What Will You Remember Most Fondly About The REP?

What Will You Remember Most Fondly About The REP?

In January 2011 The REP will close the doors on its current building for a change of scenery. To mark our temporary move offsite we’re creating an exhibition celebrating the past, present and future of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre company and your memories are a vital part.

We’d love you to hear your REP memories and share them with others on our website and in our foyer. Which show was your favourite? Was there a performer you’ll never forget or a set that stole the show? Please leave your memories in the comments section below or Tweet us @birminghamrep – it would be lovely to include your thoughts.

We’ve added some comments below which we’ve already received, to get your memories flowing.

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I have been coming to the Rep for more years than I care to remember and there have been so many productions that I have enjoyed over those years. One in particular that I remember was your production of Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolfe starring James Bolan and Sylvia Simms which I think must have been in the 1980s. I still have vivid memories of that play. Another more recent play I remember especially well was the 2005 production of Harold Pinter's The Birthday Party. I came to that, with my husband and daughter, on crutches soon after I'd broken my leg! The play provoked much discussion afterwards. Also the wonderful David Hare trilogy was a highlight. Sadly my husband Vince died in 2006 but his memory still lives on in the "seat for long legs" dedicated to him. He was tall and liked to sit at the end of a row! I still come to the Rep very frequently with friends and sometimes on my own. I feel so much at home in the theatre that I feel comfort able alone. Coming to the Rep has been such a big part of my life since coming to live in Birmingham in 1969 and I hope it continues that way well into the future.

We will never forget the young Albert Finney in the Alchemist, probably late 1950's, at the Old Rep in Station Street with the gas lighting on the stairs to the upper level. Newly arrived in Birmingham, it was one of our first visits. We've been coming on & off (more so recently) ever since.

Particular memories from the main stage seem to revolve around seeing some truly great performers and directors using the wonderful Rep stage rather than being scared by it..... Damiam Lewis in a mesmerising production of Rope, truly scary and shades of future roles perhaps? The same season an obsessed Romeo knowing his likely fate but unable to prevent it.
The most Pinteresque of Pinters, Old Times with Estelle Kohler , Carol Royle and Tim Pigott-Smith completely mesmerising the audience. Great cast, great direction, totally 70's set...........
Richard NcCabe as a heart breakingly broken Hamle. Jeffery Kissoon as a truly driven and eventually distraught Macbeth.
But a personal highlight was the wonderfully talented and gorgeous Maureen Lipman as Florence Foster Jankins in the superb Glorious! A combination of greatly committed and excellent performances, engaging writing, lovely sets, great cast and above all warmth.

Of all the shows I have seen at The REP the one I enjoyed the most was East is East. I had no idea that they play had been written at The REP well before it was a film. The play is funny, touching, shocking and ultimately a tale about the reality of family. Cleverly staged and brilliantly acted too, although everything at The REP always is!

Where does one start to mention memorable events at the Rep. - there have been SO many for me over the last 30 years, since the first production I saw there in 1980.
Finest production? - couldn't possibly name only one, but ones that stand out over the years are:
'My Father's House' (1991), what a magnificent set - I can still see it now. 'The Railway Children' (1988) - I thought I was sitting on New Street Station when the train came out of the tunnel amid clouds of steam and smoke and straight towards me!. 'Summer of the Seventeenth Doll (1990), one of my favourite plays. Danny La Rue playing the lead in 'Hello Dolly' (1983). Keith Michell in 'Amadeus' (1983).
Most stunning set - 'Nevilles Island' (2005)
Best Musical - Bernsteins 'Candide' (1981)
Best male performance - a tie between Peter O'Toole in 'Man and Superman' (1982) and Paul Schofield in 'I'm not Rappaport' (1986)
Best female performance - Siobahn McCarthy in 'Jeanne' (1983)
I also remember 'Renaissance Theatre Company' in 1988 in the Studio, with Kenneth Branagh, Judy Dench and Derek Jacobi all directing Shakespeare for the first time, with Branagh appearing in 'Twelfth Night'
Other memorable Studio/Door productions, to list just a few, 'The Alchemist' (1986), 'Whisper of Angels Wings' (1997) 'Last Easter' (2008) and 'Orphans' (2009).
I could go on, but it would fill a book! How lucky we are to have such quality theatre in Birmingham - Happy 40th Birthday next year to the Rep!

I really enjoyed Cabaret when it was on, as I felt it was a show that you wouldn't normally see at The Rep and it was amazing to see Wayne Sleep in the performance.
The other show that really stood out for me was A Christmas Carol. I was an Usher throughout the run and I enjoyed it every time I saw it and I didn't get tired of it what so ever. The songs were catchy and the audience would really get involved, especially if a school was in.

Of course my abiding memory of the REP will be spending the night on the stage of A Christmas Carol, to raise money, however, the thing I most loved about the REP is the range of perfomances,, from seeing Maureen Lipman pla yFlorence Foster-Jenkins in Glorious, to Bezhti, which raised many questions not just for the Sikh community, but a story that can resonate with many religions. It is so important for the theatre to discuss uncomfortable issues and I hope that the Rep will continue to do so once it reopens.

Like I've said previously, the only shows I've seen at the Rep are the Christmas shows since the Wizard of Oz in 2003 and I'll never forget all those fantastic productions especially the Wizard of Oz and Peter Pan were fantastic!! Also loved Alice in Wonderland (plot was a bit strange, but hey that's just Lewis Carrol;s original piece) and will never forget the time Aslan the Lion in the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe appeared with a thunderous roar in the audience and scared me half to death :D!! Sadly I will now be left with a dissapointing memory of last year's A Christmas Carol which was too dark, too depressing and did not match the other shows, sadly. So please when you bring back the Rep's christmas shows leave it for Rachel Kavanaugh and her crew to direct, design etc them.
Looking forward to see the new theatre now!! :D

I remember waiting for Jay ( scenic carpenter) at stage door in 1984. He told me both funny and sad stories about his time working there, one that was both funny AND sad was when he had to pull Wayne Sleep offstage in some sort of wheeled contraption as part of a show, except the wooden bit he had to pull sprang up just offstage, almost knocking Mr Sleep into a big sleep. Sadly Jay passed away in 2000, but the stories remain....

There is a fabulous photograph of the legendary actress Julie Christie taken by Birmingham photographer Pogus Caesar. Christie is seen sitting on the wall (now demolished), she seems to be full of laughter and so relaxed at having her picture taken. What a legend and what I would have paid to be passing by at that moment.


I have many memories of The Rep, but the most enduring is of being taken to see Peter Pan as a small child. We were sat in the front row, and when one of the pirates walked the plank off the stage, he nearly fell into my lap. I think that early experience of being right at the heart of the action is where my love of theatre started.

My fascination with theatre began in the 1970's. Productions at the Rep such as Spring Awakening, Heartbreak House and Equus all stand out in my memory. In 1975 the rock musical Pilgrim came to the Rep and after the performance members of the cast performed a late night show in the Studio called Rage. I recall standing next to Peter Straker still in full makeup, scary, at the bar and being dragged on stage by Kim Goody to dance with the rest of the cast. A Man for all Seasons and the Crucible followed in later years and I saw my first perambulatory performance in the Studio and remember being "shot" by a passing soldier. Tonight I saw Respect in the Door with young actors whose performance added to so many memorable nights at the Rep. Thank you all.

I have so many fond memories of The REP - I could literally sit here and list them all day - but if I had to narrow it down to my all time favourite, it would have to be Kneehigh's Brief Encounter.

I saw this play four times during its run at The REP and once in London.

It is without a doubt not only my fondest memory of theatre at The REP but the best show I have ever seen on stage.

Thanks to The REP and good luck with the re-furb.

The first time I ever arranged to go to the theatre on my own was to the last show at the old Rep. "1066 and All That". From then on I was hooked and I saw every show at the new house until I left for Uni. I even got a short holiday job working on the set of "Guys and Dolls" and "Hobson's Choice". I was involved in flying scenery and raising the stage to accomodate tracks for trucks. I was given training as I went along and had the complete run of the building. Ah those happy carefree days before "health and safety" and "Security" really kicked in.

When I worked in radio for Mercia FM in the 1980's and 90's I had the amazing opportunity to interview Steven Berkoff at the Rep, his production of Macbeth was touring the UK and he was promoting his lastest book during the tour.
The interview was going well when he made the comment that british touring theatre was becoming "all fur coat and no knickers" meaning that it was very commercial and had no depth. So I brought up his appearance in the first Beverly Hills Cop film to make a point of his comment about "no depth"...he was rather rattled and declared that he was in Los Angeles at the time and so did the movie as his diary fitted in nicely with the movie's filming schedule...of course Steven!
Despite this I found him a very engaging character and fascinating to talk to...Steven Berkoff rocks!

I have been coming to the REP since it opened and have many years of enjoyment and look forward to the opening of the new REP.

First date at the Old REP (1966). Still coming. Still hooked.

I came here for the opening play and have such happy memories of wonderful performances and staff who were always welcoming and helpful. I started coming to the Old REP when I came to Birmingham 60 years ago and then to this theatre when it opened. Thank you!

It will be very strange not coming here, as we have enjoyed many excellent plays, nice bar snacks and drinks and help and friendliness from all staff, but particularly those at the cloakroom. Thank you.

Just adding to what I said above about the Xmas shows, went to see Little Shop of Horrors a few months ago and I have to say the REP did an AMAZING job on it! Much better than the Menier Chocolate Factory's production. Loved Mark Walter's scenery, Peter Rowe's direction for the actors were fantastic and also the music was just brilliant! DEFINATELY bring this back when the REP's refurbishment is done! =D

I have always enjoyed productions at the "Rep" and was there for the opening production - First Impressions - all those years ago when my school was given (from memory) free tickets for us to attend. It was a version of Pride and Prejudice and I remember the set being predominantly lilac!

How I remember the Christmas plays. This must have been in the 1950s, and the excitement of trip from Blakedown to Birmingham, putting on a best frock and walking up and up the steep stairs of the old theatre. I used to think I'd fall it was so vertical - but it gave a fabulous view. I remember Derek Jacobi playing a fun part; I think he was wearing green, but for the life of me I can't remember the name of the character. He stood out so much in the play that the family committed his name to memory and I have watched his career ever since with special interest.

Yes, Keith Michell in Amadeus - the first time I've ever been evacuated from anywayr because of a fire! And standing around the stage door chatting to some of the actors - most unrealistic!

Age 13, my 1st visit to see Romeo and Juliet (1993), dressed up and very excited!

My most important memory is of meeting many wonderful positive can-do people - it was inspirational - whenever I faced a new big challenge I would think of you and tell myself if you could do it I could.

It's made me a star and chance to becoem a theatre artiste. Thanks REP. Will meet in 2013.

All the Rep members are very important to me

great productiond - esp. the merchant of venice, Design for Living where actors switched roles - wonderful theatre live (not TV!!) Bon Voyage, till next time.



Most of my memories are of The Old REP. I first went with a friend from school when I was about 11 years old (1953). The play was called Murder Will Out or something like that and I was captivated. After that I went to most of the rep productions during my high school years. I remember Albert Finney in Henry V as a highlight.

What can I say? - First sight of the most beautiful building on road Street. Bill Alexander using our library parking. The Snowman flying over the snowy scene. Jeffery Kissoon in Shakespeare. Huge stages - Othell, Merchant of Venice. Controversy in The Door - riots. Those shows about Birmingham. That's theatre!

I performed in the Billy Youth Theatre in 2010. I loved the experience and am grateful for all the help we got when we were here. I also really enjoyed going backstage after seeing the performance of Our House. Thank you.