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Theatre and Dance at the Barbican - September to December 2017

Season preview

THE Barbican’s complete theatre and dance season from September to December 2017 has been announced. Speaking about it, Toni Racklin, Head of Theatre at the Barbican said:

“We are delighted to announce our full autumn theatre and dance season in which we welcome back artists and companies, to the Theatre and The Pit, with whom we have strong and long-standing relationships. We continue our most ambitious dance programme to date with two Olivier-nominees, our Artistic Associate Michael Clark Company and Rocío Molina from Spain as part of Dance Umbrella.

“We remember the late Japanese director Yukio Ninagawa, as his company returns to the Barbican and four Shakespeare plays from the RSC’s ROME season transfer from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre to London. Our co-commission with Landmark Productions and Galway International Arts Festival makes its UK premiere here whilst Toneelgroep Amsterdam concludes its year-long residency at the Barbican.

“We are thrilled to bring back nitroBEAT, Transpose and Lauren Barri Holstein to The Pit with new and boundary-breaking performances whilst this year’s Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Award winners, Mars.tarrab, make their Barbican debut and continue our commitment to invest in the artists of today and tomorrow.

“And we once again offer families with young children a seasonal treat in The Pit at Christmas-time as the egg theatre and Travelling Light Theatre Company make their Barbican debuts.”


Landmark Productions and Galway International Arts Festival – Woyzeck in Winter – in the Barbican Theatre from Wednesday, September 13 to Saturday, September 16.

Büchner’s dramatic masterpiece Woyzeck is interwoven with songs from Schubert’s Winterreise to form a highly distinctive music theatre production, the central roles played by mesmerising Irish performers Patrick O’Kane and Camille O’Sullivan.

A poor soldier earns extra money for his family through menial jobs and participation in bizarre medical experiments. Brutalised by society and consumed with jealousy, he is driven to the far side of alienation and despair – and finally to a desperate, violent act.

Exploiting the uncanny similarities between these two dark masterworks, Dublin-based director Conall Morrison draws on Schubert’s extraordinary music to illuminate the inner landscape of Woyzeck’s tortured mind. With the startling story set amid a terrain of broken pianos, vivid scenes flow seamlessly into songs, now translated into English, revealing their potent passion.

The cast also includes Stephen Brennan, Rosaleen Linehan and Barry McGovern, outstanding actor-singers who have appeared previously at the Barbican.

Toneelgroep Amsterdam – After the Rehearsal/Persona, based on the films by Ingmar Bergman – in the Barbican Theatre from Wednesday, September 27 to Saturday, September 30. Performed in Dutch with English surtitles.

Two Bergman screenplays are reimagined for the stage in a double bill about the chaotic lives of theatre people, exposing the fine line between art and reality, illness and normality.

After the Rehearsal: For Hendrik Vogler, a director obsessed by his work, rehearsals are like notes in his diary, performances his autobiography. Everything is subject to his control yet it soon becomes apparent that life cannot be kept at bay when ex-lover Rachel, and Anna, her daughter and his current star, breach his sanctum.

Persona: Celebrated actress Elisabeth Vogler falls mute and retreats into silence. It’s as though a short circuit has occurred, calling into question the roles she must play. She is cared for in hospital by nurse Alma who then accompanies her to an island summerhouse in an attempt to coax her into speaking again. Tension between the two builds.

Citing Bergman among Ivo van Hove’s favourite filmmakers, he directs four actors from his Dutch ensemble on a set that transforms from the sparse to the scenically breathtaking.

After the Rehearsal/Persona concludes Toneelgroep Amsterdam’s 2017 residency at the Barbican, which started with the return of Roman Tragedies in March, and continues with Obsession in London in April and May before embarking on a European tour.

nitroBEAT – nitroBEAT Pit Party – Suckerpunch Boom Suite – in The Pit on September 29 and 30.

Pioneering New York artist Jean-Michel Basquiat is the source of inspiration for this fluid theatrical gig, which unites a vibrant community of collaborators at the forefront of experimental sound, lyricism and physical poetry.

This uplifting event sees theatre-makers, visual artists and performance poets draw on their past and present to envision a progressive future. Their pieces are set to free jazz, hip-hop, electronic and psychedelic funk played live by a band, engaging audiences in the party atmosphere.

Influenced by Basquiat, Suckerpunch Boom Suite responds to some of the themes and deeper truths present in his work. In this spirit, nitroBEAT’s Artistic Director Diane Morgan curates an evening that celebrates freedom of expression through contemporary black culture, cross-fertilisation, liberation and inclusivity.

Ninagawa Company – Macbeth by William Shakespeare – in the Barbican Theatre from Thursday, October 5 to Sunday, October 8. Performed in Japanese with English surtitles.

Ninagawa Company’s Macbeth introduced UK audiences to the work of Yukio Ninagawa 30 years ago and this epoch-making production is now reprised at the Barbican to celebrate the work of the late Japanese director.

Faithful to the text’s depiction of honour and revenge, yet rich in symbolism, this staging of Shakespeare’s bloody tragedy blurs the divide between the sacred and secular. Masachika Ichimura and Yuko Tanaka, stars in Japan of stage and screen respectively, lead the cast in this revival which transposes the action to a 16th-century samurai world in war-torn Japan.

Rocío Molina – Fallen from Heaven (Caída del Cielo) – Dance Umbrella – in the Barbican Theatre from Thursday, October 12 to Saturday, October 14.

Spanish dancer Rocío Molina strips flamenco down to its purest form: a passionate and exhilarating expression of freedom.

For her newest piece, part of this year’s Dance Umbrella, she borrows from feminine, masculine and even animalistic codes to devise a personal performance about womanhood. As she adopts different guises and inventive costumes, provocative and playful images emerge. At times alone, at others collaborating with four phenomenal onstage musicians, Fallen from Heaven (Caída del Cielo) is a physically demanding progression from shadow to light, silence to sound, order to chaos – a fall with no return.

Molina’s last visit to the Barbican, with Bosque Ardora, proved a hit of Dance Umbrella 2014, earning her an Olivier Award nomination.

Michael Clark Company – to a simple, rock ‘n’ roll . . . song. – in the Barbican Theatre from Wednesday, October 18 to Saturday, October 28.

Michael Clark is back with an extended version of his latest show. Enjoying its premiere at the Barbican in 2016, the Olivier Award-nominated to a simple, rock ‘n’ roll . . . song. comprises a triple bill of gorgeously arresting choreography by Barbican Artistic Associate Clark.

At first, a reflection on Erik Satie and his influence on Clark’s mentors past and present – the dance meticulous and coolly refined. Next, commanding choreography pulsating with a propulsive force to the punk rock of Patti Smith’s landmark album, Horses. Then, an iridescent tribute to David Bowie that is intricate and sublime, the mood moving from elegiac to joyously rebellious.

Performances by a company of fearless and otherworldly dancers are complemented by Charles Atlas’s scintillating lighting design, which features a stage adaptation of his multi-channel video installation Painting by Numbers.

Royal Shakespeare Company – Coriolanus – in the Barbican Theatre from Monday, November 6 to Saturday, November 18.

A full-throttle war play that revels in the sweat of the battlefield, Coriolanus looks back to the emergence of the republic of Rome.

Caius Martius Coriolanus is a fearless soldier but a reluctant leader. His ambitious mother attempts to carve him a path to power yet he struggles to change his nature and do what is required to achieve greatness. Now he must decide who he really is and where his allegiances lie.

Set in a new city state struggling to find its feet, where the gap between rich and poor widens every day, this visceral production opens the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Rome season at the Barbican. Following his sell-out hits of Oppenheimer (2014) and Don Quixote (2016) in Stratford-upon-Avon, Angus Jackson directs rising talent Sope Dirisu in the title role.

Royal Shakespeare Company – Julius Caesar – in the Barbican Theatre from Friday, November 24 to Saturday, January 20, 2018.

Angus Jackson directs Shakespeare’s epic political tragedy, as the race to claim the empire spirals out of control.

Caesar returns from war, an all-conquering hero, but mutiny is rumbling through the corridors of power. Although Brutus loves Caesar, he is persuaded to kill him for the greater good, and like all conspirators loses control of the consequences.

Season Director Angus Jackson steers the thrilling action of the story that continues to define all political backstabbing, with spin and betrayal turning to violence. The cast includes Andrew Woodall in the title role alongside Alex Waldmann as Brutus.

Royal Shakespeare Company – Antony & Cleopatra – in the Barbican Theatre from Thursday, November 30 to Saturday, January 20.

One of Shakespeare’s greatest love stories, Antony & Cleopatra continues the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Rome season, picking up the story where Julius Caesar ends.

Following Caesar’s assassination, Mark Antony has reached the heights of power. Now he neglects his empire for a life of decadent seduction with his mistress, Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt. Torn between love and duty, his military brilliance deserts him, and his passion leads the lovers to their tragic end.

Known for his fresh and urgent interpretations of Shakespeare, Iqbal Khan directs Josette Simon and Antony Byrne in the title roles. Singer-songwriter Laura Mvula writes the music for the production.

Royal Shakespeare Company – Titus Andronicus – in the Barbican Theatre from Thursday, December 7 to Friday, January 19.

The decay of Rome reaches vicious depths in Shakespeare’s most brutal and bloody play. Blanche McIntyre directs the epic conclusion of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Rome season.

Titus is a ruler exhausted by war and loss. He relinquishes power but leaves Rome in disorder. Rape, cannibalism and severed body parts fill the moral void at the heart of this corrupt world.

Shakespeare’s gory revenge depicts murder as entertainment. As the body count piles up, the tragedy poses questions about the nature of sexuality, family, class and society. David Troughton leads the cast.

The Famous Lauren Barri Holstein – Notorious – from Tuesday, November 7 to Saturday, November 11 at 7.45pm.

Blurring the lines between live art, theatre and fine art, The Famous Lauren Barri Holstein interrogates representations of female subjectivity, looking at ways in which social media and consumerism have redefined how people relate to the female body.

In this irreverent phenomenon of music, dance and ‘witch-bitch’ ritual, The Famous plunges into the ghostly underworld of popular culture, seeking, as she puts it, “the pure me behind this soiled shroud of promiscuity.”

Pulling from Medusa, Nicki Minaj and her own legendary self(ie), she examines pop culture’s take on the ‘female monster’. Expect visual overload and risk-taking from this performance, which follows on from the sell-out Splat! seen at the Barbican in 2013.

The Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Award 2017: Mars.tarrab – ROLLER – in The Pit from Thursday, November 23 to Saturday, December 2.

Full contact, female-focused, self-organising and community run – roller derby is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world. Fascinated by its popularity, Rachel Mars and nat tarrab have risked life and limb to create an energy-packed performance investigating female competition, ageing and power.

The irresistible duo put their skates on in a bid to understand what roller derby can reveal about bodies, economics and belonging. Throwing off the terrible memories of school sports, they jostle with the status quo, creating their own alternative teams of diverse women to collaborate on this visual show.

Winners of this year’s Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Award, their work is fuelled by curiosity, queerness, rigorous research and the smashing together of the gut-wrenching and the gleeful.

CN Lester – Transpose: Barbican – in The Pit on December 8 and 9.

Curated by and featuring CN Lester, activist, author and singer-songwriter, this is the second Transpose: Barbican following its successful debut last autumn.

An illuminating theatrical journey with artists from the queer and trans communities, they share poetry, music, video art and storytelling with a revelatory quality.

New collaborators such as operatic soprano Alexandra Bork and classical pianist Nicholas Bonadies join young poet Jamie Hale whose confessional spoken word stole the hearts of the audience in 2016.

The egg and Travelling Light Theatre Company – Snow Mouse – in The Pit from Wednesday, December 13 to Saturday, December 23.

In Snow Mouse two friends embark on an adventure in a magical forest full of play, music and wonder in this enchanting tale for babies and the very young to enjoy with their families.

Entering The Pit it’s as though winter has arrived, with woods covered in sparkly snow. A child runs outside but soon feels lonely. Drawn by a sound, the child finds a sleeping mouse buried under the soft white flakes. Together they explore, sliding, tumbling and laughing.

The egg theatre, based in Bath and Bristol’s Travelling Light Theatre Company combine an endearing puppet, one performer, lots of giggles and a tactile set perfect for audiences to sit close to the action.

For more information or to book tickets, call the box office on 0845 120 7511 or visit