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Robert Lepage joins Barbican 2016

Published 5 October 2015

Robert Lepage will direct a new play inspired by Jean Cocteau and Miles Davies, Needles And Opium, as part of the Barbican Theatre’s newly announced 2016 programme.

Next year will see a succession of highly acclaimed directors bring work to the east London venue, with the previously announced Simon McBurney-led Complicite production, The Encounter, in February, Katie Mitchell’s epic multimedia show The Forbidden Zone in May and Lepage’s UK premiere in July.

The venue’s spring season is packed with appearances from companies including Forced Entertainment (1 to 6 March), whose Complete Works: Table Top Shakespeare will see the Bard’s entire canon performed on a table top using everyday objects, and Barbican debutants Ballet Black (18 and 19 March) and The Royal Opera (29 March to 3 April), the latter of which will bring a comic and surreal modern day musical take on The Importance Of Being Earnest to the stage.

Come May, Mitchell will join forces with Germany’s acclaimed theatre company Schaubühne Berlin for the ambitious The Forbidden Zone, which plays in the Barbican’s main theatre from 26 to 29 May.

Playing as part of 14-18 NOW, the UK’s cultural programme commemorating the centenary of the First World War, the acclaimed innovative theatremaker will lend her multimedia directing skills to the tale of Clara Immerwahr, the wife of chemist Fritz Haber whose pioneering work developing and weaponising chlorine gas played an integral part in the conflict.

Described as offering a “uniquely perspective on war, science and the advance of chemical weapons”, the piece will interweave narratives across two time periods and continents with extracts from Virginia Woolf and Mary Borden.

Needles And Opium will play later in the summer from 7 to 16 July. Often cited as one of the world’s greatest living theatremakers, Lepage’s latest piece was conceived early in his career and promises filmic projectionss, a jazz soundtrack and poetic performances.

Exploring addiction, disorientation and creative drive through the experiences of two of the greatest 20th century artists, the piece opens in 1949, when French writer and filmmaker Cocteau returns from New York full of wonder and disenchantment, while American musician Davis visits Paris, bringing bebop to the old continent and making new fans. 40 years on, a lonely actor tries to forget his former lover, his torment echoing both artists’ dependency on drugs.

The season announcement also includes appearances from Barbican favourite Blue Boy Entertainment with A Night With Blue Boy (8 and 9 April), the debut of acclaimed US duo Split Britches with the autobiographical RUFF (14 to 16 April) and a packed schedule for the annual LIFT Festival.

For details of the full 2016 season, visit the Barbican Theatre website.

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