The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
Mr. Vincent Baudriller
Louise Jeffreys,
the head of theatre, Barbican Centre

Designed in the 1960s and constructed in the 1970s, the Barbican Centre was opened on 3 March 1982 by Her Majesty The Queen. Owned, funded and managed by the Corporation of London, the third largest sponsor of the arts in the UK, it was built as 'the City's gift to the nation' at an historical capital cost of £161million, equivalent to almost £400 million today.
the Barbican comprises; a 2,026 seat hall for concerts and conferences; two theatres -- the 1,166 seat Barbican Theatre and the flexible 200 seat Pit Theatre; three cinemas (seating respectively 280, 255 and 153); two art galleries: the 1,393 square metre Barbican Art Gallery and the smaller horseshoe shaped Curve; and seven conference suites, etc. John Tusa is the Managing Director and Graham Sheffield, the Artistic Director. The Royal Shakespeare Company was invited to contribute to the planning of the Barbican in the 1960s, though, they have departed from the Barbican in May, 2002.

An Overview
Presenter Interview
Three years since the Royal Shakespeare Company, moved to new premises, the Barbican Centre adopts new strategies  
The Barbican Centre promoting its year-round BITE (Barbican International Theatre Events) program of international theater performances, as well as actively pursuing collaborative productions with overseas companies. In this month's interview the Barbican Centre's head of theatre, Louise Jeffreys, speaks about these new programs.
(Interviewed with ShinKo Suga)

Can you tell us about the historical background of the Barbican?
The Barbican Centre lies at the heart of a 140,000 square metre residential estate known as the Barbican. A maze of small streets and warehouses before World War II, the area was bombed in December 1940 and completely devastated. In 1955, the first proposal for the area's development was submitted, and central to the scheme was a large multi-arts centre. The Barbican Centre lies in the City of London (the City for short), which started in the first century and is -one of the oldest areas in Britain. It is a special autonomous area with its own mayor and police. The independent local authority in the City is called the Corporation of London. The Barbican was built as 'the City's gift to the Nation' by the Corporation of London at an historical capital cost of 161 million pounds, equivalent to between 400-500 million pounds today. After the Arts Council of England and the BBC, the Corporation of London is the third biggest sponsor for the arts in Britain.

Would you tell us about BITE seasons?
Since 1998, the Barbican has become one of the most important promoters of international theatre in Britain through its BITE programme. BITE stands for Barbican International Theatre Events, and initially occupied six months of the year. The season became a continuous year-round programme in summer 2002. The Centre is now the principal presenter of international theatre in the UK, co-commissioning and co-producing theatre, dance and music theatre with international partners as well as presenting the most diverse range of work in Britain. Laurie Anderson, Pina Bausch, Complicite, Merce Cunningham, Philip Glass, Heiner Goebbels, Yukio Ninagawa, Steve Reich, Twyla Tharp, Tom Waits and Robert Wilson are amongst the artists whose work the Barbican has presented in recent years.

Can you tell us about the latest BITE programme?
With regard to the new programme from January to June 2005: in January we presented The Plough and the Stars, by the Abbey Theatre from Ireland; and in February a play that portrays the love between Anton Chekhov and Olga Knipper, Ta Main Dans La Mienne, directed by Peter Brook. In April, the very talented director, Deborah Warner, will present Julius Caesar and in May, The End of the Moon by Laurie Anderson, an American performance artist, and Uncle Vanya by Maly Drama Theatre of St Petersburg, Russia. In June, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company from America will be performing Event. A total of twelve theatre companies will be working here.

Barbican used to be the London home of the Royal Shakespeare Company. What made them leave the Barbican?
The Barbican theatre was originally built as the London home of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) but their policy has changed and they decided to present themselves firmly in the West End and different places. In 1996, they told us they were moving out for six months of the year and that gave us an opportunity to run BITE for six months. Major refurbishment of theatre facilities now ensures visits by the broadest range of international theatre companies. And then, in May 2002, the RSC finally left the Barbican.
(At present, the RSC is showing Shakespeare's plays at the Albery Theatre and performing classical Spanish plays at the Playhouse theatre in the West End, which is the centre of show business in London).

Who owns the Barbican Centre?
The Barbican is owned, funded and managed by the Corporation of London, the local authority for the City of London. The Corporation of London's annual revenue grant for the Barbican was approximately 20,530,000 pounds in 2003/2004. From this, the Barbican theatre has an annual programming investment budget slightly less than 2 million pounds for BITE. My responsibility as the Head of Theatre is programming the Barbican Theatre and the Pit.

How long have you been working at the Barbican? Can you tell us your background in theatre work?
I joined the Barbican in January 1999. I did a degree at Manchester University studying drama and I started off as a stage manager in repertory theatre. Then, I was a technical director at English National Opera, and I worked as production coordinator at Bayerische Staatsoper, an opera house in Munich. Prior to the Barbican, I was an administrative director of a regional theatre in Britain called Nottingham Playhouse. I have experience both for opera and theatre, and I also have a technical, administrative and creative background.

Have you ever been to Japan?
I have been to Japan once, very briefly, to see one of Ninagawa's productions, Modern Noh Play at Sainokuni Saitama Arts Theatre in 2001. I have not been to Japan to see a lot of work, but that probably is what I should do.
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