The Rep’s ground-breaking collaboration with Sky Studios comes to fruition this March as audiences are invited to be amongst the first to enjoy the work of the comedy writing stars of the future.
Sky Comedy Rep will host its first-ever festival of new comedic short plays at Birmingham Rep from 3-5 March 2022.
Performances on Thursday 3 and Saturday 5 Mar will be hosted by the award-winning comedian, Birmingham’s own, Darren Harriott.
Harriott has hosted Live at the Apollo and is a regular face on panel shows such Mock the Week and Don’t Hate the Playaz as well as giving his viewpoint on popular reality shows; The Apprentice: You’re Fired and The Great British Bake Off: Extra Slice. He’s a Comedy Central favourite on shows such as The Comedy Bus and Roast Battle and earlier this year he wrote and recorded his own 4 part series Black Label on BBC Radio 4.
Eleven new comedy writers will present nine new plays in two sets of performances, each played twice over the course of three days, under the mentorship of some of the UK’s biggest names in comedy writing including Guz Khan (Man Like Mobeen), Meera Syal (Goodness Gracious Me, The Kumars) and Danny Brocklehurst (Brassic, Shameless).
Led by Sky Comedy Rep Patron, Julie Walters, the performances are the culmination of The Rep’s new comedy writing talent development scheme with Sky Studios. Headed by The Rep’s Artistic director, Sean Foley, and Creative Director of Comedy at Sky Studios, Anil Gupta, this new yearly bursary and mentorship scheme gives early-career comedy writers the opportunity to have their ideas and scripts developed in collaboration with the finest talents in the industry.
Double Olivier-Award winner, Sean Foley said; “It has been incredibly rewarding to see these gifted early career writers benefit from the Sky Comedy Rep programme. From working with their mentors, to having their scripts go through the rehearsal process and into production, this ambitious scheme is a unique way to test and improve their work.
“And now for the final test - the audience… are the plays actually funny? I think they are, and am so looking forward to seeing them in performance. Sky Comedy Rep is delivering on its promise to offer significant national talent development in comedy right here in Birmingham; helping new writers who may not have access to conventional networks emerge and progress is a thrill, and something that will ultimately benefit the TV, theatre, film and wider creative industries.”
BAFTA Award-winner Anil Gupta added; “Whether it’s for theatre or television, comedy benefits from having a diverse pool of writers in the industry, and with Sky Comedy Rep, we want to give young, talented, funny people nurturing, encouragement and most importantly a foot in the door. In our first year, we were inundated with applicants and have lined up some of the best people in the business as mentors, and we’re incredibly proud of the results. We’re looking forward to this scheme going from strength to strength, creating the writing stars of the future.”
Performances of Sky Comedy Rep on Thu 3 Mar at 7.45pm and Sat 5 Mar at 3.45pm will comprise of Hatch by Rob Carter; Twitch by Ed Amsden and Tom Coles; Confucius Says Don’t Use F***ing Tinder On The Full Moon by Jingan Young and Desperate by Kat Rose-Martin. Performances on Fri 4 Mar and Sat 5 Mar at 7.45pm will comprise of Pink Spaceship by Drew Vida Marke; Boys Who F*** and Cry by Ryan Walker-Edwards; Sprint by Jodie Irvine; Mismatch by Ashfaq Gorsi and Spoffin by Mari and Lowri Izzard.
The cast includes Charlotte Brown, Sam Butters, Linda Hargreaves, Duncan Hess, Mari Izzard, Lowri Izzard, Reece J. Morant, Kerena Jagpal, Adonis Jenieco, Karen Johal, Danielle Kassaraté, Su-Lin Looi, Danielle Phillips, Colin Ryan, Kate Spencer, Nylah Taylor-Johnson and Maanuv Thiara. The series of plays will be directed by The Rep’s Artistic Director, Sean Foley, Associate Director, Iqbal Kahn and Associate Director, Madeleine Kludje.
The creative team for Sky Comedy Rep includes Set and Costume Designer Ebrahim Nazier, Lighting Designer Richard G Jones, Sound Designer Clive Meldrum, Casting Director Marc Frankum and Assistant Director Alice Chambers. The Rep’s mission is to create artistically ambitious popular theatre for, by, and with the people of Birmingham and the wider world.
The commissioning and production of new work lies at the core of The Rep’s programme and over the last 15 years, the company has produced more than 130 new plays. As well as presenting over 60 productions on its three stages every year, the theatre tours its productions nationally and internationally.
The Rep’s acclaimed learning and outreach programme is one of the largest and most diverse of any arts organisation in the country. Every year we have over 70,000 contacts with young people and adults in the community on projects from drama or writing workshops to large-scale productions.
The Rep is also committed to nurturing new talent through its youth theatre groups, and it offers training for early career writers, directors, and artists through its ground-breaking Rep Foundry theatre-makers programme. Many of The Rep’s productions go on to have lives beyond Birmingham.
Recent tours and transfers include The Lovely Bones, Brief Encounter, Nativity! The Musical, What Shadows, LOVE, The Winslow Boy, The Government Inspector, Of Mice and Men, Anita and Me, Penguins and The King’s Speech. The theatre’s long-running production of The Snowman celebrated its 25th anniversary as well as its 22nd consecutive season at London's Peacock in 2019.