The Barbican continues to welcome back live audiences to enjoy its autumn programme in the Art Gallery, The Curve, the Cinema, the Conservatory and most recently the Hall.

The Barbican’s Theatre and Dance programme also returns with an exciting new collaboration with the Bridge Theatre to bring Flight to London, live performances of The Ghost Light in the Barbican Theatre, and an interactive online show for families, We Cover the Universe. These live events run alongside rehearsals and artist development in the theatre spaces.

Combined with these, a curated mix of digital content, including podcasts, playlists, films, videos and more, allow audiences to enjoy the Barbican programme wherever they are.   

Visitor Safety

In a recent survey, 95% of Barbican visitors said they felt safe or very safe in the Barbican venues. In the auditoriums there are fewer available seats and fewer shows/ screenings to allow cleaning between events.

Audiences can only sit in the same seating cluster as someone from their own household (or support bubble) and we ask visitors not to swap seats so we can maintain a safe distance between groups. All essential safety information can be viewed here.

Highlights include:  

  • The Barbican reopens the theatre spaces to artists and audiences starting with The Ghost Light in the Theatre, a live experience for one audience member and up to five of their guests.
  • The Barbican announces a new partnership with the Bridge Theatre to bring the highly acclaimed theatre installation, Flight, by Vox Motus, to the Bridge Theatre.
  • Live from the Barbican concert series continues this week with The Kanneh-Mason Family in Concert as well as Richard Dawson – including a conversation between Dawson and the comedian Stewart LeeLive from the Barbican is for socially-distanced live audiences and global livestream.
  • Soundhouse: Intimacy and Distance, a free digital showcase of experimental audio works and written commissions exploring audio culture in a physically distanced world. Part of the Level G programme.
  • Enter the Brainbox – the first Emerging Film Curators’ Lab screening – a showcase of rare shorts and forgotten gems from the animation underground, programmed by Bristol based animator and curator Christopher Childs.
  • Dancing Nymphs and Nature: the cinema of Nao Yoshigai – the second Emerging Film Curators’ Lab screening, the UK premiere of a short film selection by Nao Yoshigai, programmed by the film writer and curator Serena Scateni.
  • JARV IS… performance at the Barbican – A Musical Response to Michael Clark: Cosmic Dancer – is available to watch for free online.
  • A digital walkthrough of the exhibition Toyin Ojih Odutola: A Countervailing Theory on the Barbican YouTube Channel. Narrated by Toyin Ojih Odutola.

All of our Read, Watch and Listen digital content is available for everyone for free at and via the Barbican’s social channels. In addition, podcasts can also be accessed by subscribing to the Nothing Concrete podcast via AcastSpotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

The Barbican believes in creating space for people and ideas to connect through its international arts programme, community events and learning activity.

To keep its programme accessible to everyone, and to keep investing in the artists it works with, the Barbican needs to raise more than 60% of its income through ticket sales, commercial activities and fundraising every year. Donations can be made here:

Theatre and Dance

Barbican and fieldwork – The Ghost Light
Tue 24 Nov – Sat 5 Dec 2020, times vary,
Press performances: dates and times vary
Barbican Theatre

A glimmer of light. An empty stage. As the silence breaks, a one-off performance begins.

The atmospheric auditorium at the Barbican has been dark for months, except for a solitary light, traditionally kept burning after hours to appease ghosts and celebrate the enduring power of theatre. Now, as the Theatre doors reopen, we invite an audience of one and up to five of their guests to inhabit the space with an artist, as a 30-minute piece unfolds just for them. Anything from comedy to drama or dance to poetry may be performed. It could be rowdy or reflective, grand or intimate, classic or contemporary. The audience will only know once they’ve taken their seats.

The Ghost Light concept is by Purni Morell and Christian Roe of fieldwork. These spontaneous and thrilling short pieces are performed live in the evocative setting of the Barbican Theatre, lit only by the ghost light. A selection of performances will also be filmed and made available free on YouTube for audiences to enjoy online at home from December.

The performers include: Marc AlmondFehinti Balogun, Dickie Beau, Amelia CavalloViviana DuranteInua Ellams, Christopher GreenJamie HaleShappi KhorsandiLe Gateau ChocolatCN LesterUrsula MartinezPatrick O’KaneTheo (Godson) OloyadeMaxine Peake, Tom RandleChristian RoeSelina Thompson and Michelle Tiwo.

Tickets for The Ghost Light will be through an online ticket lottery which closes at 10am on Friday 30 October. Winners will be contacted at least one week ahead of the performance. If successful they will be able to buy up to six tickets at £15 each for a specified performance.

Vox Motus – Flight
Tue 10 Nov 2020 – Sat 16 Jan 2021
Bridge Theatre, 3 Potters Fields Park, London SE1 2SG, times vary
Press performances: Monday 16 November 2020, times varyFrom a private booth, audiences will be drawn in to this tale of orphaned brothers and their desperate odyssey across Europe, the action unfolding in an exquisite world of moving miniatures.

With their small inheritance stitched into their clothes, young Aryan and Kabir set off on an epic journey by foot from Kabul to London.

Braving bustling train stations, hazardous sea crossings, menacing strangers and threats of violence, their heart-wrenching story speaks of terror, hope and survival.

Based on Caroline Brothers’ novel HinterlandFlight combines timely themes with engrossing images to honour the resilience of refugee children adrift in dangerous lands.

At the Bridge Theatre audiences will be seated individually and given headphones for this intimate experience staged by Candice Edmunds and Jamie Harrison (magic and illusions designer, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child). Like a 3-D graphic novel brought to life, the revolving scenes contain detailed sets and figures, accompanied by binaural sound and narration.

Whilst the theatre spaces at the Barbican are busy with rehearsals, R&D work and film screenings, the Barbican and the Bridge Theatre collaborate at this unprecedented time to bring live events and audiences together again.

Akin – We Cover the Universe
Thu 10–Sun 20 Dec 2020, times vary
Press performances: Fri 11 Dec 2020, 10.30am and 2pm
available via Zoom

Poetry, drawing and gentle play awaken the imagination in Akin’s interactive, sensory online show for the under-fives and parents/carers and extended families.

We Cover the Universe introduces audiences to Dot, when she’s feeling small. She’s stuck in a grey room until, one day, she starts to draw and dream. Plucking up the courage to venture out, she encounters a glorious new world of colour and learns there’s more to life than she ever thought.

Two friendly performers guide children and adults through simple movement and inventive art-making activities via Zoom, exploring how basic household objects feel and sound. With magical music, vibrant visuals and lovely language, this wondrous experience takes families on a journey together, wherever they are, transforming items and spaces before their eyes.


Live at Lunchtime continues in the Barbican Foyers

As the return of live music at the Barbican continues, so too does Live at Lunchtime, a new autumn series of free classical concerts performed by outstanding musicians (current students and recent graduates) from Guildhall School of Music & Drama in front of a socially-distanced live audience. This Friday’s concert will feature the cellist Ben Tarlton performing solo works by Bach and Britten.

The series continues the Barbican’s aim to support artists – in this case budding young musicians – and its partners at a time when public performance opportunities are severely limited and to welcome back audiences where it is allowed and safe to do so.

Live at Lunchtime runs until Friday 27 November 2020, with performances planned twice-weekly on Wednesdays and Fridays at 1pm. Free tickets are bookable on a first-come-first-served basis via the Barbican website from 10am each Friday for concerts taking place the following week.

Beethoven Weekender shortlisted for Royal Philharmonic Society Award

Last week, the Barbican’s Beethoven Weekender which took place in February this year to celebrate the great composer’s 250th Anniversary, was shortlisted for a Royal Philharmonic Society Award (RPS).

The awards, which exist to champion the role that classical music plays in our lives, selected the Barbican’s event to be shortlisted in the Concert Series and Events category. The event itself celebrated the life and music of Ludwig van Beethoven in a fresh way, allowing audiences old and new to experience and explore Beethoven through a complete symphony cycle performed by the UK’s leading regional orchestras, chamber music concerts, talks, screenings, contemporary responses to his music, and family events.

Winners will be announced at the 2020 RPS Awards digital broadcast at 7.00pm on Wednesday 18 November on the RPS website

Live from the Barbican and Panel Discussions

As the Live from the Barbican series continues for global digital audiences and live audiences in the Barbican Hall, upcoming concerts also include panel discussions available to digital audiences via the livestream. The panel discussions will offer audiences experiencing the concerts from home the opportunity to hear more from the artists about their work following each of the performances.

Accompanying The Kanneh-Mason Family in Concert: Live from the Barbican (Thu 22 Oct) is a conversation between the children and parents as they discuss the insights in Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason’s new book, House of Music: Raising the Kanneh-Masons.

Alongside Richard Dawson: Live from the Barbican (Sun 25 Oct) is a conversation between the songwriter and comedian Stewart Lee.

Thu 22 Oct 2020, Barbican Hall, 8pm

The Kanneh-Mason Family in Concert: Live from the Barbican
Tickets £20 & 12.50 (livestream)

Piano Isata Kanneh-Mason

Violin Braimah Kanneh-Mason

Cello Sheku Kanneh-Mason

Piano and violin Konya Kanneh-Mason

Piano and cello Jeneba Kanneh-Mason

Violin Aminata Kanneh-Mason

Cello Mariatu Kanneh-Mason

Fresh from their Facebook Live performances, the entire Kanneh-Mason Family emerges from lockdown onto the Barbican stage for their first public concert in London. Introducing their wide-ranging programme, the seven brothers and sisters (aged from 10 to 23 years old) will perform an eclectic selection of their favourite music in a variety of combinations, culminating in a medley from Fiddler on the Roof arranged for the whole family.

Included in the stream ticket is a conversation between the children and parents of this talented family as they discuss the insights in Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason’s new book, House of Music: Raising the Kanneh-Masons.

Full programme:

Shostakovich Piano Trio No. 1 in C minor, Op. 8 – Braimah, Sheku, Isata

Schubert Impromptu No. 4 in A-flat major, D. 899 – Konya

Schubert Impromptu No. 4 in F minor, D. 935 – Jeneba

Tchaikovsky Mélodie, Op. 42 No. 3 – Braimah, Isata

Mozart Piano Trio in B-flat major, K. 502, 3rd mvt – Jeneba, Aminata, Mariatu

Barber Sonata for Cello and Piano, Op. 6, 1st mvt – Sheku, Isata

Gershwin Three Preludes – Isata

Eric Whitacre The Seal Lullaby – all seven

Fiddler on the Roof Medley, arr. Kanneh-Masons – all seven
Produced by the Barbican

Sun 25 Oct 2020, Barbican Hall, 8pmRichard Dawson: Live from the Barbican
Tickets £20 & £12.50 (livestream)

Celebrated Northumbrian songsmith Richard Dawson was set to curate a special evening – Delight is Right – at the Barbican in March 2020. It would have been a gathering of his friends, fellow travellers and favourites, culminating in a headline Richard Dawson set in the Barbican Hall. We will hopefully be able to reschedule this for 2021, with more details to be announced soon.

We are however pleased to welcome Richard this autumn as part of our newly devised streaming concert offer, where he will be playing a special solo set, presenting material from his latest album 2020 alongside a selection from his back catalogue.
As part of the streaming offer, audiences will also be able to watch Richard Dawson in conversation with comedian Stewart Lee after the performance.

2020 is Dawson’s sixth studio album which was released in October 2019. It is a hard-hitting state-of-the-nation study on contemporary Britain which introduces the listener to grand themes through small lives and portraits of human beings struggling with recognisable concerns, conflicts and desires. Dawson’s music has been described as a blend of traditional English and jazzy psych folk and North Country Blues.

Produced by the Barbican


Barbican Cinema 1

Emerging Film Curators

As part of Barbican Cinema’s ongoing commitment to present the widest-possible range of voices on screen, the Emerging Film Curators’ Lab is a new career development programme, giving young people a chance to establish themselves in the UK cinema exhibition sector.

Enter the Brainbox
Sat 24 Oct, 3.30pm, Barbican Cinema 1

The first Emerging Film Curators’ screening is Enter the Brainbox, a showcase of rare shorts and forgotten gems from the animation underground, programmed by Bristol based animator and curator Christopher Childs.

From the candy-coloured worlds of legendary underground animator Amy Lockhart, to the thoughtful observations of filmmaker Joanna Priestley, the shorts in this series explore the dreams and nightmares of animation’s brightest minds. Christopher Childs will also give a pre-recorded demonstration, animating a paper cut-out character in real-time.

On Barbican’s Read, Watch & Listen Edwin Rostron writes a long-read feature exploring the diverse animations that screen in Enter the Brainbox, that can be viewed here

Dancing Nymphs and Nature: the cinema of Nao Yoshigai
Sun 25 Oct 2.45 pm, Cinema 1 & on Cinema on Demand Sun 25 Oct –
Sun 1 Nov

The second Emerging Film Curators’ event is the UK premiere of a short film selection: Dancing Nymphs and Nature: the cinema of Nao Yoshigai, programmed by the film writer and curator Serena Scateni.A rising artist from Japan, filmmaker and choreographer Nao Yoshigai ‘choreographs image and sound’ to depict women confronted by societal limitations. Combining surreal settings with an experimental approach, she is an observer of the female body as much as an advocate of a more gentle ecology.

To view the full press release:

New releases

Barbican Cinema is delighted to screen Josephine Decker’s Shirley (USA 2020), starring Elizabeth Moss as a famous horror writer in a prickly marriage with her academic husband (Michael Stuhlbarg).

Visually inventive and darkly delicious at every turn, Decker paints an intoxicating picture.

From Sat 7 Nov, Pedro Almodóvar’s new film The Human Voice (Spain/ USA 2020) screens in a short run, with a pre-recorded Q&A with the filmmaker and Tilda Swinton, hosted by Mark Kermode.

Shot over nine days in Madrid in July and recently premiered to critical acclaim at the Venice Film Festival, this is Almodóvar’s first work in the English language.

Madness and melancholy intersect to thrilling effect as Almodóvar reimagines Jean Cocteau’s short play The Human Voice for an era in which isolation has become a way of life.

Barbican Cinema on Demand

New Relases include Totally Under Control (USA 2020), Alex Gibney’s groundbreaking documentary that takes an in-depth look at how the US government bungled the response to the COVID-19 outbreak during the early months of the pandemic; and Maya Newell’s compassionate documentary In My Blood It Runs (Australia 2020) made from the perspective of a 10-year-old Aboriginal boy in Alice Springs, who is struggling to balance his traditional Arrernte/Garrwa upbringing with a modern state education.

The documentary Love Child (Denmark, 2019) follows couple Leila and Sahand, who flee Iran fearing persecution and settle in Turkey with their young son whilst awaiting their refugee status. Years pass and we see the heartache of a couple who have left behind everything they knew, as well as the joy of acceptance and friendship as they create a new life for themselves.

Barbican Cinema on Demand is supported by the BFI FAN Resilience Fund, awarding National Lottery funding, and the Mayor of London’s Culture at Risk business support fund.

Family Films in the Foyers

Family Film Club returns to the Barbican’s Foyers with regular Saturday morning screenings for children aged 4+ and their families.

Bookings for up to six people will be allocated a floor area (BYO cushions) and socially-distanced from other groups

Lotte Reiniger Fairy Tale Short Films + live narration and piano accompaniment from Lillian Henley (U*)
Dir Lotte Reiniger, approx 60 min, Age recommendation: 4+

Sat 31 Oct, 11am, Stalls Floor Foyer, Level minus 1

Beautiful silhouette animations by Lotte Reiniger – the original scissorhand – are accompanied live by the pianist, Lillian Henley.

Creepy Crawly Films for Families 

Dirs. various, approx 60 min, Age recommendation: 4+

Sat 14 Nov, 11am, Stalls Floor Foyer, Level minus 1

A medley of movies celebrating all that’s creepy and crawly including stories of veg patch caterpillars, fun-loving ants, musical earthworms and every gardener’s nightmare, slimy slugs.

Further Family Films in the Foyers will also screen on Sat 28 Nov and
Sat 12 Dec

Visual Arts

On Friday 23 October, the Barbican will release a digital walkthrough of the exhibition Toyin Ojih Odutola: A Countervailing Theory on the Barbican YouTube Channel.

Narrated by Toyin Ojih Odutola, the video reveals an epic cycle of new work that unfurls across the 90-metre long Curve gallery, exploring an imagined ancient myth conceived by the artist. An immersive soundscape by renowned conceptual sound artist Peter Adjaye fills the space in response to Ojih Odutola’s drawings. The exhibition is on view until 24 January 2021.

Michael Clark: Cosmic Dancer continues in Barbican Art Gallery

Barbican Art Gallery stages the first ever major exhibition on the groundbreaking dancer and choreographer Michael Clark. Exploring his unique combination of classical and contemporary culture, Michael Clark: Cosmic Dancer unfolds as a constellation of striking portraits of Clark through the eyes of legendary collaborators and world-renowned artists including Charles AtlasBodyMap, Leigh BoweryDuncan Campbell, Peter Doig, Cerith Wyn Evans, Sarah LucasSilke Otto-Knapp, Elizabeth PeytonThe Fall and Wolfgang Tillmans. Michael Clark: Cosmic Dancer opened to the public on Wednesday 7 October.

Alongside the exhibition, the Barbican launches a specially curated Spotify playlist. From post-punk to Stravinsky, listen to the music that inspired and moved the maverick spirit of Michael Clark here.

To celebrate Clark’s creative friendship with musician Jarvis Cocker, Cocker’s recently formed band JARV IS… performed an exclusive set across different rooms within the Michael Clark: Cosmic Dancer exhibition in the Art Gallery. The recording of the performance is available to view on the Barbican’s website.

Level G Programme

Soundhouse: Intimacy and Distance

Mon 26 Oct 2020 – Sun 17 Jan 2021

On Monday 26 October, the Barbican will launch the second iteration of its ongoing Soundhouse project, a collaboration with audio-makers Nina Garthwaite (In The Dark) and Eleanor McDowall (Falling Tree Productions).

Soundhouse is a platform for creative radio making and podcasting, and provides a space for critical analysis of contemporary audio culture.

This year’s edition, titled Soundhouse: Intimacy and Distance, is a free digital showcase of experimental audio works and written commissions exploring audio culture in a physically distanced world and how increased isolation and social distancing has affected our listening habits and our psychological relationship with audio and sound.

More information about the project will be announced next week.