Born into a wealthy merchant grocer's family in 1879, Barry Jackson founded the amateur Pilgrim Players in 1907 and went on to build an elegant 464-seat Repertory Theatre in Station Street in 1913, now known as The Old Rep.
The theatre rapidly became home to one of most famous and exciting repertory theatre companies in the country, reinventing the idea of Shakespeare in modern dress, presenting many world premieres (including George Bernard Shaw's epic Back to Methuselah in 1923) and launching the careers of an array of great British actors, including Ralph Richardson, Edith Evans and Laurence Olivier.
Knighted in 1925, Sir Barry founded the Malvern Theatre Festival in 1929 and was Director of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford in the late 40s. At Birmingham, Sir Barry continued to discover and promote great actors at the Station Street theatre including Paul Scofield, Derek Jacobi, Elizabeth Spriggs and Albert Finney. He toured plays to the city's parks, established a theatre school and made Birmingham Repertory Theatre one of the most renowned theatres in the world.
In 1971 the company moved to Broad Street to a newly built theatre with a stage of epic proportions and a democratic auditorium with no balconies, pillars or boxes. Everyone shares the same space and everyone gets a great view. New generations of artists have launched their careers here and new ideas continue to flourish reflecting changes in the city and the world.
From 2011 to 2013, the theatre underwent redevelopment as part of the Library of Birmingham project. The company moved back to their improved home, following two years presenting shows in other theatres and site-specific spaces across the city, ready for the grand re-opening on 3 September 2013.
2013 was also our Centenary and we celebrated with a range of talks, tours, performances and exhibitions, as well as the launch of our digital archive containing photographs and documents from a century of theatre. You can learn more at REP History (coming soon).