that the musical production of my book 'Coming to England’ which has been adapted by the fantastic award-winning playwright David Wood, will have its world premiere at The Rep early next year.
“I cannot wait to see the story about my experiences arriving in the UK come to life on the stage in front of audiences of all ages. What a wonderful way for a new generation of people to get to know this Windrush story.” Tickets for Coming to England are on sale now.
Birmingham Rep presents GrimeBoy, written by Casey Bailey and directed by Madeleine Kludje (14 - 30 April 2022). The first full theatre production from award-winning poet and performer, Casey Bailey, who said: “Everybody has dreams, and my dream has always been easy to say, and nearly impossible to achieve.
“I want to be the biggest Grime MC in the country. I know what it takes: shell down raves, spin the opposition and never take my foot off the pedal.
“Every environment is more moody than the last, but every opportunity to shine has to be taken. I’m built for this, but there’s always more in this life. What happens when your biggest rival becomes your best friend? How do you prepare for a battle that doesn’t involve the mic and the decks?”
The unmissable new play from the Birmingham Poet Laureate. Directed by The Rep’s Associate Director Madeleine Kludje with set design by Ebrahim Nazier.
Casey Bailey is a writer, performer and educator, born and raised in Nechells, Birmingham, UK. Casey is the Birmingham Poet Laureate 2020 - 2022 and the Greater Birmingham Future Face of Arts and Culture 2020.
Casey’s second full poetry collection Please Do Not Touch was published by Burning Eye in 2021. Casey’s debut play ‘GrimeBoy’ was commissioned by the The Rep in 2020. He was commissioned by the BBC to write ‘The Ballad of The Peaky Blinders’ in 2019. In 2020 the poem was internationally recognised, winning a Webby Award. Casey has performed his poetry nationally, and internationally.
Casey was named as one of ‘Birmingham Live’s’, Birmingham ’30 under 30’ of 2018, Casey is a Fellow of the University of Worcester and in 2021 was awarded an honorary doctorate by Newman University.
Madeleine Kludje is currently the associate director at The Rep and is an alumni of The Regional Theatre Young Directors Scheme. Past work as Director and Dramaturg includes; City of 1000 Trades (Birmingham Royal Ballet and The Rep) Swim, Aunty Swim R&D by Siana Bangura (English Touring Theatre) and Brummie Iliad (The Rep).
Tickets for GrimeBoy are on sale to members from Tuesday 30 November at 12pm and are then on general sale from Saturday 4 December.
A Birmingham Rep and Nick of Time co-production The World Premiere of
Playboy of the West Indies – The Musical - The House (10 June - 2 July 2022).
“Mayaro village, Capital of de West Indies
Right here you will meet we young folks,
Good lookin bright, wit plenty dreams
But der fadders know not to let dem go ”
It’s 1952 – Peggy runs a small bar in the sleepy village of Mayaro. Mikey, her father, is about to set out, well-soused on rum, for a wake with his fisherman friends. It is the eve of Trinidad’s Discovery Day celebrations, and the villagers are looking forward to tomorrow’s Calypso competition on the beach.
Out of the darkness a mysterious stranger stumbles into the rum shop. With a voice like honey - tantalising the girls - he tells a terrible story. As he weaves his magic spell on Peggy, her forthcoming nuptials to Stanley are thrown into doubt, and the village is in uproar.
While the women vie for this stranger’s attention, the men plot his downfall. Will the “Playboy” win the Calypso competition or will events conspire to unmask his wild tales of derring-do?
Based on the Irish Classic, The Playboy of the Western World, Mustapha Matura’s hilarious reinvention Playboy of the West Indies has been delighting audiences and critics alike world-wide for over 35 years.
And now bursting with songs this classic play has been transformed into a glorious NEW Musical: a toe-tapping, finger-snapping score with romantic ballads all firmly rooted in the Caribbean by Clement Ishmael (Five Guys Named Moe, Aint’ Misbehaving and The Lion King), Nicolas Kent (Grenfell Value Engineering, Ain’t Misbehavin, Colour of Justice and Tricycle Theatre), Dominique Le Gendre (Royal Opera House, Shakespeare Globe Theatre and Talawa Theatre Company) and Mustapha Matura.
This new Musical was workshopped at the National Theatre studio in 2018.
Tickets for The Playboy of the West Indies are on sale to members from Tuesday 30 November at 12pm and are then on general sale from Saturday 4 December.
A Birmingham Rep, Northern Stage, Leeds Playhouse and Soho Theatre co-production in association with HOME Manchester: The White Card - Written by Claudia Rankine and directed by Natalie Ibu (The Studio - 7-18 June 2022).
The UK and European premiere of Claudia Rankine's first published play, The White Card poses the question: can society progress when whiteness remains invisible?
Written in 2019 during an increasingly racially divided America and before the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests rippled across the globe, a wealthy, privileged white couple invite a talented Black artist to dinner. Tensions run high and a heated debate uncovers some uncomfortable truths that can’t be ignored about white privilege, cultural appropriation and representation.
Claudia Rankine said: “I am honoured that the incredible Natalie Ibu will direct The White Card. It is a relief to know that both the said and the unsaid in the play will be in such capable hands.”
Natalie Ibu said: “Claudia Rankine is an amazing thinker and writer and, as a Black woman, she has given me a language for my own experiences. The White Card is a really courageous and clever debate/play about the privilege of whiteness and the consuming of black trauma as art.” Be an ally, be in the room, be in the conversation. The White Card invites us all to play our part in the debate.
Tickets for The White Card are on sale to members from Tuesday 30 November at 12pm and are then on general sale from Saturday 4 December.
Bugsy Malone - Birmingham Rep, Theatre Royal Bath Productions and Kenny Wax present The Lyric Hammersmith Theatre production
Alan Parker’s Bugsy Malone - A Modern Musical Classic
Play by Alan Parker, Words and Music by Paul Williams - The House - 27 July - 14 August 2022
Birmingham Rep, Theatre Royal Bath Productions and Kenny Wax present a brand-new production of Lyric Hammersmith Theatre’s universally acclaimed revival of BUGSY MALONE.
Alan Parker’s world famous musical, based on his hit movie, will open at Theatre Royal Bath from 2 July 2022, followed by The Rep, before further venues to be announced. Directed by Sean Holmes and Choreographed by The Rep Artistic Associate Drew McOnie, this new production will be casting a young company of 39 actors (including 3 teams of 7 kids) to tour the U.K. from next summer.
Packed with instantly recognisable songs from Oscar-winner Paul Williams including My Name is Tallulah, You Give A Little Love and Fat Sam’s Grand Slam, BUGSY MALONE is a masterclass of musical comedy with one of the most joyously uplifting finales in musical theatre.
Prohibition era, New York. A city full of mobsters, showgirl and dreamers. Rival gangster bosses Fat Sam and Dandy Dan are at loggerheads. The custard pies are flying and Dandy Dan's gang has gotten the upper hand since obtaining the new-fangled "splurge" gun. Now, Fat Sam and his bumbling buffoons are in real trouble!
Enter Bugsy Malone, a penniless one-time boxer and all-round nice guy, thrust not-so-willingly into the gangster limelight when he becomes the last resort for Fat Sam's hapless hoodlums. All Bugsy really wants to do is spend time with his new love, Blousey, but that just isn't in the cards for our hero.
Will Bugsy be able to resist seductive songstress Tallulah, Fat Sam’s moll and Bugsy’s old flame, and stay out of trouble long enough to help Fat Sam to defend his business…?
Alan Parker’s world-famous movie, which launched the careers of Jodie Foster and Scott Baio, becomes an unforgettable theatrical experience.
Birmingham Rep, Theatre Royal Bath Productions and Kenny Wax present the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre production of BUGSY MALONE. Play by Alan Parker and Words and Music by Paul Williams. This acclaimed production is Directed by Sean Holmes, Choreographed by Drew McOnie and Designed by Jon Bausor. Musical Director Phil Bateman.
Tickets for Bugsy Malone are on sale to members from Tuesday 30 November at 12pm and are then on general sale from Saturday 4 December.
Sky Comedy Rep - The Studio (3 - 5 March 2022)
This inaugural short comedy play festival is the culmination of our new comedy writing talent development scheme with SKY STUDIOS. Headed by REP Artistic director, Sean Foley, and SKY Creative Director of Comedy, Anil Gupta, this new yearly bursary and mentorship scheme gives 9 early-career comedy writers the opportunity to have their ideas and scripts developed in collaboration with the finest talents in the industry.
The 3-day festival will see their scripts produced and performed in The Studio at The Rep by a specially cast ‘repertory company’ of comic actors. Directed by The Rep’s own in-house directors - Sean Foley, Madeleine Kludje and Iqbal Khan - the festival will also have masterclasses, talks and special events led by comedy heroes from across the industry.
Birmingham’s own Dame Julie Walters is the Patron of Sky Comedy Rep.
The 9 new plays are:
SET A - on 3 March 7.45pm, and 5 March 3.45pm
Hatch by Rob Carter, mentored by Daniel Lawrence Taylor, directed by Sean Foley
Mismatch by Ashfaq Gorsi, mentored by Guz Khan, directed by Iqbal Khan
Confucius Say Don't Use F***ing Tinder on the Full Moon by Jingan Young, mentored by Meera Syal, directed by Sean Foley
Desperate by Kat Rose-Martin, mentored by Holly Walsh, directed by Sean Foley
SET B - on 4 March and 5 March at 7.45pm
Spoffin by Mari and Lowri Izzard, mentored by Emma Fryer, directed by Madeleine Kludje
Boys Who F̶*̶c̶k̶,̶ ̶A̶n̶d̶ Cry by Ryan Walker-Edwards, mentored by Danny Brocklehurst, directed by Iqbal Khan
Pink Spaceship by Drew Vida Marke, mentored by Fay Rusling and Oriane Messina, directed by Iqbal Khan
Twitch by Ed Amsden and Tom Coles, mentored by Robin French, directed by Madeleine Kludje
Sprint by Jodie Irvine, mentored by Simon Blackwell, directed by Madeleine Kludje
Tickets for Sky Comedy Rep are on sale to members from Tuesday 30 November at 12pm and are then on general sale from Saturday 4 December.
Foundry has been one of The Rep’s signature talent development strands since 2013. Focussing on the development of individual artists’ practice, it has been one of the most successful talent development programmes in UK theatre: previous Foundry alumni have gone on to work throughout the UK theatre industry in venues including Leeds Playhouse, Home Manchester, Royal Shakespeare Company, Sherman Theatre, Bristol Old Vic, Bush Theatre, Paines Plough, BAC and many more. Now, after a hiatus caused by the pandemic, Foundry will return in 2022. With a radically different approach, the new Foundry will combine artist development with community engagement. Artists will be working in Community settings, with local non-professional participants, to co-create new works that celebrate the unique and often underrepresented voices from across the city and region. This programme of work will be totally accessible for deaf and disabled artists and participants. The Rep will centre the work around D/deaf and disabled artists and participants. This new Foundry is made possible by funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Ramps on the Moon. Eight community artists per year will be developed over the two years of the programme. 16 artists in total will be trained, and be able to develop their professional co-creative practice while also developing the creativity and confidence of communities.
Artistic Associates - A new Artistic Associate was also announced today. Joining Mohammed Ali, Lolita Chakrabarti, Paul Hunter, Tyrone Huggins, Debbie Isitt, Lorna Laidlaw, Drew McOnie, Meera Syal and Richard Thomas will be Caroline Wilkes.
Caroline is a theatre maker and director creating work across the Midlands and the UK. She is an associate director at New Vic Theatre, a Graeae Beyond Artist and an RTYDS Connect Artist. She has directed large scale community theatre productions as well as being an artistic associate with a large mental health trust. Current projects include 'Cool', an adaptation of a Michael Morpurgo novel, with The Rep and Birmingham Children's Hospital.
The Park Bench Plays on SKY - Broadcast from 2 December 2021
Animal Farm - The House (22 January - 5 February 2022)
The Covid Variations - The House (8 - 9 February 2022)
BE FESTIVAL - 11-19 February
Coming To England - The House (19 February - 6 March 2022)
Sky Comedy Rep - The Studio (3 - 5 March 2022)
GrimeBoy- The Door (14 - 30 April 2022)
Playboy of the West Indies - The House (10 June - 2 July 2022)
The White Card - The Studio (7 - 18 June 2022)
Bugsy Malone - The House (27 July - 14 August 2022).