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Birmingham Repertory Theatre Photograph Gallery

Unknown play at "The Grange", 1906

"The Grange" was the Jackson family home in Moseley, Birmingham and was host to several performances by Barry Jackson and his friends Herbert Milligan, John Drinkwater and C.R (Tim) Dawes in the early 1900s before they became more established as the Pilgrim Players.
In this photograph Sir Barry is second from the left. They usually performed adaptations of Shakespeare.

Edgbaston Assembly Rooms

The Edgbaston Assembly Rooms became the home of the Pilgrim Players before the theatre at Station Street was built. Between 1908 and 1913, the Pilgrim Players staged twenty-eight plays with simple sets including works by Shakespeare, Galsworthy and Ibsen as well as several productions written by Jackson and Drinkwater themselves.

The Station Street front of the Old Rep

Work began on building the theatre in Station Street in October 1912. Four months later on February 15th 1913, the theatre was opened with a performance of Twelfth Night, preceded for the occasion by a reading by Barry Jackson of a poem written by John Drinkwater.

"To you good ease, and grace to love us well:
To us good ease, and grace some tale to tell
Worthy your love. We stand with one consent
To plead anew a holy argument -
For art is holy."

The Faithful, 1915

The Faithful by John Masefield was performed from the 4th to the 18th December 1915.
It was directed by John Drinkwater and designed by Barry Jackson. The play is set in eighteenth century Japan and is a revenge tragedy. Jackson used a plain grey setting and grey costumes to complement the formal and ceremonious style of the play. Barry Jackson designed 48 productions between the opening of the theatre and the mid-1920s.
This production starred Felix Aylmer and Margaret Chatwin.

Cymbeline, 1923

This production of Cymbeline was Jackson's first experiment with Shakespeare in modern dress. J.C Trewin attributes the decision to stage "Shakespeare in plus-fours" to Jackson judging a children's Shakespeare festival and being struck by an outstanding performance by a group of school-children in their ordinary clothes, who he felt performed better without the distraction of fancy dress. Cymbeline ran from 21st April to 4th May 1923. It was directed by H.K Ayliff and designed by Paul Shelving. Shelving enjoyed a long and successful career at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre and is credited with designing 329 productions.

Romeo and Juliet, 1924

Amongst the experiments with Shakespeare in modern dress, the Rep. presented this traditional production of Romeo and Juliet starring John Gielgud and Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies in May 1924, at the Regent Theatre in London. The partnership between H.K Ayliff and Paul Shelving as director and designer continued. This production ran for sixty performances.
This was Gielgud's first leading role in London and many critics identified his potential as a great classical actor.
Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies joined the Rep. in 1921 and subsequently took numerous leading roles in Birmingham and in London. Juliet was one of her favourite, along with Etain in The Immortal Hour and Betty in The New Morality.

Hamlet, 1925

This production directed by H.K Ayliff opened in London at the Kingsway Theatre in August 1925. It ran there for three months before going to Birmingham.

"Mr Colin Keith-Johnston's Hamlet is, finally, splendid. He has his faults, but in modern clothes they become few; he has youth and manliness and dominance. Having seen twenty or so Hamlets, each with his virtues, I consider Mr Keith Johnston's the most understandable and the most human."

Taken from Hamlet in modern dress. The Birmingham Post 10/11/25

Malvern Festival, 1929

The Malvern Festival took place every year from 1929-1937. The first festival was produced to celebrate the work of George Bernard Shaw and featured The Apple Cart, Back To Methuselah, Heartbreak House and Caesar and Cleopatra.

'We gather here, among the hills, to perform an act of homage to our greatest living dramatist, to be amused and quickened by his humour and wisdom, and, for a few days, "flee from the press and dwell with soothfastness."'
Taken from the 1929 programme

George Bernard Shaw is pictured here taking a photograph of some members of the Company at the Malvern Baths.

The Apple Cart, 1937

The Apple Cart was written by George Bernard Shaw for the first Malvern Festival in 1929. This production in 1936, starred James Stewart, later known as Stewart Granger in the role of King Magnus.

The Birmingham Gazette reported on 26/10/36,
'he has an ease, an assurance, and at the same time an instinctive ability in voice and gesture to portray the subtlest nuances of meaning, that make his performance outstanding.'

Granger went on to work in films and signed with MGM in Hollywood in 1950.
In this photograph, Granger is seated first on the left.

Man and Superman, 1945

Man and Superman by George Bernard Shaw was Peter Brook's directorial debut at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre. He was just twenty years old and had been brought in to replace William Armstrong.
Paul Scofield was cast in the role of Tanner. The result was a well-received production that revealed the immense talent of the two men which was to be continued in the following productions of King John and The Lady From the Sea.

Photograph by Lisel Haas

Henry VI, Part 3, 1953

"All three parts of Shakespeare's Henry VI have found their way on to the stage in Station Street and, if the venture has achieved naught else, it has proved beyond doubt that the three plays belong to the theatre and not to the study; to the actor and not to the scholar. We thank thee, Sir Barry Jackson and Douglas Seale, for driving that home. One likes to think that Shakespeare, man of the theatre through and through, would have rejoiced to have had that so emphatically justified."

Taken from Henry VI Trilogy is Now Complete in The Birmingham Mail 03/07/1953

This production was directed by Douglas Seale and starred Paul Daneman and Alan Nunn. Daneman later starred as Richard in Peter Dews television series An Age of Kings, inspired by Seale's productions.

Hamlet, 1959

This production of Hamlet was directed by Bernard Hepton and starred Ian Richardson in the lead and played from 10th February to 7th March 1959.

"...it would never have again quite the stricken boyishness that - as Sir Barry Jackson had hoped - so distinguished it in Station Street."
Taken from J.C Trewin The Birmingham Repertory Theatre 1913 - 1963

During this season Hepton produced a diverse programme including plays by Sheridan, Wilde, Eliot, Priestley and Ackland as well as Shakespeare.

Photograph by Lisel Haas

1066 And All That, 1970

The theatre in Station Street closed with a performance of 1066 And All That on Saturday 3rd April 1970.
Broad Street was to be home to a new theatre building for the Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company.

Photograph byWilloughby Gullachsen

The images that appear on this page are reproduced with permission from the Sir Barry Jackson Trust.
Photographs by Lisel Haas appear with permission from the Theatre Museum.

The archive is housed in the Library of Birmingham in Archives, Heritage and Photography

Sir Barry Jackson and Birmingham Repertory Theatre Archive 1913 - 1970
The Birmingham Rep. Theatre Archive 1971 - present
Contents of the Sir Barry Jackson and Birmingham Repertory Theatre Archive
Willoughby Gullachsen Photographic Collection
Sir Barry Jackson
Sir Laurence Olivier (1907 - 1989)