Reading Rep Theatre, led by Founding Artistic Director Paul Stacey and Executive Director Nick Thompson, today announces its opening season Reading Rep: Reborn in the company’s new permanent home in Reading – classic stories reimagined, a company rejuvenated, and a cultural hub revitalised. The season marks the opening of Reading Rep’s new cultural arts hub following a two-year campaign which raised over £1 million to build the new theatre.
The venue opens on 15 September with the gala Reading Rep: Reborn celebrating the company’s new venue, featuring performances from Associate Companies, and the season begins with DORIAN, a world première adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Gray written by Bruntwood Prize winner Phoebe Eclair-Powell, and RSC Associate Director Owen Horsley. Paul Stacey then directs local born Beth Flintoff’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol, and Fringe First Award winner Gary McNair’s Jekyll & Hyde; and Helen Eastman directs her children’s show Alby The Penguin Saves The World. Completing the season is A Midsummer Night’s Dream directed by Paul Stacey and Christie O’Carroll.
Artistic Director, Paul Stacey, today said, “Today is a big day for Reading and for Reading Rep. Announcing this brilliant five-show season in our new venue with locally, regionally and nationally leading artists is the culmination of eight years of work for Reading Rep, beginning when I founded the company with a £500 overdraft in 2012. I was born and raised in Reading, and being able to put my hometown on the national cultural map and make our work accessible to all across Reading through our ENGAGE programme and free ticket scheme is the greatest honour. As we return to live performance, bringing our community together to share stories and experiences, and to laugh and celebrate is more important than ever. We are so excited to welcome audiences into our new home.”
Each production will be accompanied by an innovative and expansive participation project as part of Reading Rep’s multi award-winning ENGAGE programme. This connects each production to the community and guarantees access for all. As part of the programme, 10% of all tickets for all productions will be offered for free, and all productions will have accompanying access performances.
Reading Rep Theatre will also support three Associate Companies, who will be given space, time, and mentorship to develop their practice for diverse communities throughout Reading – A Girl Called Stephen Theatre, a Reading-based theatre company that amplifies and celebrates LGBTQIA+ and/or female-led stories; Exit Pursued By Panda, who promote the interests of East & South East Asian (ESEA) creatives in the UK, founded by Adrian Tang; and Make Sense Theatre, founded by three highly-experienced SEN/SEMH drama and dance practitioners and performers to make theatre for, by and with the neurodivergent community.
The company’s new cultural hub, converted from a former 1927 Salvation Army Hall, will include a 180-seat theatre, a permanent education and learning centre, backstage areas, new front of house facilities, and a café/bar. The building is being converted by Total Projects, and is designed by David Hughes, the architect of the award-winning Park Theatre.
Tickets go on sale to the public on Wednesday 12th May, 12pm.
READING REP: REBORN
Wednesday 15 September
Reading Rep opens its doors for their opening night gala celebrating Reading and its cultural future.
The evening will include performances from Reading Rep’s Associate Companies – A Girl Called Stephen Artistic Director Annie Kershaw directs the The Lion, written and performed by Camille Ucan; Exit Pursued by Panda Artistic Director Adrian Tang performs his monologue untitled, directed by Anthony Lau; and Make/Sense perform.
Adrian Tang is a London and Berkshire-based theatre maker. He is the Founder and Artistic Director of Exit Pursued By Panda, a theatre company promoting the interests of East & South East Asian (ESEA) creatives in the UK. His directing credits include Ghost Ferry (New Earth Theatre), Wight Rose, Wight Rose, Wight Rose (Theatre503) Unburied, Who Killed Chameleon Girl? (Bunker Theatre), and One of the Good Ones (Hampstead Theatre). As a writer, his credits include Inauspicious, Setting a High Bar, and Eyes.
Camille Ucan’s previous theatre credits include Outings, Marriage, Birthday Girls in Party Vibes, Birthday Girls in 2053 (Edinburgh Festival Fringe). Her television credits include Cinderella: After Ever After, Lee and Dean, Scarecrows, Limbo, @Elevenish, Brotherhood, Pompidou, Absolutely Fabulous, and Gittins. Ucan is part of the comedy sketch group Birthday Girls.
Annie Kershaw is a queer director and producer from Reading, and the Artistic Director of A Girl Called Stephen. Her work has been performed at Applecart Arts, Pleasance, Lyric Hammersmith, South Street Arts Centre, The Space Edinburgh, Vault Festival and Reading College.
Anthony Lau’s previous theatre credits include The Band Plays On (Co-Director, Sheffield Theatres), The Shadow Factory, Juicy and Delicious (Nuffield Southampton Theatres), A Better Man, The Cherry Orchard (Young Vic), The Common Land (Rose Theatre Kingston), Dreaming in America (Shoreditch Town Hall), Still Life/Red Peppers (Old Red Lion), The Taste of Us (HighTide Festival), and I am a Camera (Southwark Playhouse). His credits as Staff Director include ANNA (National Theatre). Lau is RTYDS Associate Artistic Director at Sheffield Theatres. He was previously Laboratory Associate Director at Nuffield Southampton Theatres and trained as a director at LAMDA and at the National Theatre Studio.
Written by Phoebe Eclair-Powell and Owen Horsley
Adapted from The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Directed by Owen Horsley;
13 October – 7 November 2021
Press Night: Tuesday 19 Oct, 7.30pm
The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.
Dorian Gray sells his soul for eternal beauty. Basil and Henry join him for the ride until it all gets a bit much, and the hangovers make way for murder…
DORIAN follows one man’s descent from beautiful debauchery to epic chaos. But who decides when the party is over?
From the deliciously deviant mind of Oscar Wilde, adapted by Bruntwood Prize winner Phoebe Eclair-Powell and RSC Associate Director Owen Horsley, this powerful production explores the events that brought Wilde to Reading Gaol.
This production will be accompanied by participation project Made in Reading that explores Reading’s LGBTQIA+ history and Wilde’s imprisonment in Reading Gaol.
Phoebe Eclair-Powell is the current winner of the Bruntwood Prize for her play Shed: Exploded View. Her other theatre credits include Wink, Fury, The Picture of Dorian Gray, These Bridges, and the forthcoming Harm and Really Big and Really Loud. For television, her credits include Two Weeks to Live, and for film, the forthcoming Better the Blood.
Owen Horsley’s previous theatre credits include Maydays, Salome, First Encounters: The Famous Victories of Henry (RSC), Antony and Cleopatra, Who’s There: Hamlet, A Memory Play (Classic Stage Company), Dorian Gray (The Watermill Theatre), Henry V (Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Royal Festival Hall), Outside on the Street (Arcola Theatre, Edinburgh Festival Fringe), Lysistrata (Albany Theatre), and The Duchess of Malfi (Southwark Playhouse). As an Associate Director of Cheek by Jowl, his credits include ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore, Macbeth, Troilus and Cressida, Cymbeline, and The Changeling.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Written by Beth Flintoff
Directed by Paul Stacey
3 – 31 December 2021
Press Night: Wednesday 8 Dec, 7.30pm
A fire is crackling, a hot chocolate brewing, and there is a ghost (or two) ready to tell you a story…
Ebenezer Scrooge is having a miserable Christmas, but with a little help from Christmas Past, Present and Future, will he be able to see the festive joy after all? Enjoy the whimsy and wonder of this festive production for the whole family…
Reading Rep Theatre presents the classic Christmas tale, as it finds its perfect home on the cobbled streets of Reading. Step back in time with your favourite characters in this magical world première by Beth Flintoff. A festive and magical spectacle for the whole family.
This production will be accompanied by a participation project called Dear Mr Scrooge, in which six primary schools throughout Reading will stage their own response to A Christmas Carol.
Beth Flintoff is a playwright and theatre director born in Reading. Her writing credits include The Ballad of Maria Marten, The World We Made, Who Killed Alfred Oliver, Henry I of England, Matilda the Empress, Henry II, The Last Abbot, The Rivals, The Rebellious Women of Wimbledon, and Greenham: One Hundred Years of War and Peace. She collaborated as writer/director with Rhum and Clay on Jekyll Hyde, and Hardboiled: The Fall of Sam Shadow. Flintoff has been longlisted for The Hope Mill Prize 2021, The Papatango New Writing Prize, The Bruntwood Prize, and she was nominated for Most Promising New Playwright 2017 at the Off West End Awards. She is a member of the Sphinx Lab for British Female Playwrights 2020-2021 and a recipient of a 2021 MGCfutures Bursary.
Paul Stacey is the Artistic Director and Founder of Reading Rep Theatre. For Reading Rep he has directed numerous productions including Waiting For Godot, Miss Julie, A Little History Of The World (a co-production with The Watermill Theatre) and Every You Every Me (a co-production with Oxford Playhouse). Prior to founding Reading Rep, Stacey was Literary Manager of the Old Red Lion Theatre, and worked as a Director and Dramaturg at the Moscow Art Theatre, Punchdrunk Theatre Company and New Repertory Theatre. He has taught theatre history, acting and dramaturgy at Harvard University, and is a Dramaturgy graduate of the American Repertory Theatre/Moscow Art Theatre Institute at Harvard University.
JEKYLL & HYDE
Written by Gary McNair
Based on The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Directed by Paul Stacey; Video Design by Duncan McLean
9 Feb – 6 March 2022
Press night: Tuesday 15 Feb, 7.30pm
There are two sides to every story…
There is a whisper of a monster lurking in the shadows. Will the truth prevail, or is deception more than skin-deep?
In a captivating adaptation by fellow Scot Gary McNair, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Jekyll & Hyde delves into the darkness of the human psyche, and what happens when a curious mind is left to its own devices.
This production will be accompanied by a participation project called Stranger than Fiction that explores the real man behind the legend, in partnership with numerous community groups throughout Reading,
Gary McNair is an award-winning playwright and performer from Glasgow. His plays include Locker Room Talk, Letters to Morrissey (Fringe First Award winner), After The Cuts, Square Go (Fringe First Award winner), Tell Us Who We Are, McGonagall’s Chronicles, Punocchio, A Gambler’s Guide to Dying (Fringe First Award winner), Let The Bitch Burn, War on Christmas, Donald Robertson is not a Standup Comedian, The Coldest Show on Earth, and What You Don’t Know. He is an Associate Artist at The Traverse Theatre, Writer In Residence at the National Theatre of Scotland and is under commission at Audible.com
ALBY THE PENGUIN SAVES THE WORLD
Written and directed by Helen Eastman
6 – 18 April 2022
Press performance: Friday 8 April, 10am
Following the sold-out run of Alby The Penguin Saves Christmas, Alby returns in Alby the Penguin Saves the World – a magical and meaningful adventure, for kids aged 3-6.
This time his journey brings him home to Reading. Something is floating in the water and he’s not sure it should be there. Can you help Alby save the day?
Wherever Alby goes, adventure is not far behind, and he quickly finds himself on a mission to help save his friends (and the world), before it’s too late!
This production will be accompanied by a participation project called Alby The Penguin Goes to the Library that aims to provide thousands of early years children with their first experience of theatre in partnership with Reading Libraries.
Helen Eastman is a writer and director of theatre, opera and film. Her previous credits for the company include The Nutcracker, and Alby the Penguin Saves Christmas. Other writing credits include The Price, Ever Young, 147, Chefs, She Sells Sea Shells, Don’t Tell Me Not to Fly, Hercules, Toybox, In the Night Garden Live, Bing Live, Foreclosure Follies, Bicycle Boy, Dear Father Christmas, and Father Christmas and the Icicle Bicycle. As a librettist, she has written for Hackney Music Trust, W11, The London Children’s Choir, and Aldeburgh Jubilee. Her directing credits include work for English Touring Opera, Cork Opera House, Opera Theatre Company, National Theatre Studio, Trafalgar Studios, Soho Theatre, and Birmingham Rep.
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Paul Stacey and Christie O’Carroll
11 May – 5 June 2022
Press night: Tuesday 17 May, 7.30pm
Though she be but little, she is fierce!
Reading Rep Theatre proudly presents Shakespeare’s seminal work, oozing moxie and charm in equal measure.
Fairies and creatures of the spring dance a finely tuned dalliance that all goes wrong when two young couples are added to their meddling schemes in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Even the innocent face temptation once the midsummer sun sets; this vivacious production explores how dangerous decisions make fools of even the wisest of Queens.
This production will be accompanied by a participation project called Dare to Dream that makes Shakespeare’s language accessible to primary and secondary schools throughout Reading.
Christie O’Carroll is Reading Rep’s Associate Director and oversees its multi award-winning ENGAGE programme. For the company she directed Locker Room Talk, Ben-Hur and was the Associate Director on Alby The Penguin Saves Christmas. As the Drama Artist for the Royal Lyceum Theatre Company, her credits include Hidden, 7 Billion Others and Me, and Bassett.