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.