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1970s

The first production to grace the new wide, large stage was an adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, called First Impressions starring Patricia Routledge. Audiences welcomed the new location and design of the theatre and audience figures rose under the varied programmes of Peter Dews, and his successor Michael Simpson as Artistic Director.

In 1972, the Studio opened, it became an example of innovative theatre nationwide. It was aimed at young audiences and showcased new writing, including the world premiere of Death Story by David Edgar. The new Birmingham Rep was keen to promote its local community and in Up Spaghetti Junction and The Canal Show the audience were offered depictions of contemporary Birmingham. However, the theatre was running at a loss by the mid 1970s. In order to secure funding, the Board of Directors was restructured to allow the emergence of new talent to come through.

In 1974, David Edgar was made resident playwright. Despite, the success of Oh Fair Jerusalem, the Rep board decided against staging Destiny because of its strong theme of racial tension, putting The Importance of Being Earnest on its place.

In July 1976, Clive Perry took over as Artistic Director. He wanted to ensure that the Rep made money whilst retaining the principle of a diverse programme. Peter Farago and Bill Pryde joined his team as directors. Performances from Alan Rickman and David Suchet provided some success.

However, by 1977, the theatre still faced an increasing deficit. Perry brought in touring companies and took productions to London to alleviate some of the pressure and the first subscription scheme in regional theatre was introduced.

Highlights during this period included, the Christmas production of Worzel Gummidge featuring the original cast of Jon Pertwee and Una Stubbs, the Hal Prince version of Candide and the Harold Wesker trilogy of The Merchant (1978), The Wedding Feast (1979/1980) and Chips with Everything (1981).

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