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William Kentridge: SIBYL

SIBYL dancers in performance


William Kentridge

Friday 22–Sunday 24 April 2022, Barbican Theatre
Press performance: Friday 22 April 2022, 7.45pm

SIBYL is an evening of two parts by South African artist William Kentridge, comprising The Moment Has Gone – a short film with live piano score and chorus – and Waiting for the Sibyl a visually stunning chamber opera.

The evening begins with The Moment Has Gone, a short film accompanied by a live piano score and a captivating all-male South African chorus. It charts the making of City Deep, Kentridge’s latest animated film, and incorporates ideas that reappear in the second part of the evening in Waiting for the Sibyl.

Waiting for the Sibyl is a dynamic chamber opera with a full company of singers and dancers. It features signature elements of Kentridge’s visionary practice - projection, performance, music, and hand-painted backdrops. Sibyl was an ancient Greek priestess, whose readings of people’s fates often ended up in the wrong hands.

SIBYL has been created in collaboration with acclaimed choral composer and performer Nhlanhla Mahlangu and composer Kyle Shepherd, one of South Africa’s leading progressive pianists. It is performed in English, Zulu, Xhosa, Sesotho and Ndebele.

William Kentridge (born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1955) is internationally acclaimed for his drawings, films, theatre and opera productions. His practice is born out of a cross-fertilisation between media and genres. His work responds to the legacies of colonialism and apartheid, within the South African socio-political context. His aesthetics are drawn from the medium of film history, from stop-motion animation to early special effects. Kentridge’s drawing, specifically the dynamism of an erased and redrawn mark, is an integral part of his expanded animation and filmmaking, where meanings are developed during their making. Kentridge’s practice also incorporates his theatre training.

Kentridge’s work has been shown and collected by museums all over the world, including at the Whitechapel Gallery, Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art, Beijing, and Museum of Modern Art, New York. Kentridge has honorary doctorates from several universities including Yale and the University of London, and in 2012 he presented the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures at Harvard University. In 2010, he received the Kyoto Prize. In 2015 he was appointed an Honorary Academician of the Royal Academy in London, where, from 24 September–11 December 2022 the biggest exhibition in the UK to date of his work will be presented, revealing an artist at the height of his creative powers. In October 2017, he received the Princesa de Asturias Award for the arts.

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