Since the middle of last year I have been working down at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, oddly enough in Birmingham, helping out with their REP100 celebrations. This leading producing theatre is 100 years old and to celebrate, there are a series of events to celebrate. My main focus has been on the Rep’s archive, housed at the Birmingham Central Library, and I have been cataloguing programmes, magazines, photos, signatures and minute books before the collection is moved over to the new Library of Birmingham, itself a separate project but occurring at the same time. Thanks to Heritage Lottery Funding, a significant amount of the archive is being digitised and can be seen at http://www.rep100.org, an astonishing achievement in making the fascinating and important collection publicly available in this time of public sector cuts. I’ve also been seen in Centenary Square talking to people about their experiences and memories of the REP, in order to collect their remembrances for the REP100 project, to be housed alongside the existing archive.
Some really interesting snippets I found in the Rep archives included:-
- Paul Henry, Benny from Crossroads, as a regular REP player
- A Smallpox Scare in the 1960s contributing to a drop in school attendances at the theatre
- Michael Palin and Terry Jones, Monty Python stars, contributing to a mid sixties comedy revue
- Late Night Friday plays, starting after 10 and running until the early hours
- The production of Abraham Lincoln in the twenties was so popular, after moving to play in London, moved back to Birmingham to play at the Prince of Wales theatre, not the Station Street building, as it was much larger, such was the demand!
I have written a very brief blog for the Rep’s website, seen here, about my work on the project