Birmingham Rep launches digital archive

Photos of Laurence Olivier in some of his earliest stage appearances will feature in a new digital archive being launched by Birmingham Repertory Theatre.

The online archive is being launched to mark the 100th birthday of the company, and will include rare photographs, letters, newspaper articles and posters from the organisation’s history.

Called Rep 100, the project will include pictures of more than 3,000 items from the theatre’s past 100 years – currently held in Birmingham’s central library – including letters from the theatre’s founder, Barry Jackson, to actors and directors.

Other letters featured include those from the Lord Chamberlain’s office, which show requests for certain words or references to be removed from plays that were staged prior to the abolition of theatre censorship in 1968.

As well as pictures of Olivier performing in the 1927 production of Bird in Hand, the archive will also feature photos of other performers who have worked there, including Ralph Richardson, Derek Jacobi, June Brown and Albert Finney.

The digital archive will also feature pictures of what Birmingham Rep claim was the first Shakespeare production to be staged in modern dress.

Trisha Jones, general manager of the theatre, said: “Our archives are of local, national and international importance and so the new online digital archive will allow people across the globe to learn about theatre history, Birmingham and British culture.”

The digital archive will launch at www.rep100.org this September and has been funded by a £175,300 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

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