Starry names have been lured to the Barbican Centre for a major arts project in 2012. Cate Blanchett and Juliette Binoche are just two biggies involved in what will be a double celebration for the Barbican: its 30th birthday and the London 2012 Festival, the grand finale of the Cultural Olympiad.
All of the Barbican’s artistic strands – theatre, art, architecture, design, film, music, opera and dance – will be mobilised for the project. Sir Nicholas Kenyon, the centre’s affable managing director, says: “the Barbican will be at the forefront of [this] international moment… There will be something for everyone.”
Binoche stars in a new Barbican co-commission, Mademoiselle Julie, a French-language play by August Strindberg (September) while Blanchett leads the Sydney Theatre Company in a production of Botho Strauss’s surreal play Gross und Klein (April).
Hollywood gloss aside, culture vultures may find themselves camped out at the Barbican, such is the range of the programme. The festival’s key headliner is the “biggest Bauhaus exhibition in the UK for 40 years”. Bauhaus: Art as Life, running from April to August in the Barbican art gallery, explores the early-twentieth century art school. Work will be displayed by artists and designers including Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius.
Other juicy highlights include: residencies for two of the world’s best orchestras, the New York Philharmonic (February) and Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw (April/May); a collaboration with Sadler’s Wells to present 10 works famous dance choreographer Pina Bausch (June); a return for Jazz at Lincoln Center, working with Sir Simon Rattle who also conducts the London Symphony Orchestra (July).
Possibly the most intriguing part of the London 2012 Festival is in July. In Desdemona, Malian singer Rokia Traoré and African-American Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison come together to make a music theatre work inspired by one of Shakespeare’s most famous victims. The project is in collaboration with Peter Sellars, with the new work a “response” to his 2009 Othello production.