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Byline: Diane Parkes

BIRMINGHAM Repertory Theatre is to return to its roots by performing works in the city's historic Old Rep from next year.

With the building in Centenary Square due to close for two years to make way for its refurbishment and the new library, the Rep will be staging productions at a number of venues across the city.

The 383-seat Old Rep is the logical step as it was the first home for Birmingham Repertory Company when it opened in Station Street in 1913.

The building, which is run by Birmingham City Council, was the first purpose-built repertory theatre in the country.

Led by Birmingham theatre director Sir Barry Jackson, it attracted actors as prestigious as Laurence Olivier, Noel Coward and Paul Scofield.

In 1971, the company moved to its purpose-built facilities in Centenary Square. The Old Rep currently houses Birmingham Stage Company whose Christmas shows usually run from November to January, and is also used by touring companies and the Young Rep. But it remains empty for much of the year.

Which means it is an ideal space to take additional shows, said Rep artistic director Rachel Kavanaugh. "The historic Old Rep was the original home of Birmingham Repertory Theatre," she said.

"The decision to return to the Old Rep is a fitting one as we move towards our centenary year in 2013."

The Rep is to close temporarily in January 2011 as part of the pounds 193 million library project which will join the two buildings and create a new 300-seat studio.

Work will include restoring the 1971 faade and refurbishing foyers, restaurant and cafe as well as the backstage facilities.

The Rep will use other venues including the new Midlands Art Centre and the Crescent Theatre.

24-PAGE WHAT'S ON STARTS PAGE 29 Old Rep facts The Old Rep opened in 1913 with Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.

In 1923 it premiered George Bernard Shaw's Back to Methuselah.

Actors who have performed there include Ralph Richardson, Peggy Ashcroft, Edith Evans, Brian Cox, Michael Gambon, Paul Eddington, Julie Christie, Timothy Dalton and Derek Jacobi.

In 1992 Birmingham Stage Company took up residence in the Old Rep.

The theatre was refurbished in 2008.


Curtain call: Birmingham Repertory Theatre is returning to the Old Rep.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Jan 29, 2010
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