Birmingham Old Rep taken over by Ormiston arts academy

The Old Rep in 1918 and present day The Old Rep was built in 1913 and was home to the Birmingham Repertory Theatre company until 1971

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An arts school has taken over management of the 101-year-old Old Rep Theatre in Birmingham.

The Station Street theatre was facing an uncertain future as Birmingham City Council wanted to cut its £20,000 a year running costs.

The Birmingham Ormiston Academy, which teaches the arts to 14 to 19-year-olds, has signed a five-year lease, with the option to extend to 2024.

The Millennium Point-based academy will use the Old Rep for teaching and shows.

Richard Chamberlain as Hamlet in 1969 at Birmingham Repertory Theatre Richard Chamberlain performed as Hamlet at The Old Rep in 1969

Laura Rogers, from the academy, said the college has already invested in improving the backstage areas.

She said: "Professionals and amateurs will still perform there but central to our bid was that it will be a theatre for young people, run by young people.

"They will get the chance to use it as a performance, rehearsal and classroom space as well as learning the technical side and theatre management there."

She said the academy had quickly outgrown its Millennium Point performance facilities so the old theatre would be a "kind of extension of the school".

The theatre was built in 1913 and became known as The Old Rep when the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, in Centenary Square, was built in 1971.

The Birmingham Rep Theatre The 1971 Old Rep replacement in Centenary Square reopened in 2013 with the Library of Birmingham

Council deputy leader Ian Ward said: "We don't have the funding for proactive programming or marketing so the theatre has not been used to its potential.

"I believe that Birmingham Ormiston Academy will breathe new life into this wonderful space."

He said the theatre was previously only used for 20 weeks a year but would in future be used for teaching performance and 'behind the scenes' skills.

Students will follow in the footsteps of actors Laurence Olivier, Peggy Ashcroft, Michael Gambon and Derek Jacobi, who launched their careers on its stage.

Laurence Olivier in the 1927 production of The Silver Box by John Galsworthy Laurence Olivier performed in The Silver Box at The Old Rep in 1927

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