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Barbican announces Theatre & Dance productions for autumn/winter 2024

International and homegrown programme includes visionary South Korean opera adaptation of Shakespeare’s King Lear

RSC returns for annual seasonal treat with two London premieres


Barbican Theatre 

  • Clod Ensemble and Nu Civilisation Orchestra’sThe Black Saint and The Sinner Lady (UK, 19-21 Sep)
  • UK premiere of La Colline - théâtre national’s House, written and directed by Amos Gitai (France - Israel, 26-28 Sep)
  • UK premiere of Lear by National Changgeuk Company of Korea (South Korea, 3-6 Oct)
  • UK premiere of Mamela Nyamza’s HATCHED ENSEMBLE,  in association with Dance Umbrella (South Africa, 9-12 Oct)
  • London premiere of the Royal Shakespeare Company and Wise Children’s The Buddha of Suburbia, adapted by Emma Rice with Hanif Kureishi (UK, 22 Oct-16 Nov)
  • London premiere of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream starring Mathew Baynton as Bottom (UK, 3 Dec-18 Jan)

The Pit

  • Hetain Patel’sMathroo Basha in association with Dance Umbrella (UK, 11-12 Oct)
  • World premiere of Quiet Songs by Finn Beames & Company, winner of Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust award 2024 (UK, 22 Oct-2 Nov)
  • The Acts by CRIPtic Arts (UK, 8-9 Nov)
  • Daniel Naddafy and Marty Langthorne’s First Light returns (UK, 5–19 Dec) 

Full programme here:

The Barbican today announces its upcoming programme of Theatre and Dance productions from 19 September 2024 to 18 January 2025, including the London premieres of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s The Buddha of Suburbia (co-produced with Wise Children) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Known for its spectacular and experimental programme of contemporary live performance, the Barbican’s  line-up features international and UK-based artists and includes UK premieres from South Korea and France; in association with longtime collaborators Dance Umbrella festival, a UK premiere from South Africa and a new work in The Pit; a curated takeover in The Pit celebrating new work by disabled artists; and the world premiere for this year’s winner of the Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Award. 

Tickets for the Barbican season go on sale to Barbican Patrons today, Tue 11 June; to Barbican Members Plus on Wed 12 June; Barbican Members on Thu 13 June; and on general sale on Fri 14 June via Tickets for The Buddha of Suburbia and A Midsummer Night’s Dream go on sale to Barbican Patrons on Mon 24 June, Barbican Members plus on Thu 27 June, Barbican Members on Wed 3 July and on general sale on Tue 9 July via

The season begins on the main stage in the Barbican Theatre, as Clod Ensemble and Nu Civilisation Orchestra transform the venue into a vibrant cabaret bar. In their acclaimed production The Black Saint and The Sinner Lady, audiences will join the award-winning dancers and musicians onstage as they bring to life Charles Mingus’ 1963 big band masterpiece. 

Next up is another multi-disciplinary work featuring live music, film, and a multi-lingual cast of international actors and musicians. From one of France’s most prestigious national organisations, LaColline - théâtre national, comes the UK premiere of House, a new, large-scale stage adaptation of Amos Gitaï’s groundbreaking documentary trilogy which creates a dialogue between an ensemble of actors and musicians from France, Iran, Israel, Palestine, and the UK. Complementing the production, Barbican Cinema will screen the original documentary films made by Gitai in 1980, 1998 and 2006. Presented alongside the verbatim stage adaptation, these works enable insights into some of the complexities of the narratives of Palestinians and Israelis, voicing multiple experiences and perspectives.

National Changgeuk Company of Korea makes their Barbican debut with the UK premiere of Lear, following their acclaimed adaptation of Trojan Women with a major restaging of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy, explored through Changgeuk. The prestigious company has been leading a great resurgence of this traditional Korean opera style for contemporary audiences in recent years, personified in Lear which incorporates classic stories, ancient philosophy, Korean language and spectacular staging to explore the nature of our existence. 

Opening this year’s Dance Umbrella Festival is the UK premiere of choreographer and director Mamela Nyamza’s HATCHED ENSEMBLE, an urgent and subtly spectacular work that challenges ballet’s traditions. Accompanied by a live multi-instrumentalist, ten ballet dancers from across South Africa subvert gender roles and interrogate accepted norms of the classical form. This piece is an extension of the acclaimed autobiographical solo work, HATCHED, which featured in Dance Umbrella’s 2011 festival and first introduced UK audiences to her socio-political work. The festival continues in The Pit, with a first look at visual artist Hetain Patel’s new show, Mathroo Basha. Translated here as Mother Tongue, Patel will explore generational change across his British-Gujarati heritage through movement and audio interviews.

Also in The Pit will be a world premiere by this year’s winner of the Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Award, Finn Beames & Company. QuietSongs is a semi-autobiographical, coming-of-age tale which explores the limits of a breaking voice for an actor, string quartet and an armoury of swords. Then CRIPtic Arts returns with The Acts, a searingly honest piece of meta-theatre bringing together performances from five of the UK’s most exciting disabled theatre makers and companies, directed by Jamie Hale. And leading us into festive season, First Light returns after 2021’s sold out run to delight Barbican’s youngest audiences and their families. The experience introduces babies to an interactive sensory environment and was co-created by theatre-maker Daniel Naddafy and artist & lighting designer Marty Langthorne. 

Toni Racklin, Head of Theatre & Dance at the Barbican, said: 

We are delighted to contribute to the Barbican’s extensive offer as an international multi-arts centre with our upcoming season, as we fill our glorious main stage with transformative and epic productions and celebrate the work of daring theatremakers in The Pit.

Continuing our mission to craft a programme of experiences that connect our audiences with life beyond our shores, once again we welcome the most exciting artists who are creating breathtaking live performances from all over the world; through awe-inspiring opera and a bustling jazz club; with verbatim theatre and at the cutting edge of contemporary dance. This year we have filled our eclectic programme with shows that revisit familiar stories from new perspectives through adaptations of classics, films, a seminal album, and a best-selling novel. A strong pulse of evocative live music will also flow throughout the season, beginning with a full jazz orchestra and featuring instruments and song from Korea, Middle East and South Africa.

In our experimental studio, The Pit, Hetain Patel and Finn Beames & Company will make their Barbican debuts with brand new work, and we welcome the return of CRIPtic Arts. Closing the year, First Light’s wonderous sensory experience for babies who are making their very first visit to the Barbican.”

Throughout the Barbican Centre, further programme highlights taking place this year include: 

In June, the Barbican will host a number of events during SAFAR Film Festival (21–30 June), the UK’s largest Arab film festival, including a ScreenTalk preview of Bye Bye Tiberias, attended by award-winning filmmaker Lina Soualem, who celebrates her Palestinian family history. The festival closes at the Barbican with Amr Gamal’s The Burdened, which offers a rare glimpse into the everyday realities of Yemeni families, dealing with the fallout of economic collapse and war.

In the unique Sculpture Court, Barbican’s inimitable Outdoor Cinema programme returns (21 Aug-1 Sep). Barbican cinema curators have created an outdoor programme like no other, inspired by the sweeping vision of some of cinema’s most original storytellers, among them Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Sofia Coppola (Marie Antoinette), Vincente Minnelli (An American In Paris), Kamal Amrohi (Pakeesah), Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), Dee Rees (Pariah), Hayao Miyazaki (The Boy and the Heron),  Yoshimitu Banno (Godzilla Vs. Hedorah) and Ingmar Bergman (Wild Strawberries), alongside the work of two of music’s most inventive artists, Prince (Sign O’ the Times) and Björk (Björk, Biophilia).

This autumn, the Barbican will present a trio of new music theatre pieces in the Concert Hall variously combining Sufi, Ghanaian, Chinese, Indian and Western classical traditions while challenging hierarchical structures and examining where power imbalances can affect change. Presented by UK company Mahogany Opera, Sky in a Small Cage (8 Sep), explores the extraordinary life of the Sufi poet Rumi through music by Rolf Hind, words by Dante Micheaux, and translations of Rumi’s own poetry. Composer Gorges Ocloo’s acclaimed ‘Afropera’ project, The Golden Stool, or the story of Nana Yaa Asantewaa (14 Oct), pays homage to the heroic woman who confronted colonial injustice in 1900 Ghana, reimagining western classical works through a Ghanaian lens. Presented alongside the BBC Symphony OrchestraM. Butterfly (25 Oct), is a semi-staged version of Huang Ruo’s opera of David Henry Hwang’s smash-hit play. This gripping production reveals the blurred lines between fantasy and reality at the heart of this true story of ambiguity, illusion, fluidity and metaphor.

From October, the Barbican Art Gallery presents the world’s first major exhibition of Indian art. The Imaginary Institution of India: Art 1975 – 1998 (5 Oct – 5 Jan) will explore and chart a period of significant cultural and political change in the country. This groundbreaking group show will feature over 25 artists and nearly 150 works from across a range of media, including many that will be shown in the UK for the first time. There will also be a dedicated cinema programme, specially curated to accompany the exhibition. 

For more information, please download the full announcement press release from the sidebar.