Express & Star

Birmingham Repertory Theatre announces 12 new plays

Today, Birmingham Repertory Theatre has announced 12 new commissions titled The Park Bench Plays.

Birmingham REP. Picture by: Ross Jukes

Brainchild of The REP's artistic director, Sean Foley, this series of brand-new commissions will bring together the work of some of UK theatre’s biggest writing talents and comedians alongside emerging playwrights to create a suite of new plays.

Made possible thanks to the generous support of The Sir Barry Jackson Trust, these new plays by The REP feature some of the UK’s biggest writing talents amongst emerging playwrights including; Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti, Janice Connolly, Rachel De-Lahay, David Edgar, Robin French, Tanika Gupta, Bryony Lavery, Sabiha Mank, Amerah Saleh, Frank Skinner, Liam Steel and Jack Thorne, and Lettie Precious.

The ten-minute-long plays have been written to be performed in pop-up locations throughout Birmingham including bus stations, community centers, parks, public squares, foyers and train stations.

The series of plays will be directed by Sean Foley, deputy artistic director, Amit Sharma, and associate director, Madeleine Kludje.

Sean said: “The Park Bench Plays will bring together the work of some of the UK’s biggest writing talents for an exciting and diverse collection of micro-plays.

“Considering the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our industry, we at The REP feel it is important to continue to employ artists and create work for audiences.

“From comic to serious, tragic to hysterical, this collection of two-hander plays take ordinary and everyday conversations and make them extraordinary and timeless – they all have a sense of fun and provide a living snapshot of our socially distanced, somewhat disturbed world.

“We look forward to sharing this extraordinary collection of works with audiences when the time is right to do so in the future and to continuing working with this wonderfully eclectic set of writers.”

Comedian Frank Skinner commented: “I’m really properly excited to be part of this project with The REP.

"I’ve had some life-changing experiences on park benches in the West Midlands but I’m hoping this one will be a bit easier on the elbows.”

Playwright Tanika Gupta added: “I am thrilled to have been asked by the The REP to write a piece for this collection of eclectic new plays.

"In this time of uncertainty, it is greatly welcome to see venues such as The REP actively engaging with artists to continue in efforts to make new work.

"I am excited to be writing for live theatre again, alongside my fellow eleven fantastic playwrights.”

The REP discovery artist, Sabiha Mank, said: “As soon as I was approached about taking part in The Park Bench Plays, I couldn't wait to get started.

"Coming out of lockdown, this project has been a dream to be a part of and a brilliant way of trying to make sense of the world."

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