London International Mime Festival 2019
Les Antliaclastes – Waltz of the Hommelettes
Tuesday 15–Saturday 19 January 2019, The Pit
Press night: Tuesday 15 January, 7.45pm
In this magical cabinet of curiosities, with hints of Alice in Wonderland and Brothers Grimm, events are controlled by a giant, Black Forest cuckoo clock, supernatural in its keeping of time.
A shoemaker, a mother bird who spins wool and a menacing, musket-toting rabbit are the protagonists in three interwoven tales filled with striking imagery, surprises, twists and turns. When the clock strikes thirteen, elves and goblins appear from its mechanical gears and wheels. They manipulate time and rearrange the notion of natural order so that humans are no longer in charge. Then the fun begins.
Artistic Director Patrick Sims, co-founder of both Buchinger’s Boot Marionettes and Les Antliaclastes, uses masked performers, extraordinary music and sound, automatons and sculptural puppets to achieve his fantastical universe. An eerily delightful folklorish adventure, Waltz of the Hommelettes is faithful to the child logic, adult hypocrisy, cruelty and humour of traditional fairytales.
London International Mime Festival 2019
Le Théâtre de L’Entrouvert – Anywhere
Tuesday 22–Saturday 26 January 2019, The Pit
Press night: Tuesday 22 January 2019, 7.45pm
King Oedipus, a marionette made almost entirely of ice, sets out on a redemptive voyage accompanied by his daughter Antigone, their long passage punctuated by poetic visions of water and fire, shadow and light.
Rejected, hurt and alone, the blind king abandons his throne and takes to the road with his guide Antigone - a puppeteer in human form dressed in a protective felt cloak. As they walk across misty landscapes, his metamorphosis is conveyed by his melting physical state until they reach the crossroads of the world and he disappears from sight.
Featuring a wondrous, luminous ice puppet made anew for each performance, Anywhere is freely adapted from the book, Oedipus on the Road, by Belgian author Henry Bauchau. Combining animated elements with ephemeral materials, Le Théâtre de L’Entrouvert have devised a captivating show that contrasts delicacy and strength, silence and sound.
London International Mime Festival 2019
Gecko – The Wedding
Thursday 24–Saturday 26 January 2019, Barbican Theatre
Press night: Thursday 24 January 2019, 7.45pm
Seducing audiences with intricate choreography, provocative narratives and vivid symbolism, The Wedding brings the union between state and individual into question amid a flurry of white dresses.
From a chute the performers emerge giddy as newborns, expectantly clutching teddy bears. But things soon turn business-like. Doubt, regret and a creeping sense of dislocation enter the physically emotive language of the faultless nine-strong ensemble, their thrillingly tribal and rhythmic finale suggesting revolution and hope.
Led by Artistic Director Amit Lahav, physical theatre company Gecko meld heightened movement with spectacular staging and minimal dialogue to confront big themes.
London International Mime Festival 2019
Peeping Tom – Father (Vader)
Wednesday 30 January–Saturday 2 February 2019, Barbican Theatre
Press night: Wednesday 30 January 2019, 7.45pm
The phenomenal choreography and enigmatic visual imagery of Peeping Tom see fantasy and reality collide in this empathetic and surprising portrait of ageing.
Towering walls surround the visiting room of a care home where an elderly father counts his final days. Shifting scenes speak of isolation, divinity, ridicule and melancholia as his complex identity and lived experiences are revealed. People and objects move around him whilst memories make way for hallucinatory, less lucid moments.
Astonishing dance, song and live music are interwoven in this incisive and compassionate piece. Father, directed by Franck Chartier, is part of the company’s surreal trilogy about families, echoing the artists’ own reminiscences, mysteries and hopes. Another part of the trilogy, Mother, was critically acclaimed here in January 2018, whilst an earlier show, 32 rue Vandenbranden, presented here in 2015, won an Olivier Award.
Moscow Pushkin Drama Theatre – The Cherry Orchard
Tuesday 5 & Wednesday 6 February, Barbican Theatre
Press night: Tuesday 5 February 2019, 7pm
Russian screen and stage star, Victoria Isakova, plays Lyubov Ranevskaya in Vladimir Mirzoyev's enigmatic, soulful production of Chekhov’s prophetic masterpiece, The Cherry Orchard.
The epitome of measured elegance, Ranevskaya, returns to her estate when she learns her beloved orchard is to be sold off to repay debts. Beautiful, romantic, sensual and irresponsible, Ranevskaya is haunted by the ghost of her drowned son, Misha, who is given a physical presence on stage. He haunts the drama as the impending sale and destruction of the cherry orchard become inevitable. Ranevskaya and her family entourage fail to recognise their plight, living in denial, while the world they know succumbs to the tide of transformation led by the upwardly mobile Lopakhin, played by screen and stage star, Alexander Petrov. The Cherry Orchard embodies the spirit of Russia at the turn of the 20th century and Vladimir Mirzoyev's ghostly, contemporary version conveys societal collapse recognisable in more recent events.
The Cherry Orchard is performed in Russian with English surtitles.
Journalists please note: there is an opportunity to see The Cherry Orchard in Russia in November prior to the Barbican performances. Please contact the Barbican’s Communications Office for more details.
Tickets for The Cherry Orchard are on sale.
Moscow Pushkin Drama Theatre – The Good Person of Szechwan
Friday 8 & Saturday 9 February 2019, Barbican Theatre
Press night: Friday 8 February 2019, 7pm
Yuriy Butusov directs a bold, vigorous production of Brecht’s parable, The Good Person of Szechwan. The gods come to Earth in search of a good person and find Shen Te, a sex worker, who puts them up for the night. The gods reward her good deed, enabling her to buy a tobacco shop and try to turn her life around. But being good and poor is not easy and soon various freeloaders take advantage of her generosity leading Shen Te to invent a non-existent cousin, Shui Ta, who is ruthless and pragmatic enough to thwart everyone’s exploitative schemes.
Alexandra Ursulyak gives a bold, compelling performance of the opposing cousins, painting a vivid picture of an individual trapped by circumstance and the unfairness of humans and gods alike. The problem of how to remain good and survive in a cruel world remains unsolved. Ursulyak's performance won her a Golden Mask Theatre Award in Russia and she heads up an ensemble of actors and musicians who perform Paul Dessau's songs in the original German. With its focus on the duality of human nature and the odds of survival in unstable circumstances this production is uncompromising and politically potent.
The Good Person of Szechwan is performed in Russian with English surtitles.
Journalists please note: there is an opportunity to see The Good Person of Szechwan in Russia in November prior to the Barbican performances. Please contact the Barbican’s Communications Office for more details.
Tickets for The Good Person of Szechwan are on sale.
Moscow Pushkin Drama Theatre – Mother’s Field
Saturday 9 February 2019, 2.30pm & 7.45pm, The Pit
Press performances: Saturday 9 February 2019, 2.30pm & 7.45pm
Mother’s Field is based on an enduring story by Soviet-Kyrgyz writer, Chingiz Aitmatov. Revered as a giant of 20th century Russian literature, Aitmatov published his story eighteen years after the Second World War, ushering in mythical folklorish elements to his realistic fiction.
Tolgani, a strong Kyrgyz woman, has a special connection with Mother Earth, a companion in whom she confides and seeks commiseration. Granted a healthy family, her bounty is lost to misfortune when war intervenes. Back in her beloved fields, her heart is torn apart by grief.
Striking physicality and gesture convey the narrative in this potent performance without words – a brave plea for peace and humanity directed and choreographed by Sergei Zemlyansky. Set to a haunting musical score characterised by the sounds of the cello, the young artists of the Pushkin company convey thoughts and emotions via movement rather than speech in this expressive performance. Mother's Field explores timeless themes of family relationships, nationhood, war and survival.
Tickets for Mother’s Field are on sale.
Charles Atlas/Rashaun Mitchell/Silas Riener – Tesseract
Thursday 28 February–Saturday 2 March 2019, Barbican Theatre
Press night: Thursday 28 February 2019, 7.45pm
An inventive exploration of the relationship between the human form and technology, presented in two distinct acts.
To open the show, an astonishing 3D film with vividly contrasting chapters in which movement and setting fuse seamlessly. Space is transformed in imagined and hybrid worlds through manipulating the size and shape of the dancers’ bodies and the audience’s proximity to them.
For the second part, a live performance is captured by multiple cameras onstage; the footage mixed and projected onto a translucent screen, offering various perspectives of the crisp, intricate and innovative choreography.
Tesseract is an ambitious work by choreographic duo Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener (former Merce Cunningham Dance Company dancers), together with pioneering video artist Charles Atlas (who was a long term collaborator of Merce Cunningham). Inspired by science fiction and time travel, and experimental in form and technique, it is rich in psychedelic, potent, disorientating and hypnotic images.
Journalists please note: there is an opportunity to see Tesseract in the US in November prior to the Barbican performances. Please contact the Barbican’s Communications Office for more details.
Tesseract is part of Life Rewired: a season exploring what it means to be human when technology is changing everything.
Tickets for Tesseract are on sale.
Internationaal Theater Amsterdam (Toneelgroep Amsterdam) – Medea
Wednesday 6–Saturday 9 March 2019, Barbican Theatre
Press night: Wednesday 6 March 2019, 7.45pm
Simon Stone finds a contemporary reality for this masterful retelling of Euripides’ Medea.
After involuntary confinement in a psychiatric hospital, Anna, once a successful doctor, is determined to put things right. Willing to forgive her husband’s affair with a younger woman, she wants a fresh start with him and their children. But he has different plans. Sidelined and in danger of losing everything, she is driven into a corner and sees only one way out.
Marieke Heebink, seen at the Barbican in Toneelgroep’s astonishing Persona last year, won the Dutch acting award, the Theo d’Or, for her role as Medea. Coupled with incomparable performances by the ensemble, magnified at times by live video, audiences are turned into complicit witnesses.
An Australian director who reinvents classics, Stone gained five-star reviews at the Barbican for The Wild Duck in 2014 whilst his recent production of Yerma won multiple Olivier Awards.
Medea is performed in Dutch with English surtitles.
Journalists please note: there is an opportunity to see Medea in Madrid in November prior to the Barbican performances. Please contact the Barbican’s Communications Office for more details.
Ballet Black – Double Bill
Thursday 14–Sunday 17 March 2019, Barbican Theatre
Press night: Friday 15 March, 7.45pm
Ballet Black return to the Barbican for the fourth consecutive year following their previous sell-out seasons.
Led by Artistic Director Cassa Pancho, recent recipient of the Freedom of the City of London for her contribution to diversity in ballet, the company celebrates dancers of black and Asian descent.
This year, forming the first half of the Double Bill, is Ingoma (Song), created by company dancer and choreographer Mthuthuzeli November. Through a fusion of ballet, African dance and singing, the piece portrays a milestone moment in South African history and imagines the struggles of black miners in 1946, when 60,000 of them took courageous strike action.
Completing the Double Bill is another original work, a light-hearted and engaging narrative ballet by Italian choreographer and Co-founder of Protein Dance, Luca Silvestrini.
Marcus du Sautoy and Victoria Gould – I is a strange loop
Thursday 21–Saturday 23 March 2019, The Pit
Press night: Thursday 21 March 2019, 7.45pm
From the creative ensemble behind Complicité’s sensational A Disappearing Number, this two-hander is an intriguing take on mortality, consciousness and artificial life.
Alone in a cube that glows in the darkness, X is content with his infinite universe and abstract thought. But then Y appears, insisting they interact, exposing him to her sensory and physical existence. Each begins to hanker after what the other has until a remarkable thing happens…involving a strange loop.
Featuring mathematicians Marcus du Sautoy and Victoria Gould - both contributors to recent Complicité hits - I is a strange loop is part of a Barbican series, Strange Loops, investigating consciousness through music, machines and the mind. Led by du Sautoy, who takes inspiration from the 40th anniversary of Douglas Hofstadter’s seminal book, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, the series reveals links between systems and creativity, and technology and humanity, using theatre, music and art.
I is a strange loop is directed by Dermot Keaney and is part of Life Rewired: a season exploring what it means to be human when technology is changing everything.
Tickets for I is a strange loop are on sale.
Ursula Martinez – A Family Outing: 20 Years On
Wednesday 27–Saturday 30 March 2019, The Pit
Press night: Wednesday 27 March 2019, 7.45pm
Twenty years after bringing her parents onstage in the sublime A Family Outing, Ursula Martinez attempts to recreate the show, without her dad, and with a mother who can no longer remember her lines.
Absorbed in wryly honest and frank conversation, a mother and daughter expose the banalities, hilarity, foibles and frustrations of their relationship. Contrasting past and present, they bicker, cajole and encourage each other through this endearingly ad hoc, entertaining and ultimately uplifting performance.
Since A Family Outing original premiered in 1998, Martinez has turned 50, her father Arthur has passed away and her mother Mila has been diagnosed with early stage dementia. Through a canny interplay with the first production, this bracingly funny new show blurs the lines between artifice and reality while grappling with identity and the march of time.
A Family Outing: 20 Years On is part of Life Rewired: a season exploring what it means to be human when technology is changing everything.
Tickets for A Family Outing: 20 Years On are on sale.
Wayward Productions in association with Complicité
Grief is the Thing with Feathers
Monday 25 March–Saturday 13 April 2019, Barbican Theatre
Press night: Thursday 28 March 2019, 7.45pm
Cillian Murphy (Peaky Blinders) gives a riveting, shape-shifting performance in Enda Walsh’s adaptation of Max Porter’s multi-award winning novel, a heart-wrenching meditation on love, loss and living.
In a London flat, two young boys face the unbearable sadness of their mother’s sudden death. Their father, a scruffy romantic, imagines a future of well-meaning visitors and emptiness. In this moment of despair, they are visited by Crow – antagonist, babysitter, trickster and healer. This sentimental bird is drawn to the grieving family and threatens to stay until they no longer need him.
Grief is the Thing with Feathers is the second piece by Enda Walsh in our programme. September 2018 saw the UK premiere of his modern opera The Second Violinist, and in April 2019 Rooms also makes its UK premiere.
Wayward Productions is a new company led by Judith Dimant who was Executive Producer at Complicité for 25 years, producing all of the work of Simon McBurney. Grief is the Thing with Feathers is the inaugural production from Wayward Productions.
Ferran Carvajal/Trevor Carlson – Not a moment too soon
Thursday 4–Saturday 6 April, Silk Street Theatre
Press night: Thursday 4 April 2019, 7.45pm
Trevor Carlson, Executive Director to Merce Cunningham, reflects on the 12 years he spent as companion and close friend to the choreographer, offering a rare insight into the final days of a master.
In 2001, in a dressing room in Australia, Cunningham stared at his reflection while filming himself on his newly acquired camcorder, a device he went on to use prolifically. Interested in the fleeting nature of things, he uttered the words: ‘not a moment too soon’.
Taking this recording as a starting point, Carlson’s performance is a tapestry of video, text, music and movement layered with previously unseen footage of Cunningham. As Carlson weaves in and around projection panels hung onstage, he presents a visual and oral history of their adventures through recollections of precious moments spent together. A pilgrimage into memory, the dream-like solo shifts between monologues, readings and intimate clips of the iconic artist at work and at play. Tapping into key periods of Cunningham’s later life this is a touching farewell to a loved one.
Not a moment too soon is part of the official celebration of the Merce Cunningham Centennial.
Galway International Arts Festival – Rooms
Thursday 11–Friday 19 April 2019, Silk Street Theatre
Press performances: Thursday 11 April 2019. Times vary, please contact the Communications Office to book your place
Five meticulously detailed rooms house clues to the characters once confined within their walls in this immersive theatre installation. Together, six audience members enter one of the five rooms, exploring the scene for a few moments. Then the recorded audio begins – an absorbing and haunting aural account of solitude, before audiences are ushered into the next room for another story. Contemplative and atmospheric, this event brings Enda Walsh’s five poetic short narratives together for the first time. In each room the highly intimate lives of an individual are heard, narrated by some of Ireland’s finest actors: Niall Buggy, Charlie Murphy, Donal O’Kelly, Paul Reid and Eileen Walsh.
Rooms is the third piece by Enda Walsh in our programme. September 2018 saw the UK premiere of his modern opera The Second Violinist, and in March/April 2019 Grief is the Thing with Feathers also makes its UK premiere.
Lynette Wallworth – Collisions
Wednesday 10–Saturday 20 April 2019, The Pit
Journalists are invited to attend on Thursday 11 April 2019. Times vary, please contact the Communications Office to book your place
This immersive Emmy Award-winning documentary is a startling collision between cultures, encompassing 360-degree vision, CGI animation and enveloping sound.
Provided with VR headsets, audiences embark on a journey together to the ancient homeland of indigenous elder Nyarri Nyarri Morgan, as he recounts the moment his world was turned upside down. Amid the endless horizon of the remote Western Australian desert, this is a rare insight into the hidden history of Britain’s nuclear testing.
Pioneer of interactive digital technologies, Lynette Wallworth combines masterful storytelling and virtual reality to share the profound truth of one man’s first and fateful encounter with Western science. The short, powerful piece, seen at Sundance, Davos and screened at UN meetings, shows how events can reverberate through generations, and how to care for the planet from the perspective of one of its oldest peoples – the Martu tribe to which Morgan belongs.
Collisions is part of Life Rewired: a season exploring what it means to be human when technology is changing everything.
Tickets for Collisions are on sale.
Merce Cunningham Trust – Night of 100 Solos: A Centennial Event
Tuesday 16 April 2019, 7.45pm, Barbican Theatre
As part of the Merce Cunningham Centennial, a global celebration of the vastly influential American choreographer, the Barbican presents Night of 100 Solos on 16 April 2019, which would have been Cunningham’s 100th birthday.
In Night of 100 Solos, the largest Cunningham Event ever conceived, 75 dancers will be distributed across three venues: the Barbican; BAM in New York City and UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance in Los Angeles. On each of these stages, dancers perform a unique collection of 100 solos Cunningham choreographed over the course of his career, with live music and a bespoke set design. Nearly half of Cunningham’s former company members participate in this Event, led at the Barbican by Londoner Daniel Squire.
This exceptional programme honours the vibrant legacy of an artist whose unparalleled body of work helped to drive the evolution of the American avant-garde and expanded the frontiers of contemporary visual and performance arts.
Night of 100 Solos is part of the official celebration of the Merce Cunningham Centennial.
Fertility Fest 2019
Tuesday 23 April–Saturday 18 May 2019, times and Barbican venues vary
Fertility Fest, the only arts festival devoted entirely to the subjects of modern families and the science of making babies, arrives at the Barbican for the first time.
Fertility and infertility take centre stage in this four-week programme of performances and panel discussions that brings together medical experts, artists and audiences. Offering a multitude of views and voices, the festival draws on female and male experiences, looks at new models of family making, and seeks to break taboos around IVF.
Fertility Fest is founded by Jessica Hepburn, influential activist and author of The Pursuit of Motherhood, in partnership with theatre producer Gabby Vautier. A rare, open and collaborative platform, it aims to drive social change. This third edition features the first theatre production based on Julia Leigh’s memoir Avalanche.
Fertility Fest 2019 is part of Life Rewired: a season exploring what it means to be human when technology is changing everything.
Tickets for Fertility Fest 2019 go on sale in January 2019.
Barbican/Fertility Fest – Avalanche: A Love Story by Julia Leigh
Saturday 27 April–Saturday 18 May 2019, Barbican Theatre
Press night: Wednesday 1 May, 7.45pm
Julia and her new husband long for a child together. Enough to gather their courage and explore IVF treatment. As she navigates a successful career as an artist with the demands of her relationship and hopes of motherhood, this real-life account follows the making and breaking of her dreams.
Love in all its manifestations, from unfailing hope and optimism to obsession and loss is at the heart of this stage dramatisation of Leigh’s memoir, directed by Anne-Louise Sarks, with its focus on one woman and her desire to create life.
Avalanche: A Love Story is produced by Barbican Theatre Productions and Fertility Fest and co-produced by Sydney Theatre Company, and is part of Life Rewired: a season exploring what it means to be human when technology is changing everything.
Tickets for Avalanche: A Love Story are on sale.
Pam Tanowitz/Kaija Saariaho/Brice Marden – Four Quartets
Wednesday 22–Saturday 25 May 2019, Barbican Theatre
Press night: Wednesday 22 May 2019, 7.45pm
Published 75 years ago, Four Quartets is considered the crowning achievement of TS Eliot’s career as a poet. Now three visionaries, Pam Tanowitz, Kaija Saariaho and Brice Marden respond to the four-part poem in a ravishing union of dance, music and art.
Four Quartets is a mysterious meditation on past and present, time and space, movement and stillness, replete with images of dance. Celebrated New York-based choreographer Pam Tanowitz moves her ten-strong ensemble lavishly through glorious solos and duets to a beguiling score by Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho which is played live, while American actor Kathleen Chalfant narrates the dynamic and kinetic language of Four Quartets from the stage.
The exquisite stage design centres on paintings by major American artist Brice Marden, their colours and strokes making connections to the geographical locations evoked in Four Quartets. Containing piercing and unforgettable literary passages, this collaborative performance of the work is the first to be authorised by the TS Eliot Estate.
Faso Danse Théâtre & Halles de Schaerbeek/Serge Aimé Coulibaly –Kalakuta Republik
Thursday 30 May–Saturday 1 June 2019, Barbican Theatre
Press night: Thursday 30 May 2019, 7.45pm
The spirit of Fela Kuti is ever-present in this intoxicating dance piece by Burkina Faso-born choreographer Serge Aimé Coulibaly, which speaks of modern-day Africa and the musical artist as freedom-loving figurehead.
In the first half all is monochrome. Dancers pulsate, whirl, plunge and vibrate, their relentless movement exploding with virtuoso energy. Projections depicting scenes of conflict serve as a backdrop for the performers, their perpetual march an urgent metaphor for the desire to keep living.
Bursts of colour propel the second half, a place reminiscent of Kuti’s Shrine nightclub, where discord was confronted just as hope blossomed from solidarity and social consciousness. While provocative messages illuminate the stage, to a score echoing jazz-infused Afrobeat, decadent dance depicts the struggles of an individual.
In honouring Nigeria’s activist, musical legend and political maverick, Fela Kuti, Kalakuta Republik reflects on the role of anti-establishment artists today.
Cheek by Jowl/Moscow Pushkin Drama Theatre
The Knight of the Burning Pestle
Wednesday 5–Saturday 8 June 2019, Barbican Theatre
Wednesday 5 June 2019, 7.45pm
Cheek by Jowl reunite with Moscow Pushkin Drama Theatre following Measure for Measure in 2015.
The London Merchant, a drama about dysfunctional families, begins. Suddenly, from the audience, a grocer and his wife clamber onto the stage, explaining to the astonished actors that while they quite like the play, it could be a bit better – more exciting. Exotic locations, singing and dancing, and the appearance of a Knight are just what is needed to cheer the evening up. And, luckily, their apprentice Rafe is the man for the job.
Bursting onto the scene at a critical moment when the existence of theatre was threatened by a popular movement increasingly hostile to art and culture, Francis Beaumont’s subversive comedy written in 1607 subtly raises questions that are still relevant today. Director Declan Donnellan and designer Nick Ormerod collaborate with Moscow’s eminent Russian theatre company on this outrageous farce.
The Knight of the Burning Pestle is performed in Russian with English surtitles.
Journalists please note: there is an opportunity to see The Knight of the Burning Pestle on tour, prior to the Barbican performances. Please contact the Barbican’s Communications Office for more details.
Comédie-Française – The Damned (Les Damnés)
Wednesday 19–Tuesday 25 June 2019, Barbican Theatre
Press night: Wednesday 19 June 2019, 7.45pm
Crackling with intensity, this triumphant spectacle directed by Ivo van Hove depicts the disintegration of a society, undone through a venomous alliance, the drama finding unsettling parallels today.
Luchino Visconti’s screenplay is the springboard for a ceaselessly creative production, which follows a family of German industrialists – the corrupt and debauched Essenbeck clan. With echoes of Greek and Shakespearean tragedy, their deepening collusion with the nascent Nazi regime puts them on a perilous path to destruction.
Invited to direct the illustrious troupe of the Comédie-Française for the first time, Van Hove and his long-time collaborator Jan Versweyveld populate the Barbican stage with a company of 30 actors and technicians. Archival footage and live recordings projected onto a screen form a counterpoint to the immense and involving action, the roving camera at times turned towards the audience.
The Damned (Les Damnés) is performed in French with English surtitles.