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Barbican Theatre and Dance programme - January to July 2018

Season preview

THE Barbican has announced its January to July 2018 Theatre and Dance season and public booking opens on Friday, November 10, 2017.

Toni Racklin, Head of Theatre at the Barbican said: “We continue our commitment to deliver a truly international programme by collaborating with artists, producers and partners to bring boundary-breaking live experiences to our audiences. Opera, ballet, contemporary dance, cabaret, scripted and devised plays all have a place in our thrilling 2018 programme.

“We are excited by the breadth of voices we can offer our audiences this season, from emerging artists to leading directors, choreographers and performers originating from France, Belgium, Japan, Australia, Portugal, Russia, the USA, Sweden, Ireland and the UK. Audiences have come to expect the unexpected when they visit the Barbican and this season is no exception.

“Plus there are exciting opportunities to engage with and participate in this work made by innovative artists and companies, experimenting and playing with what theatre can be.”

Performances featuring live music feature prominently in the 2018 programme. From the USA comes Taylor Mac’s A 24-Decade History of Popular Music: The First Act, which reframes the social history of America through three decades of song. This European premiere forms part of LIFT 2018 and the season The Art of Change.

From Australia, Barry Humphries presents his Weimar Cabaret – a risqué, sophisticated and seductive tribute to the jazz-infused music of the Weimar Republic featuring Meow Meow and Aurora Orchestra.

The world premiere of The Royal Opera’s Coraline based on the much loved story by Neil Gaiman is composed by Mark-Anthony Turnage, directed by Aletta Collins with Sian Edwards conducting the Barbican Associate Ensemble, Britten Sinfonia.

There is another chance to see the The Royal Ballet’s Elizabeth starring its former Principal Zenaida Yanowsky. Choreographed by Will Tuckett in partnership with playwright Alasdair Middleton, this is a dynamic exploration of the monarch’s life and loves.

Eleven members of the internationally renowned string orchestra, Scottish Ensemble, collaborate with five contemporary dance artists from Sweden’s Andersson Dance to reawaken Bach’s timeless masterpiece, Goldberg Variations – ternary patterns for insomnia.

The UK premiere of The Second Violinist by Ireland’s Landmark Productions and Wide Open Opera is a dazzling modern opera, written and directed by Enda Walsh and composed by Donnacha Dennehy, that tells the foreboding story of a life falling apart.

2018 starts with London International Mime Festival. Two cutting-edge companies from Belgium perform in the Theatre and two French companies make their UK and Barbican debuts in The Pit.

Olivier Award-winning Belgian company Peeping Tom return with the UK premiere of Mother (Moeder) which explores the archetypal matriarchal figure, and Toneelhuis/FC Bergman appear for the first time with the UK premiere of 300 el x 50 el x 30 el which follows the inhabitants of a small village community gripped by the fear of an impending flood.

Bêtes de foire – Petit Théâtre de Gestes brings its intimate circus tinged with nostalgia to The Pit, performed by Elsa De Witte and Laurent Cabrol whilst Lift Off (Je brasse de l’air) is performed by Magali Rousseau who reveals exquisite metal creatures during this promenade performance with clarinet by Stéphane Diskus.

Also as part of LIMF 2018 is a screening of Variety, directed by Karl Freund, in Cinema 1 on Sunday, January 21, with live piano accompaniment by Stephen Horne.

Cassa Pancho’s Ballet Black appears twice in this season, with Double Bill which features Cathy Marston from the UK choreographing a stage version of The Suit (co-commissioned by the Barbican) inspired by Can Themba’s novel, and Portuguese choreographer Arthur Pita restages A Dream Within a Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Dancers from Ballet Black then appear in Viviana Durante Company’s homage to Kenneth MacMillan, Steps Back in Time, accompanied by dancers from The Royal Ballet and Scottish Ballet.

Cheek by Jowl presents its first Shakespeare production in the French language: Pericles (Périclès, Prince de Tyr). This Barbican co-production comes to London as part of a UK and international tour, directed by Declan Donnellan. During the run there is a Weekend Lab with Assistant Director Marcus Roche.

Productions which look to novels as their inspiration also feature prominently in the 2018 programme: Picnic at Hanging Rock by Tom Wright is a retelling of Joan Lindsay’s cult 1967 novel, which has haunted the Australian psyche for decades, directed by Matthew Lutton for Australia’s Malthouse Theatre and Black Swan State Theatre Company. The 1975 film version directed by Peter Weir is also screened in Cinema 3 on Thursday, December 14, 2017.

As previously announced, Vakhtangov State Academic Theatre of Russia returns with Smile Upon Us, Lord, a UK premiere based on two novels by Lithuanian-born Grigory Kanovich.

And Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui from Belgium and Bunkamura Theatre Cocoon from Japan present the UK premiere of Pluto based on the iconic manga series Astro Boy by Osamu Tezuka.

Throughout 2018, the Barbican presents The Art of Change season which explores how artists respond to, reflect and can potentially effect change in the social and political landscape.

Productions already announced include: the UK premiere of The Town Hall Affair by The Wooster Group from the USA directed by Elizabeth LeCompte; the world premiere of Unexploded Ordnances (UXO) by Split Britches, also from the USA, performed by Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver and a Weekend Lab hosted by Weaver during the run; the UK premiere of Lady Eats Apple by Australia’s Back to Back Theatre as part of LIFT 2018; a public performance of Let Me Play the Lion Too by the UK’s Told by an Idiot following a two-week residency in The Pit for twelve performers, six of whom have a disability…

…Rhiannon Faith’s Smack That (a conversation), developed through Barbican Guildhall Open Lab – a raw and honest account of domestic abuse; the world premiere and Barbican commission of A Change is Gonna Come by the Barbican Young Poets under the artistic and creative direction of Jacob Sam-La Rose and Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante and the return of Boy Blue Entertainment’s phenomenally successful Blak Whyte Gray created by Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy and Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante.

Boy Blue also presents A Night with Boy Blue which sees more than fifty performers present an empowering showcase followed by a BSI Jam: Beats, Streets & Inspiration after the Saturday night show.

And Julie Cunningham & Company returns to the Barbican with the world premiere of a new choreographic work inspired by Sarah Kane’s play Crave which features four actors and four dancers who connect meticulous and stark movement to the poetic writing.

For more information, visit www.barbican.org.uk/whats-on/theatre-dance.