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Barbican announces January - April 2022 Theatre and Dance programme

A party of people in front of an orange screen wearing party hats, dancing with confetti and inflatables.

The Barbican today announces its 2022 Theatre and Dance programme, from January to April. Tickets go on sale to Principal Patrons and Barbican Patrons today, to Barbican Members Plus on Thursday 28 October, to Barbican Members on Friday 29 October and on general sale from Monday 1 November 2021.

Toni Racklin, Head of Theatre and Dance at the Barbican said: “We’re so pleased to announce the return of our international performances as part of the Theatre and Dance programme at the Barbican in 2022. We’re thrilled to welcome back our friends at London International Mime Festival, who bring four shows to our stages, and to welcome back our Artistic Associate, Boy Blue, and regular, Ballet Black. Belarus Free Theatre perform on our stage for the first time in a highly anticipated new production, and Barbican Theatre Open Lab alumni, The PappyShow, also appear in two of our venues for the first time. From family-friendly performances to a late-night party for the over 18s, there’s something to suit all tastes this spring and we look forward to audiences joining us for this exciting array of productions.”

Whilst the RSC’s The Comedy of Errors continues in the Theatre, 2021 ends with the Barbican co-commission of First Light by UK-based theatre artists Daniel Naddafy and Marty Langthorne. This enthralling world premiere is an immersive, intimate experience that explores the wonders of sensory development in early childhood.

The Theatre and Dance programme’s online offer continues as the inimitable Taylor Mac from the USA turns festive traditions on their head with the cathartic Holiday Sauce… Booster! in the run up to Christmas.

London International Mime Festival 2022 returns to kick-off the new year with four shows at the Barbican. In the Theatre, Compagnie 111 returns with aSH, a piece by French theatre director Aurélien Bory for Indian performer Shantala Shivalingappa which completes Bory’s trilogy of large-scale solos for female dancers. This is followed by Interiors, from one of Scotland’s foremost theatre companies Vanishing Point. This internationally acclaimed production is inspired by Nobel Prize winner Maurice Maeterlinck’s classic play, Interior. In The Pit UK-based Thick & Tight make their Barbican debut with Short & Sweet – a thoroughly modern variety show of nine new works including a preview of a Japanese Noh theatre-inspired piece. Following this is the UK premiere of Stellaire by French company Stereoptik - a handmade mini-spectacle using paper, chalk, charcoal, sand, silhouettes and projection to tell an enchanting tale of astral romance.

Barbican Theatre Open Lab alumni The PappyShow bring two performances to the Barbican. First is their Pit Party - two joyous evenings of physical theatre, music and fun celebrating inclusivity. The following month, this playful theatre ensemble performs their award-winning production of BOYS in Silk Street Theatre. The show has been created in response to ideas of British masculinity and sees a 10-strong cast dive headfirst into the experiences of being a man.

Barbican Artistic Associate Boy Blue returns to the Theatre with their biennial showcase, A Night with Boy Blue, hosted by Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante and Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy. These performances mark the company’s 21st birthday in 2022 and assemble the entire company from the youngest pupils to professional dancers. After Saturday’s performance, over 18s are invited to dance the night away until late at the BSI Jam: Beats, Streets & Inspiration – After Party in the Barbican foyer.

One of the world’s bravest theatre companies, Belarus Free Theatre, brings a visceral, psychological drama to the Theatre, which depicts a future dystopian super-state in which individual rights have given way to control. This UK premiere and Barbican co-commission is based on a novel by Alhierd Bacharevic – now banned in Belarus – about the dangers of ignoring the onset of authoritarianism.

Celebrating their 20th anniversary, Cassa Pancho's Ballet Black debut an outstanding double bill in the Theatre with new work by South African choreographer Gregory Maqoma, co-commissioned by the Barbican, and score by Boy Blue co-artistic director Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante, and a new ballet directed by Cassa Pancho, featuring choreography by the artists of Ballet Black.

Daniel Naddafy & Marty Langthorne – First Light
Wednesday 8–Sunday 19 December 2021, The Pit
Press performances: Thursday 9 December 2021, times vary

First Light is a theatrical installation made especially for babies and toddlers. The production is co-created by theatre-maker Daniel Naddafy and artist and lighting designer Marty Langthorne and co-commissioned by the Barbican.

First Light is an immersive, intimate experience that explores the wonders of sensory development in early childhood. Inspired by ‘baby lab’ research into the developing senses of babies in their first 18 months, this 15-minute installation, for one household at a time, distills the world of awakening perception into an enthralling show. Babies and toddlers up to 18 months-old, along with their grown-ups, are invited to sit, crawl, lie-down or stand-up as they bathe in sound and light. The specially created soundscape of domestic and everyday sounds harmonise with and echo the progression of a newborn’s hearing.

Whilst at the Barbican, families and carers can also visit the reopened free creative play area, Squish Space, in the Level G studio. With a variety of materials and tactile objects on hand, it’s a place to spin, jump, hide and touch where the under 5s learn together through interaction, collaboration, and play. Squish Space is produced by artists India Harvey and Lisa Marie Bengtsson in collaboration with Barbican Creative Learning. Squish Space is limited to 16 adults and children and advance online booking is necessary.

First Light was announced on Wednesday 13 October and is on general sale.

Taylor Mac – Holiday Sauce… Booster!
Friday 10, Friday 17 & Friday 24 December 2021, Online

Holiday traditions are turned riotously on their head by the inimitable Taylor Mac, who manifests a joyous community spirit to celebrate the season in all of its dysfunction.  

Holiday Sauce… Booster! blends music, film, burlesque, and random acts of fabulousness in the most subversive and cathartic event of the year.  In this virtual reimagining of Taylor Mac’s celebrated annual holiday show, the 2021 edition features new original music and festive classics delightfully deconstructed with the help of a spectacular band led by Music Director Matt Ray and eye-popping costumes by long-time collaborator Machine Dazzle. For this beloved New York theatre artist and 2020 Ibsen Award winner, there is more to the holidays than rampant capitalism and gift giving, and imagination is its own spirituality.

Holiday Sauce… Booster! celebrates the power of chosen family and gives us a chance to honour all the families we choose to love – and who choose to love us – at this time of year.

London International Mime Festival 2022
Thick & Tight – Short & Sweet
Tuesday 25–Saturday 29 January 2022, The Pit
Press performance: Wednesday 26 January 2022, 7.45pm

Thick & Tight make their Barbican debut with Short & Sweet - an amuse-bouche platter of nine new works designed to excite, provoke and satisfy.

Created by Eleanor Perry and Daniel Hay-Gordon, this thoroughly modern variety show mixes dance, drag, lip-syncing and satire. It brings a host of famous and infamous characters to life: Sid Vicious, Twiggy, Grace Jones, a monstrous Putin/Rasputin hybrid, eight Edith Sitwells and everyone’s favourite avant-garde duo, John Cage and Elaine Paige. The evening concludes with a preview of new work inspired by Japanese Noh theatre, commissioned by the Noh Reimaged Festival.

Thick & Tight are joined by an incredible line-up of artists: Corali Dance Company, Harry Alexander, Oxana Panchenko, Azara Meghie and Connor Scott.

London International Mime Festival 2022 shows at the Barbican were announced on Wednesday 13 October and are on general sale.

London International Mime Festival 2022
Compagnie 111 –
aSH
A piece by Aurélien Bory for Shantala Shivalingappa
Wednesday 26–Saturday 29 January, Barbican Theatre
Press performance: Thursday 27 January 2022, 7.45pm

The final work in Aurélien Bory’s trilogy of large-scale solos for female dancers, aSH is performed by one of the most original dancers of our time, Shantala Shivalingappa, to a live soundscape provided by Loïc Schild. In this dazzling performance, Shivalingappa leads audiences on a thrilling journey linking ancestral culture and innovative technology. Paying homage to Shiva, god of creation and destruction, the Madras-born dancer interprets Shiva’s vibration - the rhythm of the world - moving in spirals and patterns.

Trained in Kuchipudi, originally a male dance form, Shivalingappa is a New York Bessie Award-winning dancer, actor and singer who has worked with some of the greatest modern directors and choreographers including Maurice Béjart, Peter Brook and Pina Bausch.

aSH follows Aurélien Bory’s Olivier Award-nominated What’s Become of You? (Questcequetudeviens?) for the flamenco artist Stéphanie Fuster which was seen at the Barbican in 2014 as part of London International Mime Festival, and Plexus with Japanese star Kairo Ito in 2015 at Sadler’s Wells, also part of London International Mime Festival.

London International Mime Festival 2022 shows at the Barbican were announced on Wednesday 13 October and are on general sale.

London International Mime Festival 2022
Vanishing Point –
Interiors
Wednesday 2–Saturday 5 February 2022, Barbican Theatre
Press performance: Wednesday 2 February 2022, 7.45pm

Mysteries unfurl beyond the stage in this hypnotic and powerfully intense drama from Vanishing Point, one of Scotland’s foremost theatre companies.

Behind a window, in a cosy room, a group of friends gather for a meal. The lamps are on, everyone is happy. Talk begins and stories unfold. There is laughing, flirting, joking, eating and dancing. But sadness soon threads its way through the occasion, secrets emerge and lies are exposed. Outside someone is watching.

Vanishing Point are celebrated for their distinctive and visionary work. This internationally acclaimed production is inspired by Nobel Prize winner Maurice Maeterlinck’s classic play, Interior.

London International Mime Festival 2022 shows at the Barbican were announced on Wednesday 13 October and are on general sale.

London International Mime Festival 2022
Stereoptik – Stellaire

Tuesday 1–Saturday 5 February 2022, The Pit
Press performance: Tuesday 1 February 2022, 7.45pm

Stellaire is a handmade mini-spectacle - a love story unfolding through space and time, set in a magic-lantern world. Using paper, chalk, charcoal, sand, silhouettes and projection, Romain Bermond and Jean-Baptiste Maillet create wondrous cartoon-theatre.

Stereoptik’s two virtuoso visual artists propel audiences into orbit, to wonder at the mysteries of the universe and stars. The duo’s gentle live music accompaniment highlights the enchanting astral romance.

Bermond and Maillet first met as members of a brass band. Since creating their inaugural show in 2008 their work has been enjoyed across the world. Stellaire follows Dark Circus, their big top cowboy melodrama seen at the Barbican in 2016 as part of London International Mime Festival.

London International Mime Festival 2022 shows at the Barbican were announced on Wednesday 13 October and are on general sale.

Boy Blue – A Night with Boy Blue
Saturday 5 & Sunday 6 March 2022, Barbican Theatre
Press performance: Saturday 5 March 2022, 8pm

Mixing exuberant hip-hop dance, a joyful sense of community and the heart-thumping rhythms of an electronic score, Boy Blue’s biennial showcase always culminates in uproarious applause.

Hosted by Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante and Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy, these performances assemble the entire company from the youngest pupils to professional dancers. Seventy performers flood the stage in ensembles that match taut choreography with empowering movement and irresistible musicality.

This family-friendly show celebrates the pioneers of hip-hop dance theatre and their creative mission to educate, enlighten and entertain. 2022 marks the company’s 21st birthday, as they look back and pay it forward.

After Saturday’s performance, over 18s are invited to dance the night away at the BSI Jam: Beats, Streets & Inspiration – After Party. Boy Blue's Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante and guests play the best in R&B, hip hop, funk, house and old skool music until late in the Barbican foyer.

The PappyShow Pit Party
Friday 4 & Saturday 5 March 2022, The Pit
Press performance: Saturday 5 March 2022, 6pm

Join us for an evening of radical joy, celebrating bold and beautiful dance, music and the best of vibes curated by The PappyShow.

The playful ensemble company host this exciting mixed-bill of performances that showcase their own work and other outstanding artists they love. Dance, laugh and celebrate as they introduce the best of dance, physical performance, spoken word and a live DJ set; all with collaboration, community and showcasing marginalised identities at the heart of the night. 

Founded by Kane Husbands in 2013, The PappyShow is a theatre company of ten core friends that brings people together to move and create room for people to play and celebrate their voice. As well as their critically-acclaimed productions – such as BOYS, Winner of the Origins Outstanding New Work Award at VAULT Festival and OFFIE nominated GIRLS – they lead diverse workshops that centre training for everybody and all bodies.

Belarus Free Theatre – Dogs of Europe
Thursday 10–Saturday 12 March 2022, Barbican Theatre
Press performance: Friday 11 March 2022, 7.45pm

From one of the world’s bravest theatre companies comes a visceral, psychological drama set in the near future, depicting a dystopian super-state in which individual rights have given way to control.

In 2049, a murder investigation sets a man on a quest, his search bringing him to former Belarus and Russia, now a European territory ruled by a secret service. But his journey becomes less about the regime’s origins, more a revelation about his own role in its creation. Based on a novel by Alhierd Bacharevic – now banned in Belarus - Dogs of Europe is both an epic fantasy and political thriller about the dangers of looking away when authoritarianism takes root.

Exiled from their native country, the co-founders of Belarus Free Theatre are political refugees who make underground work that plays to courageous audiences in secret locations across Minsk and around the world. Rehearsing from London and via Skype, the company is known for its physical theatrical style. Having lived in democracies and a dictatorship, this show is especially prescient.

Dogs of Europe is performed in Belarusian with English surtitles.

Ballet Black – Double Bill
Thursday 24–Sunday 27 March 2022, Barbican Theatre
Press performance: Friday 25 March 2022, 7.45pm

Celebrating their 20th anniversary, this thrilling and imaginative ballet company debut an outstanding double bill featuring choreography from Gregory Maqoma and score by Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante.

For their latest programme, Cassa Pancho's Ballet Black bring two original works to the Barbican stage, including a new piece for the full company by acclaimed South African choreographer Gregory Maqoma (Cion: Requiem of Ravel’s Bolero) and an original score by Michael 'Mikey J' Asante, co-artistic director of Barbican Artistic Associate Boy Blue. The double bill also comprises a new ballet directed by Cassa Pancho, featuring choreography by the artists of Ballet Black.

Ballet Black is transforming the dance landscape by giving a platform to artists of Black and Asian descent as well as to new and established choreographic voices whose unexpected stories and themes come from the heart to resonate with modern audiences.

The PappyShow – BOYS  
Tuesday 12–Saturday 23 April 2022, Silk Street Theatre
Press performance: Wednesday 13 April 2022, 7.45pm

Laugh, cry and celebrate with the performers of The PappyShow as they share a multitude of stories about being a young man of colour in an electric show bursting with physical energy, tender reflection and playful improvisation.

For the 10-strong cast of BOYS – whose communities, families and heritage span the globe – it’s time to dive headfirst into the experiences of being a man. Flipping from jokey games to hard-hitting insights and heartfelt understanding, they dance, talk and interact, unravelling preconceptions and their lived experience. With identities explored, endurance tested and vulnerability expressed, this is a joyful, authentic and raw portrayal of manhood.

BOYS weaves slick choreography and dialogue with a soundtrack of contemporary beats that soar and dip to set the mood. Created by the company in response to ideas of British masculinity, the performance is ‘as moving and truthful, as it is humorous and powerful’ (Exeunt Magazine).

Notes to Editors
Fluid in its format, the Barbican’s Pit Parties invite a guest artist, producer or organisation to curate a programme of work by multiple artists that interest them, and offers time for audiences and artists to socially interact in a relaxed environment. The inaugural Pit Party took place in 2016, curated by nitroBEAT. Since then the Barbican has presented Pit Parties in collaboration with Touretteshero, Studio 3 Arts, Transform Festival, Jamie Hale and Inua Ellams.

The Barbican believes in creating space for people and ideas to connect through its international arts programme, community events and learning activity. To keep its programme accessible to everyone, and to keep investing in the artists it works with, the Barbican needs to raise more than 60% of its income through ticket sales, commercial activities and fundraising every year. Donations can be made here: barbican.org.uk/donate

Image: The PappyShow Pit Party, image credit Helen Murray