Barbican Theatre

Barbican Theatre

Venue Information

Barbican Theatre
Address: Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS
Nearest Tube or Train: Barbican (Metropolitan, Circle, Hammersmith & City)
Nearest Buses: (Beech Street) 76, 153; (City Road) 21, 43, 141, 205, 214, 271

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Theatre Quick Facts

Date opened: 1982
Designer: Chamberlin Powell & Bon (John Honer and John Connaughton), first with Richard Southern as theatre consultant and later with Peter Hall, John Bury and other advisors
First production: Shakespeare's Henry IV (RSC) directed by Trevor Nunn
Number of seats: 1,156

Theatre History

The Barbican Theatre is part of the Barbican centre, a cultural centre made up of a concert hall, art galleries, two theatres, a cinema and tropical conservatory.

The Barbican housing estate and arts centre was conceived and built to replace a large area of the City of London that was destroyed by bombing during World War 2. The first residential areas of the Barbican opened in 1969, but the Barbican arts centre including the theatre didn’t open until 3 March 1982.

The Barbican Theatre was built as the London home of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and the RSC were involved in the design of the auditorium. In 2002 the RSC’s artistic director Adrian Noble decided to not renew its contract with the Barbican; however, in 2013 the RSC’s new artistic director Greg Doran announced the company would return in a three-year season of plays.

The Barbican estate was designed by Chamberlin, Powell & Bon in the brutalist style, with the architects consulting on the theatre design first with Richard Southern, and later with Peter Hall, John Bury and others. The Barbican is Grade II listed.

The auditorium of the theatre has become much loved by audiences, critics and performers, with Victor Glasstone describing it in 1982 as “the finest medium-sized house to be built in Britain since the war and, by international standards, one of the greats”.

8 October 1985: Les Misérables

First ever performance of the RSC’s Les Misérables. Directed by Trevor Nunn and John Caird, the Royal Shakespeare Company and Cameron Mackintosh present the world premiere of Les Misérables on the Barbican stage. Now, Les Misérables is currently the world’s longest running musical, and has played to more than 65 million people in 42 countries and 22 languages.

5 Aug–31 Oct 2015: Hamlet

First NT Live broadcast from the Barbican – and the biggest single NT Live broadcast to date, seen by over 550,000 people worldwide. Directed by Lyndsey Turner, Benedict Cumberbatch took on the title role in Shakespeare’s great tragedy for an exclusive twelve-week run of this compelling new production at the Barbican. Produced by Sonia Friedman Productions.

Theatre Previous Shows

Past shows playing at the Barbican Theatre:

The Taming Of The Shrew - RSC London
Measure For Measure - RSC London
As You Like It - RSC London
Jesus Christ Superstar
The Merry Wives of Windsor - RSC Barbican
Macbeth - RSC Barbican
Romeo and Juliet - RSC Barbican
Barry Humphries Weimar Cabaret
Evita
Titus Andronicus - RSC Rome Season
Antony & Cleopatra - RSC Rome Season
Julius Caesar - RSC Rome Season
Coriolanus - RSC Rome Season
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