REP Hails Library Of Birmingham Plans
Birmingham Repertory Theatre today welcomes plans for a joint development of the theatre with the new Library of Birmingham to create an internationally unique centre of culture and knowledge in Centenary Square.
The plans, which are unveiled today by Birmingham City Council, follow several years of discussions between The REP and the city council over the possible use of the car-park adjacent to the theatre. The result is an exciting joint development that will link the new Library of Birmingham with a refurbished REP, with shared foyers, bars, restaurants and a new flexible 350- seat theatre.
Whilst the Library of Birmingham and The REP would retain their own clear identities, the development would bring together an exciting and complementary mix of cultural activity, opening up creative possibilities in shared interest areas such as new writing and the emerging artforms of performance poetry and live literature. As the city’s only major producing theatre, the new 350-seat auditorium will significantly expand the range and number of dramatic works The REP can produce and present.
As part of the proposed development, The REP’s existing studio theatre, The Door, would become a much-needed space for the theatre’s many and various learning and participation activities, as well as retaining its ability to present small-scale shows and work in development.
Whilst the proposed development would undoubtedly mean that The REP’s building would have to close at some point during the construction period, the theatre will continue to produce and present work in a variety of other venues and spaces within the city.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for The REP,” says Artistic Director Rachel Kavanaugh. “It’s also an artistic challenge to build on our existing reputation for fantastic, engaging theatre. I’m looking forward to programming a wide range of work outside the theatre whilst the new building takes shape, and I can’t wait to see the new centre and all the exciting possibilities that it will offer.”
The planned development has also attracted the enthusiastic support of the wider theatre community, including Dame Judi Dench, who directed productions in The REP’s studio theatre during the 1980s:
“I believe that theatre has the power to change lives. Birmingham Rep has shown that power again and again throughout its 95-year history in outstanding productions and performances from some of the greatest talents in theatre, making it an essential part of this country’s cultural landscape. This major development is a wonderful chance for the theatre to continue and broaden that tradition and a fantastic opportunity to reach out across communities and touch a new generation of theatre goers.”
Josie Lawrence, whose relationship as a performer with The REP has spanned many years, said:
“As a Black Country born performer, I’m thrilled to hear of this great opportunity for The REP. The theatre is an incredibly important part of the region’s cultural life and this development would enable it to increase its already exciting artistic offer and provide excellence on every scale.”