Reading Rep Theatre unveils first season ahead of September opening

Reading Rep Theatre is to open its new building with shows including Dorian, A Christmas Carol, Jekyll & Hyde and A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Reading Rep Theatre shows

The new Reading Rep Theatre has unveiled a magical first season featuring new adaptations of The Picture of Dorian Gray, A Christmas Carol and Jekyll & Hyde as well as A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Reading Rep Theatre, led by founding artistic director Paul Stacey and executive director Nick Thompson, will open its new building on 15 September after a two-year campaign that raised over £1 million.

The opening night gala will celebrate Reading and its cultural future and feature Reading Rep’s associate companies. Performances will include The Lion, written and performed by Camille Ucan and directed by A Girl Called Stephen’s artistic director, Annie Kershaw. Adrian Tang, artistic director of Exit Pursued by Panda, will perform a monologue, directed by Anthony Lau, and there will be a performance by Make/Sense, which makes theatre for, by and with the neurodivergent community.

Phoebe Eclair-Powell and Owen Horsley’s adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s classic story, Dorian, will run from 13 October to 7 November. Drawing on the tale of the debauched but beautiful Dorian Gray, it will explore the events that brought Wilde to Reading Gaol for “gross indecency”.

The production will be accompanied by participation project Made in Reading that explores Reading’s LGBTQIA+ history and Wilde’s time serving hard labour in Reading’s notorious prison.

Another classic supernatural story, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, will run from 3 to 31 December in a new adaptation by Beth Flintoff, directed by Paul Stacey. It promises to be “a festive and magical spectacle for the whole family”.

Another supernatural tale, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, has been adapted by Gary McNair into Jekyll & Hyde, which will have its world premiere from 9 February to 6 March 2022. It will be directed by Stacey, with video design by Duncan McLean.

After the success of Alby the Penguin Saves Christmas at the old Reading Rep studio, writer and director Helen Eastman will bring a follow-up, Alby the Penguin Saves the World from 6 to 18 April 2022. Described as “a magical and meaningful adventure”, it will be aimed at children aged three to six.

Reading Rep’s Reborn season will continue with Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in a new production directed by Stacey with the company’s associate director, Christie O’Carroll, from 11 May to 5 June 2022.

Stacey said: “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.”

Founded in 2012 in a 60-seat studio in Reading, the theatre company has created a new cultural hub, converted from a former 1927 Salvation Army Hall. It will include a 180-seat theatre, a permanent education and learning centre, backstage areas and new front-of house facilities including 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 in London.

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About Mark Ludmon 248 Articles
Mark Ludmon has been a journalist for over 20 years, specialising in theatre as well as hospitality and drinks after starting out on regional daily newspapers. He has an MA in early modern literature and history, focusing on Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, and a theatre studies MA from Royal Central School of Speech & Drama. He has also been on the judging panel for the Olivier Awards. He can be found tweeting as @MarkLudmon and writing about theatre at https://markludmon.com.