Reading Rep Theatre has today announced details of their 2023/24 Season, which will go on sale on Monday 19 June at 12pm.
Paul Stacey, Founding Artistic Director of Reading Rep Theatre said: “This season marks the third in our new theatre and what an incredible journey it’s been. I’m overjoyed that we’re announcing a further six world-class professional productions, all produced in-house, alongside our vital education, participation and access work. The icing on the cake is Jekyll and Hyde from last season transferring to Scotland's preeminent theatre, the Royal Lyceum. I hope like us, our audiences are beginning to believe that Reading Rep is emerging as a major new regional producing theatre”
Reading Rep Theatre’s new season will open with the first UK revival of Joe Calarco’s queer play Shakespeare’s R&J, since its West End debut 20 years ago. In a rigid boarding school, four repressed adolescents unearth a secret copy of Shakespeare’s tale of forbidden love… what begins as a rebellious laugh soon turns into something more violent. The production will run from Wednesday 11th October – Saturday 4th November 2023 (Press Night: 16th October).
The theatre will then mark a milestone during the winter season by performing two productions in repertory for the first time in the Berkshire theatre’s history. The two productions include a new adaptation of the pantomime Potted Panto by Daniel Clarkson, Jefferson Turner and Richard Hurst (running from Monday 27thNovember – Sunday 31st December 2023, Press Night: 29th November), which brings the audience seven classic pantomimes in just seventy minutes.
Stacey explained why Potted Panto had to make it into this season’s productions: “Pantomime is a brilliant tradition in the UK, but sadly it's often not seen as great art. This panto, which covers every single panto, is a brilliant summation of everything that makes this tradition so special; from dance to music hall, slapstick to singing, drama to comedy and everything in between. It's not just a summary of panto, but a summary of everything that makes British theatre so special.”
The second festive production is a new adaptation of the classic 1946 movie It’s A Wonderful Life written by Mary Elliott Nelson, running from Thursday 30thNovember – Saturday 30th December 2023 (Press Night: 5th December).
On It’s A Wonderful Life, Stacey said: “It’s A Wonderful Life is one of my favourite films of all time. It tells the story of how helping other people will help you. There is no better time to tell this tale of community, perseverance and hope. This production extends Reading Rep’s tradition of sellout successes at Christmas.”
Noël Coward’s hilarious comedy Private Lives will be revived in a new production from Wednesday 28th February – Saturday 23rd March 2024 (Press Night: 4thMarch). The timeless farce follows divorcees Elyot and Amanda as they attempt to escape their mismatched partners and elope to Paris.
The Rumble Under The Rug, which recently completed its acclaimed debut run at the theatre, will return in 2024 from Wednesday 10th April – Friday 12th April as well as a free tour across schools, libraries and business across Berkshire. The family interactive adventure, written by Helen Eastman (‘Alby the Penguin Saves Christmas’, ‘Alby the Penguin Saves the World’), follows Dr. Hubbub as they investigate who is hiding under the rug and how to welcome them into the world.
Reading Rep Theatre will then produce the world premiere of award-winning playwright Henry Filloux-Bennett’s adaptation of A Little History of the World from Wednesday 22nd May – Saturday 15th June 2024 (Press Night: 28th May). The production follows a father in early 1930’s Germany telling his son stories to help him escape from the building tension in their homeland. Based on E.H. Gombrich’s international bestseller, the new adaptation plans to show how the smallest of stories have the biggest legacies on the ones we hold most dear.
Finally on A Little History of the World, Stacey said: “I am very excited to be working with Henry Filloux-Bennett to bring Gombrich’s text to life. Henry is a wonderful storyteller, and I hope that this piece of theatre will really shine a light on the power of stories; how they shape who we become as adults, and the power storytelling has to triumph over adversity.”
Further to these productions, for the first time, Reading Rep Theatre will host monthly comedy nights as part of The Comedy Network - In association with Avalon Productions. Audiences will be treated to laugh out loud comedy from some of the hottest comedians on the circuit with headline acts including Olga Koch, Huge Davies, Pierre Novellie and Sara Barron.
The theatre will also be celebrating 10 years of their award-winning ENGAGEprogramme. ENGAGE:10 is a year-long programme of workshops, projects and performances for and with the community of Reading. From early years through to care homes. ENGAGE inspires lifelong engagement with theatre for thousands of children, young people and vulnerable adults who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to engage with arts and culture. To mark this anniversary the theatre will be creating a programme of 10 events celebrating the unique work the theatre does on and off stage.
Paul Stacey says: “We remain fiercely committed to breaking down the barriers to theatre, building pathways for the next generation of voices and connecting audiences of every age, background and lived experience, throughout the South East, with unforgettable stories and experiences.”
This year also marks an expansion of access performances. We will be offering Relaxed Performances for all our main house productions and a British Sign Language Interpreted performance of Potted Panto.
The theatre has continued its commitment of financial accessibility to the arts, by continuing their 10% free ticket scheme this season. 10% of all production’s tickets will be given to members of the Reading community who would otherwise be unable to access culture. Many of their tickets are under £20, with tickets for under 30’s at just £5.
Become a Friend of Reading Rep Theatre from just £30. First time members receive 2 free tickets and many more perks.
More information on the new season and ENGAGE can be found at www.readingrep.com