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Birmingham Rep announces 50th anniversary season including East is East revival

The venue's autumn season has been unveiled

Iqbal Khan, Sean Foley and Madeleine Kludje

Birmingham Rep has unveiled its 50th anniversary season, marking half a century at its current base in Centenary Square.

The theatre will begin the season with a revival of Ayub Khan-Din's 1996 play East is East, celebrating its 25th anniversary. Directed by Iqbal Khan (who has also been made associate director of the theatre, joining Madeleine Kludje), it runs from 4 to 25 September with design by Bretta Gerecke.

Set in Salford in the 1970s, it follows a Pakistani family keeping up with the modern times. It has been adapted into a BAFTA award-winning film.

From 8 October to 14 November, the venue will host the world premiere of new musical What's New Pussycat? featuring the tunes of Tom Jones and directed by Luke Sheppard (& Juliet) with choreography by Arlene Phillips. Initially set to open at Leeds Playhouse, the piece has moved venues to the Rep after original plans were disrupted by the pandemic.

The award-winning The Play What I Wrote by artistic director Sean Foley, Hamish McColl and Eddie Braben will run at the theatre from 27 November, directed by Foley and produced in association with David Pugh and Theatre Royal Bath.

Designed by Alice Power with lighting by Tim Mitchell, music by Steve Parry, choreography by Ian West and casting by Sarah Bird, the show originally opened in the West End with direction from Kenneth Branagh. A guest star will appear every night.

Floella Benjamin's hit book Coming to England will be adapted for the stage by David Wood, running from 19 February to 6 March. The family-friendly musical piece follows the ten-year old Floella as she travels to England from Trinidad.

The venue will partner with Sky Studios to generate new work as part of an Annual Comedy Writing Initiative, overseen by Foley and Anil Gupta.

Tanika Gupta has been commissioned to create a new version of Ibsen's Hedda Gabler (Gupta recently transformed A Doll's House for the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre), set in the post-war British film industry. Meanwhile, Sarfraz Manzoor has been commissioned to create new piece The Muslim Box, a contemporary comedy about Islam, identity and parents.

Manzoor said: "When The REP staged the world premiere of Ayub Khan Din's East Is East it was a play and later a film that massively influenced me, which is why I am so incredibly excited by the opportunity to write my first play for the same stage as that seminal piece of theatre. I am beyond happy to be working together and can't wait to get cracking."

The venue has also stressed that social distancing can be implemented if necessary.

You can read our exclusive interview with Foley here.