Major sporting event to be staged at Westside theatre

The Birmingham Repertory Theatre has staged many creative productions over the years, but nothing like the action that awaits audiences next month.

The Centenary Square venue is switching from the arts to sport by hosting the British Open – one of the most prestigious tournaments in professional squash – from 11 to 16 April.

To provide a fitting ‘stage’ for the world’s best squash players, a special glass court will be built within the theatre for use throughout the competition.

It will be the first time that the British Open, regarded as the ‘Wimbledon of squash’, will be held in Birmingham for more than two decades, since it took place at what is now the Utilita Arena Birmingham in 2001.

The tournament, second only to the Professional Squash Association World Championships, will see 96 of the best players from across the globe competing in Birmingham.

The opening two days of the event will take place at Edgbaston Priory Club, before play moves to the spectacular setting of The Rep, and its all-glass show court, from round three onwards.

Among the top players competing for the men’s and women’s trophies will be defending champions Paul Coll, of New Zealand, and Hania El Hammamy, of Egypt.

Also hoping for a large slice of the record prize fund of $370,000 are England No.1s Mohamed ElShorbagy and Sarah-Jane Perry.

Rachael Thomas, executive director at the Birmingham Rep, said: “We are thrilled to be part of bringing the British Open to the city and hosting matches on our main stage in a spectacular all-glass show court setting.

“We look forward to welcoming thousands of spectators to The Rep over the ten-day period and sharing our iconic theatre with them.

“Hosting this significant sporting event generates income that’s invested back into all the work that The Rep does as a registered charity – whether that’s theatre productions on our stages, outreach work in schools and communities or talent development with new artists.”

PSA chief executive Alex Gough said they were “excited” to move the British Open to Birmingham, “a city which has a rich history within the sport”.

And England Squash chief executive Mark Williams added: “The Rep will provide a fantastic stage for the event, providing both an iconic city centre location and giving spectators an unparalleled viewing experience.”

For more information about the event, please visit the website at http://britishopensquash.info/

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