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Birmingham Repertory Theatre Sets 2016 Season

Jonathan Coe's The Rotters' Club, Gareth Farr's The Quiet House and Tom Wells' Folk will receive their stage premieres at Birmingham Repertory Theatre next year. The new Spring and Summer 2016 season also features a ground-breaking new production of The Government Inspector, Don Warrington as King Lear, plus a major revival of Alan Bennett's Single Spies alongside a compelling mix of drama, comedy and family shows.

Roxana Silbert, Artistic Director at Birmingham Repertory Theatre says of the season;

"I'm proud to announce The REP's new season, which combines new work from local writers, alongside exciting premieres, striking productions of classics and bold new interpretations of three of Shakespeare's greatest works during the 400th anniversary of his death.

"Jonathan Coe's The Rotters' Club is an iconic story set against the background of 70s Birmingham, and there are commissions from three brilliant local female writers - Charlene James, Amahra Spence and Sarah Hamilton-Baker.

"There are new productions of Gogol's The Government Inspector and Alan Bennett's Single Spies, as well as premieres of Tom Wells' Folk and Gareth Farr's The Quiet House. And we have three striking Shakespeare productions - Don Warrington stars as King Lear, John Heffernan and Anna Maxwell Martin lead in Macbeth and experimental theatre company, Filter, bring their take on Twelfth Night.

"It's thanks to our audience that we're able to offer another ambitious and diverse season of work in all of our three spaces. And it all runs alongside our extensive city-wide learning and participation work and our ongoing support for local writers, directors and theatre makers. I'm very proud to be working in partnership with some of the finest artists and companies in the country to deliver world class theatre to our audiences."

Exploring the enduring fascination with royalty and Russian spies is an award-winning double bill by Alan Bennett. Single Spies (17 to 27 February) chronicles the lives of Guy Burgess and Anthony Blunt, two of the 'Cambridge Five' spy ring in the 1950s. Following the success of The King's Speech, Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Chichester Festival Theatre collaborate again for this co-production, directed by Olivier-nominated Rachel Kavanaugh, and featuring Nicholas Farrell as Burgess.

The REP's Artistic Director, Roxana Silbert, will direct The Government Inspector adapted by David Harrower (19 to 26 March). Gogol's satirical masterpiece is a riot of corruption, lies and greed. This production is the first in the ground-breaking ' Ramps on the Moon' touring project that will signal a step change in disability arts provision in the UK and will reframe the way theatre by and for disabled people is made and seen. A collaboration between seven of the UK's leading regional producing theatres, The Government Inspector, will feature an integrated cast of Deaf, disabled and able bodied actors and every performance will be fully accessible to Deaf or disabled audiences.

Jonathan Coe's iconic 1970s coming-of-age novel, The Rotters' Club (2 to 9 April) is brought to life on stage for the first time in an adaptation by Richard Cameron. Set in Birmingham, The Rotters' Club follows Benjamin Trotter through the hilarious and, at times, touching trials and tribulations of growing up in an era of IRA bombs, industrial strife and punk rock. Inspired by Jonathan's Coe's own school days in Birmingham and written from a young person's perspective, this production, commissioned by The REP and directed by Gwenda Hughes, will feature a large cast of young people drawn from across the city.

Infertility, IVF and the taboo that surrounds the subject is explored in the world premiere of Gareth Farr's The Quiet House (26 May to 4 June). Inspired by true events, this new play from Bruntwood Prize-winning playwright Gareth Farr is directed by The REP's Associate Director Tessa Walker, and presented by Echo and Park Theatre, London where the play will run following its premiere in Birmingham.

Also premiering is another Birmingham Repertory Theatre commission - Folk (14 to 30 April). Previous winner of the Critics Circle Most Promising Playwright award, Tom Wells' Folk takes us into the world of Winnie - a swearing, Skoda-driving, Guinness drinking nun. Directed by Tessa Walker, Folk is a co-production with Hull Truck and Watford Palace Theatre.

Acclaimed stage and screen actor Don Warrington will play one of Shakespeare's most iconic roles King Lear (19 to 28 May). This powerful interpretation of King Lear, directed by Michael Buffong, is presented 400 years after the death of Shakespeare and for which The REP joins forces with Talawa Theatre Company and the Royal Exchange Theatre.

Two other Shakespeare plays also feature in the season - the previously announced, Macbeth (26 to 30 January) with John Heffernan and Anna Maxwell Martin, directed by Carrie Cracknell and Lucy Guerin in a new co-producing partnership with the Young Vic, London and Home, Manchester; and visiting The REP for the first time is experimental theatre company, Filter, with their radically-cut, fast-paced version of Shakespeare's much-loved comedy Twelfth Night (12 to 16 April).

Back by popular demand is The REP's successful 2014 production of, Of Mice And Men (4 to 13 February) directed by Roxana Silbert. The production will open at The REP before it embarks on a 15 week UK tour.

Two new commissions by REP Foundry artists will feature in the season - Sarah Baker-Hamilton's Lady Lust (21 to 23 January) is a refreshing open and honest investigation into what it means to be a woman in the 21st century and Abuelo (14 to 16 January) by Amahra Spence follows one woman's quest to find her origins and sense of self, through the legacy of her grandfather.

Alfred Hitchcock's classic spy thriller, The 39 Steps (29 February to 5 March), brilliantly and hilariously recreated for the stage now comes to The REP after 9 years in London's West End. This wonderfully inventive and gripping Olivier award-winning comedy thriller features four fearless actors, playing 139 roles in 100 minutes of fast-paced fun and thrilling action.

For families, Hetty Feather (8 to 12 March) is an enchanting story about a young girl's adventures following her escape from a Victorian Foundling Hospital. Based on a novel by Jacqueline Wilson, adapted for the stage by Emma Reeves and directed by Sally Cookson, this production uses songs, live music and circus skills to glorious effect.

Based on Terrence Rattigan's own experiences as a tail gunner during World War II, Flare Path (25 to 30 April) paints an evocative portrait of life in wartime Britain for the RAF bomber crews, their wives and sweethearts, who were left awaiting their return. This epic wartime romance is presented by The Original Theatre Company who also visit with Shadowlands (31 May to 4 June). This love story of C.S. Lewis - Oxford don and author of The Chronicles of Narnia - and American poet Joy Davidman is told in a stunning drama by William Nicholson.

Birmingham writer Charlene James' urgent play, Cuttin It (14 to 18 June), looks at ritual, shame and bravery through the prism of different cultural perspectives. A work that speaks to young women across the UK, Charlene James' play highlights the issue of female genital mutilation (FGM) here and abroad and is directed by Gbolahan Obisesan. Cuttin It is a Young Vic / Royal Court Theatre co-production with Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Sheffield Theatres and The Yard Theatre.

The season will also feature award-winning French artist, Mohamed El Khatib's haunting but often funny Beautiful Ending (26 to 27 January); Graeae Theatre's The Solid Life of Sugar Water by Jack Thorne (2 to 6 February); one-woman show, The Crows Plucked Your Sinews performed by Yusra Warsama (9 to 11 Feb); Matthew Zajac's phenomenal international hit The Tailor of Inverness (3 to 5 March); Gary Owen's Iphigenia in Splott (15 to 19 March); a gritty Faustian-tale and new opera by Stuart MacRae and Louise Welsh from Music Theatre Wales - The Devil Inside (18 April); the latest production from Stan's Cafe - Made Up (14 to 21 May) and Torben Betts' middle-class culture clash, Invincible (17 to 21 May). Additional shows will also be announced at a later date.

Tickets for the Spring and Summer Season go on sale on Friday 16 October.
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