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Open Lab

Theatre and Dance

Three performers onstage during Open Lab showcase 2016

We are currently working with 6 artists as part of our Open Lab programme. 

This programme nurtures and develops creative talents from a range of backgrounds and contexts, supporting the development of socially engaged, inclusive performance that has the potential to reach new audiences. 

We will provide a supportive and welcoming space where early to mid-career artists can experiment and take risks, develop their practice and move on to the next stage of their career.  We will champion work that pioneers and develops new methodologies and approaches, challenging the idea of what theatre or dance can be. 

The support we offer includes:

  • Five days in the Pit Theatre 
  • Technical support – staffing and full use of the Pit Theatre equipment
  • A fee so that participants can be paid for their work
  • A Barbican Lab assistant to help during the week on-site
  • Opportunity to informally share a work-in-progress with an invited group
  • Training and networking opportunities

If you would like to be considered for next year’s Open Lab programme please download the “Additional Information” and send us an expression of interest. 

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2020 Artists

In 2020 we will be working with six different artists and collectives, listed below.

Paula Varjack and Chuck Blue Lowry met working on an intergenerational women’ s project for Magic Me. They discovered their practices were inverses of each other; Chuck training in performance and then film, Paula training in film and then moving into performance. Working together again on a women’s participation project for Cardboard Citizens and Clean Break, they became keen to bring together their video and performance experience with their work in participation. They have both spent the same amount of their lives in London and lived in different parts of Europe. They both have British fathers and foreign mothers but identify with both cultures. This sparked an ongoing conversation between them about their relationship to being “foreign”.

Louise Orwin is an award-winning writer and performance maker. She makes research-driven theatre projects about subjects that are close to home, hard to get your head around, and need to be spoken about. Often this means making work about what it means to identify as female today, in a fast-moving, media-saturated world that prizes patriarchal, heteronormative narratives. Louise likes to make work that is provocative and brash, intimate, awkward at times, and generally filled with a heady dose of pop culture. Her work has toured all over the UK and internationally, receiving global critical acclaim. Past work includes: viral docu-theatre Pretty Ugly, which was featured national and international press all over the world: and award-winning A Girl and A Gun (Vice, Guardian, BBC). Louise received the Flying Solo Award in 2015, was a finalist for the Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust in 2018, and was part of the British Council Edinburgh Showcase in 2019.

Nouveau Riché is a multi-award-winning arts production company and an ever-expanding creative movement. Discovering, nurturing and producing unique stories from all walks of life. Nouveau Riché make culturally inclusive work that is educational and entertaining, across all art forms.

Claire Gaydon is a theatre-maker and performer creating work in the East Midlands and London. Described as ‘a talent to keep an eye on’ (Gareth Vile, LIST), she specialises in creating research-driven, multi-disciplinary theatre blending social experiment, live performance and multimedia. Recurring themes underlying her work are new technologies, social media and sex. Claire is one of Camden People's Theatre's 2019 Starting Blocks Artists, where she began development on her new show Piece of Me. Her current show See-Through ('Ingenious and thought-provoking' - Lyn Gardner) is touring UK theatres Autumn 2019 & Spring 2020. 

The PappyShow are a playful physical and visual ensemble theatre company. Formed in January 2013 by Kane Husbands in order to provide a space for actors and non-actors to train in physical theatre, they use exercise and training to devise and create work.  Community cohesion and working together is key to the company’s ensemble ethos.  With their performing company, they are currently touring three pieces; 'BOYS', 'GIRLS' and 'CARE'. 

Rachel Mars is a multi-award-winning performance maker with a background in theatre, live art and comedy. Mars’ Our Carnal Hearts won A Total Theatre Award at the British Council Showcase at the Edinburgh Fringe.  With nat tarrab as mars.tarrab she was winner of the 2017 Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Award and presented ROLLER in the Pit Theatre. Recent commissions have included Leeds Playhouse, The Junction, Cambridge; Royal Court Tottenham; Fuel Theatre and Ovalhouse. She is a fellow at the Birkbeck Centre of Contemporary Theatre and a regular contributor to 'Pause for Thought' on BBC Radio 2.