Samuel Beckett will take centre stage at the Barbican Theatre next year when the London venue stages a season of plays celebrating the Irish playwright’s work as part of its 2015 programme.
The International Beckett Season will welcome a series of UK premieres to the theatre, including Sydney Theatre Company’s Waiting For Godot starring Hugo Weaving and Richard Roxburgh, alongside one production that has already been seen in a number of venues across the capital.
Lisa Dwan’s solo performance of Beckett’s trilogy Not I / Footfalls / Rockaby, which opened at the Royal Court earlier this year before transferring to the Duchess Theatre, will play from 2 to 7 June in the Barbican Pit. The trio of short plays comprises a monologue delivered by a disembodied female mouth at the speed of thought, an exploration of loneliness featuring a prematurely aged woman sitting on a rocking chair, and a female figure pacing back and forth like a metronome.
While Dwan’s trilogy plays in the Pit, from 4 to 13 June in the Barbican Theatre’s main space Andrew Upton will direct The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit star Weaving alongside fellow Australian actor Roxburgh in Beckett’s absurdist masterpiece about everything and nothing, Waiting For Godot. The UK premiere of the Sydney Theatre Company production stars an all-Australian cast that also includes three-time Olivier Award winner Philip Quast and Angels In America’s Luke Mullins.
Other highlights of the International Beckett Season include the UK premiere of Robert Wilson’s take on the playwright’s haunting solo show Krapp’s Last Tape from 19 to 21 June in the Barbican Theatre. Pan Pan Theatre will also present Beckett’s first radio play All That Fall in the Pit from 10 to 21 June.
Taking audiences outside the confines of the Barbican’s walls, Rough For Theatre I and Act Without Words II will be performed in the exterior environment of the venue from 12 to 20 June. Directed by Sarah Jane Scaife, the companion pieces, inspired by Dublin and its inhabitants, will feature an all-Irish cast including Bryan Burroughs, Raymond Keane and Trevor Knight.
From 5 to 8 June, leading Irish theatre actress Olwen Fouéré will perform a reading of Beckett’s evocative short prose Lessness.
Away from the realm of Beckett, two Russian pieces arrive at the venue. Cheek By Jowl’s taut modern-dress version of Shakespeare’s Measure For Measure will bring its tale of love, government and justice in a landscape of convents, prisons and brothels to the Barbican Silk Street Theatre from 15 to 25 April. Performed in Russian with English surtitles, it will be joined in the season by Vakhtangov State Academic Theatre’s production of Eugene Onegin, which will be directed by Rimas Tuminas from 18 to 21 February in the Barbican Theatre.
While Benedict Cumberbatch’s return to the London stage to play the title role in Hamlet has been the reason for much hype around the venue over the past few months, another production of the Bard’s great tragedy will play alongside it in the 2015 season. Japanese theatre director Yukio Ninagawa will direct Japanese screen actor Tatsuya Fujiwara in the production, which plays alongside mind-bending epic Kafka On The Shore to celebrate Ninagawa’s 80th year. Hamlet will run from 21 to 24 May in the Barbican Theatre, followed by Kafka On The Shore, Haruki Murakami’s tale of the 15-year-old title character who runs away from his Tokyo home, from 28 to 30 May.
The season will also welcome Boy Blue Entertainment and Théâtre De La Ville-Paris back to the venue. The latter will present Luigi Pirandello’s Six Characters In Search Of An Author, directed by Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota, from 4 to 7 February in the Barbican Theatre’s main space. The dream-like production, which releases the mystery, chaos and darkness at the heart of the absurdist classic, opens prior to Boy Blue Entertainment’s A Night With Boy Blue, a hip-hop dance piece combining creative energy and absolute precision, which plays in the same space on 27 and 28 February.
Before the venue welcomes all of the aforementioned productions on to its stages, the Barbican will once again house some of the shows playing as part of the London International Mime Festival. The Barbican’s 2015 festival offerings comprise Theatre Ad Infinitum’s Light (20 to 24 January in the Pit), inspired by Edward Snowden’s revelations about state surveillance, Peeping Tom’s 32 Rue Vandenbranden (28 to 31 January in the Barbican Theatre), a show described as ‘hyper-real’ that plunges audiences into a foreboding universe of cold, wind and ice, and Basil Twist’s Dogugaeshi (28 to 31 January in the Pit), which combines puppetry, video projection and electronic sound to create a piece inspired by the Japanese art of its title.
As previously announced, the season will also see Robert Sean Leonard reprise his role in the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre production of To Kill A Mockingbird on the Barbican’s main stage from 24 June to 25 July and Juliette Binoche star in Ivo Van Hove’s take on Antigone from 4 to 28 March. Other highlights that have already been announced include Lyndsey Turner’s production of Hamlet, starring Cumberbatch, from 5 August to 31 October, and the English National Opera’s uplifting drama based on the events of 9/11 from 11 to 25 April.