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Barbican announces new Theatre and Dance productions for this autumn

The Barbican today announces new productions in its Theatre and Dance October to December 2021 programme. Tickets go on sale to Principal Patrons and Barbican Patrons today, to Barbican Members Plus on Thursday 2 September, to Barbican Members on Friday 3 September and on general sale from Monday 6 September 2021.

Toni Racklin, Head of Theatre and Dance at the Barbican said: “We’re thrilled to once again offer audiences our Theatre and Dance programme from this October for the first time since the pandemic hit in March 2020. As the spectacular musical Anything Goes continues throughout the autumn in the Theatre, we today announce an exciting hybrid programme which responds to our changed times and circumstances. Audiences can once again immerse themselves in a range of in-person events including live theatre performances, a 360° audio-visual spatial cinema experience and a 360° virtual reality screening. This is complemented by our continuing programme of innovative digital performances, all of which have been created especially for online viewing. We can’t wait for audiences to join us again at the Barbican this autumn.” 

The first production to open The Pit, following its closure for over a year and a half due to the pandemic, is Poetry + Film / Hack – Rocks curated by Inua Ellams and Michelle Tiwo. The evening begins with a screening of the award-winning critically-acclaimed film Rocks, followed by readings of specially commissioned new work by outstanding Black female poets, including Barbican Young Poets alumni, who respond to the film’s themes.

Lois Weaver and Peggy Shaw, of queer feminist US theatre company Split Britches, return to the stage after almost two years with Last Gasp: A Recalibration in The Pit. As they gather audiences in the same room, but not as the same people they ease a little tension while hitting upon strategies for moving on in the aftermath of foundation shattering crises. To complement this world premiere, Weaver hosts Porch Sitting: Stepping Out, a stimulating and free online gathering of strangers, that gives audiences a chance to sit, think, dream and wonder about our collective future.

Evening Standard Future Theatre Fund-winner and Barbican Open Lab alumni Jamie Hale returns to the Barbican with CRIPtic Pit Party following the success of their sold-out Pit Party in 2019. Hale curates a joyful and uplifting evening comprising a mixed bill of creative, political and responsive work by d/Deaf and disabled performers.

Commissioned by SPILL in partnership with the Barbican among others, Gone, Gone Beyond is a 360° audio visual spatial cinema experience in The Pit in which fragments of familiar and experimental films interact with song and audio clips in ever-changing, kaleidoscopic and kinetic collages. Under her artist name, People Like Us, this is Vicki Bennett’s first appearance at the Barbican. Gone, Gone Beyond is her most ambitious work to date and receives a national tour starting in October and ending in April 2022.

The Theatre and Dance programme breaks out into Cinema 1 for a one-off screening of documentary film Alone which charts the astonishing political awakening of a multi-platinum-selling Ukrainian rock star Andrei Khluvniuk as he asks how his fame can make a difference. The film is brought to London by Belarus Free Theatre and is followed by a live Q&A. This will be the first in a series of events presented at the Barbican with the company in 2021/22.

Part of the Australia/UK Culture season, Lynette Wallworth returns to the Barbican with the European premiere of the Emmy award-winning Awavena in The Pit. Set in the Brazilian Amazon, audiences witness the transformation of Yawanawá culture, guided by the people’s first woman shaman in a 360° virtual reality experience.

For the first time we present Ballet Black’s work digitally. Available via the Barbican’s Cinema on Demand platform, this Double Bill is a made-for-film adaptation of two pieces: Olivier Award-winning choreographer Will Tuckett's Then Or Now blends classical ballet, music and poetry, whilst Ballet Black Senior Artist and Olivier-award winner Mthuthuzeli November contemplates the purpose of life in The Waiting Game.

As part of a national digital tour during the lead up to the COP26 international climate conference in Glasgow, Fehinti Balogun stars in Can I Live?. Filmed at the Barbican during lockdown, it combines stunning visuals, hip-hop and spoken word to chart Balogun’s personal journey into environmental activism. The film is directed by Daniel Bailey and co-directed by Complicité’s artistic director Simon McBurney and is available via an array of venues including the Barbican from September to November.

In the Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company presents The Comedy of Errors following its acclaimed summer season in Stratford-upon-Avon. Shakespeare’s ever popular fairy-tale farce of everyday miracles, mistaken identity and double vision is directed by comedy master Phillip Breen.

Inua Ellams – Poetry + Film / Hack – Rocks
Wednesday 13 & Thursday 14 October 2021, The Pit
Press performance: Wednesday 13 October 2021, 7.45pm

Inua Ellams returns to the Barbican for his latest curated poetry and film hack. To mark Black History Month, World Mental Health Day and International Day of the Girl, the evening begins with a screening in The Pit of the award-winning critically-acclaimed film Rocks, written by Theresa Ikoko and Claire Wilson.

Bursting with energy, this new film follows East End teenager Shola after she is abandoned by her mother. Sarah Gavron directs this coming-of-age story, which offers an authentic glimpse of London rarely captured on film.

After the screening, Ellams welcomes a line-up of outstanding Black female poets, including Barbican Young Poets alumni, who share their specially commissioned new work responding to the themes of the film. The event is co-curated by Michelle Tiwo and the poets are babirye bukilwa, Amina Jama, Sarah Lasoye, Be Manzini and Tania Nwachukwu.

Split Britches – Last Gasp: A Recalibration
Tuesday 19–Saturday 23 October 2021, The Pit
Press performance: Tuesday 19 October 2021, 7.45pm

Equipped with some know-how and a touch of irony, Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver use spoken word and movement to respond to a world turned upside down. How do you survive a loss? First you recalibrate

Returning to the stage after almost two years, two icons of lesbian-feminist theatre gather audiences in the same room, but not as the same people. Speaking directly, they question the demise of the body as it ages, civil conversation, and a sustainable planet. Shaw’s poetic musings are interspersed with Weaver’s micro dance essays in which she wryly upends ‘how to’ mania.

Last Gasp: A Recalibration brings prickly conversations literally to the table in episodes entitled ‘The Trump in Me’, ‘How to Survive a Loss’ and ‘How to Set a Table in an Emergency’. With cultural references ranging from surrealist painter Dorothea Tanning to singer Johnnie Ray, the legendary performance duo eases a little tension while hitting upon strategies for moving on in the aftermath of a foundation shattering crisis. 

Split Britches – Porch Sitting: Stepping Out
Wednesday 27 October 2021, 7pm, online

Porch Sitting: Stepping Out is a stimulating online gathering of strangers, hosted by queer-feminist theatre icon, Lois Weaver, that gives audiences a chance to sit, think, dream and wonder about our collective future.

As we emerge from a time like no other, Weaver brings the porch into people’s home, in this interactive online conversation that considers what we're leaving behind and what we're moving towards as we hover on the edge of change. Audiences enter the Zoom room, turn off their cameras and lean into wherever the mood takes them.

Lois Weaver is a multi-award-winning artist, activist and Professor of Contemporary Performance at Queen Mary University of London. As one half of international performance troupe Split Britches she has been creating and touring work with her collaborator Peggy Shaw for over 40 years.

Complicité / Fehinti Balogun – Can I Live?
Monday 1–Friday 12 November, online

Fehinti Balogun stars in this groundbreaking filmed performance that combines stunning visuals, hip-hop and spoken word to chart his journey as a Black British man into environmental activism. 

Created with world-renowned theatre company Complicité, Can I Live? is the story of how, as a part of the Global Majority, Fehinti’s path has been forever changed by what he's learnt about our planet. This energising and uplifting film is an exploration of where the climate emergency and social justice meet, and a call-to-action for anyone curious about what can be done to help.  

Filmed on the Barbican stage during lockdown, this collaboration is directed by Daniel Bailey and co-directed by Complicité’s artistic director Simon McBurney

Can I Live? receives a digital tour from September to November, hosted on websites from an array of venues, in the lead up to the COP26 international climate conference in Glasgow.

People Like Us – Gone, Gone Beyond
Wednesday 10–Saturday 13 November 2021, The Pit
Press performances: Wednesday 10 November 2021, 5pm, 7pm or 9pm

In Gone, Gone Beyond unexpected narratives expand and unravel all at once, as audiences are invited to look beyond the frame in this immersive, 360° audio visual spatial cinema experience.

Fragments of familiar and experimental films interact with song and audio clips in ever-changing, kaleidoscopic and kinetic collages. As time and space become elastic, audiences are exposed to multiple meanings and perspectives. At once playful and unsettling, observations on popular culture are revealed in this seamless visual and surround-sound cinema.

Under her artist name, People Like Us, Vicki Bennett has been evolving the field of audiovisual collage since the early 1990s, cutting up and layering found and archive footage. Considering the ways in which our senses process and respond to stimuli in everyday life, her work embeds hidden associations and connections below the surface of the raw source materials. 

Gone, Gone Beyond at the Barbican is part of a national tour starting in October and ending in April 2022.

Royal Shakespeare Company – The Comedy of Errors
Tuesday 16 November–Friday 31 December 2021, Barbican Theatre
Press performance: Tuesday 23 November 2021, 7pm

A joyous moment of reunion, celebration, and laughter: The Comedy of Errors transfers to the Barbican following its acclaimed summer season in Stratford-upon-Avon. Shakespeare’s ever popular fairy-tale farce of everyday miracles, mistaken identity and double vision is directed by comedy master Phillip Breen (The Provoked Wife 2019, The Hypocrite 2017).

A father ends up in the wrong country on the wrong day as a government makes hasty proclamations about travel. A lonely son, while searching for his brother, loses himself. Across town a wife starts to realise her husband is not the man she thought he was (but rather likes it). Will anything ever be the same again?

Jamie Hale – CRIPtic Pit Party
Friday 19–Saturday 20 November 2021, The Pit
Press performance: Friday 19 November 2021, 7.45pm

Award-winning artist Jamie Hale curates a joyful and uplifting Pit Party comprising a mixed bill of creative, political and responsive work by d/Deaf and disabled performers.

Jamie invites d/Deaf and disabled artists to respond to the theme of ‘the stories we tell ourselves, about ourselves, by ourselves’. Sets will include music, spoken word, poetry and a dynamic collaboration between Deaf hip hop artists.

Barbican Open Lab alumni and Evening Standard Future Theatre Fund-winner Jamie Hale returns to the Barbican following their sold-out Pit Party in 2019. CRIPtic Pit Party is the culmination of an artistic development programme led by Jamie, supporting a cultural arts scene that has been hit hard by the pandemic. It recreates deeply personal experiences rarely represented on stage, in a spirited, celebratory atmosphere.

The cast is: Alice Christina-Corrigan (she/her), Bibi June (they/them), Miss Jacqui (she/her), Oli Isaac (they/them), MC Geezer (he/him), DJ Chinaman (he/him),Tom Ryalls (he/they), and Tink Flaherty (they/them/he/him).

Ballet Black – Double Bill
Monday 22–Sunday 28 November 2021, online

Available via the Barbican’s Cinema on Demand platform, this is a made-for-film adaptation of the company’s latest double bill. Ballet Black Artistic Director Cassa Pancho presents two original works: The Royal Ballet’s Olivier Award-winning choreographer Will Tuckett's Then Or Now blends classical ballet, music and the poetry of Adrienne Rich to ask: in times like these, where do we belong? Ballet Black Senior Artist and Olivier-award winner Mthuthuzeli November contemplates the purpose of life in The Waiting Game, an exciting and energetic work which was filmed on the Barbican’s stage, infused with a dynamic soundtrack featuring the voices of Ballet Black dancers.

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.

Lynette Wallworth – Awavena
Wednesday 24 November–Saturday 4 December 2021, The Pit
Press performance: Thursday 25 November 2021, times vary

Emmy award-winning Awavena is a tale set in the Brazilian Amazon, told by the Yawanawá people through stunning 360° virtual reality (VR).  

For the Yawanawá, ‘medicine’ has the power to transport, reveal and clarify. In this collaboration between Australian artist Lynette Wallworth and the Yawanawá people, VR is used to open a portal to another way of knowing. Inside the VR headset we experience the transformation of Yawanawá culture guided by Hushahu, the Yawanawá’s first woman shaman. Melding cutting edge technology and transcendent experience, Awavena is an intimate, immersive meeting with a people who have ascended from the edge of extinction.

Lynette Wallworth was last seen at the Barbican in 2019 with her Emmy award-winning documentary, Collisions.

Awavena is presented as part of the UK/Australia Season 2021-22, a major programme of cultural exchange taking place across the two nations.

Belarus Free Theatre – Alone + Live Q&A
Friday 10 December 2021, Cinema 1, 6.30pm

Documentary film Alone charts the astonishing political awakening of a multi-platinum-selling rock star from Ukraine as he asks how his fame can make a difference.

As front man of Ukrainian band Boombox, with millions of fans, Andrei Khluvniuk seems to have it all. Yet he’s in turmoil, for he can no longer turn a blind eye to Russia’s annexation of territories in his homeland nor the persecution of fellow artists, journalists and dissidents. Inspired by the activism of his friends at Belarus Free Theatre, he decides to raise awareness of the Kremlin’s actions and campaign for the release of political prisoners, including the acclaimed film-maker, Oleg Sentsov. But what is the cost of using music to speak the truth as he challenges dictatorship, propaganda and lies?

This UK premiere of Alone is the first in a series of events presented at the Barbican with Belarus Free Theatre in 2021/22. It is screened on International Human Rights Day and is complemented by a live Q&A with the film’s directors and Belarus Free Theatre’s co-founders and chaired by Stephen Sackur.

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’s Open Lab programme supports the development of emerging and practicing artists, giving artists the chance to experiment in a working theatrical space without the expectation of a final product.