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Birmingham Rep Announces Further Work For 2022/23

Learn more about the full upcoming lineup here!

Sean Foley, the Artistic Director of Birmingham Rep today announced two new comedies to start the New Year '23, including the world premiere of Spitting Image Live: Featuring the Liar King, as well as the completion of the Autumn '22 Season.

Foley, whose Olivier nominated production of Upstart Crow returns to the West End this Autumn, said, 'It's not often you get to direct Tom Cruise, Stormzy, Boris Johnson, Beyonce, and Her Majesty the Queen all on the same bill... I'm thrilled to be part of the team bringing this iconic British comedy to the stage - in particular to be working with the inspiring Roger Law, original co-creator of this legendary show. From the scathing to the silly, from brutal political satire to sending up celebrity, Spitting Image has always fearlessly pointed at the Emperors of our society and gleefully stripped them naked. This live show will be no different...'

February 2023 will see the arrival of a brand-new comedy, about two old school friends who decide to form the world's first ABBA tribute band - in drag! The Way Old Friends Do is written by Ian Hallard and will be directed by Mark Gatiss. The show will play in The Studio prior to a UK tour.

Applications open on 4 July for next year's Sky Comedy Rep. Now in its second year, the programme, (Patron Dame Julie Walters), is a partnership between The Rep and Sky to develop new comedy writing, focussed on uncovering talent from under-represented communities. Following on from the success of the first year, eight writers will be selected to develop their scripts leading to performances in May 2023. The writers will have mentors from the best in the comedy business: previous mentors include Meera Syal & Guz Khan.

Kit de Waal, Birmingham born and bred writer of My Name is Leon, together with Dean O'Loughlin, will collaborate on a new play for future production about the visit of Malcolm X to Birmingham in 1965. In an extraordinary and little known visit - only nine days before his assassination in New York - Malcolm X had answered the call of local Black and Asian Civil Rights activists to come and assist them, after the racist election campaign run by the Conservative candidate in Smethwick had stirred racial hostility.

The programme for Autumn is completed with Ballet Black which will perform Black Sun and Say It Loud. Apphia Campbell will perform Black Is The Color of My Voice, the extraordinary show about Nina Simone, returning after a sell out run in The Door earlier this year. Additionally there will be two comedy nights in The Door in October - Desi Central Comedy Show and COBO Comedy Shutdown and a film screening of The Influence of Shakespeare on Bollywood.

Foley added: "From Nina Simone to Tartuffe, and from Ballet Black to Nativity The Musical, the Autumn Season represents a true diversity of theatrical experiences. I'm delighted to be starting the new year in '23 with two world premiere comedies, and am thrilled that Tom Cruise has agreed to follow in the footsteps of Sir Laurence Olivier, and make his theatrical debut at The Rep."

Tickets go on sale to the general public on 30 June.

Sky Comedy Rep

4 July 2022 applications open

1 August 2022 applications close

07 October 2022 results announced


Following the success of Sky Comedy Rep 2021, The Rep and Sky Studios are incredibly excited to launch the second year of this writing development scheme.


Eight writers will be selected to develop a one-act stage play, and will be paid for their work. The writers will attend a series of workshops, receive tailored writing support, and trial their work at a scratch performance.


The scheme will culminate in showcase performances of the plays, alongside industry events, at The Rep next year.


All the plays will focus around a simple premise: a proposal in a park.


Throughout the programme, writers will also receive mentoring support from huge names in British comedy, who will help to develop the new writers' work. Previous mentors include Meera Syal (Goodness Gracious Me, The Kumars), Guz Khan (Man Like Mobeen) and Danny Brocklehurst (Brassic, Shameless).


Sky Comedy Rep aims to discover and grow new comedy writing talent from across the UK, particularly from communities that have traditionally been under-represented in the arts. If this is you, we can't wait to hear your ideas.

Ballet Black

The House
28 September 2022

Celebrating twenty years, Ballet Black is delighted to present two new works in 2022. Black Sun by acclaimed South African choreographer Gregory Maqoma (Vuyani Dance Theatre) featuring an original score by Michael 'Mikey J' Asante (Boy Blue) is a work that draws energy from the sun and the moon giving rise to descendants of ancestors. These forces only meet to blacken, allowing us to draw from their powers as we prepare for life after life.


The second ballet in this double bill is choreographed and directed by Ballet Black's Founder and Artistic Director, Cassa Pancho, a ballet created by Pancho. Say It Loud is a ballet created Pancho and the BB Company artists that charts the struggles and inspiration behind the formation of this exciting and pioneering company, from the uncomfortable reasons behind the Company's existence to the frenetic, creative energy that has seen them create an enviable repertoire and build a reputation as a necessary part of the British ballet industry.



Desi Central Comedy Show

The Door

15 October 2022


Get ready folks, Desi Central returns with another hilarious line up... so round up your friends & family and join us for an uplifting night of laughter with this infamous tour! Guaranteed to be a night full of hilarity with some kick ass comics.So leave your worries at the door & enter the world of Desi Central for a night you won't forget. We pride ourselves on championing comedians who appeal to comedy lovers of all backgrounds - so book up now because we want you to always be kushi & never gham!

Desi Central Comedy Show is brought to you by LuvEntertainment, a Multiple Award Winning provider of comedy events since 2009.

The Influence of Shakespeare on Bollywood


The Door

20 October 2022


The Birmingham Shakespeare Library contains works in over 90 languages. Among these are nearly 100 South Asian translations, adaptations, and modernisations of Shakespeare. In a special new film, DESIblitz explore how Shakespeare influenced Bollywood filmmaking through time.


From Indian theatres performing Shakespeare during the colonial era to modern blockbuster hits, Shakespeare's plays have constantly enticed Indian theatre and film-makers to use his work to tell their own stories.


In this documentary, Indian film experts and enthusiasts share their views on how Shakespeare swayed scripts and how, conversely, Bollywood's depiction of Indian culture provided a rich lens for re-interpreting the Bard's stories.


This documentary seeks to reconnect the diversity of the Shakespeare Memorial Library to this vibrant city and the people to whom it belongs.


The Influence of Shakespeare on Bollywood is a collaboration with Everything to Everybody, unlocking the world's first great people's Shakespeare library for all.



COBO Comedy Shutdown

The Door

22 October 2022


Comedy Shutdown brings a Black History Month Special to Birmingham Rep. Round up your friends & family and join us for an uplifting night of laughter! Acts include Richard Blackwood (EastEnders, Hollyoaks), Trixx (Stand Up Comedian & Web Star From Toronto), Shabz Kariem (energetic and hard hitting) and Lovell Smith (Best New Act 2019). If you've never been to one of these nights before then get ready for an evening of rip-roaring, back slapping belly laughs! It's a comedy night that is not only packed to the brim with jokes but also celebrates the vast array of comedic talent throughout Black History Month.

Spitting Image Live: Featuring The Liar King
The House
1 February - 12 March 2023


Spitting Image Live: Featuring The Liar King will tread the boards of Birmingham Rep from Wed 1 Feb to Sun 12 Mar 2023.


Whilst Boris and his chums level themselves ever upwards to the sunlit uplands, Spitting Image are preparing to level them down to size in a theatrical extravaganza like no other. Join the circle of lies and see the puppets live on stage for the first time ever. Witness a monstrous cast of stars including The Liar King himself, Boris Johnson. Plus Tom Cruise & Michael Gove (together on stage for the very first time), Adele, Tyson Fury, Harry and Meghan, Stormzy, Beyoncé, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, and many more.


Written by Al Murray, Matt Forde and Sean Foley. Directed by Birmingham Rep's Artistic Director, double Olivier Award winner, Sean Foley and produced by Avalon and Birmingham Rep, this is sure to be the must-see theatrical spectacular of 2023.


Spitting Image co-creator Roger Law said: "Birmingham Rep and Spitting Image have been receiving numerous calls from friends of Boris Johnson pleading with us not to cancel his puppet from our theatre show, 'The Liar King', opening in the New Year. Recent events made it doubtful if either Boris or Prince Andrew would be treading the boards... but after careful consideration we are now able to reassure them both that their puppets are the kind of heartless bastards essential for our kind of refined satire. Boris's friends please note, and report to him that, YES, his puppet will appear wearing a gilet jaune yellow jacket pretending to be useful!"


Returning in 2020 Spitting Image delivered record subscribers for BritBox UK, the BBC and ITV created streaming platform, as well as picking up huge critical acclaim. Across official social media channels, new Spitting Image content was hugely popular with over 200 million views globally, three No. 1 trending videos on YouTube and achieved praise across the political divide. A one-off special for ITV also saw huge success on terrestrial television achieving a 4.4 million audience, the highest Saturday night ratings at that time in four years.


Recommended for ages 14+


Black Is The Color Of My Voice

The Door
9 - 11 February 2023

Written and performed by Apphia Campbell

Inspired by the life of Nina Simone, and featuring many of her most iconic songs performed live.

Apphia Campbell's acclaimed play which returns to The Rep, follows a successful singer and civil rights activist as she seeks redemption after the untimely death of her father. She reflects on the journey that took her from a young piano prodigy destined for a life in the service of the church, to a renowned jazz vocalist at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement.

This extensive national tour follows a sell-out UK tour earlier in 2022, and sell-out seasons in Shanghai, New York, Edinburgh, and in the West End of London.

Recommended for ages 12+

The Way Old Friends Do
The Studio
17 February - 4 March 2023

The Way Old Friends Do, written by Ian Hallard, is a new Rep Original comedy about devotion, desire and dancing queens.


In 1988, two Birmingham school friends tentatively come out to one another: one as gay, the other - more shockingly - as an ABBA fan. Nearly thirty years later, a chance meeting sets them on a brand-new path and they decide to form the world's first ABBA tribute band - in drag! But can their friendship survive the tribulations of a life on the road which includes platform boots, fake beards and a distractingly attractive stranger?


Simultaneously tender and laugh-out loud funny, this heartfelt story will appeal to anyone who understands how it feels to be a fan: of ABBA or of anyone.


As an actor, Ian Hallard's theatre credits include The Boys in the Band (West End, Whatsonstage Best Actor nomination), Great Britain and Scenes From An Execution (National Theatre). His other plays include Adventurous (Jermyn Street Theatre), Steenie (The Turbine) and Horse-Play (Riverside Studios).


Director Mark Gatiss is best known for his work as an actor, writer and producer on Sherlock, Dracula, and Doctor Who, and for being one quarter of comedy troupe The League of Gentlemen. He has just directed The Unfriend at Chichester Festival Theatre to critical and audience acclaim.


A Birmingham Rep, James Seabright and Jason Haigh-Ellery Production.


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