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Barbican - theatre and dance for Autumn 2013 and beyond

Season preview

HAVING announced its theatre and dance programme for Autumn 2013, Toni Racklin, Head of Theatre at the Barbican, said:

“We are delighted to announce a new season packed with world class events taking place in the Barbican Theatre, the Pit and Stratford Circus. We begin with a series of original commissions from Barbican Artistic Associates Boy Blue Entertainment, Michael Clark Company and Britten Sinfonia – who collaborate with Richard Alston Dance Company.

“We introduce two established festivals to Barbican audiences and later in the year the main stage hosts two thrilling Shakespeare productions – the RSC’s Richard II with David Tennant in the title role and next year, Handspring Puppet Company, which performs a raucous production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Tom Morris.

“There are also treats for younger members of the family; and dynamic new work from Australia, Denmark and the Netherlands.”

CASA Latin American Theatre Festival kicks off the Barbican’s Theatre and Dance autumn season. This annual festival, established in 2007, brings the best Latin American theatre to the UK and facilitates cultural exchange between Latin American and British-based theatre practitioners. Two productions are presented in the Pit, as well as six other works at Rich Mix. The Pit productions are:

Teatro de los Andes – Hamlet de los Andes – Wednesday, October 2 and Thursday, October 3.

In its first visit to the UK, acclaimed company Teatro de los Andes transpose Hamlet to Bolivia in this urgent, physical and stunningly visual production.

Using inventive but deceptively simple staging, three actors and a musician play 15 characters to create a politically charged take on Hamlet that exposes the plight of the thousands of Bolivians who leave their rural homes for the city in hope of a better life.

Teatro de los Andes, one of Latin America’s finest companies, combines Bolivian music and traditional theatre forms with Shakespeare’s themes of personal betrayal and state corruption to create a deeply affecting and original new work.

Teatro Malayerba – La Razón Blindada (The Bulletproof Reason) – Friday, October 4 and Saturday, October 5.

Two prisoners in solitary confinement during Argentina’s 1970s dictatorship are permitted to meet for one hour a week. To escape their harsh reality they tell each other the story of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. Forced to remain seated throughout their encounter, they allow their minds to soar free by constantly reinventing Cervantes’s hero, the knight errant who mistakes windmills for giants and prison for paradise.

Through the use of simple props and quick-fire dialogue, Ecuador’s leading theatre company exemplify the power of theatre to transport spectators into the realm of the imagination even as they remain bound to their seats.

Both productions are performed in Spanish with English surtitles.

Best of BE Festival – Wednesday, October 9 to Saturday, October 12 (the Pit).

BE (Birmingham European) Festival has gained a reputation for bringing Europe’s most original new theatre to the UK. Enjoy the best of the 2013 festival at the Barbican – three prize-winning performances, plus dinner and a drink with fellow audience members and the performers during the specially extended supper interval. There is an informal post-show discussion each night where audiences can exchange ideas with the creators.

The three shows in Best of BE Festival will be announced in July.

Robyn Orlin/Moving into Dance Mophatong – Beauty remained for just a moment then returned gently to her starting position… – Friday, October 18 to Sunday, October 20 (Stratford Circus).

Celebrate the beauty of 21st century Africa with this raucous and entertaining spectacle featuring dance, text, film and props, presented by the Barbican, Dance Umbrella and East London Dance in partnership with Stratford Circus.

This hilarious show encapsulates African culture’s inventiveness: the eye-popping costumes, made from recycled materials such as laundry bags and sweet wrappers are inspired by the customs of the Surma and Mursi tribes who adorn themselves with body paints, plants and animals.

Expect some haggling, gargling, chanting, an attempt to skype with a divinity and many more beautiful and witty surprises.

A special weekend of events will accompany these performances as part of Dance Umbrella 2013.

Shona Reppe – The Curious Scrapbook of Josephine Bean – Tuesday, October 29 to Tuesday, November 5 (the Pit)

In her laboratory, scrapologist Patricia Baker looks after old scrapbooks: she pours over pages filled with all sorts of things that have been flattened and squashed, in order to find out who they belonged to. Watch the world within the book come alive through sound and film, as she unearths a well-hidden and wonderful story, revealing the surprising answer to the question: who exactly is Josephine Bean?

Shona Reppe was last seen at the Barbican in 2011. She is back for half-term with this witty production (ages 7+), winner of the Theatre Award UK for Best Show for children and young people.

Told by an Idiot – Get Happy – Thursday, December 12 to Sunday, December 29 (the Pit).

A mysterious noise is heard from a bag. An opera singer falls in love with a gorilla. And the strangest ever egg sandwich is created live on stage.

This festive season, enter the artfully controlled chaos of Get Happy, a madcap, mischievous show for children (ages 4+) and their families featuring performance, dance, music and visual comedy, commissioned by the Barbican.

Internationally acclaimed theatre company Told by an Idiot has taken inspiration from the work of Charlie Chaplin, Dr Seuss and Pina Bausch: prepare to laugh at some of the silliest things you can imagine in a show that is literally bursting with life and has no rules.

London International Mime Festival – January 2014 (Barbican Theatre and the Pit).

LIMF returns with another programme of innovative, spectacular, intense and unusual, cutting edge and essentially wordless work. This year’s highlight is questcequetudeviens (what’s up?), a spectacular meeting of theatre and flamenco in director Aurélien Bory’s first production at the Barbican since Les Sept Planches de la Ruse with the Chinese Acrobats of Dalian in 2009.

The full festival line-up is announced in the autumn when tickets go on sale.

Bristol Old Vic and Handspring Puppet Company – A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Thursday, February 6 to Saturday, February 15, 2014 (Barbican Theatre).

Tom Morris and Handspring Puppet Company join forces once again to realise one of Shakespeare’s most popular and fantastical plays, in their first collaboration since the hugely successful War Horse.

A shape-shifting Puck is conjured from a selection of workman’s tools, an eight-foot-tall Titania presides over a troupe of malevolent fairies and a giant, controlling Oberon manipulates his fairy queen and meddles in the confusion of the squabbling lovers.

This is a delightful production, a riotous display of irreverent comedy in which anything can come to life and be transformed.

Ilbijerri Theatre Company – Jack Charles v The Crown – Tuesday, February 11 to Saturday, February 15 (the Pit ).

Jack Charles is an Australian legend: veteran actor, musician, Koori elder and activist, but for a good portion of his 70 years he has also been an addict, a thief and a regular in Victoria’s prisons.

From Stolen Generation to Koori theatre in the 1970s, from film sets to Her Majesty’s prisons, Jack Charles v The Crown runs the gamut of a life lived to its utmost. Charles’ unswerving optimism transforms this tale of addiction, crime and doing time into a kind of vagabond’s progress – a map of the traps of dispossession and a guide to reaching the age of grey-haired wisdom.

Jack Charles v The Crown is presented by the Barbican and UK Arts International in association with Farrington Nelsey Productions and Geese Theatre Company.

Circa & Debussy String Quartet – Opus – Tuesday, February 18 to Saturday, February 22 (Barbican Theatre).

A solo acrobat performs beautiful movements suspended in mid-air to the passionate tones of Shostakovich’s music, played live on stage by the renowned Debussy String Quartet. Fourteen circus artists tumble, spin and fly around the musicians in a delicate and savage dance, in this Barbican co-production.

Three of Shostakovich’s String Quartets are at the heart of this poetic and powerful new production. Featuring jaw-dropping physical feats, Opus is both thrilling to look at and stirring to experience.

Circa, one of the best contemporary circus companies in the world, returns to the Barbican stage with its full company of performers, following the sell-out How Like An Angel in summer 2013.

Betty Nansen Teatret – Mozart Undone, A Theatre Concert – Tuesday, February 25 to Saturday, March 1 (Barbican Theatre).

This is Mozart deconstructed – his music played as a rock symphony with new, original lyrics to create a dark underworld.

Six singers and five musicians perform dramatic scenes in water that gradually drenches the stage. In this quirky show, recognisable themes from some of Mozart’s most familiar works are completely rearranged as rock and pop anthems, sung in English, and the shady world of the 18th century is evoked through rococo style.

English National Ballet – Lest We Forget, dance inspired by the centenary of the Great War – Wednesday, April 2 to Saturday, April 12 (Barbican Theatre).

Award-winning British choreographers Akram Khan, Russell Maliphant and Liam Scarlett will create works honouring the centenary of the Great War. Completing this programme is George Williamson’s Firebird.

This is the first time that Akram Khan and Russell Maliphant have collaborated with a classical ballet company in creating work which fuse classical ballet traditions with modern contemporary dance.

Lest We Forget promises to be a landmark event in British dance appealing to contemporary dance audiences as well as ballet devotees.

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