Barbican Theatre, London
Located within the Barbican Centre, the theatre seats form a semi-hexagonal shape around a rectangular stage, with boxes substituted for forward-facing additional seats. The coffee and chestnut colour scheme makes it one of the less garish theatres, and its more than 1000 seats feel a lot cosier.
Nearest Tube Station:
Metropolitan, Circle, Hammersmith & City
Directions From Tube:
(10mins) Take Goswell Road and turn right at Fann Street. Continue straight onto Fortune Street, before turning right at Whitecross Street and follow it all the way down to the theatre entrance.
(Beech Street) 76, 153; (City Road) 21, 43, 141, 205, 214, 271
Night Bus Numbers:
(Beech Street) N76; (City Road) 43, 205, 214, 271
Nearest Rail Station:
Nearest Car Park:
Aldersgate Street underground car park (10mins)
Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS
A mere 60 years ago, the land on which the Barbican stands today was a barren abandoned lot that had been flattened during the Blitz. After a long period of review and debate, a project to rejuvenate the area was finally approved, incorporating new homes as well as an arts centre. In its earliest development it was backed by the London Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Shakespeare Company, the latter settling down there as its official London home.
Taking 11 years to build, it was opened in 1982 as what was described architecturally as a ‘brutalist ziggurat’ – or what most people would call a ‘concrete pyramid’. Its appearance was controversial, as many considered the Barbican Centre ugly and built in a style that was already old-fashioned by the time it opened. This triggered a beautification process in the 1990s, when statues and decorations were installed to make the area surrounding the grey buildings a little more aesthetically pleasing. Bold signs and painted lines were added in the 2000s to make it easier for patrons to find their way round.
Although the RSC departed from the venue as their home in 2002 after 20 years, this made way for all-year-round international productions, which had previously just had 6-month seasons. The whole Barbican Centre also underwent a £35 million redesign in 2007 to celebrate its 25thanniversary, making it more accessible and modern.
The Barbican Centre in which the theatre is located is that largest performing arts centre in Europe
The theatre shares a building with cinemas, a concert hall, a library, a gallery, other smaller theatrical venues and more. The original cinema that was planned had a screen on the ceiling with beds instead of seats for audience members.
The Barbican Theatre was built as the London home of the Royal Shakespeare Company and served it for 20 years.
A number of famous historical figures lived near the Barbican grounds before they were built, including William Shakespeare, Thomas More and Ben Johnson.
One poll voted it London’s ugliest building.